By Bob Kelly

Are you considering landscape lighting for your Winter Park home? One of the debates going on in the industry concerns the use of independent or “drop-in” LED bulbs versus integrated LED fixtures. Independent LED bulbs can be easily removed from a lighting fixture. An integrated LED fixture, on the other hand, is one complete unit. If any part fails, the entire fixture
must be replaced. 

Many Central Florida homeowners choose LEDs as uplighting for architectural
and landscape designs. LED bulbs are more energy efficient than halogen lighting, and last years longer too. So over the long run, they are more cost-effective than traditional bulbs.

When LEDs first came out, we noticed several things going on. First of all, pricing was very competitive because the LEDs were integrated in aluminum fixtures. Traditionally, aluminum does not do well in Florida. It corrodes, rusts, and sockets go quickly because of the heat and moisture. At Elegant Custom Images, we try hard to provide heavy brass fixtures to the market. We’ve found that brass fixtures will last over the long haul. In fact, the milled brass fixtures we use come with a full 25-year warranty. It never made any sense to us that anyone would want to put a 30,000 hour LED inside of an aluminum fixture. Why would you put a 30,000 hour LED inside of a fixture that is guaranteed for 5 years?

The other thing we noticed early on with LEDs was that the amount of light you normally would receive out of a fixture would degrade over time. Within 6 months, it looked like the lighting had degraded by 30 percent or more. We did not want to get into that. We found that folks quoting these would sometimes do several things. To get competitive, they would try to put lower wattages in, as the way that LEDs were priced, the higher the wattage, the higher the price. We decided to wait until MR 16 bulbs came out in
LEDs. That was a two year wait. But it was worth it. We had time to test just about everything in the market. While testing, we learned about the chip makers and the driver makers. Like everything else, there are good ones and bad ones. We found that Cree Manufacturing, a U.S. company, was a world leader in manufacturing chips for the LEDs. We also found that National Semiconductor, a U.S. company, made the leading edge drivers in the world. So, we started looking for companies that would spec these products into their lines. And we found them.

Another issue with the integrated fixture is if something goes wrong with the fixture, which is normally guaranteed for 5 years, it will take the LED, rated at 30,000 hrs with it. That never made any sense. With the MR 16 LEDs, it is merely an equipment change, a repair on the fixture, or just a bulb replacement when and if you need it. This also gives you flexibility in design. When a tree is small, it will require perhaps less wattage to get coverage. However, when or as the tree grows, it will require more.
With the LEDs we use, your landscape lighting system can grow with the tree.

By going about the research into LEDs the way we did, it allowed us to use high end fixtures that will last 25 years, and use 30,000 hr rated LEDs that may last a lifetime. It represents high value to our customers, since we use all high-end products at medium pricing. We can supply integrated LED
fixtures, however, we mostly separate the fixture from the LED because of design characteristics and quality. This allows us to supply high end brass, high end LED chips, and high end LED drivers to the market. And by purchasing products that are made in the U.S., Elegant Custom Images can
supply high quality, dependable, reliable LEDs and fixtures to the marketplace. In addition, all technical service and customer service is located in the U.S. Not China.

If you have additional questions about LEDs and how they can be used in your landscape lighting project, contact Elegant Custom Images today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We provide expert landscape lighting design, installation and service to homes and businesses in Winter Park, Orlando, and throughout Central Florida.

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