An Ounce of Prevention for Facility Managers

FM inspectionsRecently, LinkedIn’s Facility Managers Group swapped workplace horror stories in an illuminating  discussion titled, “Stories of Neglect: What have you seen as a Facilities Manager that has been a result of poor maintenance or complete lack(there)of?” We noticed that a recurring theme in the responses was mass shortages of lighting due to failing fixtures that went unreported. These shortages can pose a huge danger for litigation and human life in general.

In these cases, those responsible for facility-wide inspections were often contractors who were unfamiliar with lighting terminology and standards – cleaning professionals, for example. Since many of the LED lights supplied by LED Waves are designed specifically for commercial and industrial buildings, this was of particular interest to us. How can lighting be effectively monitored by untrained personnel?

With filament-based lighting technology – halogen/incandescent – failure is pretty straightforward; the bulb suddenly burns out after a few thousand hours and stays dark until a maintenance worker gets around to replacing it. With gas-based, ballasted lighting technologies, however, failure can be trickier to diagnose.

LED vs MH vs HPS L70By industry standards, a luminaire is considered failed once it produces less than 70% of its initial output (thus the “L70″ references you may see on lighting literature). The ballasted lighting technologies most commonly seen in large buildings – fluorescent, HID, sodium, metal halide – decrease in lumen output exponentially shortly after being installed. (Fluorescent lights are especially bad, strobing and changing color noticeably as they near the end of their useful lives.)

Like the above lighting technologies, LED lights decrease their lumen output over time. Unlike the above, however, they don’t hit the dreaded 70% mark for 30,000 to 50,000 hours of operation – so inspections by qualified personnel, using proper equipment, can be scheduled fewer and farther between.

As LED lighting and controls get smarter, these inspections may fall out of human jurisdiction altogether in our lifetime – freeing up time for facility managers to prevent other stories of neglect.

LED Wall Packs Ahead of Lighting Standards

Some individuals interested in the Owl Outdoor LED Wall Pack family have asked us if any of the units are qualified by Energy Star or the DesignLights Consortium. (Energy Star applies to green products typically for the home and for retail and hospitality settings, while the DLC covers the remaining larger, more industrial lighting projects.) It is with heavy hearts that we answer no, simply because these programs currently do not offer a category for outdoor bracket-mounted wall packs.

Why is this the case? Traditional wall packs using metal halide, HID or sodium vapor were associated with lots of uplight – which is wasteful, creates light pollution, and can contribute to unsafe nighttime lighting conditions.

The directionality of solid state technology makes our own LED wall packs emit NO uplight. Check out all the zeroes across the board in the “U” (for Uplight) section of the B.U.G. reports for the 10, 30, 50, 70, 100 and 200 Watt Owl Packs. Each also meets the DLC’s high end specifications for related outdoor LED lighting categories – measuring brightness, efficiency, color rendering and more:

Owl Outdoor LED Wall Pack vs. DLCUntil Energy Star or the DLC recognize LED wall packs as viable nighttime floodlighting, it’s up to local utilities and building contracts with Buy American provisions to offer incentives for the high performance and energy savings of the USA-made Owl Pack. The technology is there already; we’re just waiting for the “green light” from the rest of the green lighting community.

A More Halogen-Like Dimmable LED Light Bulb?

A recent LEDs Magazine story uncovered some new design processes for dimmable halogen replacement bulbs. These processes require a lot of refinement (and solutions to new problems), with the end-goal of making LED bulbs appear to dim the same way as halogen/incandescent bulbs.

We emphasize appear, because the two lighting technologies handle dimming very differently. A halogen dimmer changes the amount of current running through the bulb. When you lower the current, filament burns less intensely. In addition to dimming the light (reducing its output), this also changes the light color to a warmer Kelvin temperature.

The phosphor layer on a lighting class LED changes its natural blue light into a different color. Though phosphors can be mixed to create pretty much any color temperature, by nature they inhibit some of the light output.

Increasing the density of materials in an LED package (as in the diagram above) also raises the operating temperature, which overworks the electronics. Therefore, an LED designed to replicate halogen dimming must have a dedicated thermal management solution, and may come with an overall energy efficiency trade-off.

In all the years LED Waves has manufactured and sold dimmable LED light bulbs and systems, we’ve always considered their consistent light quality as an improvement on halogen technology. No customer has ever approached us asking for a bulb that changes color temperature when it dims.

We’re always open to new technology, however, so this conversation intrigues us. What do you think? Would you sacrifice energy efficiency or lifespan for more halogen-like dimming? How else might an LED bulb better replicate traditional lighting technology?

via LEDs Magazine

LEDs, BUGs, and the Fight Against Stranger Danger

When browsing literature to specify lighting, you may come across something called a BUG rating. (These are part of the Outdoor Photometric Test Reports like the ones for each Owl Outdoor LED Wall Pack.) This three-number score does not assess whether your lights brings all the bugs to the yard – though LEDs, with their particular UV-free spectrum, do cut down on insect visitors. Instead, this rating measures Backlight, Uplight, and Glare.

backlight-uplight-forward.lightAs these are all undesirable features, the BUG scale is one in which you actually want low scores. By nature, our wall-mounted LED floods reduce backwards and upwards light waste due to their directionality. This explains the low numbers for the B-U portion of the Owl Pack’s BUG ratings – these figures are more important for free standing street lights, as illustrated at right.

The G portion is a bigger challenge for LEDs as well as any other outdoor lighting technology. Glare distorts the way the human eye naturally compensates for the darkness around a light source. This diptych illustrates the stranger danger posed by high glare lighting from an outdoor HID lamp.

the importance of low glare outdoor lighting

Low glare is important for improving nighttime safety, and why we took such care in the Owl Pack’s fixture design. Our G score is 0 for all the residential units, and 1 for the higher-powered industrial flood lights.

When sourcing any outdoor light, read the product’s Photometric Outdoor Test Report and BUG score to make sure it meets the safety requirements of your application. With impressive specs across the entire line of Owl Outdoor LED Wall Packs, we highly recommend these floods to make your building exteriors safe at night.

Who’s Who in the Owl Outdoor LED Wall Pack: Bridgelux Edition

LED Waves subscribers and customers know that the Owl Outdoor LED Wall Pack is one of the most exciting new developments from our line of LED lights made in the USA. With a wide range of power/light output options, from 1o to 200 Watt units, there’s an Owl Pack for virtually every outdoor lighting purpose to meet the needs of all residential, commercial and industrial building exteriors.

With Owl Pack customers representing so many different backgrounds and levels of lighting education, we thought we’d level the playing field by bringing you a closer look at the components and engineering concepts that go into each one. After all, as LED Waves CEO and head of our R&D department Joel Slavis says, “Hell, we’re doing all this stuff; they might as well know about it.” Indeed.

Thus begins our series of informational LED Waves blog posts: Who’s Who in the Owl Pack.

WhosWho Owl Pack vero

We’re kicking it off with a spotlight (or, more accurately, an LED floodlight) on the Bridgelux Vero, used by every single Owl Pack.

This cutaway comparison shows that the solder-free COB LED (at right) eliminates fracture points. Image via

This cutting edge technology from California’s Bridgelux features chip-on-board (COB) construction – eliminating soldering (and potential break points) and strengthening the design of the LED board. Made for high drive currents, the Vero performs with outstanding brightness and 20% higher efficacy over other COB LEDs in its class.

LM-80 data from Bridgelux indicates that each Vero offers more than 70% lumen maintenance over 50,000 hours of operation, even tested at more than 2x the normal drive current. Our UL LM-79 test reports show that each Owl Pack delivers over 90 lumens per Watt. Contact an LED Waves sales representative for supporting documentation for any particular unit.

On top of reducing energy and replacement costs, the Vero helps the Owl Pack outperform traditional outdoor lighting technology with better light quality.

Vero Owl PackTypical High Pressure Sodium and Mercury Vapor lamps have a Color Rendering Index (CRI) score of 30. The Owl Pack LEDs have a minimum CRI of 70 (average 72), improving nighttime visibility and safety.

Each Owl Pack employs one Vero chip to transmit a high concentration of light with crisp beam edges, and zero disorienting pixelation. No other outdoor LED flood delivers this outstanding quality of light.


LEDs Shine Light on Brain Functions

Thanks to some small LED lights, we’re making big strides in unlocking the mysteries of the brain. Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have developed a method of manipulating neuron proteins using an LED. By observing the resulting activity in mouse brains, they can determine each protein’s function – and point to the analog for humans.

led light brain mouseProteins are composed of chains of amino acids through which molecules flow. A precisely calibrated LED light applied to a protein causes a light-sensitive amino acid – called a Cmn – to fall off the chain. This alters the flow of molecules through the amino acids, effectively activating or deactivating the protein.

Controlling the proteins in this manner reveals the brain activities with which each one is associated. This is significant in illuminating the most complicated and mysterious organ we have in our bodies. Now that’s bright!

Now Available: 50W Owl Outdoor LED Wall Pack Test Results

LED Waves is pleased to announce the release of the UL Photometric Outdoor Test Report and IES files for the 50 Watt Owl Pack! These results are the first of many that will come in for this 10-200 Watt series of outdoor LED wall packs.

This is an exciting development, not just for those looking to specify this particular LED flood light for a home or business, but also for LED Waves’ R&D team. This the first report of its kind that we have gotten (as the Owl Packs are the first outdoor units from our line of exclusive LED lights made in the USA) and our expectations – based on the specs for the Bridgelux Vero-18 and LED driver we built in – were far surpassed in the UL test results.

At 4,581 lumens, the 50 Watt Owl Outdoor LED Wall Pack tested over 12% brighter, with 346 more initial lumens than we had projected. And our BUG rating (which measures Backlighting, Uplighting, and Glare) came out to B2-U0-G0, proving this flood suitable for minimizing light pollution and improving outdoor light quality.

50w owl outdoor led wall pack ul test results

Click to download the report.

More on understanding the Illuminating Engineering Society’s BUG system – and UL’s photometric outdoor testing – as the reports for the remaining Owl Packs fly in! In the mean time, check out the report for the 50 Watt unit, available for download now at

How One LED T8 Outperforms Two or More Fluorescent Tubes

We’re really excited about the upcoming changes to our LED T8 tube, as mentioned in the previous post. We think the hyper efficient new LUXEON chips, as well as the two power levels, will make it easy for users replace their fluorescent lights with the Genesys 3.0 in their 4 foot troffer and low bay fixtures.

Genesys One LED T8 replaces two fluorescent tubesYou might have wondered about the lumen output of the Genesys 3.0, and how the product functions as a one-for-two fluorescent tube replacement. This is another application in which the directionality of LED technology is key: Since T8 tubes are typically installed as downlights – in recessed troffers in the ceiling, or hanging down in 2×4 low bay fixtures – it doesn’t make sense for them to cast light in every direction outwards from the tube. This renders a direct lumen comparison between fluorescent and LED T8 tubes irrelevant. See the diagram below:

Genesys LED T8 more useful lumens than fluorescent tubeOnly 120 degrees (out of 360) reaches the useful areas of the room – you know, where people and the things we use can be found. The other 240 degrees of light bounces around the ceiling, fixture, and elsewhere above our heads, and are therefore considered wasted.

Whether you get the 20 Watt or the 38 Watt version of the Genesys 3.0 LED T8, you’re cutting down lumen waste from fluorescent lighting by two thirds. Replacing multiple tubes in a low bay/troffer fixture? Even better. These savings, combined with the ten times longer lifespan (without the flicker and lumen depreciation from fluorescent tubes nearing end-of-life) make the Genesys 3.0 a valuable asset for your home or business.


PPL Joins the LED Revolution

Pennsylvania-based energy company PPL Corporation is offering customers a free LED light bulb for signing up for their paperless billing program by December 15th. This is a double win for sustainability; not only is PPL saving trees and fuel associated with mail delivery, but these LED bulbs (<14 Watt equivalent to a 60 Watt incandescent) will reduce energy consumption by 75% per fixture.

Along with the LED light bulb, PPL’s paperless customers will be rewarded with lower energy bills, AND they’ll save themselves a stamp each month by paying online.

PPL’s LED bulb is an E26/E27 base A-lamp incandescent replacement. While it represents only 10% of the lighting market, practically every home has at least one fixture for this omnidirectional type of lamp. This creates a valuable opportunity for some customers to familiarize themselves with the future of lighting technology. As the quality of light from LEDs has made leaps and bounds in the past decade, we foresee users being pleasantly surprised enough to replace the rest of their lights with energy-saving LED downlights, PARs and linear lighting.

For perspective: A smattering of lamp types other than the traditional incandescent A-lamp, to be replaced with LED lighting.

With over 2 million electricity customers in the  USA (and approximately 10 million worldwide), PPL is poised to make a significant impact through this program. LED Waves applauds their participation in the LED Revolution.


I Don’t Know Why You Say Goodbye, I Say Holonyak

image via Wikipedia Commons

Last month saw the retirement of the man credited as the inventor of LED light. Nick Holonyak hung his teaching hat at the University of Illinois on July 31st, though colleagues say the 84-year old will likely continue his research in the solid state lighting field.

“I don’t believe his mind will ever stop thinking about advances in micro or nano-electronics, and how he can help solve problems the world will face not tomorrow, but in 50 years,” contends Andreas Cangellaris, department head of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois.

Holonyak was honored last fall, in a celebration that coincided with the 50th anniversary of his discovery of the light-emitting diode. (Read about his contributions in this history of LED technology.) Though colleagues feel he deserves the Nobel Prize for his invention of the LED, Holonyak says, “It’s ridiculous to think that somebody owes you something. We’re lucky to be alive, when it comes down to it.”

The entire staff of LED Waves extends our deepest gratitude to Nick Holonyak – for his help making the world a better-lit, less wasteful place, and for our jobs in this field of truly disruptive technology. We wish him years of continued LED enlightenment in this next chapter of life.

via Central Illinois News-Gazette
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