Luminaire Architecture

Luminaires for industrial applications come in three basic form factors: (1) rectangular, (2) linear, and (3) round. Hundreds of manufacturers all around the globe offer more or less the same general products, and from a user's standpoint, it's hard to tell them apart and pick the perfect model for your specific application.

These luminaires’ architectures are remarkably similar due to the ease of manufacturing an established concept, and the intent to make each light as affordable as possible. Since one brand copies another, it may seem as though all of them are doing the same thing, but it doesn't mean they are all designed as intuitively as DuraBrite’s luminaires. Far from it.

Regardless of the exterior form factor, there are 2 main luminaire architectures. First is where the power section and the LED section are separated. Second is where the power section and LED section are combined on the same circuit board.

The main reason for most manufacturers to separate the power and LED sections in a luminaire is the ability to place as many LEDs on the circuit board, to deliver as much light as possible. Usually, this type of design uses lots of low to medium power LED chips, to deliver (1) a high lumen count and (2) a high lumen/watt ratio for marketing and DLC certification purposes. Just looking at the total lumens output can be misleading however, because that's merely stating how much optical power is being emitted from the source, not how much light travels to the target. A luminaire with a lot of low-power LEDs may appear bright when you look at it, but its effectiveness in lighting objects and areas from afar can be limited due to the low optical power of each LED. It simply lacks the "throw" you need when lighting from a distance. Worse, these luminaires often place the power section right on top of the LED section. Heat rises, so when the light is oriented to point toward the ground for a typical high bay installation, the power section is being placed at the highest point of the luminaire — right where the light is at its hottest! In other words, the power section is constantly being heated up by the LEDs, shortening the lifespan of all components. This is convenient in the short term, but the overall poor design means these lights will inevitably fail prematurely, costing you and your company time and money when they die out.

The second architecture involves placing the power components alongside the LEDs. That's a slightly better option, thermally, in regards to the power components, but worse for the LEDs, since they are now being constantly heated by the adjacent power components! Manufacturers choose this method because they can get away with using just one circuit board during manufacturing, significantly reducing cost and increasing production. Designers typically use an Isolated Metal Substrate (IMS), aka Metal Core Printed Circuit Board (MCPCB), for these luminaires. These are boards with a circuit as the top layer, an insulative (aka dielectric) material in the middle, and an aluminum baseplate at the bottom. Unfortunately, that means that if there's an issue with these lights, you can't simply replace the LED section or the power section because the two use the same circuit board. The entire board or the luminaire will need to be discarded and replaced, leading to a higher cost of ownership over the lifespan of the light. The dielectric layer and how well it's bonded in that sandwich structure also has a direct impact on the luminaire's thermal performance and reliability. Boards using high thermal conductivity dielectric cost 5X – 10X as much as lower grade options. Needless to say, to cut costs, most manufacturers don't pick the most thermally conductive option, despite having the LED chips and power components placed on the same board. This compromises long-term reliability.

At DuraBrite, we refuse to compromise on quality, and our luminaire architecture differs from both mainstream designs described above. Thanks to our aerospace and space engineering pedigree, our engineers leveraged years of expertise in designing high-power electronics in the smallest and thinnest form factor possible. We take an interdisciplinary approach, accounting for mechanical, electrical, and thermal engineering properties, going beyond the standard luminaire binary. DuraBrite's luminaires always feature separate LED chips and power circuits, ensuring that one does not heat up the other, which allows for maximum optical and thermal performance.

Call us today to learn more about our industry-pioneering luminaire products.

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