LED Strip Colour Consistency Simplified
When discussing LED lighting the problem of batch variance is all too common a problem for designers, installers and wholesalers alike.
LED lighting manufacturers often refer to LED ‘binning’ however very few actually take the time to clarify what this actually means to an installer or end-user. Binning is a term used to describe the action of sorting LEDs by their characteristics in terms of lumen output and colour temperature.
In order to fully understand LED binning it’s important to have an overview of the actual manufacturing process. All LEDs begin life as a blue colour and then during the manufacturing process a phosphor is applied as a coating which then changes the colour of the LED chip to white.
Dependent on how long the phosphor is applied for dictates whether that’s a cool white colour or a warm white colour. The longer the phosphor is applied for, the warmer the colour LED. Due to the nature of this production process it’s very difficult to produce highly colour consistent LEDs and strictly control the colour temperature.
Once the LEDs have been produced the manufacturer then sorts these into prescribed ranges – or bins. This is then narrowed down into sub-bins for even more finite control over colour temperature. This can be seen on a chromaticity diagram.
Often LED manufacturers will talk about a MacAdam Ellipse. A 1-step MacAdam ellipse is defined as a zone within the chromaticity diagram where no colour difference can be detected by the human eye. All LED manufacturers set their own standards for LED colour consistency however the majority of manufacturers work within the range of four to seven steps, however sometimes this can be higher. In essence the more number of steps, the more likely you are to notice a variation in colour from one LED to the next. The fewer number of steps, the more expensive the product is to produce but the less chance there is of a noticeable colour difference by eye.
Colour consistency should be a very important factor to be taken into consideration when choosing an LED strip manufacturer. Some LED strips have well in excess of 100 LEDs per metre, all of which will have small colour variances from one LED to the next. Having a consistent colour across a length of LED strip is of course crucial to the success of the final installed product and therefore it is important to only use an LED strip manufacturer with strict binning control systems for policing colour consistency.
If a manufacturer is chosen who does not have a strict control process for LED binning there of course may well be considerable cost-saving however equally there could be considerable variations in colour from one strip to the next – or even within a single strip itself. Although the product may well be cheaper, which is of course attractive, is it really worth ultimately sacrificing the overall quality of the installation?
Ledridge have long been considered as experts in LED strip and have worked closely with our manufacturing partner to continually improve the output and colour consistency of our LED strip products. Our LED48 and LED96 strip is now binned to 2-step MacAdam ellipse to ensure colour consistency and complete customer satisfaction. We believe that offering a high-quality product and outstanding service at a competitive price is far more beneficial for all parties than sacrificing product quality to reduce cost. Ultimately the main advantage of LED lighting over many other cheaper forms is the low running cost and long length of life. If you’re making the investment to LED then you’re not likely to want to change the product in the near future. Therefore of course it’s of utmost important that the correct product and manufacturer is chosen when planning your project.