Whether you’re upgrading your current office lighting or designing the office space of a new development project, it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of LED Lighting for a commercial lighting application. Here are 5 important points of analysis when considering LED Lighting to Fluorescent:
- Initial Investment
- Life Span and Warranty
- Fluorescent Ballast and Lamp Replacement Costs
- Features: Color Rendering & Dimming
- Design Aesthetics
Depending on the fixture type, whether troffers or architectural linear pendant fixtures, LED fixtures can be slightly more expensive than fluorescent fixtures. However, this is not always the case and LED fixture prices are rapidly becoming more competitive with fluorescent alternatives especially if you need features like dimming and EM (Emergency Back-up). Choose one fluorescent and one LED fixture design that you like then compare features and cost.
Life Span and Warranty
Once you’ve compared fixture costs, you’ll want to compare the life span and fixture warranty claims (usually outlined on the product manufacturer’s specification sheets – see example). One of the main benefits of choosing LED lighting, apart from energy reduction, is their 10-25 year expected life spans. LED manufacturers also provide a 5-10 year fixture warranty that covers replacements for fixtures that die within the warranty period. Fluorescent fixtures are rarely covered under any warranties. Alternatively, LED lighting fixtures provide extensive life spans.
Fluorescent Ballast and Lamp Replacement Costs
Fluorescent fixtures have two components: a lamp and ballast, which runs the lamp. Fluorescent lamps cost $5-$15-depending on the lamp type-and need to be replaced every 6 months – 3 years depending on their use. Fluorescent ballasts cost between $20-$30 and need to be replaced every 3-6 years depending on use. Also consider the time and labor involved with replacing fluorescent lamps and ballasts. LED fixtures require no lamp or ballast replacements.
Features: Color Rendering & Dimming
The CRI (Color Rendering Index) rating of LED lighting is much higher than fluorescent lights. The higher the CRI of a light source, the more accurate representation of the colors displayed under the light. This is why art galleries prefer LEDs to any other light sources. Also, LED fixtures dim much smoother than fluorescent fixtures which tend to flicker and are generally offered as a standard feature of LEDs as opposed to being a premium and often costly option for fluorescent fixtures.
Given that the initial investment of LED lighting is now generally equal to or less than fluorescent lighting, there are conceivably no advantages to choosing fluorescent lighting fixtures for your office space. That said, certain fluorescent fixture designs are now deemed “retro” by some designers and preferred over new LED fixtures. Here are a few designs of these “retro” fluorescent office lighting fixtures for commercial applications.