LED technology’s reputation as an energy-saving light source and a good replacement option for incandescent and halogen lamps has led to broader use within healthcare spaces. However, the lighting source isn’t always understood by the people who specify it, use it, or maintain it, says Karen Murphy, senior professional associate at HDR Inc. (Omaha, Neb.).

“There are misconceptions that LEDs last forever or that you never have to maintain them,” she says, and someone who operates the technology that way may end up problems, including diminished light levels or inappropriate color metrics.

Murphy and colleagues Marjorie Sobylak, senior project manager at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and Lam Vu, senior electrical engineer for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Facilities Standards Service, aim to dispel some of the myths surrounding the technology and offer tips on proper use and care during their session, “How LED Lighting Is Impacting Healthcare,” at the Healthcare Design Expo & Conference, Nov. 14-17 in Washington, D.C.

Among the facts about LEDs that the speakers say design professionals, healthcare providers, and facility managers should know are:

  • LEDs and fluorescent lamps don’t operate the same: Fluorescent lamps typically remain bright, losing less than 10 percent of their initial light output, and then burn out. LED modules, on the other hand, gradually become dimmer without burning out, making it difficult for maintenance staff to know when the modules aren’t giving off the desired illumination levels and should be replaced. This can be especially problematic in certain areas, such as surgery spaces, where appropriate light levels are important. Therefore, facilities need to make sure they have maintenance protocols for replacement, Murphy says.
  • Today’s sources are better at mimicking daylight: New equipment is entering the market that offers improved dimming and color-tuning properties. “We know that daylight changes color temperature during the course of a day, and we now have the ability with select color-tuning LED products to control them with time clocks and adjust the color temperature of electric light similar to daylight,” she says. “This will help support circadian entrainment, which numerous studies have demonstrated supports physiological health.”
  • Think variety of applications: LEDs have become a lamp of choice for most surgical and procedure task lighting, replacing incandescent and halogen sources. “Those sources are much less energy efficient than LEDs, are physically larger, and contribute more heat to the room,” Murphy says. In addition, she recommends that clients consider LEDs for exterior applications, decorative accents, downlights, narrow aperture recessed fixtures, high ceiling areas, and imaging rooms.

“Understanding how LED technology works and preparing proper protocols will help you avoid problems down the road,” Murphy says.

For more on the Healthcare Design Expo & Conference (Nov. 14-17 in Washington, D.C.), including educational sessions, networking events, and registration, visit HCDmagazine.com/conference.