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LED Shop Lights vs Fluorescent

If you own a shop, you may have installed fluorescent lighting. Prior to LED Lighting, fluorescent lighting was a good option. They provided adequate lighting in a replaceable tube solution. When the tubes quit working, a shop owner could replace the tubes with new tubes.

So why would you consider changing your lighting from fluorescent to LED shop lights? Here are 6 points to consider.

LED Lights will reduce your lighting bill by 50% or more.

We all know LED lighting reduces your lighting bill. But how much does this translate when you convert from fluorescent lighting?

A T8 fluorescent tube consumes 32W (typically). Add in 15% ballast draw, total watts consumed is approximately 37 watts per tube.

A T5 High Output fluorescent tube consumes 54W (typically). Add in 15% ballast draw, total watts consumed is approximately 62 watts per tube.

LED efficiency, or lumens per watt, has improved over the past years. It is not hard to find led solutions 150 to 180 lumens per watt. You can easily replace a 2 tube fluorescent T8 shop light with 2 x 12W led tubes. Or you can replace the fixture with a 24 watt LED Shop Light.

So 2 tube fluorescents consume a total of 74 watts per fixture Converting to LED is roughly a 66% savings. If you have 10’s or 100’s of fixture, this is a significant energy savings.

LED Lights will reduce your maintenance costs.

The expected lifespan of a fluorescent tube is 7,000 to 15,000 hours. This should not be confused with usable lifespan. Just because the light turns on does not mean its light output is effective. All to often shop owners leave tubes installed that are dim, yellowed or even worst strobing.

LED Lighting is rated in terms of L70. L70 is a measurement of the amount of time it takes a lighting product to reach 70% of initial lumens. It is very common to see L70 times for LED to be in the 50,000 to 100,000 hour range.

For purpose of this discussion, let’s assume the L70 for the product is only 50,000 hours. That means that in this time, you would be on your 4th set of tubes. If the shop owner decides to replace the fluorescent tubes at a point where they are not useful, this could mean they could be on their 6th set of tubes.

And during this period of switching out fluorescent tubes, your LED light will be working perfectly well.

LED Lights do not flicker or strobe

Fluorescent ballast operate on AC current. In North America, AC cycles at 60 Hz. This means that every second, the current cycles 60 times (turns on and off). This happens so fast, it is hardly detectable. Yet people who work under fluorescent lighting sometime complain about eye strain and headaches.

At end of life, the strobing is more pronounced.

LEDs use a LED driver to convert AC to DC power. DC does not cycle, it is a constant supply of energy. Therefore, LED lights do not flicker at the 60 Hz cycle, even though their drivers consume AC power.

There are times when LEDs flicker, but this is due to a failed driver. Replacing the driver will fix this issue.

Fluorescent tubes contain mercury

Fluorescent tubes contain mercury dust. It is a necessary part of a fluorescent tube. Mercury is a known carcinogen. It must be handled carefully. Many states have strict disposal rules and regulations. They cannot be tossed into a garbage bin and take to a landfill.

Worst yet, these tube are glass. And if dropped, they will break, releasing the mercury. This creates a potential health issue for employees who are working near the area of the broken tube.

LEDs work with occupancy sensors

A great way to improve efficiency in your shop area is to install occupancy or motion sensors. This ensures that light is on in areas where someone is present.

Unfortunately, adding motion sensors to fluorescents can effect the life the bulbs. Each time you turn on fluorescent tubes, a tiny amount of mercury dust is burned off. Once that’a gone, the tube stops working.

On the other hand, turning on and off a LED light does not affect its life.

LEDs are dimmable

Dimming lights makes sense when attached to motion sensors or occupancy sensors. Or maybe maybe an area is too bright.

Dimming reduces your lighting bill. 

Most fluorescent lights can only be turned ON and OFF. Its full power or off.  Some fluorescent tubes are dimmable with a special ballast. But these tubes are expensive, along with the dimmable fluorescent ballast.

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