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Old 01-25-2012, 01:21 PM   #1
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LED technology essentials

Hello, found this link, and it seems very informative for us laymen/laywomen?. The ABC's of LED's ?, more than you'll ever want to know! http://www.backwoodshome.com/article...tenson127.html
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Old 01-25-2012, 05:42 PM   #2
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Thanks! good rundown in individual LED's, especially if you want to understand flashlights.

But it doesn't get into the things you need to know for your Airstream. This would be issues such as bulb replacement in the OEM lighting fixtures, the LED tubes that you can use to retrofit common RV fluorescent lights or the LED strips that you can use to do your own thing.

The lumens per watt is good but using only incandescent doesn't give us much referent. Another reference is the efficiency of the fluorescent lights many have in RV's - those are about the same as LED's. There is also the directionality issue.

Another item that is worth considering is the battery powered puck light or other LED innovations such as a motion sensitive porch light Costco had that cost under $15.

Then there is the problem of how much light you need and where do you need it. There is an interesting study on that, not only for task lighting but also for 'boogey man in the closet' contrast ratios in lighting living spaces.

fun stuff. LED's are beginning to show a lot of innovation not only for efficient lighting but in the shape and design of lighting fixtures and holistic interior lighting designs.
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Old 01-25-2012, 05:49 PM   #3
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Everything I've seen indicates LED's are far more efficient than compact fluorescents, both in power usage and how long they last. If you buy cheap LED's, that may not be true, however.

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Old 01-25-2012, 06:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Everything I've seen indicates LED's are far more efficient than compact fluorescents, both in power usage and how long they last. If you buy cheap LED's, that may not be true, however.

Gene
That is my understanding as well. Cannot remember where I read it, but IIRC LEDs are about 50% of the energy use of fluorescents.

Life expectency??? Depends on quality of the LED in particular. (So does fluorescent for that matter)
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Old 01-26-2012, 09:10 AM   #5
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try LEDs are efficient for some applications -- it's a bit dated but has some good information on the issues. That cites the Department of Energy's CALiPER program. That's a good place to go if lighting efficacy is an interest.

For some other links and a description of LED strip lights, see LED lighting – DIY strip lights

The usual RV fluorescent is a T-8 at 18 watts that produces about 50 lumens per watt. That is in the range of the typical LED used in general lighting. The OP link was to individual LED's of the sort usually used in flashlights.

There are other issues that are involved as well. One problem in replacing incandescent or fluorescent bulbs with LED's is that LED's are directional. Light color is another issue.

Yes, the field advances and, yes, you can get higher efficiencies if you want to pay the price. The key to keep in mind is that LED's are a different type of lighting and lighting design is just beginning to figure out the ramifications of this as far as putting light where you need it.
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Old 01-28-2012, 10:45 AM   #6
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Great post!!!!

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Originally Posted by Excellin View Post
Hello, found this link, and it seems very informative for us laymen/laywomen?. The ABC's of LED's ?, more than you'll ever want to know!
One of the biggest things that I see as a problem is strategies in the lights and where they go. Power that is used by LEDs is so much less in most cases, that is a way to go if your camping off the grid. However if you get the wrong light and it does not work the way you need it to and you can't see or your not comfortable then you have not done yourself a favor.

Getting the right lights for the right job will make your camping trips more relaxing and rewarding. When it comes to light it is not rocket science that it effects moods. When we are exposed to the right type of light, it helps to align our daily rhythm. And this has never been more true in a small place like your camper or motor home. The right kind of light can effect our whole overall outing.

As the camping industry moves toward LED lights for a number of reasons, of which the most obvious being power saving, we are confronted with more choices. We have many light colors to choose from. The two most common are the brighter white 6000-7000k, also known as Bright White, and the softer color 2700-3500k commonly named Warm White. There are a number of other lights colors that are out there like neutral white which can range from 4000k to 5200k.

These light colors have been around for a long time in the lighting industry even thought you have never seen a Bright White light in the hardware or grocery store. For the most part the major light manufacturers have a good idea what light goes where, and the light best suited for the home when you relax The best light for resting and relaxing is the 2700-3500k (warm white). In the work environment, the stronger light is better suited for high productivity. For starters the workers can see better, and it effects the over-all rhythm which enhances concentration.

All of this needs to be kept in mind when you trying to figure out what lights you want if your retro fitting your unit that was not supplied with LED light. It stands to reason that if you want to relax and rest on a nice camping trip, that you would not what bright white. However that is not the rule 100% of the time. If you like to read you may want a stronger light. Having a Bright White light may be the thing for you especially if your like myself and getting a little age on you. Even if you're reading to relax, if you have to strain it does not take very long and your eyes are tired.

Another area to consider a Bright White light is in the shower. Very often the colors of the walls and surroundings are off white or almond in color. When you bounce Warm White off of that, you can get a very dull look not to mention it may be very hard to see while your bathing. And you may have a white lens which will defuse the light a little more, also making it a little harder to see.

Another area you may consider Bright White lights is the kitchen area. Here is another space that is often decorated with almonds, browns and off whites. Warm White here can have a very odd effect. Once light refracts or reflects off of one of these colors it can give a green tint, even though when you look at the light itself it may be on the lighter side of Warm White (4000-4500K). The reason this can happen is the light spectrum is graphed like the picture below.
If you get off that curve (pictured above) and the light in the main part of the room you may not see it so much, but at as it reflex off of the wall you may. I find that when I tell folks that the graph looks like this (pictured above) they are surprised because they think it is like the picture below.

Most companies report their light color this way because it easy to understand. One would have to admin it it easier to understand. And for the most part it is very practical are reasonable. However, when considering strategies in LED light for your camper a better understanding is very helpful.

I often recommend different lights in different areas of the camper for the above reasons. People often are surprised to find I suggest to mix Warm White and Bright White. On first thought you would think it odd. I sure did until I was an Airstream International CCD with half and half. The shower, the closets, overhead cabinets and the kitchen counter were all Bright White. The main living area was Warm White. When I saw it I was amazed to see how easy it was on the eyes. After looking into it I found it offered a fuller light spectrum.

Since that time, I have helped others work on finding a solution to retro fit their unit, and ran into a guy who had a very good understanding of how light effects mood. In his motor home he knew which lights would be used for relaxing and which lights for getting stuff done. Certain banks of lights had Warm White lights and other banks were Bright White. He said," when the lights are warm and relaxing it is hard to pull yourself away to break camp or to get on a project that has to get done."

As a rule of thumb I recommend Bright White for the kitchen and shower, Warm White for the main living area, hallway, and bed room. I highly recommend a mix of Bright and Warm for makeup area and if the makeup area is the bathroom and you have on/off switches on those lights, the maximum lights can be used when they are needed. Or you have those double click lights where you can turn them all off and leave one on for a night light that is pretty nice too. When it comes to reading lights you could go either way. I met one couple where she wanted Warm and he wanted Bright.

One very important thing to consider when retro fitting your unit is the color of lens you have. The white lens can defuse the light to where you may want Bright White in more places.


Another important thing to keep in mind is (and this is BIG) the LED cluster bulbs (most of the time) produce 1/3 the amount of the light as the bulb they replace. That is not to say all of them do that but most of the ones that are affordable for the RV industry are. The items that produce the best light and sometimes more light than the bulbs they replace are the pads. Some LED pads product the same amount of light as a 80 watt light bulb when used with a clear lens.
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:20 AM   #7
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I think what lamps you use has a lot to do with what you are lighting as Dan says above.

Our trailer has an aluminum interior and reflects a lot of light. The OEM halogens were much too bright. All the LED's we bought are warm white and that has worked fine. They are bright enough for task lights, general lighting and even for the outside patio light. It was easy to find LED's with plenty of lumens. If it isn't bright enough, we can turn on more when boondocking because they take so little energy. Brightness is subjective because some people see better when lighting is low; as we age, creeping cataracts make it harder to see in dim light. LED websites should give you information on how many lumens equal the brightness of traditional light bulb wattage so you can select what you need.

It is important to check the color rendition as there are a variety of warm whites and bright whites.

And quality makes a big difference. LED's are expensive as an initial investment, though the price has been coming down. There is a temptation to buy a cheaper one because of the price, but I think from what I've learned on the Forum and from Lewster, cheap means a short life and color rendition which is different from what was advertised.

It has been stated LED's are directional. If constructed correctly, they can provide a more diffuse light and we have had no problems with the light.

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Old 01-28-2012, 12:29 PM   #8
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One thing I'd like to add to the conversation is fluorescents efficiency scales with size. A 40 watt fluorescent can range up to about 100 lumens per watt. Smaller fluorescents can be half that or less. If you do install fluorescent and need 20 watts of light, its better to install one 20 watt lamp than two 10 watt lamps.

You do have to be careful with LED efficiency also, as the warm white LEDs are not the most efficient. As far as I know most are in the 60 lumen/watt range.

I like LEDs for RV use because a small light can be efficient. They make a good substitute for inefficient incandescent. But I would not go so far as to replace existing fluorescent fixtures with LED. Typical LEDs for interior use use phosphors much like fluorescent light and the light quality is not typically superior to the best fluorescent. I'd bet on the mid 80s CRI fluorescent light quality in fact over typical interior lighting LEDs.
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:00 AM   #9
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50% of the energy

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Originally Posted by dznf0g View Post
That is my understanding as well. Cannot remember where I read it, but IIRC LEDs are about 50% of the energy use of fluorescents.

Life expectency??? Depends on quality of the LED in particular. (So does fluorescent for that matter)
"50% of the energy" was our findings on LED strips over fluorescents.
When it comes to the T-8 LED replacements for the fluorescents, there are two ways they come. One way is with the ballast and another way is without the ballast. If the Ballast is left in line (take your fluorescent bulbs out and put LED bulbs in) there is no power savings. Or that is what we found when we looked into the LED tubes. With the power still going through the ballast there was no difference. For the LED tubes where you have to take the ballast out, the power draw was 80% that of the fluorescents. The reason the fluorescents tubes was 80% and the strip was 50% (with the same LED count and type) was the tube had a bridge rectifier built into the T-8 LED tube. The bridge rectifier gets the current going in the right direction so the LEDs will work. There is some lose of efficiency when there is a bridge rectifier in line.
Due to all of these findings we decided that if a person was going to get a 20% savings or a 50% saving at the same amount of work (having to take the ballast out) one should go with the 50% efficiency savings. Also, if you were to go with the easy (take your fluorescent bulbs out and put LED bulbs in) and your ballast fails you have no light. You still have to now replace the ballast.
As we all know the rules of the forums is not to talk price. There are more reasons why went went with strips.
I also agree with “tpi” in post #8 which was “I would not go so far as to replace existing fluorescent fixtures with LED.” Warm White LED strips are very close to the T-8 fluorescents in color and changing them one at a time as the ballast fails is a very good plan.
Another note about LEDs there is no lead or mercury
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Old 01-30-2012, 09:19 AM   #10
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re: ""50% of the energy" was our findings on LED strips over fluorescents."

I think that is best is interpreted to mean half of the illumination for half the energy. ... approximately. In reality, that won't make much difference especially since the typical RV fluorescent tends to be a bit much in many circumstances.

The idea of an LED in line with a fluorescent ballast is strange to me. A bridge rectifier would be only the start of the compensation needed. I can't see why anyone would go that route. I'll have to look into that.
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Old 01-30-2012, 11:25 AM   #11
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Part of the advantage of switching from incandescent lighting on the older trailers is rethinking how they're lit. Our 1971 had three central plastic lights with four bulbs apiece along the center line of the trailer... the plastic covers on these were failing due to heat from the bulbs. One very annoying problem was that the light was directly behind one while standing at the stove, so seeing what one was cooking was difficult. The front gaucho had two Edison bulb "spot lights" as did the writing desk.

What we're doing while switching to LEDs (still on-going) is the following:
  • Use flexible self-adhesive warm white LED strips at the top of the overhead cabinets. These shine on the ceiling, and provide indirect lighting along most of the trailer, very similar to the lighting in a passenger jet.
  • Replace existing incandescent spots with MR-16 warm white LEDs, and add additional directed, individually switched task lighting where needed. In areas where I can use recessed fixtures this is easy, but I'll need to make some attractive aluminum fixtures over the rear dinette; I just haven't found any yet I like at a price I'm willing to pay.
  • Replace central light fixtures which directly illuminated the trailer with indirect lighting from custom fixtures (still working on these). These will provide muted light and dress up the ceiling, but the idea of trying to light up a room with powerful lights in the center doesn't appeal to me at all.
Just trying to convert the existing lighting fixtures would not resolve many of the basic flaws in the original lighting design... and would require some awkward compromises in terms of LED directions, etc.

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