The building energy code for California is getting stricter in January 2014 and the new rules have been published.
The real goal is for all new homes to be net zero energy by 2020.
One of the biggest hopes for energy savings is LED lights, and the CEC is cracking down on the industry demanding tighter tolerances and standards so that consumers can trust that they are getting the amount and color of light and the longevity that they are paying for.
I just got home from a presentation of some of the latest in LED lighting technology by Param Electric at Laner Electric Supply. I learned a few new tricks and I have some of their product recommendations to share.
1) You can add a current limiter to a track lighting system so that it can pass inspection in a kitchen where lights are required to be high efficacy
2) This one isn’t strictly for LED lights: MR16 fixtures need filters to diffuse the light and eliminate spotty wallwashing
3) The amazing new Cree “A Lamp” only dims to 40%. The new Title 24 for 2014 will require it to dim to 15%, so hopefully Cree will be able to make that happen. These sorts of LED bulbs that can screw into traditional sockets are a great and simple solution for energy savings without throwing out the whole fixture. Beware that overheating is a problem for these bulbs. Many cannot be installed in enclosed fixtures and some cannot be installed facing up. Most are directional, which can be a good thing, but doesn’t work so well in situations where you want light to shine up and down and all around.
3.5) I have used Cree recessed LED lights myself for at least the last 5 years with success, but learned from these specialists that Cree has good quality control and makes the lamps for many of the more high end LED fixture manufacturers. Cree itself keeps it simple and is able to produce basic recessed lights for a very affordable price. If you want something with more bells and whistles you will need to go to their competitors, Juno, Halo, Tech lighting and more. Many of their more expensive competitors are using Cree lamps in their own products.
4) Creative Lighting Systems makes a 2″ diameter recessed light that puts out 800 lumens for 11 watts. (Laner sells the whole package for about $220, the 4″ version is about $160) You can get lenses to change the lighting effect/ beam spread. According to Param, the color of CSL LED lights is not well controlled. You might get one where the color is off, otherwise they make great lights.
5) The color in Kelvins of LED light varies a lot. There has been poor regulation of this standard, but this is one of the things that the regulators are cracking down on. Soon the LED manufacturers will be held to a higher standard of accuracy. Read this for more info on color temperature in lighting.
6) Tech Lighting makes very high quality recessed lights and they are the only option if you need something that puts out a lot of lumens.
7) Diode LED makes very user-friendly strip lighting. A remote driver is required, but it can be far away and it isn’t very big. I have one of these strip lights over the door to my office. I love it so far…been about 3 years.
9) RAB makes some great exterior LED fixtures. I can vouch for these myself.