Frequently Asked Questions
Configuration & Installation Questions:
What is an L.E.D.?
A Light Emitting Diode (LED) is a solid-state semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electric current flows through it. The process of electroluminescence within an LED is rapid in comparison to conventional lighting source, thus leading to better efficiency and a longer lifetime. The applications for LED lighting are widespread due to the small size of an LED chip and the broad selection of colors that it can emit. LED chip manufacturers continue to improve the performance and efficiency of high power LEDs, thus increasing the prominence and usage of LED’s as a primary light source.
What is the lifetime of an LED?
The lifetime of an LED varies according to the chip manufacturer, operating conditions, and environment. American Illumination typically uses CREE or Nichia LED chips, which have a projected lifetime of 50,000 hours at no less than 70% lumen maintenance under proper operating conditions. However, it is important to note that an LED system is only as strong as its weakest link, and American Illumination recommends installing a surge protection device on the primary of any LED circuit.
What is the best thermal management method for LED’s?
Good LED fixture design requires proper thermal management to prevent heat-related failures. Passive thermal management includes “conduction” and “convection” in order to prevent heat from damaging the LED junction, thereby preventing premature failure. Heat sinks are housings or structures, typically made of aluminum, which are installed in contact with the LED board and conduct heat away from the LED junction and dispel it to the open air. Typically, heat sinks have a finned structure to increase surface area and maximize thermal dissipation from the source. Clients should consult American Illumination when selecting the proper thermal management method for LED products.
For enclosed or sealed fixtures, American Illumination recommends full contact between the heat sink and inner fixture surface to ensure maximum heat transfer to the ambient air. Furthermore, the use of graphite tape or active thermal dissipation in the form of a fan can be used to propagate additional heat management.
American Illumination recommends thermal testing for all new LED applications. Clients can test the temperature on the LED thermal pad, heat sink and fixture housing by using a temperature prod or laser thermometer. It is recommended to allow the light to operate for at least one hour prior to testing each crucial point to allow the light to “heat up” to its maximum average temperature. For extra high output LED sources, clients can utilize thermal imaging services to project heat flow in a given system or fixture.
What correlated color temperatures are available?
American Illumination offers all in-house designs in 2750K, 3000K, 4000K and 6000K as standard white CCT’s. Additionally, non-standard CCT’s such as 3500K, 4500K, 5000K, and IR can be sourced for custom and special projects. American Illumination also offers most products in RGB, RGBW, and RGBA.
I need a modified or custom design. Can American Illumination accommodate my order?
American Illumination strives to meet clients’ needs based on their project and/or proposed design, whether it’s a one-off or continued use product. Custom features can include wire/cable types, LED colors/brands, housing finish, and housing material, to completely unique and one of a kind designs. Additionally, American Illumination offers full-scale private label solutions, from an LED board level to full fixture package, as well as overseas sourcing services. Contact American Illumination at email@example.com to get started.
Are American Illumination products built for parallel or daisy chain wiring?
American Illumination, Inc. in-house brand products are built with an internal constant current driver, and are therefore meant to be wired in parallel.
Are your LED light engines dimmable?
Yes, they are generally dimmable but some market transformers incorporate more sophisticated and complex features, which may represent a conflict with the LED driver circuit. Since American Illumination assumes no control over third party dimmer or transformer circuit components, dimmability may not occur with 100% of transformers/dimmers.
What is the maximum distance allowable between a 12V American Illumination product and my power supply?
The maximum distance allowed is dependent on the voltage drop of the wire between the power supply and the LED light. Most American Illumination 12V products operate between a voltage range such that there is an allowable amount of voltage drop without affecting the performance of the light. For example, if your power supply is set at exactly 12V and you are using the 9-15V Light Plugz, then the maximum allowable voltage drop is 3V or a 30 meter line cord (approximately 100 feet). The absolute maximum distance is 200 feet if your power supply is set at a higher voltage of 15V. End users are recommended to use 18 ga. wire minimum for lighting installations.
What is the maximum number of 12V CV LED lights allowable per power supply?
If you already have a given power supply and want to determine how many LED products you can string in parallel:
- Deduct 30% from the total power supply wattage as a safety margin.
- Divide the gross (total) wattage by the maximum power consumption (refer to Product Specifications) of each light.
- Round your answer down (or drop the remainder).
To determine the power supply you need based on a specific number of identical lights:
- Calculate the sum of the maximum power consumption for one light and the line loss.
- Multiply the number of desired Light Plugz in the string by the sum you calculated in Step 1. This is your maximum total power consumption.
- A typical power supply should have a safety margin of 30%. To select a sufficient power supply to constantly power your string of LED lights, divide your maximum total power consumption by 0.7 and round up to the nearest wattage.
How do I determine the polarity of each lead?
Unless marked otherwise, American Illumination in-house brand product leads are not marked for low voltage LED engines because they are both AC/DC safe.
Should I use a constant current LED driver for your low voltage LED light engines?
No. American Illumination in-house brand low voltage products already have an internal constant current driver. To see a list of approved types of power supplies and transformers for low voltage LED products, please click here.
Questions about American Illumination and American-Illumination.com
How do I order American Illumination products?
You can order American Illumination products in one of two ways:
- If you are a first time buyer or unsure of the product Item Number, please fill out our Order Form and submit it via fax (Attn: Sales) at (310) 212-6551 or via email to Sales@american-illumination.com. New customers must provide a valid W-9 and resale certificate.
- If you already know the Item Number(s) for the desired product(s), you may send us a Purchase Order via fax (Attn: Sales) at (310) 212-6551 or via email at Sales@american-illumination.com.
How do I search for products on your website?
You can search for products in two ways: (1) Select the desired product line from the “Products” drop down menu in the navigation bar and narrow your search from there. (2) Type a word or product name in the “Search” box in the upper right hand corner of this website to tell us what you are looking for.
I can’t find what I am looking for on your website. Who can I ask to help me?
Can American Illumination create a customized LED engine or accessory based on my own design?
American Illumination offers specialty custom design services for clients who want to bring their idea to life but don’t necessarily have the resources to do so. AI can assist in product design, prototyping, full scale production, private labeling, and certification (UL/ETL/CSA etc.). To see if American Illumination can help you, please submit a drawing and fill out our Specialty Project Development Form and include an MNDA if necessary to Sales@american-illumination.com. or via fax. American Illumination will review all materials and provide a one-time complimentary consultation (up to 1 hour) to discuss the project feasibility and generate a quote. Price quotes are dependent on design/engineering, molds, prototypes, freight and other materials.
What is the typical lead time for an off-the-shelf product or a customized product?
Items in stock may ship within 24-48 hours upon receipt of a Purchase Order. Off the shelf items not in stock may require 3-4 weeks depending on the product and quantity. Custom orders will require approx. 6-8 weeks depending on the amount of development, design and testing required.
Which products are ETL, CSA, or UL certified?
All of our products are built to meet the standard safety regulations as mandated by UL and incorporate only UL approved components. Many of American Illumination’s products bear the cETLus logo and have been tested for UL 8750 and CSA C22.2#9.0 by Intertek. Additional products offered by American Illumination similarly bear UL, ETL, CSA or other markings. Please check individual product pages to determine the specific marking held by each model.
What is your warranty policy?
American Illumination, Inc., will warrant to the original purchaser, with proof of purchase, its manufactured products should be free from defects in the material and workmanship for up to five years from date of shipment. American Illumination will, at our option, repair or replace the defective product with at least equivalent performance if not better during the standard warranty period to the original or first-end purchaser at the original installed location. Warranty claims must be made in accordance with American Illumination’s RGA procedures as outlined in the Return Goods Authorization form. Unauthorized returned items will not receive credit. Except for defective goods under warranty, RGA requests must be made within 90 days of shipment and returned within 30 days of RGA number issuance. Credit will not be issued if this is not met.
This warranty applies only to the repair or replacement of the OEM product and only when the product is properly handled, in a system where it is properly configured, installed, used and maintained according to manufacturer instructions: the running temperature in the LED junction is not to exceed 105°C; sufficient thermal ventilation or direct contact with fixture housing, wires not be pinched, twisted or stressed; unit not be submerged in fluid or connectors exposed to moisture; transformers be the recommended type, compatible and of good quality; sufficient heat sinks with approved thermal grease are properly used; installation be within 80% of the maximum output of the transformer; and some form of over-voltage and lightning protection device be used such as surge protector. This warranty is not applicable to any LED fixture which is not installed and operated in accordance with the current edition of The National Electric Code (NEC), the Standards for Safety of Underwriters’ Laboratory, Inc. (UL), and with American Illumination’s guidelines.
This warranty is not applicable to any applications where unapproved chemical compounds are used on or around American Illumination, Inc. LED products. Use of unauthorized chemicals, including but not limited to, glue, silicone, rubber, chlorine, or any material with outgas or corrosive properties will void this warranty and third party substances must be sought in accordance with the Cree Chemical Compatibility list or approved by American Illumination, Inc.
This warranty excludes defects resulting from improper installation, abuse, natural disasters or acts of nature, power surges or improper voltage conditions, fire, vandalism or civil disturbances. Purchaser must notify us in writing within 90 days of noticing the defect. This warranty excludes field labor or service charges related to the repair or replacement of the product. We reserve the right to change the warranty period without prior notice and without incurring obligation and expressly disclaims all warranties not stated in this limited warranty.
All non-defective or undamaged returns must be in original cartons, in re-sellable condition, and all freight must be prepaid. Non-defective returns are subject to a 15% restocking fee. Returned packages must display the RGA number and freight must be prepaid. Credit for freight and goods will be issued upon confirmation of product defect or error made by American Illumination, Inc.
Special-sourced items and accessories are subject to the warranty terms of their original manufacturer. Non-defective custom orders are NOT RETURNABLE.
LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. American Illumination will not under any circumstance whether as a result of breach of contract, breach of warranty, tort, strict liability or otherwise, be liable for consequential, incidental, special or exemplary damages including but not limited to: loss of profits or revenues, loss of any other goods or associated equipment or damage to any associated equipment, cost of capital, cost of substitute products, facilities or services, down-time cost or claims of claimant’s customers. American Illumination’s liability on any claim of any kind for any loss or damages arising out of, resulting from or concerning any aspect of this agreement for the product or services furnished hereunder shall not exceed the price of the product which gives rise to the claim.