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Frequently Asked Questions

Can Continental take over an incomplete lighting product development project?

Yes. Often clients get to a point in their lighting product development where they need an expert in LED’s, Solar, Batteries or Controller Electronics. We are happy to review and complete your project.

How do you determine how much light I need from my lighting product?

The determination of light levels is based on the function of the product. The IES (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America) - publishes lighting design and illumination standards for many indoor and outdoor applications. See the Lighting Basics tab for information on how light is measured. We can help you determine the exact specifications for your fixture’s light output based on its function and lighting standards.

How do I know which LED to use for my product?

There are numerous LED’s and LED manufacturers. We recommend that you utilize LED’s from established manufacturers that subscribe to IES and DOE (Department of Energy) testing standards. The specific LED selected for a fixture depends on the fixture requirements including light requirements, energy requirements and size of the fixture. LED technology changes rapidly and it can be a daunting task to keep up with it. Our LED engineers can keep you abreast of new lighting technology developments and can recommend the latest and greatest LED that fits your product and your budget.

Why do I need optics? How expensive is optical design?

Optics direct the light where it is wanted and only where it is wanted, thus reducing the amount of LED’s required for the fixture. In most applications we recommend the use of optical treatments. The cost of the optical design is usually far less than the additional LED’s that are required with no optical treatments. Costs for optical design vary with the complexity of the optics. Often off-the-shelf optical lenses can be utilized, greatly reducing the cost of molds or tooling for optical lenses.

Why did my LED burn up after 200 hours?

Premature LED failures are often due to overheating. When an LED gets too hot, it will reduce the life of the LED exponentially, much as excess heat will harm a computer. An optimally engineered LED fixture will utilize heat sinks or fans to dissipate the heat the LED generates, thus prolonging the life of the LED. Additionally, the electronic drivers of the LED must be engineered so as not to overpower the LED, which creates more heat and causes early failure of the LED. See the tab on Thermal Engineering for more information on handling the heat of LED’s.

Can you evaluate my existing lighting product?

Yes. We are often called upon to evaluate and improve existing lighting products. We will test the light output in the Lab, evaluate the overall engineering of the product and determine if the product meets your specifications. For more complex testing, we will establish test procedures and send the product to a certified lab for testing. We will then assist you in understanding the test results and establish a plan to remedy any non optimum test results.

How do I know if LEDs are the right light source for my product?

Choosing between LEDs, Halogen bulbs, CFLs, Fluorescents and other bulb types gets to be confusing. We recommend that you start with a free consultation. Our engineers will give you a quick opinion on your product or idea and the usage of LED’s in the product. If we determine that LEDs may work for your product we recommend a Feasibility Study which will determine your exact product, specifications, product development process and costs.

Why is my LED so blue? Are there different white colored LEDs?

Any “white” light source has a color, from orange to yellow to blue. This is measured on a Kelvin scale. A yellowish light (low Kelvin) is considered a warm white and a bluish light (high Kelvin) is considered a cool white. See the Tab “Lighting Basics” for more information on the Kelvin scale and the color of light. LED’s come in the whole spectrum of “white” colors.

Can an LED give me the same ambiance as an incandescent light bulb?

Yes. You will want to use a low Kelvin LED as the light from an incandescent is considered a warm white (low Kelvin).

How bright can an LED get?

New LEDs are being released regularly, each one brighter than the last. The latest LEDs get so bright that they should not be looked at with the naked eye or you’ll have spots in your eyes for quite a while! LEDs are tiny pinpricks of light sources, about the size of this o. LEDs can be combined together into multi-chip LEDs, to make an LED light as bright as any light on the market today. The more light you want, the more LEDs you use.

Why are there so many kinds of LEDs and why is there such a difference in cost?

LEDs come in every different color and light output. The cost is usually a factor of how much light they generate and how reliable they are. Established LED companies tend to charge more for their LEDs, but have a good track record of reliability and standing behind their products. They also provide accurate technical data that allows the lighting engineer to obtain the expected performance from the LED. We recommend utilizing an LED from an established manufacturer even though the cost may be higher. With LEDs, the old adage rings true – you get what you pay for.

Is an LED a good light source to work with Solar Power?

Yes. LEDs are the most efficient type of lighting on the market in terms of light output (lumens) per watt (energy used). LEDs also have the long life expectancy that exceeds most other light sources and more closely approaches the expected life time of solar panels. In years past, this wasn’t always true, but with the recent advances in LED efficiency and longevity, LEDs are certainly the best choice for solar powered lighting.

What kind of battery should I use with my Solar LED system?

Most stationary or non-portable solar lights utilize a lead acid battery as the most cost-effective power storage device – usually a gel type or marine battery (deep cycle). Many factors need to be evaluated in the choice of a battery system, such as temperature, load, durability and cost. However, huge advances are being made in battery technology every year and other newer battery types may be preferable for some applications. Continental’s engineers stay abreast of current battery technology developments and can recommend the right battery for your solar LED application.

When does it make sense to use Solar?

When you have a location that receives full sun (no shade) and is not currently tied to the electric grid, then solar lighting makes a great deal of sense and can actually be much cheaper than the costs of laying wire to your site.

Why are the solar lights I see in the discounts stores so dim?

There are many poorly engineered solar lighting products on the market today. These lights use an undersized solar panel, knock-off/cheap LEDs, low quality batteries and cheap plastic housings that provide poor protection from the environment. They are designed to be as cheap as possible, and every corner is cut along the way, so they don’t produce enough light to effectively spread the light on the ground. They merely glow. A solar light that is comparable to an on-grid light in light output, must have a large enough solar panel to capture enough power from the sun and have sufficient battery storage capability to capture that power “lighting class LEDs”, and be optimized electronically to effectively harness the sun’s power and turn it into light at night.

Is it true that Solar only works in the summer or in southern locations?

No. Solar works anywhere there is sun. If your location gets full sun, then solar can be an option for you.