As concern for the environment increases, more and more people are making the switch to LED lights. It is relatively easy to switch an incandescent bulb to an LED one, but entire light fixture can be trickier. Making the switch can certainly be worthwhile, but there are a few factors you should consider first before taking the plunge.
New LED fixtures do not use LED bulbs
LED fixtures usually have the same lenses, reflectors, and housing as traditional light fixtures. That is where the similarities end, though. Inside are different LED bulbs than the ones you would purchase to replace existing fluorescent, halogen, or incandescent bulbs. The light in an LED fixture looks more like a printed circuit board than it does a bulb.
Manufacturers have several options when it comes to choosing the LED light source. They tend to skip over the conventional bulb option because of how bulky it is and choose alternatives instead.
They can custom build the LED light source to fit the optics, housing, and light output specifications. This approach allows them to build a compact LED light array to meet the specific requirements of any fixture. Although, this means it can be costly to hire a professional who can make custom LED arrays and connect them to heat sinks and drivers.
Manufacturers can use pre-built integrated LED modules and arrays (an LED optic, driver, array, and thermal control assembly) produced by GE, Philips, Cree, Sylvania, and others that are designed to fit various types of fixtures with differing photometric standards. This method eliminates the expense of custom design and lets customers easily replace the LED array if needed. Although, it can be challenging to find a module that fits the electrical, physical, and photometric specifications of a particular fixture.
Because an LED fixture cannot be fitted with a conventional light bulb, consumers will need to shop around for a replacement every few years. Fortunately, LED lights tend to last much longer than traditional bulbs and should only need to be replaced every decade or so. By this point, people may prefer to buy a new style of fixture anyway.
LED technology improvements will drive LED module replacements
Manufacturers recognize that replacement LED arrays will need to be upgraded as more people adopt this technology. The switch to LED has seen rapid growth by consumers in a short period, improving its efficiency and cost. Because of this, LED fixture manufacturers are moving towards designing models that can be more easily replaced. Soon enough, consumers will be able to change the LED array with just as much convenience as standard LED bulbs.
When considering an LED light fixture, find out from the manufacturer whether the LED array can be replaced. Ask how easy it is to buy a new one and install it. The model may not have a replaceable array option, so it is important to find that out and be prepared when it does come time to replace the fixture. Keep in mind that LED lights can last for more than a decade (depending on how much you use it) so by then, there may be more convenient and inexpensive replacement options available.