Flat Panel LED Lights: The Best Buying Guide Ever!

Flat Panel LED Lights: The Best Buying Guide Ever!

If you’re looking for a crash course on LED flat panel lights, you've come to the right place. In this article, we’ll cover the different types of flat panels, benefits of use in different applications and why it’s smart to use them versus traditional fluorescents.

3 Reasons To Use LED Flat Panels Instead of Traditional Fluorescent Light Panels

decorative bar
flat panel led lights
LED flat panel lights in a library

Fluorescent light panels are, were, and will always be a compromised lighting solution.

They can cause headaches, and not just for the people working under them, but for the people who are summoned to replace them when they fail. Which is often.

The only redeemable thing about fluorescent light panels is that they were more energy-efficient than their incandescent predecessors.

But now we’ve come into the twenty-first century and have better options to keep everyone and everything under those lights performing at their best. Like LED lighting.

But like any technology, not all LED flat panels are created equal. Just because a product says it’s LED, doesn’t mean it’ll perform the same.

When selecting flat panels for your next installation, use this as your checklist:

  • #1: LED Flat Panels are the stamina kings.
    • They can offer more than 100,000 hours of operation with no maintenance required. Which, in a typical office, means more than 50 years of not having to worry about replacing them.
    • On the contrary, incandescent lighting may last you around 1,000 hours. A fluorescent bulb emitting the same lumens might last you around 8,000.

    Think about it:

    Fluorescent tubes require constant maintenance when they fail, which means extra time and money it’ll take facility managers to head on over and replace them.

    That’s time they already don’t have, and money they don’t need to spend.

  • #2: Flat Panel LED lights stay bright. Forever.
    • Okay, maybe not forever. But they do stay brighter much longer than fluorescents.
    • Fluorescent tubes have a much shorter lifespan and dim more quickly over time. Which can be a total pain.
    • Fun fact: e-conolight flat panel LED lights use an acrylic lens, which not only keeps them shining brilliantly, but also stops any yellowing from occurring over time.

  • #3: You knew it was coming: Energy and maintenance savings.
    • LED flat panel light fixtures can save your client up to 90% energy savings, simply by being LED.

    And all that time and money they’re saving by not having to replace bulbs time after time? They can put it towards more important things, like more direct educational initiatives, in the case of schools, or improving customer experiences, in the case of retail venues.

    LED Flat Panels vs LED Troffers

    decorative bar
    LED flat panels
    LED flat panels in an office setting

    Now that we know that flat panel LED lights stacks up fairly amazingly well against traditional fluorescents, how do you know whether to use a flat panel or a troffer?

  • LED flat panels make sense because they can be:
    • Mostly edge lit
    • Better for shallow plenum spaces, or if you have a lot of duct work inside the plenum
    • Better suited for quick-service applications, like fast food operations, or 24/7 operations like hospitals, convenience stores
      • Why? They’re easier to wipe down, clean, and maintain than troffers
    • Easier on the eyes, since they distribute light more widely than troffers
      • Troffers have a more directional/focused light, which some say causes more glare

  • Troffers make sense because they can be:
    • Nicer to look at (according to some.) The fancy heat sink in the middle gives it more of an architectural aesthetic.
    • More efficient
      • Since flat panels have more LEDs, it can impact their lumens per watt performance.
    • Equipped with an emergency back-up
      • Flat panel LED lights make you install additional wall packs/hardware that don’t exactly please the gods of aesthetics.
    • Easier to incorporate lighting controls within the system
    • Easier to meet codes
      • Troffers are easier to attach to the grid than flat panels, which helps evade potential code violations in some states.

    Don’t just take our word for it; take our Product Manager, Andrew’s:

    Benefits of Flat Panel LED Lights In The Office

    decorative bar
    flat panel LED lights
    LED flat panels in an office setting.

    Chances are, your client’s office lighting needs updating. After all, 50% of existing office buildings were built before 1980, and LED lighting hadn’t become anywhere near as popular then as it is now.

    Why? At the time, LED technology was nowhere near price parity with traditional technology to really be considered an option. And because it was a newer technology, it could be unreliable.

    Just ask those 1990s employees.

    The American Society of Interior Designers did. According to their study, a whopping 68% of employees were not happy with their current lighting situation.

    And for good reason.

    Fluorescent lighting can cause a slew of bad things, like:

    • Headaches and migraines
    • Eye strain
    • Neck pains
    • Drowsiness
    • Lack of focus
    • Stress/anxiety
      • We figured we’d explain this one. Under bad lighting, our cortisol levels can plummet. Since cortisol is a hormone that helps us respond to stressful situations, having low levels hinders our ability to cope with…well, anything. So, basically, if an employee’s job is stressful on its own, fluorescents can make it seem even worse.

    All of the above lead to a total lack of productivity.

    Even the military has studied it.

    According to researchers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center...

    "Compared with fluorescent lighting…LED lighting in a work environment seems to foster positive mood, increased alertness, and faster performance on visual, perceptual, and cognitive tasks.”

    Bad Lighting = Potential Hazards

    Flat panel lights
    LED flat panels in a corporate office

    Fluorescents burn out at a higher rate than LED. In many applications, that can lead to some serious trips and falls. Not to mention, tubes aren’t always replaced right away because doing so can often require a maintenance person with a scissor lift or ladder to replace it, which only extends the potential time for a hazard to occur.

    So, if your office client doesn’t feel like dealing with all that potential liability, 2x2 or 2x4 LED flat panels – with their brilliant light and extended maintenance-free lifetimes – are definitely the way to go.

    Benefits of LED Flat Panels in Hospitals

    decorative bar
    LED flat panels
    Flat panels in a hospital

    LED flat panels make everything better in hospitals, both for the patients and staff. Not to mention, the reduced energy consumption, which leads to reduced energy costs.

    The reduced energy costs allow hospitals to put all those extra savings towards other area that make the overall healthcare environment better.

    You know that good mood that LED lighting, with its brightness and crispness, can’t help but bring about? Potential and current employees can feel the difference, which helps a hospital attract and keep them. It also helps them perform at their best during high-risk scenarios that require undivided attention.

    And let’s face it:

    A hospital can be a stressful place. With sudden emergencies, illnesses, and high-risk surgeries, great lighting helps to create a soothing and relaxing environment.

    Installing LED flat panels in reception areas, exam rooms, and patient rooms can help calm the nerves and enhance the mental well-being of both patients and facility staff.

    Plus, since LED lighting is the next best thing to daylight, it helps patients improve the quality of their sleep, which can lead to faster recoveries.

    Benefits of Flat Panel LED Lights in Convenience Stores

    decorative bar
    LED flat panel lighting
    Flat panel LED lights in a convenience store

    Simple fact:

    If a convenient store isn’t convenient, it’s going to lose customers. Customers choose a convenience store because they want to be in and out as quickly as possible. If they can’t find what they need right away, there’s a good chance they won’t be back.

    LED Flat Panel lights have a high CRI – or color rendering index – that evenly illuminates everything on shelves, from top to bottom.

    Plus, products simply look better under LED lighting.

    A recent study by RPR states, “Items that are highlighted [in a soft, focused lighting] – even if they aren’t on sale – sell about 30% percent more…They just look more appealing than products under harsh, overhead fluorescent lights.”

    Not to mention, a well-lit store improves a customer’s perception of its appearance – especially at night, which can lead to that same customer not only feeling safer, but returning over and over again.

    2x4 TPE Edgelit Flat Panel

    2x4 TPE Edgelit Flat Panel

    Need a high-quality LED Flat Panel that doesn’t cost your left (or right) arm? Check out our best-selling 2x4 TPE Edgelit Flat Panel, designed with your wallet in mind. Not only is it ultra slim and perfect for tight ceiling spaces, but it also installs like a dream, with the help of built-in T-Grid clips. Plus, since it’s Edge Lit, it gives off bright and even shadow-less light. The added bonuses? The TPE series is dimmable for optimal energy savings, UL tested to ensure the highest quality, and is suitable for damp locations. Oh, and we did mention the 5-year warranty? You’re welcome.

    Shop Now

    Hey, you’ve made it through LED Flat Panels 101; consider yourself an expert. And if you were already an expert, then consider yourself a master. And since every master needs tools, head on over to the LED Flat Panel Light section of our website. You’ll find a wide variety of flat panel LED lights and troffers, perfect for your next application. Even more perfect? The prices won’t make your jaw drop. Actually, they might. But in the best way; all of our lighting is reasonably priced and designed to make your life next install the way it should: easy and quick.

    Like this blog? Want more helpful articles, plus access to exclusive offers and new product releases before everyone else? Sign up here.

    Article Written by Gary L.

    Gary is a Product Line Manager. His goal is to manage the exceptional Troffer and Flat Panel products and make sure that these products maintain optimal performance. As a Product Leader, Gary defines the strategic vision for these product categories. He has a deep passion for working and listening to customer needs that drive innovation.