Inside the LED Light
Most people, when considering Led lighting for their business or event will look at price and brightness. But there is much more to the quality of LED lights than the above two aspects. LED spotlights for events, commercial, architectural and even portable LED lights all must have quality construction in order to provide light quality and value for money.
How LEDs Dissipate Heat
All LEDs have heat sinks which draw heat away from the LED bulb, absorb it and then dissipate it into the surrounding environment. However, when a heat sink isn’t doing its job, the LED light can quickly overheat and burn out. The way in which a heat sink is constructed will determine the lifespan of the light.
The quality of a heat sink can sometimes be determined by the material from which it’s constructed. Many LEDs, for example have metal heat sinks that look like fins. But the higher end LEDs feature fins made from ceramic or aluminium. Between these two materials, ceramic offers more in the way of effective heat absorption and dissipation than aluminium fins. This is because of the several pores they contain. The high number of pores increases the surface area over which heat can be dissipated. Metals don’t contain these pores.
CRI, or the colour rendering index refers to a light source’s ability to provide a true representation of the colours of the object on which it is shone. The CRI scale goes from 0 to 100%, with 100% denoting a light that is closest to daylight. As far as CRI is concerned, daylight is the standard by which an object is portrayed perfectly. The higher the CRI of an LED light, the closer to daylight an LED bulb is. The higher a bulb’s CRI, the more costly it typically is.
For instances where an LED will see a lot of usage, a CRI of 75 or more is recommended. Bulbs used only in certain situations, such as for emergency lighting can have a CRI of below 75. Professions requiring an accurate representation of an object, such as still life for a painting should choose bulbs having a CRI of 90 or higher.
As with heat sinks and chips, all LEDs contain a driver. This is basically the ‘brain’ of the unit, regulating how much power enters the LED. It also has the job of making sure the LED bulb operates at optimal performance without damage. Some lights will have their driver contained in the fitting or switch, while others will have drivers built in.
Angle of the Beam
Beam angle refers to how light is spread across a room or a surface. The LED bulbs on the market today produce angles of light that are very narrow, unlike halogen lights, whose beam angle is often higher than their packaging suggests. Where light needs to be evenly spread, a wide angle of 60 degrees is recommended. The need for a narrower focus can be met with lights having a beam angle of 20 degrees or lower.
How Electricity is converted
All LEDs convert electricity to light. However, it’s how they do it that will determine their quality. All LEDs contain a chip that executes the conversion. But as with heat sinks, a poorly-constructed chip will overheat and fail. On the other hand, those chips constructed properly will not only have a lower heat output, but will also be able to convert more electricity and will have a higher illuminated brightness for the amount of power they consume.
Many cheaper light units on the market from low cost overseas sources use many LEDs concentrated into a small array which have problems getting rid of the heat from such a small area. This causes the LEDs to overheat and significantly reduces the lifespan to as much as 1 tenth of their quoted lifespan.
Spending more for an LED bulb now will mean having a light than can last for years, as opposed to purchasing a cheaper light that you may have to replace within a year.