Q: What are Electromagnetic Ballasts?
A: The majority of fluorescent tube luminaires use electromagnetic ballasts to supply power to the lamp. These ballasts come in two basic forms; ‘switchstart’ ballasts, which have a starter ‘can’ that can usually be seen protruding from the side of the metal casing of the luminaire, and ‘quickstart’ or ‘rapidstart’ ballasts which have an internal starter circuit. In both types of circuit, the purpose of the starter circuit is to create the high voltage difference across the lamp required to ignite the lamp initially. Once the lamp is lit, the ballast generates the lower voltage required to maintain the operation of the lamp. The voltage required to operate the fluorescent lamps varies with the size of the lamp and the ballast acts as a transformer which reduces the mains voltage down to the voltage required to operate the lamp with which it was designed to be used.
The diagram below shows the basic configuration of a switchstart circuit:
Q: How to Install Save It Easy®?
Essentially, Save It Easy® does three things; it converts the pin connection from the narrow T5 configuration to the, wider, T8 configuration, it acts as an extension to the T5 tube to make it long enough to fit into the luminaire (T5 lamps being shorter than the equivalent T8 lamps) and it provides the high frequency power required by the T5 lamps.
When Save It Easy® is installed with the T5 lamp, the Save It Easy® adapter uses the low frequency mains power supplied by the existing ballast and converts it to the high frequency (HF) required to drive the T5 lamp. Save It Easy® does not require the starter any more as can generate the voltages needed to start the lamp by itself. We therefore install the Save It Easy® ‘starter’, which is actually a fuse, to complete the starter circuit allowing power to reach both pins on the Save It Easy® adapter.
The resulting circuit is shown in the diagram below:
Q: How is the energy saving achieved?
A: The energy savings achieved by Save It Easy are derived from two basic sources; the T5 lamps, which inherently use less energy to generate the light than the equivalent T8 or T12 lamp, and from a big reduction in the energy used by the ballast.
Effectively, what happens is that the resistive balance of the circuit is altered by the addition of Save It Easyso that the voltage drop across the existing ballast is made very small compared to its normal operation. When this happens, the energy consumed by the existing ballast is massively reduced and replaced to only a small degree by the energy used by the HF ballast inside Save It Easy.
The energy consumption values stated in the Save It Easy literature are the total values for the combined circuit, including the existing electromagnetic ballast (with the D class ballast as the reference ballast) and Save It Easy. We provide additional schedules showing the savings achieved when Save It Easy is used in circuit with other classes of ballast. Will light levels be reduced?
Installing T5 lamps with Save It Easy® will never normally reduce light levels. Rather, in practice, because T5 lamps are significantly better than T8/T12 lamps at maintaining their light output as they get older, in the vast majority of cases, the light quality and levels are improved. This may, at least in part, be due to the fact that T8/T12 lighting plans may have been over specified to compensate for the lamps’ deteriorating light output as they get older – an effect that is experienced to a far lesser degree with T5 lamps.
It is not uncommon for users to find the T5 lamps so effective that some of the lamps can be removed to reduce the levels, further improving the energy savings. Some other adapter systems claim higher savings. Are they better? It is true that some other adapter systems claim higher energy savings and at the end of the day it is for the user to decide whether they offer a better solution than Save It Easy. However, it is important to stress that Save It Easy is designed to operate the lamp precisely in accordance with its design specification and that there are real design limits on how little power the adapter can use, which means that the energy savings Save It Easy® delivers are about as close as you can get to the optimum performance. The only way, therefore, that greater energy savings can be achieved is to substantially under power the lamp compared to its operating specification. It would be very easy for us to adjust Save It Easy to achieve the same savings, but we believe the penalties incurred in terms of shorter lamp life, much reduced light output etc., which will result from operating the lamp in this way are highly undesirable.
We have seen some competitors claim that they run the lamp at full power and use virtually no power in the ballast. This is just not achievable electrically and is merely an attempt to disguise the fact that the lamp is being underpowered.
Q: What about Power Factor?
A: This is somewhat technical but important. Save It Easy adapters have a, lagging, Power Factor (PF) close to unity (the most desirable situation) in line with the latest ballast technology, the actual values varying slightly with the different versions. Because electromagnetic ballasts have a very poor, lagging, Power Factor, in the past many luminaires were fitted with a capacitor to improve the PF, which means that, when Save It Easy is installed, an Over Compensation Effect (OCE) can occur in luminaires where a capacitor is fitted. This can lead to a low, leading, PF and consequently an increased current through the system and an apparent reduction in the energy saved.
In sites where there is an extremely heavy lighting load compared to other electricity consumption, this may be a problem because it is not desirable for the whole site to have a leading pf. In such an event, the capacitors should be removed from the luminaire’s circuit (a very simple process) during the Save It Easy installation. However, in any other situation, the OCE is likely to be beneficial in that it will improve the overall PF for the site, in some case bringing with it additional savings with respect to reduced capacity charges.
Q: What about EMC Performance?
A: The EMC performance of Save It Easy® has been tested in accordance with international standards by approved testing houses under conditions that fully conform with the required standards. Those conditions include the operation of Save It Easy® in line with the ballast but external to the luminaire.
By this method, the data relates to actual performance of Save It Easy rather than to the product and luminaire together. In some situations, however, the luminaire may induce EMC problems. For this reason, in areas where electronically sensitive equipment is used, it is advisable to eliminate the possibility of EMC problems by installing a common mode choke on the incoming supply to the luminaire during the Save It Easy installation. These devices are inexpensive and very simple to fit.
Q: I have heard that T5 lamps run hotter – is this a problem?
A: T5 lamps are designed to run at a higher temperature than T8 lamps and some suggestions have been made that this means that the T8 luminaire will cause the T5 lamp to run less efficiently. This is another technical issue but, first, it is worth bearing in mind that T5 lamps are designed to operate under exactly the same general environmental conditions as the T8 lamps, i.e. offices, warehouses, industrial units etc . The issue really relates to something called the ‘cold spot’ on the lamp.
The cold spot of the lamp is the location on the lamp surface where the temperature is coolest and normally rises or falls in lock?step with the ambient temperature of the lamp. For T5 and T5HO lamps, the cold spot temperature is 10°C higher than the ambient temperature. Hence, the 35°C optimal ambient temperature will translate to 45°C optimal cold spot temperature.
This is indeed higher than the optimal temperature of the cold spot in a T8 lamp and the technical argument is that a luminaire designed to maintain exactly the right cold spot temperature for the T8 lamp will be ‘off temperature’ for the T5 lamp. Since the lamps operate most efficiently when the cold spot temperature is maintained close to the design optimum, the argument goes, the T5 lamp must operate less efficiently.
If this were true, the efficiency drop off would be marginal in any event. However, the key factor missing from the argument is that, unlike a T8 or T12 fluorescent lamp where the cold spot is in the middle of the lamp, for T5 lamps, the cold spot is located on the metallic end cap about 2 mm from the glass envelope at end of the lamp where the company’s label is printed. Save It Easy addresses this issue by covering the cold spot with a built in sleeve that surrounds the end cap spot, creating a cushion of air around the cold spot to keep it at a uniform temperature as illustrated in the diagram below:
Q: Can we convert all types of fittings?
A: Save It Easy is designed to be a ‘plug and go’ system for switchstart luminaires. This means that, with the exception of 2 foot quad and triple luminaires which we will address below, the installation process is, to all intents and purposes, exactly the same as replacing the lamp and starter.
Luminaires with non?switchstart electromagnetic ballasts can also be converted but in these cases the internal wiring will need a simple modifification to make it appear to be a switchstart circuit. High Frequency T8 luminaires can also be converted in much the same way as non?switchstart luminaires but the energy savings, although significant, will be less than for those with an electromagnetic ballast. In 2 foot quad and triple fittings, one ballast will typically be used to power two lamps in series. To work in these luminaires, Save It Easy again requires a wiring modification so that the lamps all operate in parallel.
We make available technical advice notes describing these modifications in detail.
Q: How should we trial the product to measure the savings?
A: We think trials are a good idea since it gives the user confidence about lighting levels, ease of installation and such like, as well as hard evidence of the savings that Save It Easy® will deliver. The trials can be as big or as small as you like, anywhere from a room up to a complete building. The key factor is to understand clearly the objectives of the trial and the following recommendations are all about making sure that the trial achieves those objectives.
1. Measuring the savings
Make sure that you have a dedicated electrical circuit and you know exactly what is on that circuit. We often have a user reporting that the product is not delivering the savings only to find that they have additional loads on the circuit which are distorting the figures. If you can’t find a circuit that does not have other loads on it make sure you eliminate those loads from the results.
Measure the power (watts), not the current. One of the main side effects of Over Compensation Effect, described in The Power Factor section above, is that the current draw can increase substantially leading to the false impression that Save It Easy® is using more energy, not less. Measuring the power avoids misleading results. As an alternative, if the only option available is to measure the current, the internal capacitor should be removed from the circuit, although, as stated above, this in most cases is completely unnecessary for anything other than the trial.
2. Checking the light levels
The important thing here is to take like-for-like measurements. The best plan is to select a location or series of locations on the ‘working plane’, e.g. desk level, and to mark exactly each of the locations at which the lux readings are taken for the ‘before’ conditions. Then install Save It Easy and take an equivalent set of readings at exactly the same locations and then compare the before and after results.
Q: Why choose induction lighting over other alternatives?
A: Because the complete fixture is maintenance free throughout its 100,000 hour lifespan and promises to reduce your energy costs by at least 50%.
Q: Why is induction lighting technology considered more environmentally friendly than others?
A: Again mainly due to the energy savings achieved but in addition to this, the mercury content within the induction lamp is in a solid form. This allows the lamp to be 100%recyclable. Furthermore, because of the 100,000 hour lifespan that is provided, one would be required to change each conventional lamp fixture 5 times over that same period.
Q: How is the induction lamp performance affected by temperature?
A: It performs at over 90% of its light output capacity between -40C to 50C (-40F to 140F).
Q: Are induction lamps resistant to vibration?
A: The fact that Induction lamps are electrode less results in this technology being the ideal choice for environments that experience higher levels of vibration such as bridges and tunnels.
Q: How much heat is produced by induction lamps in comparison to what’s out there?
A: If you take high bays for example, most existing warehouses are lit up by high pressure sodium and metal-halide 400W fixtures. The heat levels for both of these will range between 600F and 900F. When you compare this to an induction lamp application which ranges between 75F and 150F, the benefits become obvious.
Q: Where should you install induction lights?
A: Everywhere! They can be used in warehouses, arenas, gymnasiums, factories,bridges, tunnels, shopping centers, parking lots, supermarkets, etc.
Q: Why should you choose induction lamps over those new efficient technologies like fluorescent T5 and T8?
A: Because induction lighting is considered maintenance free over its 100,000 hour lifespan. Compare this to 25,000 lifespan T5 and T8 lighting offer and also historically will involve having to change between 2 to 8 bulbs per fixture. In addition, induction lamps are 100% recyclable, unlike fluorescent lighting that are full of a form of liquid mercury which is very harmful to our environment. Last but not least, induction fixtures will operate on motion sensors without affecting their 100,000 hour lifespan, T5 and T8 lighting cannot make this claim.
Q: What quality of light will THINK Induction lamps provide to you?
A: Color rendering index of 85+ with Kelvin temperatures ranging from 2520 to 6500K. They will also provide you with 192 pupil lumens per watt.
Q: Why LED’s?
A: As a rule, LED bulbs use 90% less electricity than standard bulbs. They have an unparalleled even spectrum of light and have a lifespan beyond ten years. LED’s provide us the most efficient way to save energy and conserve our natural resources. If LED’s were implemented right now universally, we would not need to build another power plant. LEDs would actually eliminate the need for over 30 existing power plants!
Q: Do LED light bulbs contain mercury?
A: No. LED bulbs do not contain mercury. They can actually be recycled as they do not contain hazardous substances and are manufactured without hazardous substances.
Q: How do LED light bulbs compare to CFL bulbs?
A: Studies show LED light bulbs use 50% less energy than CFL bulbs and in many cases last 10 times longer than CFL light bulbs. They are much more durable, environmentally friendly, vibration and shock resistant and offer excellent light quality, both indoor and outdoor.
Q: Do LED bulbs produce as much heat as CFL or Incandescent bulbs?
A: LED light bulbs emit much less heat than a CFL or incandescent bulb. In many cases, you can actually feel the temperature difference just by being near the light. LED light bulbs will always operate at a lower temperature than a CFL or incandescent which has immediate benefits in reduced cooling bills in the summer months where we are paying for our Air Conditioning to cool our offices.
Q: Why are LED lights more expensive?
A: LED light bulbs use an actual circuit board to operate and are made of electronic components. Essentially, they could be considered an electronic device. This technology continues to gain advantages almost daily. The manufacturing and supply/demand of general lighting products are gearing up today, and we will see costs continue to decline as the adoption rate of LED Lighting increases.
Q: Is LED light a different type of light?
A: Yes, LED light is said to be a safer, healthier light. LEDs do NOT produce any sort of ultraviolet radiation which causes fabric fading, color fading in Art, carpeting and other soft goods. There is none of the ‘buzzing’ or ‘flickering’ that many people are sensitive to with LED Lights. Residential and especially commercial and industrial plants, stores libraries, galleries, and warehouses can immediately benefit from LED Lighting.
Q: How long do LEDs for general lighting really last?
A: Remember, the longevity of LED Lighting can be 100,000 hours. LED’s are Solid State devices (SSL – or “solid state lighting”); they will not burn out. Life expectancy for SSL lighting is upwards of 50,000 to 100,000 hours or more which means no maintenance costs for facilities workers to replace lights. Over time, the cost of the fluorescent or incandescent bulbs themselves can add up to a significant savings when converting to LED’s.
LED lights are typically rated to last about 100,000 hours. An incandescent light bulb is rated for about 1000 hours. CFLs or Fluorescent Tube lights are rated for 6-8000 hours