LED bulbs vs new LED fixtures


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Old 03-28-21, 03:24 PM
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LED bulbs vs new LED fixtures

Hi,
First some background. My condo building (in Chicago) was built in 1998. We have 16 stairwell light fixtures: they are Cooper Lighting Fail-Safe (not sure of model number) manufactured in 1997. Label on fixture says it accepts a maximum 100 Watt A-19 incandescent bulb. Fixtures are hard-wired and always on - no dimmers involved. The bulb is completely enclosed by a clear plastic lens. All fixtures now have CFL bulbs (and have for some years now).

Recently I had to replace a cracked lens and had a very difficult time finding a replacement (we still have 7 original lenses). When researching replacement lenses and striking out, every sales guy or company rep said "well looks like it's time to replace the fixture with an LED fixture." I did finally find a replacement lens online. But the experience got me thinking...

What benefits, if any, would there be to replace these 16 fixtures with LED fixtures vs. just replacing the CFL bulbs with LED bulbs (and replacing the 7 other lenses)? The 7 lenses would run about $300. I've searched a bit and seems keeping the old fixtures may reduce LED bulb life, among other considerations. On the other hand, I suspect it would take an awfully long time for any cost savings related to new fixtures to pay for the upfront cost (fixtures themselves, electrician) to replace.

We are replacing resident hallway recessed can BR30 floodlights CFL with LEDs as they burn out, and haven't to my knowledge experienced any issues.

Any thoughts / opinions?
 
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Old 03-28-21, 05:43 PM
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Old 03-28-21, 05:51 PM
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A LED bulb will have a shorter lifespan if in a completely enclosed fixture. Some LED bulbs have a rating that excludes them from being used in enclosed fixtures.

But other than that, a bulb replacement vs fixture replacement should be about the same. Of course a new fixture might look better or newer.

Though I do see that they are 'fail safe' fixtures, which might meet some special fire code requirement where you are. So I'd confirm they can be replaced with standard fixtures.
 
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Old 03-29-21, 01:14 PM
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Thank you. It doesn't appear to me that there is any compelling benefit to buying new fixtures, as long as we replace with LED bulbs that are rated for enclosed fixtures (thanks for that tip). An online search quickly found a 24 pack of bulbs for around $40.

Zorfdt I do think there is (or was at least when our building was built) a Chicago-specific building code for multi-family buildings. I'd guess new fixtures that meet that code would be more expensive, further making the replacement project less cost efficient.

Replacing the lenses would be a few hundred dollars but they would be a huge upgrade over the original ones and effectively look brand new.
 
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Old 03-29-21, 02:18 PM
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As far as I know Chicago requires conduit so most modern "Home Center" (AKA cheap) stuff will not work properly are these surface mounted with a box and conduit or on the wall with a box under the fixtures?

LED lamps don't get nearly as hot as an incandescent or even a CFL so I would just get new lenses and maybe stock up on replacement LED lamps to last for awhile.

You can get normal ones but a fully enclosed fixture will shorten it's useful life by quite a bit as the power supply (LED driver) is what will overheat from the heat of the diodes.

Since it says 100W max the LED replacement for a 100W uses about 15 actual watts so it it can fit you can even get a brighter lamp as the wattage rating is the max rating for actual used watts not the "equivalent" = watts.

Did the CFLS or incandescent lamps provide enough light?

I would not replace the actual fixtures it's not needed if the sockets and wiring are in good shape.
 
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Old 03-30-21, 01:52 PM
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They are surface mounted on the walls - a conduit goes into the box, which is covered by the lens. Figured I'd attach a picture. The fixture is below the emergency lights and next to the Exit sign.

The CFLs provide a good deal of light, especially when paired with the newer (clear) lenses. Fixtures seem to be in good shape... I've changed a couple burnt-out bulbs and didn't notice any issues with the sockets...firmly connected to fixture, etc.

More convinced than ever, that there is no need to replace the fixtures.


 
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Old 03-30-21, 02:38 PM
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Yes those look fine since it does not look like a normal residential setting I would stay clear from the "Home Center" type of stuff.

Since you said the CFL's and incandescent lamps were bright enough maybe try a 75 equivalent LED Lamps (actual watts used are like 8-10 watts) LED lamp would be fine also try going with the "daylight" color temperatures (this is a personal preference so not 100% necessary) 5000K the cooler color temps make the lights appear brighter then they are due to the way our eyes see them.
 
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Old 03-30-21, 05:03 PM
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I tend to recommend a fixture that has standard medium base sockets so that it is easy to replace the lamps as they go bad. With fixtures that have an LED array and driver if either fails you are often out of luck as they are built especially for that fixture. Trust me, I can see the future is going to be a service nightmare!

 
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Old 03-31-21, 06:00 PM
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I tend to recommend a fixture that has standard medium base sockets so that it is easy to replace the lamps as they go bad. With fixtures that have an LED array and driver if either fails you are often out of luck as they are built especially for that fixture. Trust me, I can see the future is going to be a service nightmare!
I agree 100% also while replacement parts maybe available now there is no guarantee they will even be available for that long!

So I would stay with the E26 standard Edison Screw base.
 
 

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