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The Truth Behind LEDs

They’re sleek. They’re cool. They’re getting cheaper. But do LED tubes deliver on the energy savings they promise? The answer: it depends.

In informal testing, CSU found some surprising results when comparing various 4’ linear LED tube lamps (T8s) to one another and to 4’ linear fluorescent T8 and T12 lamps. Fluorescent T8 lamps are commonly found in commercial settings such as offices and are usually run with electronic ballasts. Fluorescent T12 lamps are older, less efficient, and are often run with magnetic ballasts. LED T8 lamps are now being used to replace fluorescent T8 and T12 lamps. Our results are listed below in order of power consumed (watts).

LED tests

Key takeaways:

  • LEDs run with fluorescent electronic ballasts drew less power than LEDs run with LED drivers.
  • LEDs run with fluorescent magnetic ballasts drew significantly more power and put out significantly more light than T12 fluorescents run with the same ballasts.
  • There was significant variance in power drawn between LED T8 brands run with fluorescent electronic ballasts, even though nameplate wattages suggest otherwise.
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4 Responses so far.

  1. Irene says:

    I heard that there might be some health effects of LEDs — such as possibly effects on the eyes or that they have quite a bit of arsenic and lead in them — is this true, and is there anything that can be done about it?

  2. Irene says:

    I heard that there might be some health effects of LEDs — perhaps effects on the eyes or that they have quite a bit of arsenic and lead in them — is this true, and is there anything that can be done about it?

    • cweiner says:

      Because LEDS are more direct and tend to have more blue light than other lighting technologies, they can cause glare. Some research suggests that they can also damage the retina at high levels.

      Some red LEDS have been shown to use relatively high levels of lead in the solder. Some LEDs may include a gallium arsenide semiconductor. But also keep in mind that metal content measurements of LEDs are made by grinding up the LEDs into dust, which is not how most of us interact with light bulbs.

  3. Kurt Jones says:

    Our fairgrounds is converting from T8’s to LED lighting. I also noted that our local ski area converted everything to LED’s (they were giving away their replaced fluorescents). Light quality was better, and in some cases we were able to replace with fewer fixtures than we had before.

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