What are the benefits of Type-C LEDs?

The time of LED is here, and it’s not going away anytime soon. LED lighting is going to enable multiple new technologies and make our buildings so much more energy efficient.

But why settle just for efficiency? If we’re going to spend all this time, energy, and most importantly, money, to upgrade our lighting systems, why not upgrade them to their highest potential on the first try? There are a few types of LEDs out there being used in the commercial space. There are categorized by three types – Type A, Type B, and Type C.

Type-C is the most efficient type of LED

Type A LED

Type A is by far the worst LED solution there is. People like to peddle Type A as the “easy solution” because you can easily switch out old fluorescent tubes for Type As with no extra effort. The sheer laziness of this solution drives the engineers at Ampere crazy. By deploying a Type A tube, you are continuing to rely on the ballast used by the fluorescent tubes. You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari and put the engine of a Mustang in it – that’s essentially what you’re doing when you use Type A. You force yourself to rely on the old technology – which WILL fail, and you’ll have to replace it to keep using your brand new products – and you also severely damage the amount of energy savings you’ll achieve, since that useless ballast is still using energy! There’s another serious risk of using Type A – these bulbs are recalled all the time because they don’t work the way they are supposed to, and even cause serious safety risks to the building and everyone inside it. Type A is the cheap and “easy” solution, but the dangers and long-term costs will far outweigh the upfront benefit.

Type B LED

Type B is a solid compromise for a lot of environments. Type B lights bypass the ballast, and feed the line voltage directly to the T8 tubes, which have an internal driver that will convert the AC line voltage to the DC voltage LEDs need to operate. This requires more labor than Type A installations (and still carries a risk of shocking your maintenance crew), but that’s Type B’s only disadvantage compared to Type A. Type B bulbs don’t rely on old technologies, and once they’re installed, they will last for 15-25 years depending on their hourly use. Admittedly, we’ve pitched a lot of Type B tubes to many projects over the years.  But Type B still isn’t the perfect solution. Because they use an internal driver that converts AC to DC, you have no dimming control, meaning that your T8s are either on at full capacity, or off. While there are dimming solutions out there for Type B tubes, the better solution is to use an external driver, which is a Type C deployment.

Type C LED

Type C has multiple benefits over both Type A and Type B. The first is that using an external driver gives you a lot more capabilities for your LEDs. For example, if you’re interested in deploying a circadian lighting system, you would need to use a Type C deployment so that you could control the color temperature of your LED tubes, which is impossible for Type A or Type B tubes. You also gain dimming control for your tubes when using the external driver option. There are less-known benefits to Type C LEDs as well. LEDs with external drivers tend to last an extra 10,000 hours over their Type B counterparts. Type C LEDs also yield the highest utility rebates from electrical companies since they are more efficient. In our domain, Xcel Energy’s Type C rebates are usually up to 100% higher than the rebates they give out for Type B LEDs. (For those wondering, Type A is not even considered in the rebates, because Xcel knows the same thing we do – Type A is not a viable LED implementation.)

When it’s all said and done, a Type C retrofit is going to cost you more upfront than a Type B retrofit, but it’s going to make your LEDs last longer and give you far more capability. It also future-proofs your lighting – you may not want to implement dimming or circadian lighting right now, but it would be nice to have that option five years from now without having to completely replace your lighting system again.

Need to Know More?

Contact our team to find out how Ampere can help make your vision a reality.