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Terry Cattle - BLOG 1, LED's have come a long way...

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Post Wed May 19, 2010 1:43 am

Terry Cattle - BLOG 1, LED's have come a long way...

The following information is the first in a series of BLOG installments by Lighting specialist Terry Cattle.
If you have any questions on the following info for Terry, please feel free to reply to this thread.


Image
The time is right for LEDs


LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) have come along way over the last few years as specialists the world over have been developing newer, bigger, better, brighter and more cost effective solutions for interior and exterior lighting.

At Bright Green Technology our area of expertise relates to backlighting outdoor media and signage and increasingly we are receiving more and more enquiries about alternatives to fluorescent tubes. For example retailers with flex face, back illuminated light boxes are beginning to see the financial benefits of switching their lighting to LEDs while the Outdoor Media Companies are searching for solutions to improve the quality of lighting and reduce energy consumption. Of course there is an initial capital outlay, but return on investment times are tumbling and the ongoing savings for energy and maintenance are very compelling.
Governments and Local Authorities, keen to reduce their carbon emissions, are now recognising the potential for changing lighting systems to LEDs. In fact LEDs were recently mentioned in the House of Commons.

Uneven illumination using flourescent tubes:-
Image

One recently completed example where a Local Authority has recognised the benefits of low energy LED lighting over fluorescent tubes is in Coventry, where the client has invested in LED illuminated 6 sheet light boxes in the town centre. The result is bright and evenly illuminated with no striping and will save them in the order of £350 per light box in their first year.

LED Light Boxes:-
Image

So, is this the beginning of the end for fluorescent tubes? They have been commercially available since the 1940s. They are old technology, contain mercury vapour and cannot be sent o land fill.

We have already seen the impact of the Government’s Green Policy on the traditional incandescent bulb. Under a voluntary ban, retailers have already stopped stocking 150 watt bulbs and agreed to stop replenishing stocks of 100 watt and 75 watt bulbs at the start of 2009. By 2010 60 watt bulbs will start to be phased out and all incandescent bulbs will be banned by 2012 in favour of compact fluorescent bulbs (which contain mercury vapour).

So will the tubes get it next? Here are a few more problems with tubes:

Fluorescent tube systems waste energy
Only 7 - 10% of the energy input is turned into light

They create hazardous waste
Hazardous to manufacture and expensive to dispose of. They release mercury gas vapour into the environment

They demand costly, regular maintenance. They fail suddenly and unpredictably. Forcing replacement – further waste and cost. In some light boxes double banks of tubes are installed –just in case!

They generate heat
That has to be removed with air conditioning (more cost and carbon).

They lose efficiency if turned off and on
Forcing 24/7 use even if not required

The illumination is uneven Causing striping, hot-spots and dark zones.

They are prone to hum and flicker

They’re inherently fragile

They’re hard to start in cold environments (<10ºC)

The use of LEDs for backlighting signs and displays is hugely compelling and there is no doubt the marketing is expanding.


If you have any questions, please reply to this thread...

Terry Cattle

Bright Green Technology
Forge Lane
Richmond
Surrey
TW10 7BF
United Kingdom

Tel: +44(0)20 8332 6001
www.brightgreentechnology.com


‘Bright Green Matrix is distributed in the UK by Robert Horne Group’.

visit www.roberthorne.co.uk
or call 0845 373 0199.

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Post Wed May 19, 2010 12:17 pm

Thanks for that Terry - look forward to reading the next installment.
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Post Thu May 20, 2010 3:41 pm

cool information, thanks.

If i had a lightbox 20' x 4' how much would it cost me to light it up in LED's

tubes and geartray would cost me £96.40.

would like to see how it compares in price?



Thanks
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Post Tue May 25, 2010 2:48 pm

Andy Davis wrote:cool information, thanks.

If i had a lightbox 20' x 4' how much would it cost me to light it up in LED's

tubes and geartray would cost me £96.40.

would like to see how it compares in price?



Thanks


Hi Andy, thanks for your response and sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I will ask our distributor to price this up for you. Bright Green Matrix will be more expensive than tubes but we can make a compelling economic case for your client which would cover maintenance and carbon savings and illustrate the payback period. If you could give me full details at terry.
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Post Tue May 25, 2010 3:57 pm

Andy Davis wrote:cool information, thanks.

If i had a lightbox 20' x 4' how much would it cost me to light it up in LED's

tubes and geartray would cost me £96.40.

would like to see how it compares in price?



Thanks


How deep is the box Andy ?
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Post Tue May 25, 2010 8:03 pm

Interesting article Terry,


you have listed the disadvantages of fluorescent, but not the comparative advantages of led, sorry, its easy to find fault with existing technology, rather than showing the advantage with new.
You show uneven lighting as a con for fluorescent, but is it not the same with leds unless you have enough of them. The example shown, perhaps did not have enough tubes?
I have not yet used leds so still learning
Peter


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Post Wed May 26, 2010 12:34 pm

Peter Normington wrote:Interesting article Terry,


you have listed the disadvantages of fluorescent, but not the comparative advantages of led, sorry, its easy to find fault with existing technology, rather than showing the advantage with new.
You show uneven lighting as a con for fluorescent, but is it not the same with leds unless you have enough of them. The example shown, perhaps did not have enough tubes?
I have not yet used leds so still learning
Peter


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Hi Peter,
The benefits of LEDs will follow in the next few blogs - although you could flip the disadvantages of tubes and come up with many of the benefits. Energy efficiency and maintenance reduction are key benefits. You make a good point about eveness - and you are correct. If you don't have an even array of LEDs you can get spotting. (With tubes the centre of the tube is a very intense light which can be tricky to diffuse) . If you use LED edge lighting techniques you can create signs and displays which are very slim and very evenly illuminated. Check out our website from the link.

The photo in the article just illustrated where some tubes had failed and left a stripe. Adding more tubes to create even illumination is not very energy or carbon efficient and means the box could be brighter than it really needs to be. Although I accept it's low initial cost solution.

Thanks for your interest.
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Post Wed May 26, 2010 2:56 pm

I have to agree with peter, I've been using tubes for the last 24 years in the boxes i make, and have not ever had a problem with dark spots.

The depth of the box that a asked for a price on last Thursday is 150mm, i look forward to your quote.


regards

Andy
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Post Wed May 26, 2010 4:12 pm

Andy Davis wrote:I have to agree with peter, I've been using tubes for the last 24 years in the boxes i make, and have not ever had a problem with dark spots.

The depth of the box that a asked for a price on last Thursday is 150mm, i look forward to your quote.


regards

Andy


The main lighting application where we see striping is in bus shelter light boxes where the media owners have to pay for the power and want to reduce the number of tubes in their boxes.

£100 /m2 is a good guide price for our Bright Green Matrix system
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Post Thu May 27, 2010 10:35 am

Thanks Terry,

if you have any information you could post here, that would be great.


regards

Andy








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Post Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:07 am

So much to take apart here.

There are too many advantages and disadvantages.

First, I don't know where you get only 7-10% of energy is turned into light? Huh?

Lamps do not create Hazardous waste, they are waste. They become Hazardous when you use them the wrong way, like breaking one on the ground.


Lamps usually last 4-5 years. You could even retrofit that cabinet displayed with a good Tri-Phosphor CCFL lamps, instead of CFL's or LED's.

Heat? White LED's actually generate quite a bit of heat themselves, most of that heat is trapped in the cabinet with very little getting out. This is not something you are going to compensate and turn on a AC unit for. Besides, most sign applications are outdoor.

This thread has a hint of "Global Warming too it" I'm sure Al Gore would be proud but if you want to talk about merc vapor into the air we could also inject the recent volcano erruption in Iceland that had all of western Europe grounded. Do you realize how much Vapor went into our atmosphere? More than if we break every cfl lamps since they have been manufactured, you might even consider the next two generations as well.


Let's give the pros and cons.

Room Ambient temps and above CFL>LED (light output)

4C ambient and temps below LED>CFL (light output)

Cost of a system CFL>LED (major)

In most cases with a quality LED system you can expect to make back the money on your upfront investment in 20+ years. By then you will have re-retrofitted your LED system 3-4 more times.

On hot spotting, well that depends on the application you choose, some better subs than others.

On the long term, what happen if you get a portion of led strings that suddenly fade. Well a few years since you have put them up, there is already a new generation of LEDs that already replaced that line, so now you will have to relamp everything. If it were cfl lamps, you are only replacing cheap inexpensive lamps.

On a good LED system you will save abiyt 50%, over CFL's. But again your annual savings will take 20+ years just to break even on you iinitial investment.


I don't have time to hit all the point here, I'm in passing and in a rush. I'm not shooting down LED's. They have their place in lighting and in signs, but you shouldn't think that they can be used in all phases. For each sign you need to pick the best lighting source for that application.


Personally I would have used Tri-Phosphor CCFL (neon) lamps on electronics for that cab.
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Post Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:36 am

Dear Terry

I get headaches from being forced to endure the latest low current energy efficient light bulbs.

I can no longer buy 100 watt incandescent light bulbs form my local B&Q because the fools that run our country have banned them.

Wot advice can you give me :worry:

I also get confused and repeat myself a lot - I think it's the bulbs affecting my brain :-?
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Post Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:39 am

Westcoast Sign Guy wrote:So much to take apart here.

There are too many advantages and disadvantages.

First, I don't know where you get only 7-10% of energy is turned into light? Huh?

Lamps do not create Hazardous waste, they are waste. They become Hazardous when you use them the wrong way, like breaking one on the ground.


Lamps usually last 4-5 years. You could even retrofit that cabinet displayed with a good Tri-Phosphor CCFL lamps, instead of CFL's or LED's.

Heat? White LED's actually generate quite a bit of heat themselves, most of that heat is trapped in the cabinet with very little getting out. This is not something you are going to compensate and turn on a AC unit for. Besides, most sign applications are outdoor.

This thread has a hint of "Global Warming too it" I'm sure Al Gore would be proud but if you want to talk about merc vapor into the air we could also inject the recent volcano erruption in Iceland that had all of western Europe grounded. Do you realize how much Vapor went into our atmosphere? More than if we break every cfl lamps since they have been manufactured, you might even consider the next two generations as well.


Let's give the pros and cons.

Room Ambient temps and above CFL>LED (light output)

4C ambient and temps below LED>CFL (light output)

Cost of a system CFL>LED (major)

In most cases with a quality LED system you can expect to make back the money on your upfront investment in 20+ years. By then you will have re-retrofitted your LED system 3-4 more times.

On hot spotting, well that depends on the application you choose, some better subs than others.

On the long term, what happen if you get a portion of led strings that suddenly fade. Well a few years since you have put them up, there is already a new generation of LEDs that already replaced that line, so now you will have to relamp everything. If it were cfl lamps, you are only replacing cheap inexpensive lamps.

On a good LED system you will save abiyt 50%, over CFL's. But again your annual savings will take 20+ years just to break even on you iinitial investment.


I don't have time to hit all the point here, I'm in passing and in a rush. I'm not shooting down LED's. They have their place in lighting and in signs, but you shouldn't think that they can be used in all phases. For each sign you need to pick the best lighting source for that application.


Personally I would have used Tri-Phosphor CCFL (neon) lamps on electronics for that cab.



Hi, thanks for all your comments. I agree that LEDs are not the perfect solution for every application. As we continue with posting new blogs we'll try to highlight the specific applications where LEDs do have real benefits over tubes. With regard to payback time many projects we are working on payback within two years.
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Post Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:46 am

Phill wrote:Dear Terry

I get headaches from being forced to endure the latest low current energy efficient light bulbs.

I can no longer buy 100 watt incandescent light bulbs form my local B&Q because the fools that run our country have banned them.

Wot advice can you give me :worry:


Hi Phill,

I know what you mean. The compact fluorescent lamps we use in our homes are not ideal replacements - apart from saving energy the light quality and initial start up is poor. But I guess they will improve. Using LED halogn replacements for internal lighting is becoming more popular and we are testing a few a the moment. However they are still expensive when compared to CFL and incandescent bulbs. I suspect as prices fall LED replacements will become increasing popular.
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Post Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:30 pm

Terry Cattle - BLOG 1, LED's have come a long way...

HI Terry,

first of all - thanks for the write-up. I heartily agree, LEDs have come a LONG way. I remember when blue was first introduced and single source white was barely a prototype...cost a fortune!

read both yours and "Westcoast" takes on it and you both raise valid arguments for each technology from my 'non-expert' vantage point.

Some of the comments below may be a bit 'devil's advocate' - but covers all of my genuine reasons for asking.

So will the tubes get it next? Here are a few more problems with tubes:

• Fluorescent tube systems waste energy
Only 7 - 10% of the energy input is turned into light

As opposed to? Needs to be quantified. Without direct comparison - visible light output v power consumption any one-sided statement is not a compelling reason. (I know they're not, but what if the LEDs were only 10.5% efficient?)

From what I've read the system efficiency of a quality fluo. setup can be up to 16% efficient for the best systems (normal incandescent 2%)...LED around 22%.
A lumen / watt chart could compare them.
Some LEDs - particularly the VERY high output ones have shockingly low efficiency...still far better than incandescent.
Granted that chart will be a bit out of date, but it's not like they are 99% efficient at producing light. They may well be vastly lower in consumption per installation...but the actual output in lumens surely won't be as high as a standard fluo. setup for this input energy reduction.
In essence - it'll cost you less to run...and there will likely be less light - but will be enough light to do the job.

• They create hazardous waste
Hazardous to manufacture and expensive to dispose of. They release mercury gas vapour into the environment
LEDs can also contain some very nasty compounds depending on the colour output...but on the plus side, you'd have to go crushing them to dust / burning them to be affected.

• They demand costly, regular maintenance. They fail suddenly and unpredictably. Forcing replacement – further waste and cost. In some light boxes double banks of tubes are installed –just in case!
Some boxes / offices I've done still have the same lamps after 5 years..others die in a year. I've looked into LED before & although I could get a money-back guarantee on the LIGHTING (2 yr) - nobody will cover the incidental costs. Some 'high-end' fluo manufacturers are apparently now producing systems with 20,000 hour lamp lifespans. A standard phillips long life tube being about 16,000 hours. (A domestic compact 'energy saver' can last 50,000).
What is they expected lifespan of the B.G. system?

• They generate heat
That has to be removed with air conditioning (more cost and carbon).
LED will do too & their transformers...just considerably less of it...but conversely large fluo installations will reduce heating bills in the winter...and therefore less cost and carbon.


• They lose efficiency if turned off and on
Forcing 24/7 use even if not required
I 100% agree that repeated on/off cycles kill tubes & starters - but I cannot agree that people are forced into 24/7 operation to SAVE their LAMPS. 24/7 would be a balance of running costs, replacement costs and the advertising revenue their being on all of the time generated.

• The illumination is uneven Causing striping, hot-spots and dark zones.
as will any poorly specified lighting solution. For slim-line installations - this is indeed where LED come into it's own. Well specified lamps, diffusion and choice of materials can alleviate this to a large extent in fluo. All od the examples of slimline boxes you've got on the website look great.

• They are prone to hum and flicker
The inherent flicker is normally filtered out by our vision unless the tube is dying and therefore more noticable. Hum...only notice humming ballasts if sitting under to them.

• They’re inherently fragile
what exactly did you do to the installation to break the tubes!

• They’re hard to start in cold environments (<10ºC)
I agree they get harder to start. but all the lightboxes in Scotland start just fine - and that's practically our summer temperature :)

The use of LEDs for backlighting signs and displays is hugely compelling and there is no doubt the marketing is expanding.
I think they make an excellent complimentary lighting source - both systems have a valid place in the market. LED may be the future once the initial costs are down due to demand...catch 22...then somebody will do something better.


Just adding in a bit more.

I appreciate that it's not all about 'light output efficiency' and the heavily reduced running costs are a major turn-on for green & financial issues even at the cost of a lower apparent light output against a 'tubed' installation.

As this is not only an informative series of blogs you intend to do, but also of a commercial benefit, maybe I'm being overly, em, 'thorough' and need hard comparative (independent) facts not just green information. To offer a strong pro-LED case is your right, and your business and in these times (especially) I'd never deny anyone the right to make a sale or push a growing technology that can have some stunning results. I just prefer my evidential information to be open. eg. The photos on the BG website comparing a tubed & LED install (6 sheet scroller) has major flaws to bias ANY visible result towards the merits of LED. In that particular blog - the 'bad' image was taken with no forward illumination (eg. flash) so highlighting the banding from the tubes (obvious as frame & behind frame dark) and by some miracle the LED one was taken with front illumination (frame & background front lit) this ALWAYS has the effect of introducing a reflected light to the surface being viewed as well as the rear projected...contributing to why it looks so 'bright' and 'even'. A 'fair' test would be both taken in the same manner under the same ambient lighting. It probably would have been better anyway - so to make the tubes look 'extra' bad seems a little overly 'creative'.


I know it seems like I've sometimes looked like being pro LED and pro FLUO - well I am. I'd personally offer LED if my clients would accept the initial purchase cost - which they simply won't so long as every other company quotes them hundreds or even thousands of pounds less for a fluo. box. Even doing so as an option is at the moment prohibitive to all but the wealthiest / greenest companies.

Saving money in the long term isn't often a concern of the 'smaller' client unlike the major transit & council contracts that can splash the cash a little more freely to begin with.


Thanks

Dave
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Post Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:45 pm

I see you've started blog 2.

Can you address the points I raised (above) if you get the chance.

Thanks
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Post Wed Sep 29, 2010 3:06 pm

DavidRogers wrote:I see you've started blog 2.

Can you address the points I raised (above) if you get the chance.

Thanks


Hi Dave, firstly apologies for not addressing the previous points you made. The main point about highlighting some of the issues with tubes is partly to generate some headline awareness rather than generate a complete technical journal. I think we agree that LEDs do have some real benefits and will become more common place, but they are not the only solution. Some applications suit LEDs for example large billboards running 24/7 and sites with difficult access.

Being specific about the actual cost benefits between LEDs and tubes is important and we always try to highlight this on any project proposals. We are always clear and honest about the actual cost of power and the running time in order the that client can make an informed decision.

For Government and Local Authority projects LEDs are now being specified in many cases for signage. I think this is mainly due the the carbon savings which can be made and can be simply calculated. Although not for everyone - the carbon benefits of LEDs are another factor. Ask the Carbon Trust!

Regarding lifetime - our LEDs have an 'on' lifetime of 50,000 hours (L70). L70 measures the on hours required for a 30% reduction from initial brightness.

Finally your point about the photographs - I can assure you this is unintentional; there is absolutely no plan to deceive or mislead anyone.

Thanks for taking the time to get in touch.

Terry

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