The Hidden Benefits of a Spec Sheet (or How to Read a Spec Sheet)

Today’s product spec sheets for LED lighting fixtures are so packed with information that they can sometimes be confusing. A good spec sheet contains technical details that fully describe the product, but some of those details can sound like jargon. This article is an explainer of those terms, standards, and features. As a point of reference, let’s use this spec sheet for the IntrinsiX CIRCA Round High Bay LED Light.

Wattage: Perhaps the most important number on a lighting spec sheet is the wattage of the light. This number refers to the power a light needs to run at its maximum level. On this spec sheet, this number appears on the front page and is also the first bullet point listed on page one. This high bay light is offered in wattages of 100, 150, 200, 240, and 300 watts.

The higher the wattage of a light, the brighter it will be (although brightness is measured by its own metric, which we will get to soon). LED lights require far less power than previous technologies (like high-pressure sodium or metal halide lights). Their wattage numbers, therefore, are relatively modest. The powerful light seen in this spec sheet—suitable for warehouses, factories, and the like—comes in wattages between 100W and 300W. To give you an idea of how much more efficient LED lights are: not long ago, you might have used a 100W light bulb for a table lamp at home.

Today, a 100W LED high bay light can flood a warehouse space with powerful white light; the 300W version is obviously even brighter.

Your application determines which wattage you need. A warehouse high bay light likely needs a higher wattage than a similar light in a workshop, simply because you need more light in a warehouse. This is why the wattage rating for a product plays such a big role in its spec sheet—it is the best way to categorize the products. In the bottom half of the spec sheet, the wattage of the lights is the key factor in separating the products.

Lumens: Lumens is the best measurement for brightness. Lumens (Lm) being the form of measurement. This number tells you how much light the bulb or fixture will produce. Brightness correlates roughly to wattage within a product type; in other words, a 300W light will produce roughly three times the lumens of a 100W light.

You will often see a lumens-to-watts (lm/W) rating on a spec sheet, and if you do not, simply divide the total lumens by the total watts! However, different product types on the market—say, LED lights versus fluorescent lights—have different lumens-to-watts ratios; that fact demonstrates how much more efficient LED lights are than older technologies. Lumens per Watt is quickly becoming the go to way to choosing the most efficient and correct light as you want the highest efficacy.

The Specifications portion of this CIRCA spec sheet indicates the lumen output for the five varieties of this high bay light. The first four wattage sizes (100, 150, 200, and 240W) show three different lumen outputs because those lights have variable settlings; for example, the 100W light can operate at 60, 80, or 100W. Therefore, that light also has three different lumen outputs available.

Color: The “color” of a light, also called its color corrected temperature (CCT), is measured in degrees Kelvin (K). The light’s color refers to how warm or cool a light appears. A cozy library wants a soft warm light, whereas a warehouse wants a clear, white light. A conference room or office wants something in between (a cool color for good visibility).

In a spec sheet, look for “color selection” or “Kelvin Temp variables” or “CCT.” Sometimes a light will have three or more selectable color temperatures. The IntrinsiX CIRCA high bay light in this spec sheet has narrower applications—warehouses, supermarkets, and so on—than other general-purpose lights, so it only has two color temperature options (4000K/5000K, seen on page 3).

Color Rendering Index: This measurement, also known as CRI, reflects the quality of light and its ability to show you the most natural colors (of objects) possible. By the definitions of CRI, the best color-rendering light is that produced by a natural light source like the sun.

CRI is rated on a scale of 1 to 100. At the low end of the scale, colors look distorted or unnatural. At 100 CRI you are seeing the “true” colors of an object. Today’s LED lights produce much higher CRI light than many previous technologies, including fluorescent lights. Lights with ratings over 80 produce excellent light that makes everything it touches look natural.

Voltage: The input voltage can range from anywhere between 120-480. This is reflected on most spec sheets. (The “V” stands for volts, and the “VAC” stands for volts of alternative current. They are more or less interchangeable.) Most wiring in a building is 120-277V, where buildings that have more powerful equipment can range all the way up to 480V. Common high bay lights like the LED IntrinsiX CIRCA usually run on 120-277V. However, larger fixtures can use 277V-480V circuits.

DLC Rating: Spec sheets of high-quality LED lights will likely mention a DLC rating. The DLC is the Design Lights Consortium, a non-profit organization that creates standards for lighting performance and gives products a rating. Their goal is to guide the lighting industry toward high-quality, efficient, and long-lasting products.

The best DLC rating at the moment is DLC Premium.

The best DLC rating at the moment is DLC Premium. Any light with this rating—including the one in this CIRCA spec sheet—is certified as having high levels of performance in many areas, including its resistance to long-term dimming. Look for the DLC Premium certification as a logo on your spec sheet (seen on page 2 of this sheet) or in a mention of it in the text.

UL Rating: There are a couple ratings for safety in electronic components, and it can be a little difficult to tell them apart. At the very least, your light fixture should have one of these ratings. The UL rating is granted by the testing laboratory called Underwriter Laboratories (UL). This laboratory tests products against the standards set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Underwriting Laboratories is also a part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) product testing program.

When a product wins a UL rating it is certified as having met the strict safety standards of the organization. Look for a “UL” logo on a spec sheet or some mention of it in the text. A UL rating also comes with quarterly “surveillance” of the product. This ensures ongoing product quality, performance, and safety.

ETL Rating: This rating is closely related to the UL rating and is another good indication of product safety. The ETL rating is granted by the Electrical Testing Laboratories. This lab, like the previous lab, is also part of OSHA’s testing regime. It simply uses slightly different criteria for judging the products it tests.

IP Rating: The IP rating is sometimes called the “waterproof rating.” IP stands for “ingress protection” and addresses how safe a product is from dust, moisture, and other harmful materials (or bugs) getting into a lamp or fixture. This standard was also developed by the aforementioned IEC.

Most IP ratings of light fixtures are either IP65 or IP66. An IP65 rating guarantees protection against dust, moisture, and even sprayed water. A light with this rating is very resilient against the elements. The IP66 rating, however, is even strong—it indicates protection against dust, moisture, and heavy sprays or blasts of water. (IP67 and IP68 score protection against varying levels of water immersion.)

This high bay light spec sheet lists the IP rating under “Materials” on page 3. However, an IP rating could appear nearly anywhere on a spec sheet.

Warranty: A spec sheet for a high-quality LED light or fixture will mention a warranty. One of the best qualities of a modern LED light (for both users and the environment) is its long lifespan. Manufacturers generally offer extremely long warranties on these products.

In the case of this spec sheet, the IntrinsiX CIRCA high bay light has a manufacturer’s 5-year, 50,000-hour warranty (seen at the bottom of page 3).

Duralec oversees all warranties for this and all of its best-in-class products.

Photometrics: The graphs you see on a good spec sheet are called photometrics. These graphs represent how a light performs and disperses across a distance. One such graph of this dispersion is sometimes called the light’s luminous intensity distribution. This graph shows not only the width of spread but also how many lumens are projected at different distances. The same graph might also include the average diffuser angle, which shows how widely the light spreads. Another graph might show the light’s average effective illuminance, which includes the light’s beam angle.

These photometrics attempt to show you what you get with a certain light. They can be very useful when creating a lighting design and allocating lights across a space.

If you have questions about a certain spec sheet, feel free to reach out to a Duralec lighting expert today.


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