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DAGR Industrial Lighting Ltd.
Bright solutions for bright people
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LED Lifetimes and High Temperature Effects

One of the key benefits of LED light fixtures is an operating life spanning many years more than conventional lighting technologies. Without a long-life time, the cost of upgrading to LED lighting would not be financially beneficial; however, if done properly an LED retrofit can pay for itself through energy and maintenance savings alone in a matter of years. With this in mind, it is important to understand both what an LED light fixture’s “lifetime” means, and how to ensure that a fixture will not fail prematurely.

LED lighting is an efficient and long lasting alternative to traditional lighting technologies. It is nevertheless important to understand its limitations – while the LEDs themselves may last in excess of 100,000 hours, the drivers that power the fixture will typically last only 50,000. Due to the thermal sensitivity of capacitors used in the drivers, when operating at temperatures over 35°C, the lifetime of an LED driver, and hence the fixture itself will be greatly reduced.

However, that is not to say that LEDs cannot be used in high temperature areas, only that care must be taken when specifying and placing them.

Lumen Maintenance

Unlike conventional lighting technologies – metal halide, fluorescent, high pressure sodium and so on – LED light fixtures are “solid-state” and have neither moving parts nor filaments. As a result, LEDs have few failure modes and rated lifetimes ranging from 50,000 to – in some instances – over 100,000 hours. These lifetimes, however, typically only reflect the lumen maintenance, or L70, which is the number of hours the LED chips will operate for at a given temperature while maintaining at least 70% of their initial light output. While LED chips very rarely have a catastrophic failure and will typically just decrease in light output over time, they are only one part of an LED light fixture.

LED light fixtures are comprised of three main parts: the LED chips, the driver, and the housing. While the LED chips actually emit the light, the driver operates as the power supply, and in a typical configuration regulates and converts incoming AC power to DC for use by the LEDs. Drivers can also provide other capabilities such as dimming to enable light output control, and protections to identify and prevent potentially damaging thermal and electrical conditions.

Drivers and Capacitors

Due to their relative complexity and number of components, LED drivers are often the weakest link in an LED light fixture with lifetimes of approximately 50,000 hours. In particular, commonly used aluminum electrolytic capacitors tend to have the shortest lifetime of driver components and are frequently the root cause of failure. The capacitors are used in LED Drivers to smooth, control, and regulate the flow of electricity to the LED chips.

The primary cause of capacitor failure within LED drivers is due to excessive heat. For every 10°C that the ambient temperature around a capacitor is increased, the expected lifetime is halved. When an electrolytic capacitor is heated, the rate at which the internal electrolyte evaporates is increased. Vaporization of the electrolyte can lead to the capacitor seal being broken, or permeation through the material due to heightened pressure, resulting in the loss of electrolyte. The subsequent reduction in capacitance will eventually cause the capacitor to fail, either leading to damage to other components, or preventing the entire circuit from starting. Both of these situations will lead to catastrophic failure of the driver and prevent an LED light fixture from working.

Electrolytic capacitors, although they may be the principal cause of failures, are well suited to their task, and for this reason are used ubiquitously by LED driver manufacturers. They will perform as needed for the duration of the rated operating life of the driver as long as they are kept within their designated temperature limits which typically range from -40°C to 35°C.

High Temperature Environments

Where LED fixtures are rated for temperatures in excess of 35°C it is important to determine from the manufacturer how this is done as many fixtures use the exact same drivers and thus have the same limitations. Warranties will also often have constraints that render them void if fixtures are subject to excess temperatures regardless of what specification sheets may claim is possible.

In order to ensure LED performance in high temperature areas the best solution is often to redesign the lighting layout. One such example is to wall-mount fixtures to avoid placing them over sources of heat with the added benefit of increased accessibility during installation.
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Over the years, DAGR has had the good fortune to work on many projects with great clients in the forestry sector. We appreciate all that they have done for us, and in support of Canada's softwood lumber industry, DAGR will give a 7.7% discount to Canadian operations affected by these additional tariffs. Share this post and support the Canadian Timber Industry.
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DAGR was approached by a customer to provide a lighting solution for their 110ft communications masts to enable them to also operate as light towers. The customer sought an LED solution as they not only provide excellent low-light performance, but also enable considerable fuel savings as gensets are used to power the masts. The fixtures selected for the project were the 400W MP700 Multi-Purpose light with a 60° optic and with a 20° optic (Images below on the left and right respectively). The 60° optic creates a greater beam width, allowing for a wider light distribution with a shorter range. The 20° optic has a much narrower distribution but has a much greater range.
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A collection of lighting design samples showcasing DAGR's ability to provide lighting design services for a wide variety of facilities and operations.
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As a result of the upgrade, Richardson saw a dramatic improvement and light levels and overall light uniformity – providing workers with a safer, more functional work environment. In all, energy consumption was reduced by more than 60%, saving Richardson approximately $25,000 in energy-related costs annually.
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As a result of the implementation of the lighting design, the new Lavington plant provides workers with a safe, efficient and functionally lit work environment. It is estimated that by choosing LED lighting, energy consumption has been reduced by 70% over conventional lighting, with energy savings of approximately $200,000 over 5 years. With energy and maintenance savings, the project will pay for itself in under 2 years.
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With Lakeland Mills, the Sinclar Group has set a new standard for safety in the Canadian sawmill industry. The facility is well-lit, contributing to a safe and positive work environment. It is estimated that energy consumption has been reduced by 72% over conventional lighting, with a projected energy savings of approximately $540,000 over five-years. With energy and maintenance savings, the lighting project will pay for itself in one-year.
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Through their LED lighting retrofit projects, Canfor has achieved annual energy savings in excess of 8,000,000 kWh, amounting to $4,500,000 in 5-year savings when including maintenance. The majority of projects have seen reductions in consumption of up to 70% and paybacks typically under 2 years with some at just 1 year with support from the PowerSmart program.
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Installed in early 2013, the new industrial LEDs from DAGR have delivered superior illumination and reliability for Apollo Forest Products. It is estimated that energy consumption has been reduced by 71% over conventional lighting, with a projected energy savings of approximately $800,000 over five-years. Several years later, Apollo continues to be happy with DAGR’s product performance and customer service.
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