Should I Choose LED Troffers and Flat Panels or Fluorescent Troffers to Illuminate My Location?

Should I Choose LED Troffers and Flat Panels or Fluorescent Troffers to Illuminate My Location?
A ubiquitous ceiling with 2’ x 4’ troffers.

A ubiquitous ceiling with 2’ x 4’ troffers.

Wikipedia defines a troffer as “a rectangular light fixture that fits into modular, dropped ceiling grid (i.e., 2′ by 2′ or 2′ by 4′).” Troffer fixtures have typically been designed to accommodate standard fluorescent lamps (T12, T8, or T5), but are now often designed with integral LEDs. Of course, 2’ x 2’ is not rectangular, but we hope Wikipedia understands. Also referred to as flat panels, LED flat panels, and LED panel lights for LED versions, these are the ubiquitous light fixtures that fit into the metal grids next to the ceiling tiles in offices, retail stores, and almost everywhere else across America.

Then again, if you found this blog by Googling troffers, you probably know what a troffer is and are looking to remodel your facility, to illuminate a new facility, or are wondering about the benefits of LEDs. This blog is an update of a 2015 blog titled “LED Challenges Fluorescent Lighting in Troffers” and will attempt to answer this question: Have LED troffers become the default choice instead of fluorescent troffers, and if yes, why?

Have LED troffers become the default choice instead of fluorescent troffers?

Per the US Department of Energy (DOE), as of 2010, four out of five lamps in commercial buildings were fluorescent and most of the fluorescent lamps were installed in troffer luminaires, but the rapidly advancing technology of LEDs posed a challenge for fluorescent lamps. The DOE estimates that LED troffers increased in sales from 40,000 units in 2010 to nearly 700,000 units in 2012. It is now 2016. At Access Fixtures, sales of fluorescent troffer sales were once quite common. Now they are all but nonexistent. The troffer market is now dominated by LEDs.

LED troffers are the default choice. Why?

The first generation of LED troffers was decent, but had its issues. The light levels were not always sufficient. Light quality was compromised by the use of Kelvin temperatures that were higher than most people wanted to work under. Color rendering was also lower than desired. Another huge factor was the very high upfront cost.

LED troffer with twin ribbed lenses.

LED troffer with twin ribbed lenses.

Today, LED lighting has become the high-performing and low-cost option. The DOE estimates that energy savings for LED troffers can be more than 25 percent,when compared to traditional fluorescent systems. LED troffers are generally rated for 50,000 hours without having to replace lamps; some are rated LM70 at 100,000 hours, which means they will maintain 70% of the initial light output after 100,000 hours of use and even longer with the use of a dimmer. That brings us to the next point. LED troffers are now (for the most part) dimmable, which saves energy, increases the life of the troffer, and offers employees the ability to achieve the level of light they want in their work areas. LED troffers are more adaptable to controls, too.

LED troffers are available in 1’ x 4’, 2’ x 2’, and 2’ x 4’.

LED troffers are available in 1’ x 4’, 2’ x 2’, and 2’ x 4’.

LED troffers are adaptable to controls.

Fluorescent troffers were able to be outfitted with dimmable ballasts, but the technology was always kludgy and expensive. Most LED troffers are dimmable with 010v dimming controls. Many LED troffers can be configured with step dimming. Dimming technology makes them a natural choice for systems that have occupancy sensors, daylight harvesting, or are on central controls that dim down lights to reduce peak demand electricity charges.

LED troffers are available just like you wanted.

LED troffers are available in a variety of options including size: 1’ x 4’, 2’ x 2’, and 2’ x 4’. There are multiple styles from basic with prismatic lenses to modern. Optics can be varied to meet footcandle requirements from almost any height. LEDs are available in warm to cool color temperatures including 3000K, 3500K, 4100K, 5000K, and 6500K. Some are even available in RGB-W, which means that they have any mix of red, green, blue, and white. RGB-W troffers are controlled by a DMX controller and can even be controlled wirelessly.

This LED troffer with prismatic flat lens has many options.

This LED troffer with prismatic flat lens has many options.

LED troffers can be ideal for special applications.

While fluorescent troffers could be adapted for special applications like clean rooms, compromises always had to be made. In clean rooms, for instance, fluorescent troffers worked but did not last very long and had Mercury inside their lamps. LED troffers are rated for 50,000100,000 hours and do not have Mercury. Another example of special troffer applications is lighting that does not emit UV or light in a certain nanometer range. Achieving this with fluorescent lights is possible but requires significant compromise. LED troffers, however, are more customizable for special applications. If you have a special application, be sure to contact an Access Fixtures lighting specialist at (800) 468-9925.

LED troffers win on price.

LED troffers are now, in virtually all instances, lower in price than ever before. Access Fixtures offers 2’ x 2’ LED dimmable troffers starting at $79.99 and 2’ x 4’ LED dimmable troffers starting at $128.99. That is lower than virtually any dimmable fluorescent troffers on the market today. It is certainly lower when you factor in the cost of fluorescent lamps. Whether you call them flat panels, LED flat panels, LED panel lights, or LED troffers, the choice for the foreseeable future is LED.

More LED troffer or ordering questions?

What are you waiting for? To learn more about LED troffers or special applications, contact an Access Fixtures lighting specialist. To place an order, call (800) 468-9925 or order online.