LED Lighting for Drop Ceilings

LED Lighting for Drop Ceilings

In the past couple decades, LED lighting has been developed for nearly every setting and application imaginable, including drop ceilings.

Commercial offices have never been known for their high-quality lighting, but LED technology is quickly changing that idea. In the past, fluorescent lighting dominated drop ceilings and office settings, but the century-old technology is getting pushed out in favor of more efficient and more effective alternatives.

LED lighting is leading that shift, and there are now several LED lighting options to accommodate drop ceiling applications.

What Types of LED Lighting are Used with Drop Ceilings?

LED drop ceiling lights are designed to fit drop ceiling fixtures already in widespread use. Those fixtures include:

  • Recessed lighting fixtures – Recessed fixtures are installed with minimal fixture overhead as they are integrated directly into the drop panels themselves. There are a few options to choose from here, including the classic downlight cans that can produce an upscale look in professional settings.There are also multihead recessed LEDs available, which look like track fixtures unless integrated into a larger housing unit. These fixtures offer some targetability and can be independently controlled to produce a larger range of color temperatures, beam spreads and brightness levels.
  • Troffer lighting fixtures – Troffers are concave, basket-shaped fixtures that take lighting tubes. They are slotted up into the ceiling and, due to their shape, emit illumination in a tighter spread compared to panels. As such, troffers are ideal for lighting individual workspaces with minimal glare.Some troffers leave the LED (or fluorescent) tubes exposed to view, while others are fitted with an optical screen for diffusing light. Like with recessed fixtures, troffers are available in a range of color temperatures.
  • Panel lighting fixtures – Panels are similar to troffers in appearance but are not concave in shape. Instead, panels offer edge-to-edge lighting and are therefore a great option for general lighting purposes. Panel fixtures conceal the LED tubes from direct view, which softens illumination and minimizes glare. Again, multiple color temperatures are available with panel lights and can also be backlit at the edges.

Four Reasons LED Lighting Makes Sense for Drop Ceilings

No matter the type of fixture your organization opts for, LED lighting will provide several benefits that will provide value right out of the box. Those benefits include:

  • Reduced operating costs – LED lighting provides a two-pronged cost advantage to facilities. The first is superior energy efficiency. Compared to fluorescent fixtures, LEDs are around 80 percent more energy efficient, which means instant savings on the utility bill.However, that is only part of the picture as LED lighting also lasts much longer than all other lighting technologies. Fluorescent tubes, for instance, will provide around 20,000 hours of illumination before replacement is necessary. Most LED tubes provide about 50,000 hours of reliable illumination – 2.5 times the lifespan of fluorescent. And lighting manufacturers are still unlocking additional reliability from LEDs, so this advantage will likely widen further with time.
  • Lower maintenance costs – Lower energy costs and lower replacement costs add up to a major cost efficiency advantage.
  • Better lighting control – LED lights are compatible with all modern lighting controls, including dimmers, timers, photocells, and various occupancy sensors. If paired with your LEDs, advanced controls can automate your system so that each fixture is only on when it is actually needed. This has obvious efficiency-first applications, but it can also be used for safety and security reasons. Essentially, smart lighting controls allow companies to unlock the full potential of their LED system, even though they are not necessary for its function.
  • Improved performance and productivity – LED lights represent a major performance boost over fluorescent lighting as they are flicker-free, produce more even lighting, and emit across the color spectrum. Fluorescents tend to spike in the green and yellow parts of the emission spectrum, which is why they leave a pallid cast that office workers are deeply familiar with. This poor-quality light can cause headaches and negatively influence well-being.LEDs emit in a pattern more akin to natural sunlight, with colors represented across the spectrum. Humans are better adapted to this emission pattern, so it is not surprising that some LED adopters are reporting improved productivity among their workers. In fact, early research backs this notion up, finding that LED lights often usher in modest productivity improvements that can make a noticeable bottom-line impact.
  • Future proofing – With the transition to “green” technologies continuing, businesses are expected to adopt more efficient and more reliable lighting technologies with time. Currently, all roads point to LED lighting in this regard, as incandescent and fluorescent-based lamps are being phased out by government regulators and manufacturers.By integrating LEDs into your facilities, your organization will remain ahead of quickly developing lighting regulations and be better equipped to forecast its future lighting investments.

Retrofit LED Lighting is Also Available for Drop Ceilings

There is a compelling case for integrating LED lights into your facilities, but initial costs may be a concern. Finding budget room for a new lighting system can be a challenge, but businesses are not required to invest in a new system to get started with LED lighting.

LED retrofit lights are a cost-effective alternative to brand new lighting solutions, as they can be plugged into existing fixtures and, in some cases, into existing electrical components like the ballast. In effect, companies can access the benefits of LED lighting technology without committing to full replacement costs.

In offices, retrofit LEDs are typically built to work with tube fixtures, like those found in troffers and panels. Fluorescent tubes have been an office building mainstay for decades. However, fluorescent tubes are steadily being phased out due to efficiency concerns. T12s have already been eliminated from the market, and T8s and T5s are about to follow.

For facilities that relied on fluorescent T12s and T8s to provide sufficient illumination, LED tubes are a near plug-and-play alternative ready for retrofit applications.

Work with a Trusted Lighting Expert When Choosing LED Lighting for Drop Ceilings

LED lighting has never been as accessible and as widely available as it is now. This includes numerous LED lighting options for drop ceilings, including retrofit products that offer the excellent efficiency, reliability, and performance that LED technology is known for.

Since every facility is different, it is highly recommended for organizations to consult with an accomplished LED lighting expert before moving forward on a new (or retrofit) project. By doing so, your lighting professional can assess the building’s existing fixtures and other lighting components, and this information can be used to determine the best LED lighting solutions for your drop ceilings.

Leave a Reply