LEDs vs. “Hot” Lights

Tim Adams explains the differences for ministries.

A lot of churches are wanting to switch their lighting systems over to LEDs because of the inherent electricity savings and long-lasting nature of the technology. However, it’s important you understand exactly what to expect when considering a change.

First, LEDs are certainly more energy efficient than any other lighting technology in the industry, save for plasma, but that’s a technology that never seemed to get legs underneath it and thus, we have LEDs. The rough average is that LEDs run 1W of power for every 10W consumed by incandescent fixtures. They also have no filament to burn out, so they last much, much longer. The realistic usefulness of an LED emitter is around 30,000 hours before you’ll likely see a noticeable drop in intensity, depending on your fixture. Cheaper fixtures will likely burn out faster than that due to poor thermal management, quality control, and sub-par manufacturing practices.

Heat is another advantage that LEDs have; they create significantly lower amounts of heat. I should caution, though, that some manufacturers will attempt to cram more wattage into a fixture than the fixture can naturally dissipate on its own. I’ve seen this common in household LED replacement lamps and they can reach temperatures that rival their incandescent competitors. For most professional fixtures, though, there will either be adequate convection cooling (built-in technologies that draw heat away from the emitters) or fans. There are two important areas this lower heat output affects: the amount of heat that people feel when in the light beam, and the HVAC system. Less overall heat being generated by the lighting system translates to less electricity consumed by the HVAC system to keep the space at a consistent temperature. It also makes being on stage a more pleasant experience with no heat being put into the lighting beam, unlike incandescent lighting that transmits a fair amount of heat down the light beam and onto the talent.

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