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Lighting Retrofits for LEDs Require Understanding Facility Needs
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: This PagePt. 2: Benefits and Challenges Associated with LEDsPt. 3: LED Specification StrategiesPt. 4: Products: Lighting
Are your facilities using LEDs yet? By now, many institutional and commercial facilities have started using them to some degree.
Some maintenance and engineering managers have used LED replacement lamps when cost, function or maintenance characteristics make them more attractive than their fluorescent counterparts. Some have retrofitted entire buildings with LEDs. What is the appropriate strategy for a particular facility?
To select the most appropriate LED products for a retrofit project, managers first need to identify the needs of the space. What is the quality of intended light? Does the project include requirements, recommendations or requests for light levels? What are the required controls functions — individual, dimming, automatic daylight, preset, manual dimming?
When it comes to lighting system maintenance, will technicians be able to reach the fixtures with a ladder, or will they need special equipment? Is maintenance on a fixture restricted by time of day? Does the process require tools?
Once managers identify these needs, they can move on to selecting a range of fixtures. Because this category of products is changing so quickly, managers also might need to specify performance. If managers only specify a product and several months or years elapse between specification of the product and shipping, it is likely to have changed. Specifying performance instead — illumination level, uniformity, etc. — ensures that even if the fixture changes, managers will get the intended performance.
Effectively specifying an LED product involves a combination of fixture performance and intended results. When specifying products with traditional light sources, it generally is enough to specify one product and then, by comparing product size and performance, list one or more equivalent products.
That strategy is not possible with LEDs unless the manufacturer uses a known LED module and several manufacturers use the same module. If a manufacturer has developed its own unique module, then it might be difficult for managers to specify an equivalent alternative without doing some additional research.