When choosing what sort of backlighting for your signage there are two main options: LED and fluorescent. Fluorescent is the old favourite, while LED is the bundles some the latest lighting technology and advancements together. Let’s look at some of the features of each type of light.
Fluorescent: Compact fluorescent lights have a rated lifespan of 6000-15000 hours (250-600 days of continuous use), although the total lifespan will vary depending on the conditions. A fluorescent bulb will get dim over time. Some factors effecting the lifespan of fluorescent lights:
- Temperature (indoor vs outdoor)
- How often turned off/on
- Voltage spikes
- Orientation (vertical vs horizontal)
LED: LED bulbs offer much higher life expectancy compared to fluorescent bulbs. An LED light is expected to last for 30000+ hours (1250+ continuous days). An LED will fade over time. Some factors effecting the lifespan of LED lights:
- Temperature (LED lifespan is shortened by high temperatures)
- Light output level – LED’s are rated for a certain brightness. They can be run at a higher the rated brightness, but this will drastically reduce their lifespan
- Environment – a dry environment that is free from any vibrations is best
Cost and Efficiency
When factoring the cost of lighting, there are two factors: initial cost, and energy cost. LED have relatively high initial cost, but very low energy cost as well as a long lifespan. Fluorescent bulbs have a very low initial cost, low energy cost, and a moderate lifespan. The following chart illustrates the cost and efficiency associated with each type of lighting:*
|Benchmark:Price per Bulb:Power Usage (watts):Lifespan:
* Comparison based on 6 hours of use/day for 10 years. Energy cost assumed to be 15 cents/kWh
As shown by the chart, fluorescent bulbs consume 47% more power then an LED bulb. This means that the an LED pulls ahead in terms of cost and efficiency the longer the light is left on. The LED also enjoys a roughly 3x longer lifespan. In terms of cost and efficiency, the LED is clear winner over any extended period of time.
In order to measure the amount of colours a light can display, the Colour Rendering Index (CRI) is used. A perfect CRI score is 100. A generic fluorescent light get a score around 50 CRI, while the best fluorescent lights: the tri-phosphor type, gets a score of around 90 CRI.
A typical LED light gets a score of around 80 CRI. Certain LED’s can get a score of up to 98 CRI. LED is winner in the colour category.
LED is the clear winner in terms of lifespan, cost, efficiency, and colour reproduction. Westmount Signs recommends the use of LED lighting.
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