Frequently Asked Questions

How can we help?

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  • Beam and Optics
    • Q. What are the Important Components of a Directional Beam?

      A. Directional lamps focus most of their light in a particular direction, creating a concentrated beam. The light distribution created by a directional lamp, can be separated into four components. 1. Center Beam Candle Power, or CBCP: This refers to the light intensity at the center of the directional beam, and is usually designated in units of Candela. 2. Beam Angle: As you move outwards from the center of the beam, the light intensity drops. The ""beam angle"" refers to the angle from the center axis of the beam at which the intensity has dropped to half of the CBCP. 3. Field Angle: As you move further outwards, the intensity continues to drop. The ""field angle: refers to the angle from the center axis of the beam at which the intensity has dropped to 10% of the CBCP. The quantity of light that falls within the field angle (CBCP, beam and field) is considered to be ""useful"" lumens. 4. Spill: Lumens falling outside the field angle are called “spill”, and are considered to be unwanted light. Designers try to eliminate spill by using baffles, lenses and other accessories. Many LED directional lamps only concentrate on CBCP, and produce minimal light in the field, so they miss a key component of good lighting design. Others have a significant amount of unwanted spill."

    • Q. What are "Single Source" LEDs? Why Are Single Source LEDs Better?

      A. A "single source" LED lamp uses one light emitter inside to create the light (as opposed to lamps where white light is generated by mixing light from a number of LEDs of various colors). A single LED source ensures crisp single shadows with only one color. Lamps with multiple LED sources project multiple shadows with multiple colors, yielding less attractive results on objects being displayed. Even halogen MR16 lamps, because they have multifaceted reflectors, do not project shadows as crisply as single LED lamps. Soraa’s LED lamps are all single source, and yield crisp shadows and color.

    • Q. How can I use the CBCP information on your spec sheet to calculate light on the surface I'm illuminating?

      A. CENTER BEAM CANDLE POWER (CBCP) indicates the highest intensity of light produced by a lamp, at the center of where it is aimed. The unit of measure is candela. However, it is NOT the intensity of light on a particular surface, it is the intensity of light coming out of the lamp. The intensity of light on a surface is called LUX (in metric units) or FOOTCANDLES (in English units). Lux is what light meters measure (when a photographer is trying to decide how long of an exposure his camera needs for a picture, for example). Please refer to the spec sheet for your Soraa lamp to get the conversion factor from CBCP to lux (or footcandles). If you are highlighting a flower arrangement or statue from a distance, this calculation will be important. "

    • Q. What Other Qualitative Aspects make up a Perfect Beam?

      A. Most lamps have irregular beam patterns with many artifacts and poor center-to-edge color consistency. So when choosing an LED lamp, it’s important to evaluate all the features of usable light, including CBCP, field, beam shape, and color over angle. Soraa’s lamps deliver a perfect circular beam, with the right amount CBCP and field, minimal spill, soft transitions and high center-to-edge color consistency.

  • Buzzing/Humming
    • Q. My lamps are making a “buzzing” noise. How can I fix this?

      A. Soraa makes every effort to reduce audible noise during operation. However, all lamps, transformers, and dimmers buzz/hum to some degree if operated from utility AC power. The typical suggestions for dealing with this are:

      1) If the lamps are fed by magnetic transformers, many times the transformers are the bigger noise source than the lamps. Consider switching to an electronic transformer? Refer to www.soraa.com/resources/compatibility to identify dimmers which are compatible with Soraa lamps

      2)If the lamps are fed by square lamination magnetic transformers, many times toroidal ("doughnut") transformers will be quieter

      3)If the dimmer is old, it may be designed for incandescent loads, instead of electronic, magnetic, or LED loads, and an upgrade may reduce audible noise. Refer to www.soraa.com/resources/compatibility to identify dimmers which are compatible with Soraa lamps

      4)Typically, lamps and transformers which are not on dimmers are quieter, so consider whether there is an option to operate without a dimmer. If the lamps are on a dimmer, temporarily bypass the dimmer and check if the noise is reduced

      5)In extremely sensitive settings, using DC power will likely significantly reduce hum/buzz.

  • Color
    • Q. Why Does Soraa Render Objects with the Same Colors as Halogens, while other LEDs do not?

      A. There are several reasons for this. Other LED lamps use a blue LED emitter with various phosphors to make the LED emit white light. The resulting LED spectrum is a poor match to the halogen black body curve for the visible light spectrum. It has a high blue spike and is missing part of the spectrum in violet and cyan. LED lamps also can have values either above or below the black body curve (u’, v’), making the light look either more green or more pink than halogen. Although the corrected color temperature (CCT) may be the same value as halogen, colors and whites can look different. Soraa’s LED lamps emit light all the way down (in wavelength) to violet, which closely matches the incandescent black body curve, making whites and colors render more like halogen sources.

    • Q. What does the color terminology "CCT" Mean?

      A. CCT stands for CORRELATED COLOR TEMPERATURE. It is a measure of how "warm" humans perceive the light from a lamp. It is measured in degrees Kelvin (K). 2200K is considered candlelight, 10000K is considered daylight at high-noon. Restaurants tend to like 2700K, offices like 3000K, and jewelry stores like 5000K.

    • Q. What does the color terminology "CRI" Mean?

      A. Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a measure of how well the light from a lamp renders the colors of a scene. It is on a scale of 100, with 100 being perfect color rendering. Specifically, CRI refers to how well the lamp light renders eight pastel colors, and does not include colors such as deep reds, yellows, and blues. This can be an issue in retail, where making sure the bright saturated color of a clothing item as seen in the store looks the same as when on the sidewalk in daylight. That is why Soraa also lists an "R9" rating, for how good saturated reds look when illuminated by a Soraa lamp. R9 is a 100 point scale, with 100 being perfect.

    • Q. What does "Color Consistency" Mean?

      A. When the light from two lamps is compared, the difference in perceived color is expressed by the number of "MacAdam ellipses" (a measure of how far two colors are on a color chart, when the two colors are at the same brightness). This measure of "closeness" on the color chart from one lamp to another is known as color consistency. Soraa lamps of the same CCT and CRI have specifications on how many MacAdams apart the lamps can be, so that when several Soraa lamps are turned on side-by-side, they will be well-matched in color.

  • Dimmer Selection
    • Q. Where can I find Lighting Facts Dimming Performance Data?

      A. Download Lighting Facts Dimming Performance Data here

    • Q. What dimmer should I choose?

      A. When using 12 volt lamps, the suggested dimmer type is determined by the type of transformer being used to drive the lamp. When the lamps are driven by electronic transformers, an ELV (Electronic Low Voltage) dimmer [called "trailing-edge", or "reverse phase"] dimmer is suggested. When the lamps are driven by magnetic transformers, an MLV (Magnetic Low Voltage) dimmer [called "leading-edge" or "forward-phase"] is suggested. Lamps powered by line voltage AC (typically 120V or 230V) work equally well with either type of dimmer. Please refer to your lamps compatibility sheet found here.

  • Electro Optics
    • Q. What is "efficacy"?

      A. The word "efficacy" is used to tell the user how much light (in lumens) comes out for every watt of electrical power put in. It is a measure of how "efficient" a lamp is at converting electricity to light (the higher, the better).

  • Fixture
    • Q. What constitutes an enclosed fixture?

      A. An enclosed fixture is a fixture that is completely sealed, has a front glass cover, or is smaller than 3”x3”x3”. For enclosed fixtures, Soraa recommends using only lamps that are designated for such usage. These lamps can be found here: http://www.soraa.com/products/lamp-finder.

    • Q. Do Soraa lamps work in enclosed fixtures?

      A. All Soraa lamps with drivers have a "thermal turndown" circuit that reduces lamp power when the lamp senses that it may be getting too hot. For this reason, as the ambient temperatures within an enclosed fixture increase, a higher power lamp will reduce in power and temperature, to preserve the operating life of the lamp. All Gen3 Soraa lamps are suitable for enclosed fixtures as called out on the spec sheet. The reduction in power will also lead to a reduction in light output so a higher power lamp in an enclosed fixture may result in the same light output as a lower power lamp in the same fixture. This should be considered when choosing the right lamp for your fixture. The recommended lamp operating temperatures on the product spec sheet can be used as a guide to choose the right lamp for your fixture. Email info@soraa.com and a Soraa team member can guide you to the right lamp selection.

    • Q. Are Soraa lamps suitable to use with front glass covers?

      A. All Gen3 Soraa lamps can be used with front glass covers. However, if your chosen fixtures have a plain-glass iris or lens on the front of the lamp, consider removing it, as this will reduce the temperature within the fixture and will extend the life of your Soraa lamps.

  • Flicker
    • Q: I have heard that some LED lamp replacements will flicker when dimmed. Is there any way I can make sure the lamps will work before I purchase them?

      A: Soraa tests its lamps with some of the most popular dimmers and transformers used on the market. Refer to the following link for compatibility information: www.soraa.com/resources/compatibility. Note that we are constantly testing new combinations and update this chart regularly. Also note that Soraa's testing is an indication, not a guarantee, of compatibility. Flicker may be caused by electronic transformers being underloaded, magnetic transformers being fed by old asymmetric non-MLV dimmers, dimmers being underloaded, and other reasons as well.

  • Form Factor
    • Q. Why is Form Factor Important?

      A. In order to insure that LED MR16 lamps fit into existing fixtures, they must meet the ANSI and IEC standard for lamps. Some LED lamps exceed this form factor and do not fit into some existing fixtures. All of Soraa’s lamps comply with the ANSI and IEC standard.

  • Min/Max Load
    • Q. What is the minimum number of lamps I can use on a transformer?

      A. This question is applicable to electronic transformers only. Magnetic transformers do not have a minimum load requirement. The minimum number of lamps that can be used with an electronic transformer will depend on the transformer’s minimum operating load and the wattage rating of the lamps you have chosen. An electronic transformer’s minimum load can be found on the manufacturer’s spec sheet.

    • Q. What is the minimum number of lamps I can use on a dimmer?

      A. The minimum number of lamps will depend on the dimmer’s minimum operating load and the wattage rating of the lamps you have chosen. A dimmer’s minimum load can usually be found on the manufacturer’s spec sheet.

    • Q. I have heard that LED lamps experience “in-rush current”, affecting the number of lamps that can be used on a single dimmer or transformer. What is “in-rush current” and how do I size for it?

      A. “In-rush current” is a very brief current spike the LED lamp will see twice per cycle.This spike in current has to be provided by the transformer or dimmer feeding power to the lamps, and will affect the recommended lamp load on each transformer or dimmer. Soraa recommends using the following calculator as guidelines for system sizing: In Rush Current Calculator

  • Regulatory
    • Q. What Requirements Are Important?

      A. LED lamps legally must comply with FCC requirements in the United States, CFR 47 Part 15 and Part 18 for radiated and conducted electrical emissions. Some LED lamps may not comply with this requirement and may be subject to FCC sanctions, including fines and recalls. Soraa’s LED lamps comply with all FCC requirements, as tested by an independent certified laboratory.

    • Q. What’s the Difference Between a UL Listed Lamp and One Bearing the R-UL (UL recognized) Mark?

      A. A lamp bearing the UL label is listed for use as a finished product, in this case, an MR16 retrofit lamp. A lamp bearing the RU label means that it is suitable only for use as a component in a UL listed finished product, and should be listed by that manufacturer as a component in the fixture. To quote UL, “a product bearing only a UL Recognized Component Mark should be treated the same as an unlisted product.”

  • Special Lamps
    • Q. What are "Light Engines"? What are "Constant Current" lamps?

      A. The mainstream Soraa lamps have a driver built-in, which converts the input voltage to the electrical drive the LEDs inside need. Light Engines (LE) are lamps without drivers, where the lamp is just the LEDs and a heatsink. A LE is driven by DC current from an external driver supplied by the customer (DC here implies that it is polarity sensitive [there is a 'plus' and 'minus' that matter]) and that the important quantity to be controlled is current. At a fixed current, the voltage across the LE will vary inversely with temperature, for example. The voltage on an LE varies with applied/supplied current. A "Constant Current" (CC) lamp is an LE with a standard heatsink (typically MR16). Because of possible pin confusion (an MR16/GU5.3 lamp has two identical pins for electrical input), the CC lamp has a fuse and a diode bridge to make it polarity insensitive, but it doesn't contain any other driver electronics.

  • Transformer Selection
    • Q. What considerations should I take into account when choosing a transformer?

      A. When powering 12 volt lamps, it is important to know that when using electronic transformers, the maximum distance from the transformer to the furthest lamp should not exceed two meters (six feet). For this reason, landscape lighting, where lamps are typically spread a significant distance from a single transformer, should use magnetic transformers.