LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are a not-so-new technology that has been revolutionizing the lighting industry as we know it. While these fixtures have long been more efficient than comparable incandescent bulbs, due to the fact that they produce very little waste heat, they have only recently become widespread as the result of a precipitous price drop.
As most businesses begin the switch to LEDs, the question then becomes which LED to purchase. Are all LEDs created equal, and can a lower-priced LED perform as well as a top-of-the-line model? We think not. Here are five reasons why we believe North Carolina-based Cree has the upper hand when it comes to all things LED lighting.
Cree has made a name for itself through constant technological improvement, making it to the top half of Fast Company's list of the 50 most innovative companies of 2015. Starting out as the obscure firm that built components for other LED products, an internal team working in secret created an entirely new bulb that quickly became a bestseller in the LED market.
But the company didn't stop there. It continued to develop additional forms of cutting-edge technology that continue to shape the lighting industry today. These include Cree's SmartCast®, TrueWhite®, NanoOptic®, DeltaGuard®, and WaveMax® technologies.
Cree developed SmartCast® to make it easier to install and operate lighting controls with the press of a button. When installed, CREE luminaires enabled with this technology will automatically segment into controllable "groups" based on type and location. Each fixture is equipped with motion sensing and mobile communication technologies, and light-detecting sensors will dim the luminaires automatically in response to varying amounts of sunlight. This enhanced control, not only over the fixture type but over the operating hours, helps lower electricity costs and lengthens the luminaire's lifetime.
TrueWhite® Technology was developed to provide a revolutionary way to generate white light. It combines red and yellow LEDs to produce a warm, white light that remains consistent over the life of the product. With TrueWhite®, the same steep energy savings are possible with a higher quality of light and superior color rendering than is seen with other LED brands.
In order to provide site-specific customizable LED lighting, NanoOptic® Technology was developed using a highly refined refractor (lens) system that offers multiple configurations. Essentially, this means that instead of light patterns that are bright at the center and dim around the edges, Cree NanoOptic® fixtures have improved uniformity and high-angle brightness. This technology is game-changing for some applications that have specific lighting requirements over a target area, and thus call for specialized lighting fixture types.
Cree uses a DeltaGuard® Finish on all of its fixtures and poles, which is covered by its 10-year warranty. Described as the "finest industrial-grade finish available," DeltaGuard® is exclusive to Cree outdoor fixtures. To receive the finish, the fixture goes through six cleaning stages and eight pre-treatment stages before an extra-durable, baked-on powder topcoat is applied. How durable are we talking? The finish is UV-light, corrosion, and fade resistant, among other things.
Unlike some LED lighting options, CREE's 10-year warranty applies to every component of its fixtures, including the durable finish (see above). Further, Cree doesn't design its luminaires to burn out in the eleventh year, claiming that under normal circumstances, the majority of Cree bulbs last up to 23 years. These quality components are present both inside and out, meaning that your fixtures are not only more sleek and attractive, but are also less likely to fail, fade, or shift in color.
How is this possible? While Cree used to design components for other lighting manufacturers, the fact that it now produces its own luminaires start-to-finish means that every component that it designs is optimized first and foremost to work within Cree fixtures. And in order to keep the brand's reputation for quality, Cree repeatedly comes out with numerous well-documented product updates every year, so the company's techology is constantly improving.
Better Light Quality
When it comes to light quality, it's not just about lumens. It's also necessary to assess the evenness and color temperature of a fixture to determine its light quality. This in turn determines not only it's price, but how your space will look and feel after upgrading to LED lighting. Cree's luminaires deliver a color temperature that feels both warm and clean, making spaces look safer, brighter, and more orderly.
Their technology also results in a more even spread of light, preventing parts of a space from being cast in shadow despite having bright fixtures throughout. More than a subtle edge in quality, the difference in color and light output can actually be seen and felt. Put Cree or other high-quality LEDs next to lower-quality fixtures, and the difference can be, well, night and day.
Equally important to note is the color consistency that Cree delivers with its luminaires. It is common for some types of high intensity lighting to shift in color as the fixtures age, making projects look and feel inconsistent even if they use the same fixture throughout. It helps that ENERGY STAR guidelines have become particularly stringent about this in recent years, and Cree protects against this with their own high standards for quality.
Industry Leading Warranty
Cree's warranty beats that of virtually all other companies within the LED industry. That's because not only does the 10-year warranty outlast the lifetimes of both incandesent and fluorescent fixtures, but it applies to every component of the fixture. This is something that most other LED lighting manufacturers don't offer due to sourcing fixture components from a variety of manufacturers. It helps to scrutinize warranties when comparing fixtures, especially exterior fixtures that will have to stand up to the elements.
While Cree has many advantages over other lighting companies, we encourage you to see the difference for yourself. Try out samples of multiple lighting fixture types and see which one best fits your project. Examine the side-by-side light output of multiple fixtures, compare price points and warranties, and inspect the materials and finishes.
There's a lot to consider, from the quality of the components to the type of light that a bulb emits, but we're here to help every step of the way. Reach out to us about your project today and we'll start a conversation about which fixtures are best for your needs and your project.