LED lighting installation

Super slim led recessed lighting installation
Good Quality thin recessed LED lighting installation

Not all led lighting fixtures are created equal.

In this article we will be discussing LED lighting fixtures. Unknown to many consumers there is a large variance in quality and cost of implementing led lighting. After reading this article you will be able to make your own conclusions whether led lighting makes sense for your home or business.

One of the main concerns switching over to high efficiency led lighting is cost.  I think when you take into consideration how flexible led lighting can be and the amount of applications they can be used in it becomes clear that led lighting technology is a smart choice.

What are the benefits to led lighting?

Next to zero maintenance, high lumen output and low energy consumption are the main reasons to switching over to led’s.

How much does led lighting cost?

Unfortunately this is hard to answer because there are so many lighting options available. In the end it comes down to you get what you pay for but there are some good deals to be had if you know how to find them.

Where can you get a good deal on led lights?

Many of these deals are in plain sight but if you can’t see them you’ll miss out. That’s because the deal is built into the design and construction of the light.

What makes up a good led light?

The following is a list of some of the more desirable features you may want in the design of your next led light.

Where can led lighting be used

A wet location rated led light fixture is worth more money then a damp location rated light fixture. This is because it can be installed in more locations then a light that is only damp location rated which is cheaper.

How bright will a led light be?

If you compare a high output lumen rated light of similar physical size to a lower output lumen light. You would need to buy more low outputting lights to equal the more expensive high output light.

Often times it is cheaper to buy less of the more expensive lights because they will last longer. Cheaper lights don’t tend to last as long so the replacement cost will add up.

Can I change the brightness of the light?

Some recessed lights have a dip switch to change the correlated colour temperature (CCT) of the light. Usually this gives you 3 or so options… 3000K, 4000K or 5000K.

Can I add a dimmer to my led lights?

Most but not all LED lights are fully compatible with dimmers or external lighting controls. Many led lights are rated as 100% – 10% dimmable. Better dimming capabilities come at a higher price point. For most people this is a non issue it just means that your lights won’t dim all the way down to off. Instead they will glow at the minimum setting.

What voltage of led light should I buy?

This might seem straight forward but the voltage of the light matters. Some low voltage lighting options have a poor track record for durability. It isn’t always the led light that fails rather it is the driver associated with it. Try to find a light that uses a dimmable constant current led driver. In most cases these drivers can be separated from the led light fixture via a cable connector allowing easier replacement.

What are led retrofits?

Now there is a wide selection of led lights that replace fluorescent tubes that are direct line voltage replacements. This means that the old ballast that is in your fluorescent fixture must be removed with line voltage going directly to the pins of the lamp holder. This eliminates the need for future ballast replacements because a led lamp is the only replaceable part.

What is the best led light product Warranty?

Let’s not forget about the warranty. A ONE (1) year warranty is worth absolutely nothing. A FIVE (5) year warranty is industry standard and a TEN (10) year warranty is exceptional good.

Now some lighting manufactures are offering a lifetime warranty.

Which manufacture makes the best quality led light fixture?

A difficult question to answer but you can use the warranty terms as a indicator of quality. A lifetime warranty on a led light is likely going to have a better build quality then a 1 or 5 year warranted product.

Replacing led light fixtures

If you need to replace a light fixture because of a faulty led driver burning out it will become difficult to save money on a cheap product purchase.

Consider that if you paid a electrician to install the lights, you will have to pay them again to change them when they fail. This is why I recommenced to my clients at Green Electric & Automation to buy the best quality light fixture you can for your budget.

Where can I buy cheap led lights?

Its not worth it to buy cheap led lights!… Don’t do it .

The point I’m trying to make might seem obvious but so many people get sucked into buying cheap junk because the cost is $5 dollars less then the better brand name product. Cheap led lighting just doesn’t last like the more expensive, higher quality lighting brands do.

Many home building centers such as Home Depot and Rona have a lighting department which showcase a wide assortment of light fixtures that meet your budget and personal preferences. The problem a consumer faces is selecting a good quality light from the range of options available.

Led Lighting options

Through various wholesalers I have access to a wide catalog of led lighting options at various price points. Generally if the lighting requirement is generic such as office lights, security lighting, parking lot lights or pot lights for your home I can usually provide very competitive pricing and a high quality option.

However, I still encourage clients to making their own lighting purchase if they require a specific design style to go along with their home decor. I do this because I feel that lighting is a very personal purchase which is best left to an individuals taste. However once a choice has been made I’m more then happy to install your lighting for you.

Why is there so many cheap led lights available on the market if there not made of a good quality?

One of the reasons for there being so many cheaply made led lights on the market comes down to simple economics. Certain manufacturers and sellers know that people will buy their product based purely on a lower cost buying decision.

Sometimes a product is cheaply made because of cheap internal parts and the warranty terms. When too many warranty claims are made, the manufacture changes the packaging design so that they can circumvent the warranty terms.

This change in packaging is often backed by claiming that the product is no longer available. When the manufacture releases the “newer” product, that resets the warranty period.

Unfortunately other cheap lighting brands will still have the same quality issues and likely end up needing a replacement. Consumers get the short end of this deal so long as they keep buying cheap lights, manufactures will keep making them.

This type of manufacturing cycle is about making a company a lot of money through selling a high volume of product. Their main interest is not in making a quality product. Cheaper isn’t better.

Figuring out a method to rate led lights.

Operational cost of a light can be difficult to figure out because of several different factors.  These factors are purchase price, cost over operational service life, power usage, and pay back period. 

Generally a light with a quick payback period is what you want as that will net you the most savings in the short term. However if the quality of a product is really good then it would be expected for it to last longer at the expense of paying a higher upfront purchase price.

Sample calculation comparing different L.E.D’s to CFL and incandescent lights.

Lets consider purchasing a 10 watt led light bulb at $3.00. If the light was left on for 5 hours a day, for a 1 year period at .10 cents kWh this light would cost $1.83. Now compare a equivalent 60 watt incandescent light bulb at $1.25.  Assuming the same 5 hours a day of use for 1 year at .10 cents kWh it would cost $10.95 to operate annually.  If you consider the cost for 50,000 hours @ $0.10 kWh the led bulb would cost $50 and the incandescent would cost $300. 

Whats interesting is how many bulbs you may have to burn out before you get 50,000 hours of service.  A led bulb can last 10,000 hours, where as a incandescent can last up to 1000 hours. 

Therefore you would have to purchase more of the incandescent bulbs to equal the longevity of the led bulb.  In this scenario the led bulb is the clear winner in overall cost for its lifespan.  Within the last few years incandescent lights have begun to be phased out. They are being replaced by CFL and led bulbs.  Would a led light still be the preferred choice?  The short answer is yes but it is a much closer comparison.

Applications for L.E.D lighting

 I feel that one of the biggest considerations when choosing a light is the application in which you are using the light for. 

Some of the more popular applications for led lighting.

  • led under cabinet lighting
  • led pot lights
  • led vanity lighting
  • interior ceiling light fixtures
  • led pendant lighting
  • led track lighting
  • led security lighting
  • led landscape lighting
  • led outdoor wall lighting
  • led recessed lighting
  • led high bay light fixtures
  • led light fixtures
  • led kitchen lighting
  • led chandeliers
  • led lighting for a garage or workshop
  • commercial led lighting
  • sign lighting

LED lighting trends

The lighting market is currently trending towards the use of recessed slim led lighting for homes and office applications.  These lights can be purchased for around $20 per fixture but they can be found cheaper and more expensive depending on warranty coverage, build quality and design.   

Where can you install a slim led recessed light?

Slim led recessed lights can be easily mounted in drywall or acoustic tile drop ceilings. Most recessed led slim lights are also rated for insulation contact making them perfect for ceilings in bungalow homes .  The IC rating allows you to install the light in the ceiling without the need for insulation separation. On older metal can pot lights a box around the fixture was required to provide insulation separation from the hot light fixture. This was because they generated more heat and were considered a fire hazard when in contact with ceiling insulation. 

Another popular location to install slim led lights is in bathrooms and soffits. Certain models of lights are wet location approved. This means they can be installed in areas that are typically wet such as a bathroom shower. 

Can led recessed lights be dimmed?

Most led slim lights respond well to dimming making them a great choice for around a fireplace, entertainment room, kitchens and bedrooms.  You can also get them in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes and lumen output . With a thimble pivot you can direct the light to a room focal point. This makes them great for a accent lighting arrangement or if you need to direct light to a specific work space. 

Benefits from led lighting technology.

Lets also take a look at how a business can benefit from led technology.  If you were a farm operator and used incandescent lighting for your barn you could see significant savings in switching to led light technology. 

Many chicken farmers state the importance of being able to dim the lights to mimic day and night cycles.  If your barn has older lighting controllers it is sometimes necessary to leave some incandescent lights in the pen.

This is so that the light controller can properly dim the lights.  Failure to do this would cause the lighting to only dim down to around 12%. Attempting to dim the lights further would then turn the lights completely off leaving the pen blackness. 

By leaving a couple incandescent bulbs installed the lighting controllers responded better due to the added resistance in the circuit.  Fast forward to the year 2019 and you will find most dimmable led bulbs no longer have this low dimming incompatibility issue.

Some points to consider if your planning a lighting project.

  • availability (electrical wholesaler vs public hardware store)
  • Purchase price, cost to convert, long term savings
  • dimmable vs non-dimmable which is better for your application
  • rural areas with power fluctuations dimmable type last longer but cost more
  • types of construction, slim leds with driver internal vs external driver
  • warranty and replacement – quality vs cost
  • installing pot lights can be a little messy and dusty. It is advised to use drop sheets over valuables. You could also move belongs and furniture to another area so that they don’t get covered in drywall dust. Move electronics, cover bedroom dressers etc…
  • ease of install, accessibility if needing maintenance, who is installing the light? DIY or do I need a electrician?
  • is a electrical permit needed?  If wiring needs to be added or altered than its likely yes.
  • construction type and where they are used, residential pot lights and par 20, gu10, commercial t8 lamps, wall packs for parking lots, industrial high bay lighting, garage workshop

Linked below is a calculator to figure out the operating costs and pay back period.

Link to energy use calculator

Link to save on energy small business lighting program.  Save up to $2000, some conditions apply.