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When is a Specification Really a Specification?

Apples and Oranges

The introduction of LED lighting, and its fast evolution, has increased the number of variables within specifications. So, how do you compare such a vast range of options?

Before LED, we thought about brightness in terms of wattage – most of us can remember the 60W or 100W incandescent light bulb. This type of thinking has been passed on to LED luminaires.

However, this leads to confusion, because the light output (lumens per watt) of the LEDs used can vary. For example, a 36W panel using 80 lumens per watt will produce 2,880 lumens. Compare this to a 30W panel using 130 lumens per watt which will produce 3,900 lumens: 17% less power producing 35% more lumen output.

But simply focusing on light output isn’t always enough. Some manufacturers publish the light output from the LEDs. Others publish the light output from the entire luminaire, which will usually be lower, as the light is diffused within the luminaire.

This issue of power vs. light output is just one example of where confusion creeps in and buyers end up comparing apples with oranges.

Price vs. Specification

Price is usually a major factor in choosing the right luminaire, but manufacturers can manipulate price points according to the specifications. Features such as flicker free drivers, flammability rated diffusers and Unified Glare Rating (UGR) less than 19 can make a big difference to the quality of the light and the price of the luminaire.

Need for Consistency

It is not surprising that many buyers are confused. There is a need for consistency across the lighting industry for publishing product specifications.

In a recent Guidance Paper, LightingEurope argues for simplified performance metrics that allow easy product to product comparisons to be made. Without consistency in specifications, buyers might compare apples with oranges and accidentally end up with a banana!

Removing Confusion

Our team can help you find the best solution in terms of light quality, cost effectiveness and the lighting specifications required. To discuss the lighting specifications of your project, get in touch with NET LED on 01223 85105 or email

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