LED Panel light now is booming in the market, it’s one of the best lighting options for indoor applications, considering its easy installation, modern design, and efficient light quality. Now almost every supplier producing led lights can also produce led panel lights, so how to choose the most suitable panel light for your requirements? This post will tell you the differences of the materials used in the panel and learn how it affects the quality and cost.
First, let’s take a look of the structure of panel light:
From the explosive photo you can see that panel lights are mainly consist of frame, LED, diffuser, LGP plate, LED driver and back plate. Now let’s go over these materials and see what are the differences when you choose a panel light.
Frames(aluminum heat sink)
There are mainly 3 moldings of frame for panel light.
1. Stamping aluminum
Stamping alu normally made by 1mm aluminum board, and then welded to assemble as a frame, apply wiredrawing surface treatment.
Advantage: from appearance, the joint area of heat sink can reach a seamless level, it’s more light, easy to install and low cost.
Disadvantage: heat sink made with stamping aluminum is easy to scratch hands. And, for 36w and other higher wattage panel lights, heat dissipation is very bad, the situation of LEDs burn out is very often.
2. Extruded aluminum
Panel light with extruded aluminum, mainly made by AL6063 and AL6061 material, the structural strength of AL6061 is stronger than AL6063, but appearance and surface treatment are not as good as AL6063, basically, the differences are tiny. Frame made by extruded aluminum is most common for LED panel light.
Advantage: heat dissipation is good, with exquisite appearance, diversified surface treatment, low tooling cost and easy to shape up. And the sizes can be custom made according to different applications, with good plasticity. All these features make it the most ideal model to make led panel light.
Disadvantage: cost is higher compared to stamping aluminum, and material is more heavy.
Although the extruded alu is the best material to make LED panel, in the market now there are many short-term-business-suppliers have eyes only on profit only, they use cheap, unqualified materials to produce panel light. Normally, the thickness of the frame has to be 2mm, only that it can reach good heat dissipation.
3. Die-casting aluminum
Die-casting aluminum is mostly applied to the panel lights with small sizes that diameter is under 300mm.
Advantage: integration, a truly seamless profile, with elegant outlook, good heat dissipation and cheap price.
Disadvantage, tooling cost is high, size is fixed that it’s unable to modify randomly in accordance with customer requirements and without plasticity.
Type of diffuser: PC, PMMA, PS, PP
- with high Intensity and elastic coefficient, high impact strength, wide using temperature range.
- high transparency and free chromaticity.
- high grade of H.D.T.
- good fatigue durability.
- good weather resistance (weather resistance is the ability of a material, paint, film, or the like to withstand the effects of wind, rain, or sun and to retain its appearance and integrity).
- odourless and harmless to people
- shrinkage rate of shaping is low and with steady size stability.
In a word, PC is with the best stability, the fire-rated level is high and safety certification is better.
However, in terms of production and marketing, PC is more expensive and because of the big static electricity, it’s easy to absorb dust during assembling, it also has higher labor cost(PC diffuser is with protective films on both sides, takes more time and energy to get it off ). Also, the light transmission for PC is much lower, at around 86%.
2. PMMA — known as acrylic
- PMMA is with excellent weather resistance, higher Surface Glossiness, and better high-temperature behavior
- PMMA board have good printability and sprayabilit, it can make ideal surface decorative effect process with appropriate print technology
- Flame resistance
- PMMA is fragile, easy to break
The advantage of PMMA applied to LED Panel Light:
- Economical, PMMA is easy to pre-forming and materials are inexpensive, which makes it very common earlier in the production of panel light.
- Silk print effect is excellent if you need to print your own logo and lamp parameters, PMMA is preferred.
- Super high light transmission, up to 90% or so, but it also brings some troubles. Due to the high light transmission, it’s difficult for a diffuser to cover dust and other small stuff, so sometimes it always has a light spot. Like PC, PMMA also has protective files on both sides, that it’s easy to absorb dust due to static electricity, so it requires a very strict production environment (need to be dust-free) to produce panel light.
When you buy a panel light from suppliers, you can evaluate from their workshop environment whether it passes dust-free standard. Penglight have strict procedures to follow when selecting a supplier, see how we do with our supply management.
PS is with excellent chemical stability, thermostability, Optical transmission characteristic, insulation characteristic and with minor moisture absorption tendency, it can be used in a moist environment and it’s with high radiation resistance. But it’s fragile, with low impact strength and bad weather resistance, it’s easy to turn yellow and get crisp. Heat resistance is also bad, distortion temperature is 70-90°, only available to use under 70°, cold resistance is also not good, the brittle temperature is -30°
Although there are so many defects for PS, when apply for indoor the room temperature is normally more than 0° and without solar radiation, PS can be a good material for panel light. Compared to PMMA, it’s with small static electricity makes it easier and convenient to arrange production. PS is cheap, easy for produce and incise, light transmission can up to 88%, All of these features make it the favorite materials for suppliers when it first launched to market.
PP is mainly used as a low-cost product. People in the industry call it waste materials.
- non-poisonous, odorless, it’s one of the lightest variety of all kinds of plastic.
- tenacity and fatigue durability is as same as PC
- high light transmission, close to PS, can also up to 88%
- without films on the surface, easy to produce and assemble.
- PP is with good heat resistance, melting point between 164~170℃. without the external forces, it has no deformation even in 150℃
- When apply to low temperature, it’s easy to get crispy, not wear-resisting and ageing easily
- high static electricity, get dusty on surface after longtime used.
- soft, panel light of big sizes are very likely to sag naturally
LGP (light guide plate)
LGP is a kind of PMMA with high light transmission, its main processing methods include: silk print, laser engraving and injection moulding. The thickness of LGP has 8T, 6T, 4T and 3T, the thicker the LGP, the higher the luminous efficiency, price is higher as well.
1. Silk print
Silk print is a common processing method for producing LGP.
Advantage: good effect and high luminous efficiency.
Disadvantage: costly, easy to create poor products and it’s difficult to regulate printing ink.
2. Laser Engraving
Laser engraving is another common processing method for LGP, but the production process has reduced the printing ink.
Advantage: low labor cost and material cost, product consistency is good and less defective products.
Disadvantage: luminous efficiency is with 3%-10% lower compared to silk-screen, and it will have a Grid effect on LGP as a result of laser engraving, need frosty and high diffusivity diffuser to solve this problem.
3. Injection Moulding
Injection moulding is normally applied to small products.
Advantage: extremely low material cost, good product consistency, few poor products.
Disadvantage: poor luminous efficiency, only have 90% of silk print, no plasticity, high tooling cost.
Using what kinds of LEDs will have direct impact on the cost and optical parameter. If you don’t specified, normally the panel lights are with Sanan led chip, packing type is SMD2835, with following optical parameter:
- CRI: RA>80
- Color temp: 3000K/4000K/5000K/6000K
- SDCM: <6
- Luminous efficiency: 100lm/w to 120lm/w
These are the most common configuration, matured and cost-effective. and for the PCBs are mostly fiber glass not aluminum. For some special requirements that need CRI>90 or SDCM<6 or need color temp at 2700K, this can also be achieved by changing a different LED chip, but price will be more expensive.
Driver plays a crucial role in the lifespan of led lighting, it’s very important that a driver is selected that is matched to the lamp and to be illuminated.
When selecting an LED driver, the following are five factors that you should take into consideration and determine which one is the best fit for your application:
- Total LED power per function: this is the key to determining LED driver topology.
- The ambient temperature of the electronic components: For example, with rear lighting where brighter LEDs are required, a linear driver is not the best option because of its high power dissipation; instead, a switching driver is a better choice because it is more efficient and, hence, runs cooler at higher power levels.
- Flexibility to change LED configurations: light adjustment capabilities by using multiple luminance methods such as voltage reference control and PWM control. A wide operating supply range allows configuration of power supply and the number of LEDs to drive.
- Supported features: such as auto dimming, individual LED control, color change.
- Supported diagnostics and safety compliance: such as thermal warning, thermal shutdown, open circuit, short, over-current protection, single LED failures, under voltage and overvoltage on the booster, LED temperature monitoring.
Now many suppliers offer their panel light with a branded driver, such as Meanwell, Inventronics, Lifud, etc, quality is guaranteed and with competitive price.
Back plates are for sealing and assist heat dissipation. Normally 1mm thickness back plate made by aluminum is better for heat dissipation and make entire structure stronger, but now in the market the back plate are mostly with 0.8mm thickness and some factories produce back plate with metal to further reduce material cost. Metal back plate can be rusted after long time used and have big impact on service life.
So, now you have a pretty good idea of what you need to look for in selecting a LED panel light that is sufficient enough for your application. I know it will be a lot to digest for you, especially if you’re new in this field. But don’t worry, just leave your comments or questions below, or you can contact us directly at [email protected], we will get in touch with you and reply your questions anytime.