Large turn-key LED lighting projects are becoming increasingly popular as cities and businesses realize how they can benefit. Energy and maintenance savings, improved visibility and security, tax or rebate incentives, and bettering the environment are some of those benefits. In 2018, CCA Global Partners hopped on the LED bandwagon with a project at their Earth City, MO offices.
This location is where CCA Global Partners carries out accounting, legal, and rebate operations. It’s also home to ProSource Wholesale—one of their 14 co-ops. This private showroom is one of many, and it provides trade professionals and their clients access to a wide selection of wholesale floor coverings. CCA Global Partners, as a whole, has 14 brands ranging from flooring to biking, nonprofit, and more. They work to provide thousands of entrepreneurs with the resources they need to grow successful businesses.
CCA Global Partners was experiencing poor parking lot visibility. The shared services cooperative had been lighting their 230,550-square-foot outdoor space with metal-halide (MH) fixtures. Light from these fixtures appeared dim and yellow. In an effort to improve visibility and reduce energy consumption, they decided to swap their inefficient MH lights with new LED fixtures from superbrightleds.com.
Super Bright LEDs worked with CCA Global Partners on a turn-key project that provided them with 32 new outdoor LED lights to replace what they had. Six 400-watt MH wall packs were replaced with six of SBL’s 80-watt LED wall packs, and 19 400-watt MH parking lot lights were replaced with 12 150-watt and seven 200-watt LED parking lot lights. CCA also purchased four can lights for their rear awning and an additional three parking lot lights; all added lights were installed as part of the project. The LED parking lot lights required wall-mount brackets and fixed arm kits, which were part of CCA’s purchase.
Turn-key cost of the entire project (products, labor, disposal, and project management) was $14,533. A one-time utility rebate brought net cost down to $12,680. With money-saving incentives, a 5-year payback, and a projected savings of nearly $11,000 by the 10-year mark, the project proved to be well worth the upfront cost. Not to mention CCA was also able to purchase the additional parking lot lights and can lights while still receiving a hefty return on their investment. There was also a drastic difference in appearance and visibility as well as a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. All of the LED products used for this project emit cool or natural white light. This created a crisp, well-lit parking lot without being overly bright.
If you’re thinking of adding LED lights to your business and would like help, Super Bright LEDs’ dedicated commercial account representatives can assist with every step of your project. Don’t hesitate to call us toll free at 866-590-3533 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT Monday-Friday.
In order to be fully prepared for installing an LED landscape lighting system, you’ll need to know how to plan for it. Planning will help you choose landscape lights as well as the correct transformer, wire, and accessories needed for your particular installation. It will also help you avoid potential installation problems and figure out which wiring method is best. If you’re ready to pull the trigger on purchasing a lighting system, the information in this post will guide you through the process.
1) Choose Your Lights
The first step in your landscape lighting adventure will be figuring out what areas you want to light and what fixtures would be best for them. If you’re not sure what types of fixtures you’ll need, take a look at our landscape lighting design post. It’s separated by different exterior areas and shows each type of light that’s typically used in those locations.
When you’re choosing lights, consider whether you want a plug-and-play install or if you’re comfortable working with lights that have pigtail wire leads. Pigtail wires will require the use of silicone-filled wire nuts for connections. This wiring option isn’t complicated by any means; it’s just a bit more involved than plug-and-play connectors as it requires the use of wire cutters and strippers to tie into your main landscape line.
Some other things to consider when you’re choosing LED landscape lights are brightness and color or color temperature. If you’re not sure how much brightness you’ll need, consider the size of what you want to illuminate. For small plants, areas, or structures, choose lights with lower lumen outputs. RGB landscape lights are available if you want to use colors other than white. And speaking of white—most fixture types come in one of several correlated color temperatures (CCT), which are shades of white. Depending on the fixture, CCT options can include classic warm white, natural (neutral) white, or cool white, which has a hint of blue in it and is similar to daylight.
When you choose lights, add up the total wattage they consume. You’ll need this number for choosing other parts of your landscape lighting system.
2) Sketch Out Where Lights Will Be
It’s best to make a sketch of the area where your lights will be installed. When doing this, think about light placement and whether they will come into contact with mowers or trimmers. Walk the install location and take actual measurements. Transfer those measurements to your sketch. This will help you get a clear picture of the best wiring method and how much wire you’ll need. There are several ways you can wire your lights to reduce the amount of wire needed or avoid a power issue known as voltage drop. Let’s discuss what this is.
What is voltage drop?
Voltage decreases as it moves through a run of wire and a series of lights. This means that, because each light is receiving a little less than the one before it, lights can appear dimmer toward the end of a series. A small loss is OK, but anything more than a 1.5-volt drop should be corrected.
Calculating voltage drop for wire gauge or transformer voltage tap:
To figure out how much voltage drop your system will experience, use this formula: wire length x total light wattage/wire constant x 2. You’ll need to choose a wire gauge for the purpose of this formula. Start with 12 AWG. If voltage drop is higher than 1.5, try the formula with a larger wire gauge (smaller number). For example, a 10-gauge wire is larger and can handle more wattage than a 12-gauge wire. You’ll also need to add up the combined wattage of all your lights. See the table below for wire constants and an example formula where wire length is 100 feet and total light wattage is 30.
From our example formula, you can see that voltage drop is 0.8, which is acceptable. This means that 12-gauge wire will work for your landscape lighting system.
If you’d rather choose one wire gauge without doing any upfront calculations before purchasing it, you should have a multi-tap transformer. This type of transformer has multiple terminals that supply different voltages to whatever is plugged into them. To determine which tap you should use on your transformer, use the formula above to figure out voltage drop, and add that number to 12, which is the voltage you want your lights to have. For example, if you have a voltage drop of 3, you’ll need to use your transformer’s 15-volt tap (12+3). You can also use a voltmeter to test what each light is receiving after you wire them to your transformer.
The daisy-chain method involves end-to-end connection within a series of fixtures, and only an end fixture is connected to the transformer. You can save wire by using this method, but it is not ideal for groups of scattered lights. It can also lead to voltage drop where lights become dimmer toward the end of the series.
In this easy-to-install method, a main line connects to a light in the middle of a series. This way, voltage drop is reduced for uniform brightness across all lights in the series. Not only does the T method help with voltage drop, but it also helps save wire.
Your main line connects to a central hub where each light is connected separately. This ensures that each light is supplied with the same voltage. You can also connect groups of lights to the hub. Each group will start off with the same supplied voltage, but you can still experience voltage drop within each group. If you’re connecting groups using the hub method, it’s important to calculate voltage drop for each group to determine which wire gauge you need or which tap to use on your transformer. The hub method does use a bit more wire than some other methods, but it eliminates or reduces voltage drop and reduces the number of in-ground splices you’d otherwise have.
In the loop method, a series of lights is powered from both ends. The last light in a series runs back to the first fixture or to the transformer. This can be a quick solution for a voltage drop issue with a series of lights, but it can make it difficult to diagnose problems in the future. If you use this method, keep in mind that wire polarity must be maintained from light to light and to the transformer. While it reduces voltage drop and allows for uniform brightness across your fixtures, it also adds to the amount of wiring you’d need.
Two or more wire runs are connected directly to the transformer. These runs can have one light or a group of lights connected to them. The split method can reduce voltage drop to each group as a whole, but it can still occur within a series in those groups. Calculate voltage drop for each group to determine which wire gauge or voltage tap to use.
3) Choose A Power Supply
To figure out which power supply is best, consider two things: the total wattage of the lights that you’re purchasing and if you anticipate adding lights in the future. When you add up the wattage of all lights, you’ll have a good idea of how powerful your transformer needs to be. However, the total wattage of your lights should be 20 percent less than the transformer’s rated wattage. Simply multiply total light wattage by 1.2 to know which power supply you should buy. For example, if your lights consume 100 watts of power, you’ll need a power supply that’s rated for at least 120 watts (100 x 1.2). If you’re planning on adding more lights in the future, buy a transformer that’s rated for more wattage than you currently need.
When you’re choosing a power supply, consider if you want one with multiple voltage taps so that you can easily fix any voltage drop issues. Select low-voltage transformers also come with built-in timers or timer receptacles. They can also be used with add-on dusk-to-dawn photocells to power lights on automatically at dawn and off at dusk. Keep all these options in mind when you’re shopping for your transformer.
4) Make Sure You Have The Tools and Materials Needed
Before you get ready to install your lights, make sure you have all the tools and accessories required. Below is a basic list of what you might need. Your specific installation could require items that are not on this list.
Silicone-filled wire nuts
Silicone or burial boxes to protect connections
Flat-blade shovel or edger
4×4 Post and hardware to install transformer on house or post
5) Install Your Landscape Lighting System!
Once you have all the necessary supplies, you’re ready to install your lights! It’s best to lay out your entire connected system and test the lights before burying any wire. You can also use a voltmeter to test for voltage drop and see if you need to change to a higher tap on your transformer (if applicable).
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us toll free at 866-590-3533. Our customer service and technical support teams are available from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. CDT Monday-Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT on Friday.
LED landscape lighting is a great way to dress up your yard and show it off, but there are many different options for accomplishing this. How do you know which lights to use where and for what? Read on, and you’ll find out.
The first step in adding light to your yard is to know what you want to highlight. You might not be aware of the many ways you can use light to achieve an interesting, eye-catching outdoor design; look at the examples in this post or browse the internet to get some ideas. Next, you should know what types of lights are available, the effects that they create, and where they’re typically used. We carry a wide variety of 12-volt LED landscape products, including spot, path, flood, hardscape, step/deck, pond/fountain, well, path, recessed, and fence lights. For each type of light, there are options for brightness, color, style, and additional features. Take a look below to see how and where you can use these lights.
Use LED spotlights to make trees, plants, or shrubbery stand out. Mount them in the ground, and adjust their aimable heads to wherever light is needed. This is not to say that light has to come from below. You can also use these lights in trees to achieve a moonlighting effect. When mounted at the right height and angled properly, the ground below can look like it is lit by the moon instead of an obvious light source. This is perfect for patios or sitting areas. These fixtures are sold individually, in complete kits with transformers and wire, or as add-on kits.
Place LED well lights in the ground under the tree, bush, or plant you want to illuminate. If you want to light both the trunk and canopy of a large tree, it might take several well lights. You can choose your color temperature (cool, natural, or warm white), or choose an RGB fixture if you want to pick from many vibrant color options and color-changing modes.
LED flood lights have wide beam angles and are great for lighting large bushes or shrubbery that lines the side of a house or building. The farther away you place the light, the more area you can cover.
House Features (Pillars, Porches, Eaves, Walls, Etc.)
Spotlights can be used to highlight a home’s architectural features. Mount them at the base of a wall, or aim them at porch columns. You can also use them for downlighting on the side of your house or under eaves. These fixtures are sold individually, in complete kits with transformers and wire, or as add-on kits.
Use these wide-beam fixtures to light a section of or the entire front of your house. Choose cool, natural, or warm white color temperatures, or choose an RGB flood light to illuminate your house with any color imaginable.
LED well lights are perfect for accenting porch columns or the sides of your house. They mount flush with the ground and emit illumination that stretches vertically from bottom to top (depending on the height of what you’re lighting).
Statues, Flags, & Other Yard Structures
Using LED spotlights, you can light anything from fountains and gazebos to statues and flags. Choose an intensity that’s right for the object you’re highlighting. If you’re having trouble imagining how much light is enough, think of a classic 60-watt incandescent bulb, which emits about 800 lumens of light. These fixtures are sold individually, in complete kits with transformers and wire, or as add-on kits.
In addition to basic highlighting, there are different techniques you can use to light structures.
A spotlight is placed behind the structure and aimed up at an adjacent wall. With this technique, you’ll see the shape of the statue or structure against a lighted background.
The spotlight is placed behind an object and aimed upward at a wall at such an angle that it creates a sharp cone-shaped beam. This creates an interesting effect where the outline of the object is all you see against the beam on the wall.
The light is placed in front of plants or other objects in order to project their shadows onto a wall.
Large yard or house structures can benefit from a wide beam of light. Different mounting options are available for mounting flood lights on the side of homes, top of banisters, or in the ground.
Well lights look great when placed at the base of a statue, fountain, mailbox, or other yard structure. You could also place them around gazebos or at the base of deck posts or other posts/pillars.
Gardens or Rock/Mulch Beds
These fixtures aren’t limited to paths. When mounted in gardens, they provide a gentle glow that lights a small surrounding area of plants, rock, or mulch. There are many decorative styles to choose from. These fixtures are sold individually, in complete kits with transformers and wire, or as add-on kits.
You can place spotlights inside of a garden or rock/mulch bed to aim on single plants, shrubbery, or trees. You can also mount them just outside of the garden or bed to illuminate the entire area or several plants at once. These fixtures are sold individually, in complete kits with transformers and wire, or as add-on kits.
An LED well light makes the perfect addition to a small garden or rock/mulch bed. Use these fixtures to bring out the details of a particular plant, small tree, or group of plants.
These fixtures will light a large section of your tall, wooden fence, which can add an interesting design element to your yard. If space allows, experiment by using several fixtures evenly spaced and angled to create wide cone patterns with sharp cutoffs.
Surface-Mount Eyelid Lights
These lights are easy to mount and cast a downward beam of light on your wooden fence. They’re found in our deck and step light category. Use several evenly spaced fixtures for decoration along your entire fence, or use a single fixture to highlight a specific area. If you have anything against your fence, such as a grill or small garden, these fixtures will light them too.
If you’re renovating your current home, building a new one, or just curious how you can optimize lighting, you might be wondering how many lights you need in each room. Sure, you could guess and end up overlighting or underlighting your home, but did you know that there are actually set recommendations for how much light should be in different types of rooms? These recommendations are given by lighting designers, engineers, architects, and the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), and they can help you determine the right number of lights to use in different areas of your home.
As stated on their website, the IES is “. . . an accredited Standards Development Organization (SDO) under American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved procedures.” They work to inform the public of best practices for using lighting to meet visual and aesthetic needs. The organization consists of different types of lighting professionals who are all working toward quality lighting design for every space.
The way in which the IES and other lighting professionals communicate how much light should be used in a space is to give lux or foot-candle recommendations. Both of these are measurements for how much light makes it onto a surface. Lux means lumens per square meter, and foot-candles means lumens per square foot. Lumens are a measurement that describes the amount of light produced from a light source. There are two separate tables shown below: Table A has strictly IES recommendations, and Table B combines recommendations from the IES as well as architects and engineers.
Table A: IES recommended lighting levels
*Information from the IES Ready Reference app
Table B: Combination of lighting recommendations
*Information compiled from several sources. See list at end of post.
You’ll notice that the IES’ recommendations are lower than the numbers in Table B. The suggestions given from the IES are minimum light levels for a usable space. Table B takes into account the different purposes of certain spaces. It gives a broader range that allows for differing factors that affect lighting from home to home. It’s easier to meet these recommendations with an LED light fixture. Unlike ceiling fixtures with 360-degree incandescent bulbs, LED alternatives have tighter beam angles, so more light makes it to surfaces and the floor. This means that you’ll need fewer fixtures, but roughly how many lumens do you need? There are a couple ways to find out.
Option 1: Use a simple formula
To get an idea of what lumen output you should have for each room, you can use this formula, which is based on an 8-foot ceiling height. It’s a great starting point but does not account for beam angles or reflectivity of ceilings and walls, so you might need to tweak it a bit depending on your space and its design.
Room square footage x suggested foot-candles for that type of room = lumens needed
*Calculate a room’s square footage by multiplying its length by its width.
For example, a bedroom that is 12′ long by 14′ wide has a square footage of 168. If you wanted to use the IES’ recommended light level for a bedroom, you’d multiply 168 by 5 foot-candles (168 x 5 = 840), and you’d see that the bedroom requires 840 lumens for general use. This amount of lumens is equivalent to about one traditional 60-watt incandescent bulb or a 10-watt A19 LED bulb. This output might be perfect for a guest bedroom that’s used only for sleeping and dressing.
A teenager’s bedroom, on the other hand, would need more light if it’s used for schoolwork. If you use the minimum of 20 foot-candles shown for bedrooms on Table B, you’d need 3,360 lumens (168 x 20 = 3,360) for a 12-by-14-foot space. This equates to about four 60-watt or 60-watt-equivalent A19 bulbs. This number doesn’t specify where those lumens should come from—just that it’s a good amount of light to have total. It could come from a combination of lamps, desk lights, and ceiling lights.
Option 2: Use another room’s light level as inspiration
Another method for determining how many lumens you need is to use a light meter. When placed on a surface, it will tell you how much light that surface is receiving in foot-candles or lux (depending on the type of light meter you’re using). If you do this in a room where you’re satisfied with the lighting, the light meter will help you match it. You can use the formula above to figure out how many lumens you need; just multiply your room’s square footage by the foot-candle value you got from the light meter. Keep in mind that light gets dimmer the farther away it is from the source. So if you’re measuring a spot directly underneath a light and want that level everywhere, you’ll most likely have to add more lights.
Considerations and other options
These methods are great for getting an idea of what to shoot for when it comes to how much light your home needs. And in the midst of building or renovating a house, it’s nice to have a plan and one less thing to wonder or worry about. Option one is a perfect starting point, but those numbers are, however, just guidelines. The level of light that you like might not be in either of the tables shown above. When it comes down to it, residential lighting is all about personal preference. Different homes will require different levels of light based on room size, wall color, ceiling height, room purpose, glare, lamp shades, and other factors.
If you’re unsure about if you’ll like the output found in the tables or if you have no room to copy output from with a light meter, stick with one of the lower recommendations or IES suggestions. You can always add supplemental lighting, such as lamps or under-cabinet lights. Another option is to buy brighter lights than you think are necessary and install dimmers. There are several options that can help you through this process. Now that you know determining how much light is in a space doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark, you just have to choose which method works for you.
Enhance your deck, patio, retaining wall, stone steps, or other stone elements with LED hardscape lights. We’ve recently added more options to our hardscape lighting line that allow you to get the look you want. These plug-and-play and hardwire lights come with fixed or aimable light heads for illumination however or wherever you need it. Just choose the perfect size and color temperature, and add some life to your outdoor space.
Whether you need retaining wall lights or lights around your deck, we’ve got you covered with these LED hardscape lights. Because they have pigtail wire leads, you can easily tie these lights into an existing landscape lighting system. All of our hardwire hardscape lights are constructed of aluminum with stainless steel mounting plates. They’re weatherproof and fully potted for LED protection.
The light head on this 7-inch LED hardscape light is fully adjustable, so you can aim light wherever it’s needed. It emits 120 lumens of warm white light.
These hardscape lights are available in 3-, 7-, or 13-inch lengths. Depending on which length you choose, they can emit anywhere from 30-200 lumens of light in one of two white color temperatures.
Plug and Play
These easy-to-install LED hardscape lights have plug-and-play connectors that allow you to join up to 50 of them together depending on the length you choose. Their connectors are compatible with all plug-and-play GLUX accessories. This means effortless connections to power supplies, dusk-to-dawn sensors, other GLUX lights, and more. You can also tie them into an existing landscape system with a GLUX pigtail adapter. They’re available in 3-, 7-, 12-, and 18-inch sizes that emit 10-90 lumens depending on length. You can choose from warm, cool, or natural white color temperatures.
You’re sound asleep when, suddenly, you’re awoken by flames and smoke. Your house is on fire! It’s a tragedy, but at least you have homeowners insurance; that’ll cover your losses—right? The insurance adjuster finds that the fire was started by a can light you recently installed in your kitchen. It had no safety certifications; you didn’t even know any were required. The adjuster tells you that insurance can’t cover your losses because the fixture wasn’t UL or ETL Listed and wasn’t safe for use. Now you’re left to figure out how to repair your home and replace your belongings with no financial assistance.
This is an extreme case, but it demonstrates how important it is to purchase lights or lighting components that have these certifications—not only because they’ve been verified as safe, but also because they can save your life, home, and wallet. While safety is what it boils down to, there are many more reasons to care about having products with UL and ETL certifications. So what exactly are UL and ETL, and what’s the full scope of what they do? Let’s find out.
What is UL?
The tiny UL logos that can be found on over 22 million products worldwide are from Underwriters Laboratories. This not-for-profit certification agency has been providing a sense of security and comfort to people since 1894. As an Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recognized Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), their goal is to create safe living and working environments. This is accomplished by making sure that every product they test meets certain safety and quality requirements. They do more though. According to UL, “Our comprehensive services include certifications of a product, facility, process or system to industry-wide standards and requirements recognized by UL.”
UL currently has over 40 types of certifications; safety, for which they have 1,614 set standards, is included. They provide certifications, such as ECOLOGO®, that benefit the environment and certifications that benefit life and health such as the Wellness certification, which ensures that tested products meet WELL Building Standard requirements. Manufacturers apply for product testing and receive certain safety marks, which include UL Listed, Classified, or Recognized.
UL Listed marks for North America, Canada, and North America/Canada
These marks indicate that product samples meet UL’s set safety requirements for electrical and fire risks as well as other hazards. Anything with these marks is an end product or complete component. After initial testing, UL representatives make unannounced visits to ensure that products still meet requirements.
When a product is UL Listed, it is listed for either dry, damp, or wet locations.
Drylocations are indoor areas that are not subject to direct contact with water. Products can be used in areas that are temporarily exposed to dampness so long as moisture cannot accumulate on them. Examples include bedrooms and kitchens.
Damplocations are indoor or outdoor areas that are subject to condensation but don’t come in direct contact with water. Examples include shower ceilings and pool areas.
Wetlocations are indoor or outdoor areas where products come into direct contact with water. However, this does not mean that the item is submersible. A product’s IP rating will tell you the degree to which it is waterproof. Wet locations include patios, gardens, and more. Products are sealed to keep water out. If they purposely do allow water to enter, they will have drain holes.
UL Classified marks for North America, Canada, and North America/Canada
Products that have these marks are tested with respect to certain characteristics, hazards, or their performance under special conditions. UL’s Follow-Up Services apply to products with these marks to verify they still meet requirements.
UL Recognized marks for North America, Canada, and North America/Canada
These marks are seen on components that are, or will be, part of a complete product. Examples include power supplies, switches, and circuit boards.
ETL Listed marks for North America, Canada, and North America/Canada
What is ETL?
An ETL certification means that products have been tested to set safety standards. The certification comes from Intertek’s Electrical Testing Labs. Like UL, Intertek is an OSHA Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory with the goal of creating safe working and living environments. They provide assurance, testing, inspection, and certification services. On their website, Intertek states, “. . . we can help to ensure that your products meet quality, health, environmental, safety, and social accountability standards . . . .”
The long-standing company has more than 1,000 laboratories in over 100 countries. It’s common for lighting products to have an ETL mark as it’s usually easier and quicker to get than a UL certification. Like UL, Intertek does do unannounced visits to ensure that products are still meeting requirements. Intertek tests to various standards, including UL, ULC, ASME, ASTM, ANSI, CSA, NFPA, NOM, and NSF. The company has 24 different marks/certifications to indicate anything from safety to health and environmental benefits. Examples include the Clean Air Indoor Air Quality and Green Leaf marks.
Both UL and ETL certifications are acceptable proof of a product’s safety. Having these certifications means that you can rest easy knowing that what you’re installing in your home or business won’t cause safety issues. Check for these marks when you’re shopping for electrical, mechanical, or chemical products. You won’t regret it.
If you’ve discovered all the glory of LED strip lights, you’ll be even more impressed with our Alexa/Google Assistant compatible Wi-Fi LED controllers. These compact controllers are available for single-color, RGB, or RGBW LED strip lights. Tired of looking for remotes? Just tell your Amazon Echo or Google Home device what you want to happen. Whether that’s turning them on or off, changing brightness, or choosing a color, you have basic control at the tip of your tongue.
If talking isn’t your thing, simply use the Smart Life, Alexa, or Google Home app to control your strip lights. All apps let you access basic controls as well as additional features, such as scheduling, timers, and conditional programming. Sound-activated colors, custom color creation, and scene (mode) creation or presets are specific to the Smart Life app. App features are dependent upon which LED strip light you have. Here’s a quick run down:
Features for all controllers:
Conditional (if/then) programming
Single-Color Wi-Fi LED Controller:
RGB Wi-Fi LED Controller:
Change color, brightness, and saturation
Choose custom colors from the color wheel
Sync lights to phone music
Select preset color scenes (modes), and edit to create your own
RGBW Wi-Fi LED Controller:
Change color, brightness, or select pure white
Choose custom colors from the color wheel
Select preset color scenes (modes), and edit to create your own
Color, Brightness, or Pure White Control
Control these with your Alexa or Google Home device or through the Alexa, Google Home, or Smart Life app. Saturation control is also available for colors.
Preset and Custom Scenes
RGB and RGBW controllers have preset color-changing modes (scenes). You can select which colors appear in these scenes and control the speed at which colors change, fade, or flash.
Use your phone’s microphone to pick up sounds or music, and colors will flash to the beat. This feature is available with the RGB LED controller only.
With conditional programming, you can tell your strips what action to perform when certain conditions are met. The Smart Life app includes several conditions, such as weather, temperature, and humidity.
Alexa and Google Home app conditions are more specific but are a bit more user friendly. In the Alexa example below, RGBW strip lights are set to turn orange at 10 percent brightness at 5:45 a.m. (when the sun rises). Incorporate your strips into a set command, such as “Alexa, wake me up,” or “Hey Google, it’s time to party.” The options are endless with Alexa or Google Assistant.
Scheduling and Timers
Control what time your lights turn on and off or how long they stay on for.
All of these smart LED strip light controllers have plug-and-play DC barrel connectors for CPS power supplies. RGB and RGBW versions have pigtail strip light wire leads that are easy to connect with wire nuts or quick connectors. Female or male barrel connector adapters are available for strip lights or power supplies with pigtail wire leads. The smart LED controllers are compatible with strips that operate on 12-24 VDC.
Single-Color Wi-Fi LED Controller
RGB Wi-Fi LED Controller
RGBW Wi-Fi LED Controller
When you replace fluorescent, HID, incandescent, or halogen bulbs with LED lights, there’s more savings potential than you might have realized. Most of the savings come into play when people underestimate just how inefficient those classic bulbs are. They lose a significant amount of light before it makes it to where it’s needed, and they lose it much faster than LEDs. This problem is known as lumen or light loss. All lighting types experience it, and it’s lost in a variety of ways, but LEDs experience the least amount of it. Factoring in lumen loss helps you shop for the most cost-saving LED replacements.
There are several reasons to make theswitch to LEDs. One of the most important is efficacy. Comparable LED lights use significantly less energy to emit the same amount of light that you’re used to. Compared to other lighting types, LEDs have better efficacy over time. This is, in large part, due to their slow rate of lumen depreciation.
If you’re replacing a traditional fixture with an LED equivalent, you’ll probably try to find something that emits the same amount of light. It’s a given that you’ll save energy because the LED light will consume less power, but you can save even more. How? You don’t need the same output to get the light you’re used to. You’re getting much less light than what’s claimed. It can be far off from initial claims and even more so after some time has passed. This means that you can choose an LED replacement that emits less than what your old fixture claimed and still experience the same or brighter output. This brings wattage requirements down and saves even more energy. Before we get into figuring out which output to choose, let’s discuss how light is lost.
Fixtures sacrifice lumen output when they utilize reflectors to deliver light to an intended area. No reflector will yield the exact amount of light emitted from the bulb. Lost output is determined by the reflector material and how many times light bounces off of it. The reflectivity of the material can vary from around 80-95 percent. This means that aluminum with a reflectivity of 90 percent will reduce a bulb’s output by 10 percent each time it bounces. Light can bounce several times before it makes its way out of the fixture. The reflector in the example below uses aluminum with a reflectivity of 90 percent. In this instance, light bounces 3 times, so by the time it makes its way out, 30 percent of the light’s output has been lost.
Lenses, filters, protective covers, and dirt:
Regardless of fixture type, if light has to pass through anything, output will take a hit. Most fixtures have some sort of covering either for light focusing, protection, or to change the light’s color. The extent to which output is reduced depends on the material and its design or intended purpose. Lenses, covers, and dirt will have an impact on LED fixture output, but because lumens are measured for complete LED fixtures, those factors (dirt excluded) won’t impact output further. The exception is if you add a lens accessory or use an LED bulb in another fixture. That fixture’s lens or filter will reduce light intensity.
Invisible UV and IR light:
Fluorescent, incandescent, halogen, and HID lights emit a substantial portion of their output in the invisible infrared (IR) or ultraviolet (UV) spectrums. This means that claimed output isn’t what you can actually see. An incandescent bulb generally wastes 90 percent of its energy as IR heat, and just 10 percent goes toward making visible light. Unless an LED bulb or fixture is specifically IR or UV, it produces little to no UV light or infrared radiation.
Beam angle plays a big role in how much light makes it to where it’s needed. Incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, and HID bulbs have 360-degree beams. They emit light in all directions—even where it’s not needed. Reflectors are necessary to redirect light, but light is lost in them. LEDs are directional, so in an LED high-bay fixture, for example, all LEDs would aim where they’re needed and a reflector wouldn’t be necessary. There are 360-degree LED products, such as corn bulbs and standard globe bulbs. These products are necessary for certain applications, like retrofitting HID high-bay fixtures and post top lights, but whenever a reflector is used, some light will be sacrificed if it has to bounce off of it.
You can maximize savings when switching to LED lights if you choose the right beam angle for the intended fixture mounting height. If you’re mounting a fixture on a high ceiling, choosing a tight beam angle will result in more light on the floor or brighter light over a certain area on the floor. A 360-degree bulb will cover a larger area but be less intense than a fixture with comparable output and a tighter beam. With a tighter beam angle, you can use an LED fixture that emits less light than your old bulb claimed, which saves more on energy costs.
Ballasts and voltage:
Supply voltage/current fluctuations as well as failing or inefficient ballasts can result in lower lumen output. Light loss of up to 25 percent is possible in ballasted fixtures. LED fixtures use drivers, which are much more efficient than ballasts. LED drivers can reduce output by up to just 15 percent over time.
Fixture or environment temperature can greatly reduce lumen output. LEDs create the least amount of heat compared to any other light type. Incandescent bulbs waste 90 percent of their energy as heat, and just 10 percent goes toward creating light. LEDs use 80 percent of consumed energy to create light. Other lighting types run much hotter, which results in a fast decline in output over a short period of time. LED lumen output declines slowly over a long period of time.
How much light are you actually getting, and how do you know which LED light to choose?
The best way to know what lumen output to choose is to compare LED fixture lumens to the zonal lumens of another type of fixture. Zonal lumens are lamp (bulb) lumens minus fixture efficiency. Lamp lumens don’t account for light loss from reflectors, ballasts, filters, etc., so to use them would be inaccurate. Zonal lumens factor in those things and give more realistic expectations of a fixture’s lumen output. Remember unless you’re buying an LED bulb and using it in an existing fixture, LEDs are integrated into their fixtures, and lumens are measured for that fixture as a whole. There are no unexpected losses from factory-installed lenses, filters, etc.
Zonal lumens can be found on spec sheets or LM-79 reports. Look for lumens that are reported from zone 0-180. Using zonal lumens shows you that you can choose a less powerful LED fixture than you thought was needed—maximizing savings even further. For example, retailers for the THD 400S A15 HID high-bay light from Lithonia Lighting report 50,000 lumens at 400 watts. Looking at its zonal lumens shows you what you’re truly getting.
When fixture efficiency is taken into account, lumens drop to 39,671. And because HID fixtures experience a faster decline in efficiency than LED lights, output won’t be 39,671 for very long. In fact, if you figure in an average HID 20,000-hour L70 life span and use that light for 10 hours a day for 365 days per year, it will be emitting 27,300 lumens at the five-year mark. L70 is the point at which a light emits 70 percent of its initial output. This is usually when a difference in light output is apparent and bulbs tend to be replaced.
You could choose this 300-watt LED high-bay light to get the initial output (zonal lumens) of the Lithonia light; the LED light emits 39,000 lumens. If you’re replacing an HID fixture that has comparable specs to the Lithonia fixture and are ok with your current light output, you could choose this 200-watt LED light with a lumen output of 29,000. Of course, you’d have to have a situation close to the example mentioned earlier as far as watts, usage, etc. The point is that if you’re replacing an old fixture and want to match current light output, you can save even more by choosing a less powerful LED light than you’d need to match your current light’s zonal lumens. Using a light meter is the best way to know what your current output is.
Here’s another example. The HFA3E654 T5 fluorescent high-bay fixture from Howard Lighting reports 30,000 lumens at 360 watts. Zonal lumens show an output of 27,623. To match that output, you could choose this 200-watt linear LED fixture; it has an output of 27,600 lumens. You could also choose this 165-watt LED fixture to save more; it emits 21,500 lumens. Remember it won’t take long for the fluorescent fixture to become less efficient and lose a lot of light. Fluorescent fixtures have an average L70 life span of 10,000 hours—even worse than HID lights.
Understanding how light is lost and the reality of how much you’re truly getting with an HID, fluorescent, incandescent, or halogen light source enables you to make the best decision when choosing LED lights. They might be slightly more expensive to purchase than alternative light sources, but they are more efficient, have a much slower rate of lumen depreciation, consume significantly less power, and could qualify for energy rebates. Next time you need a light fixture, think about the output you were getting, the output you want, and compare your old light source or a similar light to LED fixtures. Dig into spec sheets, and think about all the ways light can be lost. You’ll see that LED lights are the way to go.
We’ve recently introduced a new line of LED grow lights for indoor gardening or greenhouses, hydroponics, and horticulture lighting. The cost-effective lights are available in several band options—including full-spectrum—to provide your plants with exactly what they need. They utilize cool-running LEDs and built-in fans (select models) to achieve a 35,000-hour life span, reduce chances of leaf bleaching, and eliminate the need for ducting. All models come with a power cord and 1-foot hanging kit.