News on LED Troffer Performance

News on LED Troffer Performance

Polar Ray Admin

Troffers are found everywhere there is a need for economical area lighting. They are commonly used in offices, schools, commercial, retail and public spaces and more. They are available in a number of different dimensions; generally, 2’x4’, 2’x2’, and 1’x2’. Typically, there is a lens of some sort that is best suited for the intended needs. That lens might consist of a simple plastic lens of a particular design to distribute the light in a desired fashion or even louvers to help place the light in the correct relation to the task, or to simply provide for a lighting effect for some particular application. Even though the lens that is associated with troffers has a tendency to lower the efficacy of the light, troffers fitted with fluorescent lamps – which has been the industry standard for many decades – have set a higher standard for LED luminaries to meet than most other lighting, e.g., typical incandescent lighting. The fluorescent light being used provided more lumens than the LED counterparts could produce, so the decision to stay with fluorescent technology was a safe decision. That being the case it has been a tough sell for the conversion to LED troffers as the initial cost could still be a concern, especially when considering the number that might be needed in the conversion of a place such as a school or multi story office complex.

In a recent report released by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) regarding the current performance levels of LED troffers luminaries, it is noted that the efficacy of troffers using typical fluorescent lighting is much lower than comparable LED units. The highest output noted in fluorescent equipped troffers comes in just under 100 lumens per watt (lm/W), while LED products had a tendency to range in the area of 125 lm/W. The last time the DOE reported on the performance of LED troffers, in April of 2017, the mean output was below the majority of fluorescent troffer luminaries. The mean output for the LED troffers at that time was only 90 lm/W, and today that figure is 102 lm/W.  At the time of this previous report there was certainly not a compelling reason to switch to LED troffer lighting, at least when it came to the quality of the light produced. Yes, LED troffers were still more energy efficient, produced less heat, lasted longer, and all the other good aspects that come with LED lighting, but the cost of switching and losing efficacy was not something most consumers were comfortable with. In order to compensate for the loss of lumens, extra lighting would be needed if the area to be lighted was to be lit at the same intensity that the fluorescent luminaries provided, and even with the potential long term savings, most consumers – individual and corporate – could not see past the initial expense of the additional lighting.

The current efficacy of LED lighting now presents a well based reason to consider a switch from fluorescent to LED troffers. Both new troffer fixtures themselves or troffer retrofit kits are currently available that are at a level of performance that nicely exceeds even the best fluorescent luminaries. So, not only can the output of the best fluorescent troffers now be easily matched or, better yet, beaten, the energy efficiency and associated dollar savings can be recognized once they are converted to LED or completely replaced by new LED troffers. One consideration needed when making a conversion on an existing fluorescent troffer is the lens that might have been in place for the fluorescent system. That lens might or might not be reused as it will affect the output of the system in that it will definitely have a lower efficacy than when used without a lens. That lower efficacy might be a tradeoff for the lens distributing the light in a desirable pattern. If that would be the case, it might be possible that the light produced could be not so much improved over the fluorescent system, but it would, in most cases equal the output. Of course, the overall maintenance and energy savings that will occur will be a major consideration as well.

Considering the current positioning of LED troffers, there are certainly compelling reasons to make a switch, whether new installation or retrofit. A one-for-one replacement scenario is certainly a viable possibility that was not in the cards not so long ago. So now, additional fixtures and the expense, planning, engineering, and other logistics that would accompany LED substitution in the past, due to the fact that LED could not compete with fluorescent output, are now just that; a thing of the past. Each individual case should be examined to determine the correct product for the particular application, but there are products currently on the market that can quite nicely replace existing fluorescent troffers and not only provide all the savings that LED lighting can offer but also provide better illumination than was previously possible with fluorescent lighting.

As always, if you have questions in regard to any of your lighting projects, please feel free to call Polar-Ray at 303-494-5773 to speak with a lighting consultant. You can view our LED troffers by clicking here. Thank you for perusing our web site.