June 02, 13
Glowing Recommendation – The Case for T-5 Lighting Technology
- Glowing Recommendation – The Case for T-5 Lighting Technology
Businesses everywhere look to cut overhead costs. Utilities are an ongoing expense, so the less spent on power means more money available for other needs. New lighting strategies have emerged in recent years for businesses to take advantage of higher energy efficiency, better performance and lower maintenance costs. There is a choice between competing lighting technologies: T-5 fluorescent or light emitting diode (LED) systems.
To begin, both systems require conversion from existing incandescent or traditional fluorescent lighting infrastructure. Here T-5 holds a clear advantage as converting to a T-5 system involves installing a simple retrofit. Conversion kits are available that accommodate T-5 bulbs within existing T-8 or T-12 luminaires. The new high-frequency ballast draws 2 watts as opposed to the 6 -10 watts of the old magnetic ballast, which remains in place but is bypassed. Meanwhile, retrofitting with LED fixtures costs approximately $333 per luminaire, which is at least three times more expensive. And, according to an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) study using a base comparison of $/1000 lumens, T-5 lamps performed at a source cost of around $3 as opposed to the cost of the comparable LED bulb at more than $70.
While it is conceded that LED bulbs last longer than fluorescent ones, claims of a 100,000 hour lifespan have yet to be proven. This is due to the fact that the actual lifetime of an LED lamp depends upon proper thermal management; LED optimum performance is rated at an operating temperature of 25 degrees C or 77 degrees F. As with all lighting systems, LED performance is temperature dependent. Overheating the LED lamp may lead to device failure, thus it requires an adequate heat sink to maintain functionality. Even if the lamp remains functional after overheating it will almost certainly suffer increased lumen depreciation. By comparison, T-5 lamps diffuse heat evenly. Today’s high efficiency T-5 bulbs have a proven lifespan of 20,000 to 30,000 useful light hours. They cost less than $3 to replace. A comparable LED bulb costs $71 to replace. Hence, spending the same amount of money on lamps would pay for enough T-5 bulbs to last over 590,000 life hours.
Another IEEE study compared the heat dissipation and thermal degradation efficacy between LED and T-5 bulbs. The study concluded that T-5 lamps perform significantly better than LED lamps. The measured efficacy of a 14 watt T-5 fluorescent bulb was 96.7 lumens per watt while the same measurement for a LED bulb was 78.5 lumens per watt. IEEE also found that there was a 28.5 lumen per watt disparity between the assumed heat dissipation as opposed to the actual heat dissipation of a LED bulb. Further, a Lighting Research Center study noted that a 21 watt T-5 bulb produced an efficacy rating of 100 watts per lumen. Both studies conclude that T-5 bulbs produce more light (lumens) compared to the amount of power they consume in watts.
Thus, it is apparent that LED lamps are inferior to T-5 lamps in both energy efficiency and efficacy. The choice is as clear as light.