Monthly Archives: August 2021


Are LED Lights Considered Good for the Environment?

Yes, LED lights are better for the environment than traditional light sources as with proper heat management they can last much longer. LEDs deliver the same amount of lumens as traditional luminaires, but with less energy consumption. For example, a 400W HID luminaire can typically be replaced by a 150W LED luminaire and still deliver the same lumens.


LED Lights Efficiency

Do LED Lights Burn Out?

Yes, all light sources will eventually burn out. However, LED sources typically last much longer than traditional light sources. They usually have a longer L70 rating. For example, a quality LED luminaire will have at least an L70 rating of 50,000 hours, while an HID luminaire may only have a rating between 6,000 to 15,000 hours.

Do LED Light Bulbs Save Money?

Yes, LED lights save money on energy consumption. They produce a higher rate of lumens per watt, meaning they are much more efficient and use less energy to produce the same amount of light.

What Does L70 Rating Mean?

L70 is a means of measuring lumen maintenance.  The L70 refers to the point when an LED lamp source is producing 70% of its initial lumen output.  For example, the RDA NTH-LED20 initial lumen output is 2089, its L70 rating is 100,000 hours.  So at 100,000 hours the luminaire will be producing roughly 1462 lumens.

Why is this rating important when considering a luminaire?

This rating allows you to know how long you can depend on a luminaire to produce an acceptable amount of light.


LED Lights Concerns

Do LED Lights Produce Heat?

The short answer is yes, LED luminaires produce heat. The long answer is that while LED diodes produce heat, it isn’t where you might think. The heat is generated at the back of the LED chip.  So, the back of the diode gets really hot, but the front/exterior of the luminaire remains cool to the touch.

In order to obtain long life, it is crucial to manage the internal temperature (junction temperature) of LED diodes.  This can be accomplished in a variety of methods, one of the most common being the implementation of heatsinks to pull the heat away from the LED diode and disperse it.

What Color Temperature (CCT) is Best for Your Eyes?

Ideally, the best light for your eyes is that of natural light, which would be around 5000K and higher. Natural light boosts your vitamin D and has a tremendous effect on your circadian rhythm. In the absence of natural light, it is best to design the light to the needs of the space. For example, in an environment such as a doctor’s office or surgical room you would install a luminaire with 5000K or higher CCT for bright blue-white light – something crisp and clean. On the other hand, In a recovery room, you may want to step down to something 3000K to 2700K, that is more calming and cozy.

What luminaire is the right luminaire for my application?

This is all relative.  In order to figure out the right luminaire for the application you have to consider the following:

  • Budget – What is the budget for this application?
  • Rebates – Are there rebates available to offset the cost of the initial purchase of materials and labor?
  • Time – How soon is the project going to start?  When does it need to be completed?
  • Usage – What is the usage of the given space?  Is it a manufacturing plant, a supermarket, an office space?  If work is being conducted, what type of work, is it a machinist shop where detailed work is being done or is it a warehouse?
  • Demographic – What is the average age of the people occupying the space?  Is an older demographic that will need more light, brighter light?  Is it a young demographic that will not need as much light and would benefit from a warmer color temperature?
  • In some applications, more than one luminaire might be needed to properly illuminate space.

Key Benefits

LED Lights Key Benefits

Are LED Lights Dimmable?

Yes, LED luminaires can be dimmed provided that:

  1. The driver controlling the LED is a dimmable driver.
  2. You use the right dimmer.

For example, some LED luminaires have a 0-10V dimming driver which would require a 0-10V dimmer.  Others work off of ELV (Electronic Low Voltage), in this application you would use an ELV dimmer.

  1. You size the dimmer to the application. LED luminaires have a much larger inrush current (amount of power it takes to turn something on) than traditional light sources. In order to compensate for that initial inrush current, you have to upsize your dimmer.  

Can I use LED lights outdoors?

Yes, LED luminaires can be used in outdoor application ratings provided they have the appropriate IP or UL rating.  For outdoor applications, the appropriate IP rating could be anything from IP44 to IP68.  IP65 rating should cover most outdoor applications.  When using UL as a guideline for outdoor use, look for a damp (think lighting under canopies, soffits, etc.) or wet location rating.  When in doubt, contact a professional for help selecting the right luminaire for the job.

Should I change my light bulbs to LED?

Yes, the benefits to switching to LED from traditional light sources have been addressed ad nauseam over the past 15 years. LEDs are more environmentally friendly, and typically have a longer lifespan than traditional light sources. They also save on energy and labor costs, and are easier to control than some traditional light sources, like HIDs.

DLC Lighting Certifications DLC Premium Lighting Certifications Logo

DLC, DLC Premium

DLC certification is a utility based initiative and one of the most important lighting certifications that customers look for. Many organizations offer rebate programs based on meeting DLC standards on a variety of luminaires such as but not limited to wall light, flood light, ceiling panels and high bays. DLC certifications require you to comply with 3 main aspects to the lighting which are distribution, color and longevity. These aspects must be tested by an accredited laboratory to be DLC certified. Testing results are submitted directly to the DLC by the manufacturer.

Furthermore, DLC premium takes it a step further due to the fact that it requires higher efficiencies and an additional light depreciation metric which most often results in higher rebates. Instead of burning out like traditional light fixtures, LEDs dim or depreciate their output over time. The industry accepted lifetime for an LED is when it reaches 70% of its original input, also known as an L70 projection. DLC Premium would require a L90 projection, which is when the fixture is expected to lose 10% of its output. Currently, DLC is in its 5.1 phase.   

Notable RDA products with DLC Premium lighting certification would be RHB-LEDHELIX-LED, WP-LED and many more!


UL Certification

UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, UL standards are employed throughout many industries to assure specific product performance and safety. If a luminaire has a UL marking along with a control number, it means it has met all safety requirements for that specific environment. There are 3 main UL markings, dry locations, damp locations and wet locations. Products with dry locations certification are typically used indoors and above-ground rooms, such as bedrooms, kitchens, offices, retail stores. It is the most common certification amongst lighting and it is also known as UL Listed within the industry. 


Damp Locations Rated

Damp locations certification is approved for lightings that are regularly exposed to moisture and condensation. However,  it is important to note that your luminaire can only handle a limited amount of water exposure which means that it cannot be directly exposed to snow or rain. Main applications for this marking would be outdoor usage with some coverings such as patio or perimeter of stores. 


Wet Locations Rated

Wet locations rating means that the fixture can essentially be installed anywhere and has minimal limitations dealing with liquid as this rating allows the luminaire to come in direct contact with most types of liquids. If the product is UL listed, it indicates that the product has been tested to meet the safety standards of the United States by Underwriters Laboratories. While cULus indicates that the product has been tested to meet the safety standards of Canada and the United States by Underwriters Laboratories.



Similar to UL, An ETL certification means that products have been tested to set safety standards. ETL has 24 different marks/certifications to indicate anything from safety to health and environmental benefits.

A product bearing the ETL Listed mark with the “us” identifier at the 4 o’clock position has been tested and deemed compliant to U.S. product safety standards only. An ETL Listed mark with a “c” identifier at the 8 o’clock position means the product bearing it complies with Canadian product safety standards only. And an ETL Listed mark with both “us” and “c” identifiers at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions respectively, signifies that the product bearing the mark complies with both U.S. and Canadian product safety standards.

UL and Intertek (parent organization of ETL) are some of the few NRTLs (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories), a third-party testing program overseen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Main difference between UL and ETL is that ETL does not publish their own standards. Instead, they test components to established standards of other NRTLs such as UL, ASME and ASTM. 

IP IP Lighting Certifications-IP65 Logo IP Lighting Certifications-IP66 Logo

IP known as Ingress Protection defines the level of protection for the luminaire against outside bodies like debris, dirt and different forms of liquid. The numbers that follow IP each have a specific meaning. The first number represents the degree of protection from moving parts, as well as the protection of enclosed equipment from foreign bodies. The second number indicates the protection level that the enclosure enjoys from various forms of moisture. 

There are 4 common IP certifications amongst lighting, IP65, IP66, IP67 and IP68. IP65 suggests that the luminaire is “dust tight” and protected against water projected from a nozzle. IP66 indicates that it is “dust tight” and protected against heavy seas or powerful jets of water. IP67 highlights that it is “dust tight” and protected against immersion of water for 30 minutes at depths of 150mm – 1000mm. Lastly, IP68 is rated as “dust tight” and protected against continuous submersion in water.


Hazardous Locations (UL884)

It is locations where explosion or fire hazards exist due to the presence of flammable gases, flammable or combustible liquid-produced vapors, combustible dusts, or ignitable fibers. Hazardous Locations are classified by the likelihood of an ignitable concentration of combustible material being present. There are two systems in place, including the traditional North American Division system as well as the alternative Zone system.

 UL844, explosion proof lighting for Hazardous Locations–is one of several lighting certifications used in conjunction with National Electrical Code Classes, Divisions, and Groups of atmospheres for the selection of fixtures for normally and not normally hazardous locations where volatile flammable liquids, flammable gases, and combustible materials may be present in the atmosphere. Common examples of hazardous locations that require luminaire would be sawmills, grain silos or waste water treatment plants. 

We previously covered this certification more in-depth in our 3-part blog series of
Lighting Challenges in Hazardous Locations!

  1. Lighting Challenges in Agricultural Applications
  2. Marine Lighting Challenges and Applications
  3. LED Mining Light Bottlenecks & Requirements


NEMA 4X  NEMA 4X Lighting Certifications Logo

NEMA stands for National Electrical Manufacturer Association. NEMA ratings are standards to justify the environment that the electrical fixture can be used in are mainly applied to fixed electrical enclosures. There are many NEMA ratings for different circumstances but the one we employ for our luminaires would be NEMA 4X. NEMA 4X highlights that the luminarie is suitable for Indoor or outdoor use primarily to provide a degree of protection against corrosion, windblown dust and rain, splashing water, hose-directed water, and damage from external ice formation.

Shoutout to Ed Wynne of RDA Lighting for his expertise throughout blog!


Lighting term 101 blog featured image

What are Lumens?

When purchasing any type of luminaire, Lumen is a crucial lighting term to look for, as it helps the user to understand and choose the most suitable one. It measures the light output from a luminaire, with higher lumen translating to having a brighter fixture and lower lumen translating to a dimmer fixture.

You can determine a rough estimate on how much lumens you need through calculating the square footage of the area, then multiplying that number by a universal foot candles measurement for different common residential and commercial settings:

For example, if you have a 100 sq ft. bedroom then you would need 1000-2000 lumens (100 x 10, 100 x 20). 

A fun fact about lumen is that for every square meter on earth, the sun puts out 127, 000 lumens. A word of advice from RDA, do not look at the sun directly unless you have adequate eye protection. 

What Does Wattage Mean?

Wattage is another common lighting term that shows up in all luminaires. It is the amount of power required for the luminaire to produce the lumen output. The higher the wattage, the more light it produces, however, with a higher wattage the operating costs for your luminaire increases.  In most scenarios, you would want the wattage to be lower assuming your lumen requirement is satisfied. It is worth noting that Incandescent and fluorescent light sources would require more wattage to produce the same amount of lumens as an LED light source.

Lighting Efficacy

Light efficacy is a follow-up lighting term of wattage and lumens. It measures  how well the light source produces visible light and it is calculated by lumens per watt. Most products typically have this measurement provided due to the increasing importance of efficacy nowadays. Nonetheless, it is still very simple to figure out light efficacy of a given product based on other measurements. Simply divide the total lumens produced by the luminaire by the wattage required to power it. For example, RDA ORA4-LED80 produces 8827 lumens and has input wattage of 78. 8827 divided by 78 gives an efficacy of 113 lumens per watt consumed.

Lighting term-lighting efficacy chart based on different types of light

 The US Department of Energy believes that huge energy savings can be made by switching to LEDs, cutting business and homeowner electricity bills by $50 billion a year. With improved efficacy of lighting, the US is actually projected save 490 terawatt-hours of energy by 2035. This is nearly twice the amount of energy that the Energy Information Administration predicts will be produced by solar power in 2035.

 According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cool white LED lighting products can produce 60–92 lm/W, compared to 10–18 lm/W for incandescent bulbs and 35–60 lm/W for Compact Fluorescents (CFLs). However, low-quality LED lighting products that are not designed properly may be no more efficient than incandescent bulbs. 


The lighting term voltage represents the pressure from an electrical circuit’s power source that pushes current through a conducting loop enabling them to power devices. There are two types of voltages- Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC). Alternating Current alternates between positive or negative polarities hence the name, while Direct Current always has the same polarity, being either negative or positive. The most common Alternating Current voltages in regards to lighting are 120, 240, 277, 347 and 480. 120-277V and 480V are typically what RDA offers in most of our luminaires. An everyday example of DC voltage would be a battery and most often DC voltages in lighting are 12 and 24. 


Other common terminologies would be line voltage and low voltage. Line voltage is the amount of voltage which a power line delivers to its destination or the point at which it is being consumed and in lighting this would be regarded as AC voltage. In North America, 120V AC is what is most frequently used in residential applications, 277V is typically used in commercial applications and 347 or 480 would be applied in industrial applications. Lastly, low voltage is typically defined as 50V or less and in most lighting applications low voltage would be DC voltage. Examples of lighting applications for low voltage would include landscape lighting or under cabinet lighting. 


Color Rendering Index (CRI)

CRI is the measurement of the quality of how colors look under a light source, compared to how they would look under sunlight. The index ranges from 0-100, with 100 indicating that the colour would look the exact same under this light source as it would the sun – a perfect match to natural light. A general rule of thumb is that the higher the CRI rating is, the better the colours will look under a luminaire. This rating is important to consider when planning for retail or museum applications, when specific lighting that brings out the best of what it lights up is the key to success.

Lighting term color rendering index

Color Temperature

Color temperature describes a light’s appearance from a light source. This lighting term is very often referred to as Correlated Color Temperature (CCT). CCT is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K). For most lighting applications, it will range from 2700K to 6500K. The lower the CCT, the “warmer” or more yellow the appearance of the light source will be. On the other hand, the higher the CCT, the “cooler” or more bluish the appearance of the light source will be. For context, it is commonly accepted that 6500K is the best Kelvin temperature to match natural daylight.

It is very important to keep color temperature in mind when planning lighting for different applications. A warmer color temperature will create a more cozy, inviting space, while a cooler color temperature will feel brighter and more energizing. An office space, for example, is more likely to have cool, bright color temperatures, while an evening restaurant is more likely to have warmer, cozy color temperatures. Another example to consider is different kinds of shops. A jewelry store would ideally have very bright, cool temperatures to enhance the already-sparkling diamonds they sell. This could be around 5000K. On the other hand, a butcher shop would be more likely to have a warmer color temperature to bring out the freshness of the meat.

Lighting term color temperature scale


Light Distribution Types

Light Distribution is the projected pattern that a fixture will disperse onto a surface. There are two commonly recognized standards for light distribution types – NEMA Distribution and IESNA Distribution. Looking at NEMA Distribution, this defines a luminaire’s light distribution by its horizontal and vertical beam spread. These patterns are well-suited for defining flood and sport light applications. There are 7 NEMA beam types:

On the other hand, IESNA Distribution patterns define a luminaire’s light distribution more specifically by the shape of the area that is lit by the luminaire. These distribution patterns are typically used when designing with area or roadway lights. There are 5 IESNA beam types:

A special thank you to Ed Wynne of RDA Lighting for his expertise putting this blog together!

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