The Potential Risks of Low-Cost LED Lamps

By Torrin Greathouse | August 15, 2017

The LED lighting industry has gained traction in recent years due to the growing affordability of these more efficient lamps.  A wealth of studies show that LEDs are one of the most cost effective artificial lighting systems on the market today, however, cheaply produced LEDs have several major issues which end up costing you in the long run.

Negative Health Effects

Cheap LED lamps produce most of their light in the high-blue spectrum.A study by Harvard University shows that overexposure to this kind of light can be damaging to our health, throwing the body’s circadian rhythm out of sync. This is because the brain perceives blue light as the light from the sky and, thinking it is daytime, the brain reduces production of melatonin, a neurotransmitter which controls sleep. This leaves workers feeling unfocused and fatigued. It also contributes to conditions such as insomnia and seasonal affective disorder, both of which damage employee’s immune systems, raising the number of sick days used and creating a less productive workforce.

Eye Strain

Another common issue with cheaply produced LEDs is that their light flickers intermittently. While this flickering ranges from easily noticeable to imperceptible, it acts as a stress on occupants’ eyes as they struggle to adjust to the changing light. This creates repetitive eye strain and can contribute to the development of migraine headaches. Both of these conditions negatively affect worker productivity and increase absenteeism.

Loss of Intensity

The issue that most low-cost LED lamps face is that, while they do not burn out in the same way as conventional bulbs, they lose light intensity over time. On average LED lamps last around 50,000 hours, however, some produce only 80% of their initial output after just 8,000 hours. This creates the additional cost of buying and installing replacement lamps and disposing of the old ones.

How to Avoid These Issues

It is important to understand that many of these issues are far less prevalent in more expensive, well-produced LED lamps. When creating your building design, make sure to spec for high quality LEDs. It is important to know that this may not guarantee that you receive a quality product. It is fairly common for contractors to switch out the lighting spec’d by lighting designers for a similar, but less expensive product, in what is called value engineering. Make sure to stay in contact with your contractor during the building process to ensure you receive the lighting your building was spec’d for. Another option is to explore the possibility of integrating natural daylighting into your building design instead.

For more tips on choosing the best lighting methods for your facility, download our eBook A Buyer's Guide to Evaluating Industrial Lighting Products.

(Photo: Forte Chance Piemonte, CC.)
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