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Cheap LED Lighting: You Get What You Pay For

Hope Energy Group
June 12, 2018

When it comes to LED lighting, the old adage "You get what you pay for" rings true.

The best quality bulbs provide beautiful light, consume less power, last for years, and maintain their brightness and color over time.

The worst can cost you energy, fade quickly, or leave you standing in the dark.

As LEDs have become more popular, manufacturers have started rolling out cheaper lamps. Of course, with the lower price tag comes a wide variation in quality and efficiency.

We're here to share some tips for purchasing quality commercial LEDs.

Not all LEDs are created equal

We've all had the sinking feeling of buying a new light bulb, switching it on, and finding ourselves bathed in cold blue light that looks more like an operating room than a cozy living room.

Just like traditional light bulbs vary by brightness (indicated by wattage) and color (warm or cool white), LED lamps also vary by brightness (measured in lumens) and color (chromaticity).

That's because LED chips are mass produced and, like any manufactured product, there are slight variations that yield differences in the finished product.

After production, LED chips are binned. Binning is a way of sorting the chips so that all LEDs from one bin have the same color, brightness, and energy efficiency.

The bins are then priced and sold based on desirability and availability. Lamps with better light quality are naturally more expensive. 

Differences in drivers, thermal management, and other components can also account for the wide difference in price.

Quality LEDs are cheaper in the long run

Choosing bargain-bin lamps might seem like a good idea in the short term, but can actually end up costing you in the long run.

You wouldn't expect a $10 pair of shoes to hold up as well as a $100 pair. In the same way, you shouldn't expect a $10 LED tube to perform as well as a $100 one.

Poor quality LEDs fall short on energy savings, provide uneven light, and don't stay bright over time. Here’s what we’re talking about:





Especially for commercial buildings like stores, hotels, offices, and schools, the importance of lighting quality can't be overstated. 

(Imagine the difference between a warm, comfortably lit hotel suite and a dim, yellowed motel room and you can see what we mean.)

What to look for in LEDs

With all the variations in LED price and quality, how can you be sure of what you're actually getting? Here's what to discuss with your lighting designer:

  • Energy saving: Quality LEDs provide a lot of light for a small amount of energy. 'Efficacy' is the measure of a lamp's energy efficiency, given in lumens per watt (lm/W). The more lumens per watt, the more efficient the lamp. You'll want to compare the efficacy of traditional lamps as well as different LEDs on the market.
  • Light quality: Good LED lamps will look consistent, both in color and brightness. Poor LED lights will look uneven, even if they’re sold as the same color and brightness.
  • Warranty: Good lighting manufacturers stand behind their products, which is important for LEDs that are supposed to last for years. Lighting warranties can range from 1 year to 5 years or more.

Let us help you find the best lighting for your building. Call Hope Energy Group at 855-733-4673 or contact our team today.