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Quality standards to look for while buying LED bulbs

By on April 22, 2016

LED bulbs have become quite popular in the recent years. Due to better efficiency and longer life, LED bulbs are quickly replacing the conventional incandescent light bulbs. Apart from this, the light source of a LED bulb is uni-directional (throws light in one particular direction), therefore using a LED luminaire gives brighter lighting to a particular area.


But the efficiency of a LED system (eg. LED luminaire) depends on many factors, and not just the LED light source. The encasing of the LED bulb, the material of the heat sink largely affects the efficiency of LED lights. For more information on the same, please read “LED lights: The material of LED lights affects the performance and life of LEDs”. The enclosure (encasing) of LED lights is a very important component of LED lights as it protects the bulb from any external damages. But due to a large number of manufacturers of LED lights, there come a large number of types of enclosures of the LED lights which proclaim to be better than the rest. In this situation , the customer gets confused as to which brand should he/she choose.

In this article, we will discuss about the various quality standards or certifications which one is advised to check before buying LED bulbs.

What is IP Rating (IP Code)

Electrical appliances need protection of their internal components against the outside environment. For example, while buying a watch, the dial which offers protection against the access of water in the watch is preferred. In other words, a water-proof watch is preferred. The reason is obvious. Unwanted ingress (or entrance) of water inside the watch can adversely affect the mechanical parts of a watch and thus hamper its proper functioning.

To prevent any foreign ingress into the appliance, enclosures or encasing is made to protect the appliance. But different manufacturers use different material to make the enclosure, thus making it difficult to understand which is better. To address this issue, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) publishes a rating which rates the enclosures on standard conditions. This ratings/markings are called IP Code or IP Rating (sometimes also referred to as Ingress Protection Marking).

What does the IP Rating mean?

The IP Code consists of the letters “IP” followed by a 2-digit number. These two digits tell us about the degree of goodness of the enclosure.

The first digit shows the level of protection the enclosure offers against any access to the internal parts of the appliance and against ingress of solid foreign agencies (like the back of the hand, finger). Similarly the second digit shows the level of protection against any liquid ingress. The value of the first digit ranges from 0 to 6 and the value of the second digit ranges from 0 to 9. For instance, in a LED bulb rated as IP65, the number 6 signifies that the bulb is “dust tight” and the second digit 5 signifies that the LED bulb is “water proof”.

Higher the digits, better is the protection offered by that particular enclosure against any ingress. For example, a LED bulb which is rated as IP67 will be better than a LED bulb rated as IP55. In this way, the IP rating gives the consumer a common platform on which enclosures produced by different manufacturers can be measured. Even some mobile phone companies make phones which are IP rated.

Why is IP rating important?

When you are buying LED luminaires for outdoor usage, the light has to withstand rains, dust and all kinds of harsh conditions. The luminaire should be robust enough to handle all this and that is when the IP ratings become important. So all sort of street lights, parking lights, garden lights, pool lights, etc need to have good IP rating. In fact even if you are buying a LED light for your bathroom, you should look for good IP rating as it has to withstand humidity.

In fact excessive dust inside the luminaires also reduce the efficiency of the luminaire and can reduce the amount of light from the luminaire. Reduced output can defeat the purpose of putting up the luminaire.

If you want to protect the luminaire from dust then you must ensure that the first number of IP rating should be 6. It ensures complete protection of the luminaire from solids of any kind.

If you want to protect your luminaire from humidity then the second number of IP rating should be greater than 0. Higher the rating, higher the protection. All submerged luminaires (for e.g. pool lights) should have second digit greater than 6. Numbers between 1 and 6 can provide protection from rains and are good for street lights.

What are LM79 and LM80 standards?

LM79

In order to test the LED luminaires on different performance parameters like input current, colour characteristics, luminous flux and so on, the IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America) has made a standard procedure called as the LM79 standard (LM79 report) which has to be followed by the testing laboratories (certified by the Environment Protection Agency) to test the LED lamps. The LM79 method applies on LED luminaires or replacement lamps only and not on LED packages, modules or arrays.

The LM79 reports consist of details of performance parameters like luminous flux, luminous intensity distribution, electrical power characteristics, luminous efficacy (calculated), colour characteristics and so on. This report can be used for a primitive screening of the product. It should be noted that the LM79 reports do not certify the performance of the entire LED luminaire for a period of time. It just provides the primitive performance characteristics of the LED luminaires under standard conditions.

LM80

This is another procedure/standard formulated by the IESNA that has to be followed by the testing companies certified by the EPA (Environment Protection Agency) to provide relevant information regarding the maintenance and depreciation of the LED components. Please note that LM80 reports do not provide the life-span information of the entire LED system, as the life of the LED luminaire depends on other factors (like the material of the heat sink, environmental conditions) as well. It is a general tendency of people to think that if a LED lumnaire has a LM80 report, it means that the LED luminaire is long-lasting. But it is not so. The LM80 report provides information regarding how a specific component, the light source, performs over a period of time under certain conditions.

Conclusion

There have been a drastic increase in the number of models and types of LED bulbs in the recent years. The enclosure of the LED lights play a major role in the durability of the LED bulb. Checking the IP rating of the LED bulb before buying one can help in making a better decision. Also while buying LEDs, request manufacturers to provide LM79 and LM80 test reports to ensure that you are getting a better quality LEDs. In our future posts we will provide the details on how to compare the LM reports.

References

http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/ssl/understanding_lm79_reports.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code
http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/ssl/msslc_dallas2012_stalker.pdf
http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/ssl/msslc-se2011_hodapp.pdf


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11 comments

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1

Most LED bulb manufactures are cheating coz not providing complete specifications. I bought 12W (I think 40 L/W) (0.6) PF non branded LED bulb brightness is less than another brand 7W (my calculation 90L/W) (PF .087) led bulb. After I bought a branded 9W led bulb and it is good brightness but problem is PF of the bulb is 0.66 consuming more power (0.062A 14W) Same brand 12 W (90L/W) bulb giving more light with good PF .086 (all bulbs tested by my energy power meter and found that same brand 9W and 12W bulbs are consuming same power approximate 14W i.e. 64mA).Now I am confused how can I select a good led bulb with maximum lumens/watt and high power factor. Most companies are not mentioning PF or current (A). (In case of CFL bulb, if it is ISI marked they are writing complete specifications but I can’t find ISI marked LED bulbs and tubes in local or online shops)

If you have Specification for branded LED bulbs and Tubes please publish and leave your comments

2
Harish Chandran

Dear Bijlibachao,

I require your suggestion for my Bedroom night lamps, The Bedroom size will be about 120sq.ft.... Will 0.5 LED Bulbs be sufficient for this purpose...?

3
Abhishek Jain (Mod)

Hi Harish,

0.5 W would just be equivalent to old "0" watt bulbs (those were 15 W in reality). If it is just for some visibility, it will be fine.

4

Good input on IP rating. Energy Star rating is supposed to be a stringent rating and so far only Philips (USA, Europe ?) seems to have it on some LED bulbs but this does not appear to be true in case of Philips LED bulbs sold in India. Can you throw some light on which bulbs sold in India conform to which (meaningful and useful )standards ? Another article is http://www.gizmag.com/energy-star-led-light-bulbs/27027/

From the article - "The requirements for LED bulbs address efficiency as well as a number of performance related metrics such as light distribution, durability, lumen maintenance and color quality (both initially and over time). Higher lumen products are eligible for certification, as long as they meet all the requirements and complete all the necessary testing."

It sounds as if a number of Energy Star LED products, 100-W equivalent A-lamps and otherwise, are headed for the market. This can only be a good thing. For LED products, Energy Star has set robust guidelines that should ensure that an Energy Star bulb is of high quality. Provided consumers know what to look for, perhaps LED can avoid the demonization that befell compact fluorescents..

5
Abhishek Jain (Mod)

Hi Mohan,

Energy Star ratings are not available in India and BEE is yet to come up with ratings for LED Lamps. Even the IP certifications are international standards. IP standards are for various technical parameters, but they are not for durability. LEDs in India need to follow ISI standards, but those are quite basic.

6

Hello Team,

I am currently building a guest house in delhi.

most rooms are 170+ square feet with two light in each room.

Rooms are square in shape.

what power LED lights should I put.

and which company LED lights should I use and also which colour white or yellowish lights.

what power watt for bathrooms

Thanks Kenny

7
Abhishek Jain (Mod)

30-35 watt LED lights (in total) should be good enough for the rooms and 8-10 watt (total) LED should be good for the bathrooms. You can check on the type and style of luminaire that can fit in your bathroom. In general yellow lights are less brighter as compared to white lights, so going for white lights would be better. However yellow lights are needed to create a different mood in the room.

8

Good and very valuable information. Sir, iam plan to purchase ac unit to hall ( 20*25feets). In summer temperature is 45centigrad. And also in winter 15centigrade. Previously I read a article in your site. Ac unit with heater. Is it better for me. If it is suitable to me,please suggest best and energy efficiency model.

9
Abhishek Jain (Mod)

Hello Mr Sudheer,

There are several factors that one need to consider while buying AC:

1) Tonnage of AC: Depends on several factors, but primarily on size of room, city where you live in, window sizes, people in the room. Oversized AC consumes more electricity, and undersized does not cool properly.

2) Star Rating: Choice of BEE 5 star/inverter tech or a lower rating depends on your usage of AC. If your usage is more than 1000 hrs per year (with traiff more than Rs 5), it is better to go for higher efficiency models. Benefit of inverter tech is that it is a variable tonnage AC and as the tonnage requirement is different every month and every day, this AC auto adjusts to the needs and thus saves electricity.

3) Brand: Some brands offer better reliability/technology and some have better service network. One has to factor in both. Once you have decided on star rating, the most efficient models from good brands can be selected.

If you provide us with more details as in which city you are in, what is the size of your room, which floor they are on, is there any floor above it, are the walls exposed to sun, usage in hours per day and months per year, and approximate budget, then we can recommend you something.

10

Good information indeed ! However what consumer needs is the quality of the internal circuit of LED, say the Heat Sink and quality of other parts used in the circuit. This is because the LED as such may be good but if circuit used is of poor quality (obviously to reduce cost ) the assembly may not last for a long period. I have seen few cheap CFL bulbs gets heated a lot after use and this heating of casing is a waste of electricity and many a times the Glass tube of CFL looks okay (not blackened) but the fault lies in the circuit ie in the casing of CFL assembly. I want to clear my doubt now in case of LEDs, which are costly at present but may compromise in quality to stand in the market competition. Any BIS standards or star rating for LEDs ?

11
Abhishek Jain (Mod)

HI Avinash,

BEE dos not have standards for LED luminares currently. However that is why we are suggesting you to check LM79 and LM80 reports for the luminaires. These are meant to test the right parameters for LEDs to ensure good quality LEDs. We will soon publish details around these two to figure out details on how to compare these two reports. BIS does have standards for LEDs (http://www.bis.org.in/other/LEDSeries.pdf) we are in process of analyzing them as well.

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