[Originally posted at EcoGeek. I expect this might get some discussion.  A lot of people are going to take it the wrong way (just like anything that is written online, or for that matter offline).  Let me be clear, I am pro-LED; but I’m not pro-LED at the cost of poor performance and poor lighting quality.]


There are increasing numbers of LED replacement products for T8 fluorescent lamps, which are widely used in retail and commercial buildings, but the US Department of Energy is warning that many of these do not yet offer comparable performance and light output versus what is supplied by using fluorescent lamps. Just because they are called replacements does not mean they are going to provide a similar level of performance.

Many LED replacement lamps are highly directional, with the LEDs only emitting light in one direction. However, fluorescent light fixtures are often designed with incorporated reflectors that utilize more of the light emitted from fluorescent tubes. If the replacement lamps do not project any light onto the reflector, the overall effectiveness of the fixture may be reduced. To avoid consumer and end-user dissatisfaction, LED replacement bulbs should be carefully considered.

The summary (PDF) from the DOE is fairly stark:

LED linear replacement lamps available today do not compete with linear fluorescent lamps on the basis of light output, color quality, distribution, lumen maintenance, or cost-effectiveness. DOE does not recommend replacing linear fluorescent lamps with LED linear replacements.

We would suggest that there are certainly applications where LED replacements may be useful and the energy savings may be more desirable. A DOE official noted that “they can be a reasonable option in locations where fluorescent doesn’t work well.” But this should be an informed decision, and there should be an awareness of what the tradeoffs will be and what light performance can be expected.

We here at EcoGeek are definitely proponents of LED lighting, and we regularly follow the developments in the industry. In the past few years, LED lighting has grown from a rare, specialty niche item to a product that is starting to be regularly stocked on big box retail store shelves. But, while we readily encourage everyone to adopt more energy efficient measures like using LED lighting, we certainly don’t want to suggest that you need to take a performance hit in order to be more efficient. CFLs got an early bad reputation because some had poor color. LEDs are going to become a significant part of the lighting market in time. But we don’t want to see a lot of people opposing them due to an early bad experience with inappropriate use of LEDs.

Links: USDOE LED Performance (PDF) and LED Replacement (PDF)

via: Green Savings Network