Light emitting diodes or LEDs have been considered a major innovation in the lighting and energy industries. Being energy efficient and durable, they have become popular in various industries that require quality lighting.
Aside from being environment-friendly, they are perfect for highlighting and accentuating home and building designs without adding too much to monthly electricity bills.
For these reasons, the use of flexible LED strips and similar products has increased over the past few years, especially in the architecture and design industries. More and more professional designers and skilled craftsmen have been taking advantage of its versatility in making their creations beautifully stand out.
However, the use of LED strips may not be as simple as you think. In fact, there are four important factors you should understand and consider first before you are able to maximize the use of these lighting fixtures in your next project.
1. Measure Brightness in Lumens, Not Watts
The brightness of halogen, incandescent, and compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) is measured in terms of the energy they consume, which is why their wattage information are indicated in their packaging. LEDs are different. Because they are considered as a cost-efficient light source, watts cannot accurately measure their brightness.
Because of this, experts came up with a new way to measure the brightness level of a light fixture based on what is perceived by human eyes: lumens.
When designing with LED strips, you should understand that each situation may require a different level of brightness from LEDs. Here is a quick guide you can use for your next project (measured per square foot of LED strip):
- Mood and Accent Lighting – 156 to 350 lumens
- Under-Cabinet Lighting – 175 to 525 lumens
- Task Lighting (close distance from the light source) – 280 to 437 lumens
- Task Lighting (farther from the light source) – 344 to 687 lumens
- Indirect Lighting (applicable for bedroom, vehicle, and hotel setups) – 375 to 562 lumens
- Industrial Lighting (for signage and tubes) – 500 to 950 lumens
2. Choose a Color: CCT and CRI
Aside from the obvious RGB tint, there are two more ways the color of LED strips can be classified: correlated color temperature (CCT) and color rendering index (CRI).
More popularly known as color temperature, CCT is measured in Kelvin (K) and is characterized by the coolness or warmth of a white light. This means that those with a higher Kelvin rating exude a cooler glow with a tinge of blue instead of yellow. However, CCT measurement should never be mistaken as the actual color of the LED strip.
CRI, on the other hand, gauges how well a light can render colors under an artificial light source. Since this measurement depends on how close an LED is to natural light from the sun, it is measured via a CRI score scale of zero to 100.
3. Energy Use in Watts (Per LED Strip)
Some strips of LED have varying wattage even if they have the same length. This is because of the different chips of LEDs installed in the strips which are often numbered 2835, 3528, or 5050 among others. These numbers indicate the measurement of the LED chip in millimeters.
What you need to remember is that the bigger the chip is, the more LEDs it can contain. This means that bigger LED chips may use higher amounts of electricity compared to smaller ones. For example, a 5050 LED light strip can contain three bulbs and will be a lot brighter (and may require more electricity) compared to a 3528 LED strip.
4. Verifiable Quality
The quality of LED strips can be determined based on four things: material quality, thermal management, safety certification, and color accuracy and quality.
- Material quality is measured based on the thickness and overall durability of the circuit board, resistors, wiring, and other parts of an LED strip which are critical in ensuring the longevity of the product.
- Thermal management, on the other hand, refers to the LED strip’s capability to regulate heat. If an LED overheats, its lifespan will be reduced by as much as 80 percent.
- Meanwhile, safety certification can be determined by product listings and accreditation which may vary depending on your location.
- Color accuracy and quality can be checked via a test report from your LED strip supplier. However, you can also opt to check the actual colors with your own eyes before purchasing.
The use of LED strips provides many craftsmen and artists with a way to showcase the fruits of their labor in a new light, so to speak.
Not only are these products useful, but they are also cost- and energy-efficient when used properly— something that can only be achieved if you have ample knowledge about the aforementioned factors that need to be considered.
AUTHOR BIO :- Ajay Awtaney is co-founder of Nakashi General Trading LLC, an electrical lighting company in Dubai catering to the needs of clients and projects requiring quality lighting products and solutions. Nakashi General Trading LLC today is an approved vendor of reputable organisations (Jumeirah, Engineering Office, Meraas, Musanadah and Thumbay, to name a few) for supplying lighting products.