Brightway News

  • LED Lighting is NOT Like Other Early-adopter Technologies

    I have never considered myself an early adopter.  I do find that I surround myself with technology, it’s my vocation, it’s my avocation in a lot of ways.  But thanks to the stacks of retired, mostly worthless, electronic equipment and gizmos in my possession, I am keenly aware that technology is rarely an investment.   For that reason, I have seldom found it to be worth the extra money to be the first to own some new technology.  LED lighting is changing that.  It has moved me from a “Late Majority” adopter, to an “Early Majority” adopter.  Why?  Because it’s the first bit of technology I could buy that actually provides a tangible return on my investment.  Unlike that 4K TV that relegates your HDTV to the trash heap, an investment in LED lighting will pay you back.  In fact, it starts paying you back immediately and is usually still at work long after it has paid for itself.

    If you are still waiting for LED costs to come down, stop waiting.  Prices are past the knee in the curve and continuing to wait is like waiting until you are 50 to start saving for retirement.   Everyone agrees that investing for retirement when you are young is smart because you take advantage of compounding interest.  Investing in LED lighting now is smart because you take advantage of compounded savings on your electrical costs. Prices aren't likely to decrease more than another 10% on commercial products in the next 5 years.   New products being introduced are brighter, a little more efficient, maybe smaller, but not a lot less expensive.

    According to a 2013 DOE report, retail and commercial properties are going to lead the way in energy savings from LED lighting.  LED Troffers, Refrigeration, industrial (manufacturing/warehouse), and Exterior lighting will account for most of the savings in these areas.   Waiting to upgrade your lighting is actually going to cost more than you save.  LED lighting will continue to improve, just like TVs.  So, replace your outdated lighting with energy efficient LEDs now, then you can take your savings and get that TV that you always wanted.   In case you haven’t heard, 8K TVs are already in labs and will be sending your 4K TV to the garage.

  • Saving Energy is Cool: The actual energy savings of LED lighting in an air conditioned environment

    What if we told you that the energy savings associated with switching to LED lighting might be more than double what you immediately perceive them to be? You might think, "what do you mean? I can do simple math. The savings are just the difference between my existing lighting solution and the replacement. 100 (watts existing) - 25 (watts replacement) = 75 (watts saved)." You're right, for the most part, until we introduce the often important - and sometimes forgotten - variable known as air conditioning to the equation.

    If you are keeping up with the exciting "green" revolution that is currently taking place in the lighting industry, you are probably already aware that switching to LED lighting technology has many benefits. The most obvious and significant benefit is the energy savings that you can achieve by making the LED switch.  But how significant is it? Well, that answer may surprise you... Let's take a look at an example or two.

    Before we get started, let's cover a couple of assumptions that we'll make in order to simplify things:

    1) Relative to conventional lighting technologies, LEDs are very good at converting electrical energy to light energy.  We are going to assume that the LED light source is 100% efficient at converting electrical energy to light energy.

    2)  The average air conditioning system is only about 70% efficient.


    Now on to our examples:

    Let's take the most historically dominant consumer bulb on earth; the 60 watt incandescent bulb.

    Let's say that you are replacing a 60 watt incandescent bulb in an outdoor post light with a new "light equivalent" 9 Watt LED bulb (when we refer to "light equivalency" of an LED light vs. the conventional alternative, we mean an LED light that produces the same amount of useful light energy as the existing lighting solution). In this case, the 9 Watt LED bulb yields an 85% reduction in energy usage over the 60 watt incandescent bulb which translates to an 85% monetary savings in energy usage for that application. The math is straight forward because 9 is 85% less than 60.

    Now, let's look at a different application.  You want to replace a 60 watt incandescent bulb that is installed in a floor lamp in your living room. Let's also say that you live somewhere where it is warm enough outside that your air conditioner is running.  In this situation, the actual energy savings becomes much more significant and the math to calculate the savings gets a bit more involved. In order to correctly calculate the financial benefits of switching to a "light equivalent" 9 Watt LED bulb in an air conditioned environment, you must account for the AC-factor.

    What's the AC-factor? Well, it turns out that almost all of that power difference between the new LED technology and the conventional lighting is actually excess heat energy, which gets dissipated into the environment (an air conditioned room, in this case) as a result of the fact that old lighting technologies are less efficient at converting electrical energy into light energy.

    OK, so what's the big deal?

    Well, the fact of the matter is that accounting for the excess heat of the conventional technology in an indoor air conditioned environment results in an overall LED energy savings that will be more than two-times your calculated savings of our first outdoor example.  Let me explain.  Because that simple 60 watt incandescent bulb is actually adding 51 watts, (60 watts minus 9 watts), of additional heat into the space that your air conditioner is already trying to cool, that requires the air conditioner to use extra energy to get rid of that added heat.  In fact, because the average air conditioning system is only about 70% efficient, that extra energy used by the air conditioner is even more that the energy added by the bulb. In this case, the extra energy is an additional 66.3 watts to offset that 51 watts of heat added by the 60 watt incandescent bulb.

    I realize this might be a little confusing but if you add up all of the energy savings of switching to a "light equivalent" 9 Watt LED bulb, the savings looks more like 117.3 watts of savings. This would actually make the savings more like 93%.  This is because when adding the extra air conditioning burden of operating a 60 Watt incandescent bulb,  the power company would need to supply 134.1 Watts of energy vs 9 watts for the LED bulb. Now imagine the energy savings that would result from switching to LEDs in large indoor commercial spaces!

    Check out some of BrightWay's great products for interior LED Lighting by clicking HERE.





    For those of you who are really interested in the math of these examples, you may take issue with my analysis. OK, yes, I have simplified things a bit.  If you were to really scrutinize the analysis, it would be concluded that the actual savings is more like 89% rather than 93%. Here's why. I stand by the statement that "relative to conventional lighting technologies, LEDs are very good at converting electrical energy to light energy". However, the truth is that although they are good, they are not 100% efficient. Semiconductor companies are investing heavily to continue improving the efficiency of LED's.  In actuality, a good quality 9 watt LED bulb will actually produce about 5 watts of heat energy. Mathmatically, I assumed that 51 watts of heat is produced from the 60 watt incandescent bulb.  Incandescent bulbs are only 5% efficient, thus the actual heat produced is more like 57 watts.

    All in all, the simplified model yields pretty good approximations for the energy savings. The model is meant to give a fairly close estimate while keeping the math simple and straight forward. For those of you that you who like to really crunch numbers, send us an email at and we can provide you with a spreadsheet that allows you to more accurately control the parameters of the calculation.

  • Case Study: LED Refrigeration Lighting

    The Scenario

    Ecostar3In September of 2011, the Mobil Station on Noble Parkway in Brooklyn Park, MN underwent a refrigeration lighting face lift. Several of their existing fixtures has failed and it was time for an upgrade. Their goals were to improve brightness in the coolers in order to give their customers a better experience, install a lighting solution that would require less maintenance, decrease energy usage, and incur some savings to their bottom line. USLED's Ecostar3 LED refrigeration lighting product proved to be 'the right choice.'

    Continue reading

  • Case Study: LED Lighting for Municipalites

    One Bright City: LED Lighting for The City of Apple Valley

    Location:  Apple Valley, MN



    City council members and city executives are always trying to do more with less. The more efficiently they can provide municipal functions, the more value they provide to their communities and the better they serve their neighbors. The City of Apple Valley, MN is no different.

    Continue reading

  • Before and After: LED Drop Ceiling Lighting

    Check out this great example of how LED lighting can improve the quality, brightness, and energy efficiency of a room! #LED

    A picture really is worth a thousand words... A picture really is worth a thousand words.
  • Light Fair International 2014

    BrightWay is all signed up and ready to go to Light Fair 2014. Excited to see the continued evolution of the lighting industry and the rapidly growing role that LED technology is playing it that evolution! Are you planning to attend the lighting expo in Las Vegas,NV from June 1st-5th?

  • A World Without Bulbs: OLED Lighting in its Infancy

    OLED technology is in the press again. OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology is still in its infancy with lots of technical and cost related challenges ahead of it. Yet, it wasn't too long ago that LED lighting technology at large had doubters casting its future as a general lighting source into the proverbial darkness. Time will tell what place the world holds for "sheets" of light. In the mean time, it is a cool technology to keep on your radar.

  • Converting to LED Lighting

    How do I know which LED fixture/bulb will accurately substitute for my conventional lighting product?

    The short answer is "let us help you."  There are several things to consider while attempting to understand if an LED product will be an appropriate substitute for your conventional lighting product, whether that product be an incandescent, fluorescent, or HID.  Where applicable throughout the BrightWay website, we have tried to include a reference guide comparing our LED products to popular conventional light sources of similar brightness.


    The lighting industry has traditionally associated the light output of a light source (bulb or tube) in terms of the WATTAGE consumed as opposed to the LUMENS emitted.  In other words, the industry has partaken in a little bit of a misnomer.  Lumens are an actual measure of light output, whereas wattage is simply a measure of power drawn.  Due to the fact that LED products are typically much more efficient at converting electrical energy into light energy, LED lighting products are being appropriately labeled with both a wattage and a light output.  However, it can still be difficult to compare LED lighting with conventional products because many of the conventional products still don't bare a label that discloses the luminous output.  This creates a tough situation for consumers trying to evaluate an LED light source with the less efficient conventional lighting technologies.

    Light at the Source vs. Delivered Light

    Yet another aspect of lighting that can cause confusion is the difference between Lumens (the amount of illumination at the source of the light) and Footcandles or Lux (a measure of illumination delivered to a surface or point).  The reason why this makes things a little bit difficult to compare conventional lighting technologies to LED lighting is that LED products are lensed to distribute light in a more directional fashion.

    For example, a metal halide (MH) bulb is placed into a parking lot fixture which is meant to throw light downward in a 180 degree distribution.  The MH bulb is emitting approximately 18,000 lumens and is doing so in all directions, with the fixture attempting to reflect light back out and deliver it to the pavement below.  Whereas an LED fixture that is emitting around 12,000 lumens at the source is lensed in a manner such that it is distributing all of that light directly out of the fixture, no reflection, and as such can often deliver as much light to the surface in a more even fashion than its MH counterpart.  In other words, when less lumens are distributed more efficiently from the light source, it is possible that they can yield more footcandles (or lux) delivered to the active surface – which tends to be what most applications require and/or desire.  This is a big reason why lighting designers might model up a photometric layout of a room/space in computer aided design software – to help them understand how much light is being delivered and where it is being delivered to.

    Varying Efficacy of LED Products

    There are lots of LED manufactures making lighting products and many of those products have varying efficiencies of LEDs inside them.  As such, it is currently rather difficult for any organization in the LED industry to publish a generic “LED Conversion” document for ALL LED products which states that a particular LED wattage should adequately replace ALL conventional light products of a particular wattage – irrespective of manufacture.  An example statement, “most 35W LED wall packs should replace most 175W Metal Halide wall packs.”  This very issue is what makes it difficult for energy providers and utilities to devise generic prescriptive rebate programs for retrofitting to the more efficient LED lighting products.

    Light Degradation

    Conventional lighting technologies tend to degrade in light output much faster than LED lighting.  So, if you have a conventional lighting solution that is a couple of years old, there is a good chance that it could be 30-40% less illuminant than when it was first installed. This means that the existing conventional lighting solution could be much less bright than a new version of the same solution – to which a new LED product might be compared.  It is important to understand if your existing light levels are sufficient and to consider if you’d prefer more or less light in the space being considered for retrofit.  Depending on the application, there could be an opportunity to not only reduce the power consumption per fixture by switching to LED lighting, but also to reduce the number of fixtures needed in order to provide a comparable level of illumination.

    Now that you’re well educated in everything to consider when entertaining the idea of an LED conversion, take a look at some of BrightWay’s high-quality commercial lighting products, like LED parking lot lights and LED wall packs.

  • An LED Christmas Part II

    As promised, here are the other LED lighting advantages that are sure to bring a cheery holiday smile to the face of energy conscious folks everywhere.


    Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

    Everybody loves a lively Christmas tree or outdoor light display.  In fact, many people make use of Christmas lights that are synchronized with music, or that strobe in fun patterns.  The Solid State nature of LEDs make them perfect for applications that switch on and off with great frequency, because they don’t contain any moving parts and their life expectancy is not affected by on/off cycling, whereas the life expectancy of incandescent bulbs is adversely affected by how often they are switched on and off.


    Chestnuts Roasting on an Incandescent

    Incandescent lighting makes use of an electrically resistive element, like tungsten, inside of a vacuum-sealed globe that contains an inert gas.  By way of that resistance, the tungsten is heated to a point that it gets “white hot” and finally begins to emit some visible light (photons).  In other words, incandescent technology is better at generating heat than it is at generating visible light energy.  LEDs are a semiconductor and thus have a resistive element to them as well.  However, it takes much less energy in order to cause an LED to start spilling photons (emitting light) than it does an incandescent.  As a result, LEDs dissipate much less heat and conserve much more electrical energy…  Ironically, those of you that live in areas that actually experience a “white Christmas” might welcome the added heat of an incandescent bulb during the frigid cold winter months, right up until we have to go outside to change the failed bulbs.  J


    I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus Because He Saved Her so Much on Her Energy Bill

    LED lights can often utilize 70-90% less energy than incandescent lights and they don’t contain any hazardous materials, two factors that are sure to keep you off of Santa’s “naughty” list around the holidays.  Not to mention, the money that you save on your electric bill can be used to pay for all the Christmas ham that you and your loved ones can eat!


    The Gift of LEDs

    Energy efficient LED lighting makes a great gift for your family or friends around the holiday season.  It’s a gift that will keep giving for many Christmas’ to come.  Check out the $5 Foreva Bulb as a low-cost and energy-saving present that fits nicely under the tree at home or at the office.  Then take a look at the rest of BrightWay’s high quality LED lighting offering for your commercial and residential needs.


    Early Christmas wishes from your friends at BrightWay Supply Company!

  • An LED Christmas

    HO! HO! HO!

    With the Christmas season quickly approaching, it’s time to start the neighborhood competition for the best-lit home on the block!  Yep, it’s time to scale the ladder, risking life and limb, in order to place the Christmas lights and join in the holiday spirit.  BrightWay doesn’t offer LED Christmas Lights, but the application still offers a great opportunity to discuss the many advantages of LED lighting.

    Traditionally, much decorative Christmas lighting was done with incandescent bulbs.  From the flood lights shining on a manger scene to stringy Christmas lights, LED lighting offers several big advantages over the ghastly conventional lights of Christmas past.  LEDs are a lot more difficult to break, they won’t burn you when you touch them, they last much longer, and they use substantially less energy – so much less energy that the amount of money you’ll save will be enough even to bring a smile to ol’ Scrooges face.


    The Twelve Years of Christmas: Why LED lights last so much longer than incandescent lights

    A quick refresher from your high school physics class is probably in order.  Consider it our gift to you for this holiday season.  Remember the law of Conservation of Energy? No.  Well, it basically states that the total energy of an isolated system cannot change, rather it is said to be conserved over time.  So, energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but can change form.  Simply put, LED lighting is A LOT more efficient than incandescent lighting when it comes to changing electrical energy (heat energy) into visible light energy (radiant energy).  As a result, LEDs dissipate much less heat to damage the source of illumination.  With appropriate thermal management, LEDs will likely last much longer than the ugly Christmas sweater that grandma got you as a present.

    Due to the fact that LEDs are a Solid State Lighting technology, they are much more vibration resistant than incandescent bulbs which incorporate a filament and glass globe that can both be easily broken.  Moreover, the decorative globes that are sometimes placed over LEDs are purely aesthetic in nature and serve no functional purpose, which means that if they get broken, the light will just keep on beaming all through the Silent Night…. Holy Night.


    Check back in a couple of weeks in order to read the remainder of the LED Christmas Carol about the other joyous benefits offered up by LED technology...

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