A dedicated LED fitting is one in which the LED chip is an integral part of the fitting; you don’t change it like a lamp (or light bulb). A retrofit LED lamp (or light bulb) is an LED lamp which looks like a traditional incandescent or halogen lamp and is inserted in to the fitting in the same way. It is separate to and replaceable from the fitting.
Where possible we’d recommend using dedicated LED fittings to be the ‘backbone’ of a scheme.
Why might you use a dedicated LED fitting?
The much better thermal management of a dedicated fitting allows much higher output: many of the dedicated LED downlights we use and supply achieve 900+ lumens, which really is the same as a 12v 50w halogen lamp. A retrofit LED lamp is doing well if it achieves 400 lumens.
The same thermal management enables a longer life; all the dedicated LED fittings we use have a life expectancy of 50,000 hours. A top quality retrofit lamp has a life expectancy of c.35-40,000 hours, and many lamps are around 15,000 hours.
There are more and better ways of dimming (eg; 0-10v, DALI, DMX), not just mains trailing edge. This makes dedicated LED fittings more flexible as a light source and ideal as the backbone of your architectural lighting.
When might you use a retrofit LED lamp?
The obvious application for retrofit LED is to replace an old incandescent or halogen lamp within a light fitting that you already have, but there are other applications.
We all like decorative fittings which are designed around the traditional form factors of incandescent or halogen lamps, and a retrofit LED lamp is often the best energy efficient light source for these. Decorative fittings are often used for their aesthetic contribution rather than a primary light source. Because LED lamps vary slightly in size/shape it is important to check that the lamp you would like to use actually fits in to the fitting.
Retro fit lamps can be a cheaper route; in areas where the lights aren’t used often and/or the quantity and quality of light is secondary (e.g. garages, stores, small secondary rooms) a fitting with a retrofit lamp might be the best route to go.