Project Profile: Lighting
Part 3: LEDs: Lighting Retrofit Considerations
LEDs: Lighting Retrofit Considerations
By Ginger Rucker, P.E., LEED-AP - September 2012 - Lighting
LEDs: Key Considerations
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are making strides as viable replacements for traditional lighting sources in a variety of applications in institutional and commercial facilities, including task, general-area, and exterior lighting. The challenge for maintenance and engineering managers involved in specifying LEDs for their facilities is to address the most pressing issues before making the purchasing decision.
Warranty. Written warranties are especially important for LED products because LEDs are a relatively new technology. Many start-up companies and questionable vendors, intentionally or not, tend to misrepresent their products in terms of life expectancy and performance.
Many manufacturers offer at least a five-year warranty for new LED fixtures. The warranty includes the LED, driver, housing, and finish. Retrofit lamps might come with lesser warranties. A warranty should clearly specify conditions that are considered a failure of the product. For example, one LED burning out in a 10-LED fixture might not constitute a failure.
Managers also should consider the manufacturer offering the warranty. Is the company well-established, with a good reputation and long history? Beware of fly-by-night sales people and those who distribute products from overseas. They might offer products with a 10-year warranty, but who knows if the company will even be around that long?
References. Managers need to ask for references from the vendor and call them. Did the installation meet expectations? Did surprises come up during or after installation? If possible, managers should speak with customers who have had the LED vendor's products installed for several years to understand the LED's longevity and true maintenance. Ask about the length of the installation, whether replacements or repairs have been required, and whether the manufacturer or sales representative has been responsive and helpful.
Outside help. Managers should consider enlisting the assistance of a professional lighting designer or engineer, especially before undertaking a large retrofit using LEDs. These individuals can offer impartial, third-party product reviews, evaluate the specific application, and provide guidance through technical considerations. Taking this step can provide greater confidence in the purchasing decision.
— Ginger Rucker, P.E., LEED AP BD+C, LC, is a senior designer for Impact Illumination, a division of Henderson Engineers.