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The New Work Horse Lamp

By Stan Walerczyk

For well over a decade my favorite workhorse lamp has been a 3100 lumen 80 CRI 32W fluorescent F32T8, but now LED lightbars, LED troffer kits or new LED fixtures can be better.

My new workhorse lamp is the 60W incandescent medium base screw-in omni-directional LED lamp, which some are less than $5 without an upstream rebate, rated life is 20,000+ hours, and some have a 10 year or longer warranty. The Switch Infinia with liquid cooling has a limited lifetime warranty, but will the company be around that long?

I realized how good how these screw-in LED lamps are while consulting for a K12 school district, which has a lot of various vandal resistant wall packs and canopy and square and round ceiling fixtures with screw-in CFLs, pin-based CFLs and magnetic or electronic ballasts, screw-in low wattage HPS lamps and magnetic ballasts and circline fluorescent kits. Not only is it a challenge to buy, stock and carry around all of these lamp and ballast types, vandal resistant fixtures are relatively expensive to buy, no matter the lighting technology used inside.

In addition for this new workhorse lamp being very beneficial to end-customers, it can be very good for distributors and contractors, because it can save time, streamline stocking, keep up with technology advancements, and make it easier to carry around replacement stock.

Using one or more of these lamps in existing fixtures, even if existing sockets have to be replaced and if existing ballasts have to be removed, can usually be less expensive initially than buying and installing dedicated LED fixtures, if the line voltage is 120.

Even new fixtures with 120V screw-in bases and screw-in LEDs cost less a lot less than most dedicated LED fixtures.

The biggest benefit may be from maintenance. With dedicated LED fixtures, getting replacement LED modules and/or drivers, which will probably fail before the LEDs, may be time consuming and expensive, and may not even be available down the road from the specific fixture manufacturers down the road, because they may have changed fixture design and models. Plus some LED fixture manufacturers may not be in business down the road.

It is easy to stock and carry around screw-in LED bulbs. Plus they will continue to get less expensive and more efficient over time.

As I stated in a previous column, two 60W equivalents, even with a Y- adapter, cost a lot less than one 100W equivalent, while providing the same lumens as one 100W equivalent.

Heat is one concern. Many of these screw-in LED lamps should not go into small enclosed fixtures, because the heat will shorten their lives and void warranty. So you will have to check with various manufacturers about various models.

What I have done, which you could too, is specify and get new larger incandescent style fixtures, maybe with some venting, to keep the screw-in LED lamps cool.

Similar to these screw-in omni-directional or A-style lamps, screw-in reflector LED lamps can also be used. This can work very well in wall packs for just down light or down and up light or floods. Even if the screw-in reflector LED lamps cost $10 – $40, solutions with them can still often be more cost effective initially and down the road than with dedicated LED fixtures.

There may be higher rebates on dedicated LED fixtures than with using omni-directional or reflector screw-in LED lamps.

Certain building codes may make it easier to go with dedicated LED fixtures for new construction or retrofits. But the old rationale of people maybe going to high wattage incandescent is really no longer realistic.

Please let me know what you think of any of my statements. Also if you have a lighting subject that you would like information about, let me know. stan@lightingwizards.com

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