LED Panel Lights: Myths VS. Reality

LED panel Light

Emerging demands for Led panel lights is booming in Indian market. Every professionals or dumb peoples are asking for LED panel lights. In this myth debunking article, we will evaluate the led panel light and check whether it is worth to buy or not.
We have purchased a brand new LED panel light costing around Rs. 1000/- for 12w. Cheaper are also available in market, but we chose to evaluate premium product.

Branded LED Panel light Box

After opening the attractive box, we found slim, lightweight and elegant LED panel light which was square shaped (rounds are also available). It looks good enough to convince any customer from design point of view.

Reasons: why customers purchase panel lights?
1. Even light distribution, no LED glare.
2. Low cost
3. Slim Look & feel
4. Power saving.

First reason seems valid, as there are no visible LED or glare when it is on or off. It looks like even light distributed when you power on. Lets check the reality.

We will compare it with a 12W Charlston LED downlight. So, here is the light distribution reality.
Measurements at various angle show that Charlston downlight & Panel lights are similar in light distribution. Charlston 12w Downlight gives around 150-160% more lights at various angles.

Here is the light distribution Chart:

LED light distribution chart showing lux values at different angles

Myth: Only Panel light gives you even light distribution.
Reality: Properly designed downlight can also provide good light distribution.
However we will give more marks to the panel light. Because, when you look at them, it seems smooth in appearance. But that look is useless due to loss of efficiency. It also burns more power because of low power factor. We will compare power factor later in this test.

Myth: LED panel lights are power saving
Reality: Panel lights are not power saving, because it outputs only 60-80 Lm/watt which are very near to fluorescent tube light. LED panel light gives all the lights in one direction so, the light output will be double compared to fluorescent, but much lower compared to LED down-light which are 100-120 Lm/watt.

Now Lets check build quality. Moving on, we will first make LED driver comparison.

LED light driver - Circuit comparison

We found this panel light using small protection circuit in its driver. And this circuit shows all valid reason for lower power factor. While Charlston Cubie uses branded Japanese double capacitors and big protection circuit according to indian power conditions.

LED Lights Lux meter

Above image shows lux readings of digital lux meter at 1 meter distance for both the led panel light and Charstlon downlight.

Power and Power Factor measurement on meter

  • 12W Charlston Cubie power: 12.30W, Power factor: 0.93
  • 12W X brand LED panel Light: 12.27W, Power factor: 0.54(Poor)

You may not believe it but, When we measured power factor readings for both the lights, panel light power factor was 0.54. That means, this 12w panel light can burn power of around 20w or more. On the other hand Charlston cubie is power factor corrected, so it shown power factor reading of 0.93.

Factors 12W LED panel Light 12W Charlston cubie
Power factor Low High
Protection Small Big
Capacitor quality Low High
Enclosure External Internal
Reliability Low High
Suitable for Indian power Condition No Yes

Now let us check build quality of LED of panel light
LED assembly of panel light:

LED assembly showing air gap

We disassembled the panel Light to view build quality and found the shocking truth. They are using low cost LED strip which are not even mounted properly. The air gap between Light body and LED strips are clearly visible. This won’t allow LED to transfer heat in heat-sink body.
Result: Degradation of light in few thousand hours.
We at Charlston lights, mount LED with rigid body with high quality heat transfer adhesive to remove all the heat from the LED.
Result: very low degradation after thousands of hours.

Weight factor:
LED panel light which weights only 360 Gm. While our weight is 650 Gm. More metal means more heat removal, longer the LED life.

Diffuser:

dotted diffuser used in panel light

Led panel light used cheap dotted diffuser which is very low in efficiency. We are using more efficient high quality diffuser.

Now choice is of customer: Choose high quality long life LED downlight or just ask for what you have heard by word of mouth. We bet 90% customer don’t know these facts.