Product Quality Vital for Evolving LED Technology
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: LEDs: Shedding Light on Successful ApplicationsPt. 2: Lighting Applications Abound for LED OptionsPt. 3: This PagePt. 4: Products: Lighting
As LED technology evolves, managers will have to make a careful analysis of each light source, as well as develop a tool set, such as the tables above, to help make the most appropriate choices. Once managers are comfortable with this cost-justification process, the next step is to product quality. LED technology is new, and it is changing rapidly. Many companies offering LED products are not likely to be around in five years. So if they offer a five- or ten-year warranty, who will service it? Managers need to be aware of this possibility.
One strategy is to go with companies whose products are tested to the Illuminating Engineering Society's LM-79 and LM-80 standards at an accredited facility. LM-79 is for lumens per watt — efficiency — and LM-80 is for the rated life of the product. Once products are successfully tested, they can be listed with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lighting Facts program, which contains all facts related to a particular lamp or light fixture. This is not a guarantee of the product, but if the company has made the effort to get its products listed, it at least is play by the same rules as all major manufacturers.
In considering LED technology, managers also should find out who made the chip and who made the driver. Knowing the manufacturer of both of these components can help managers feel more comfortable if there are questions about a product's testing. Sticking with well-known brands can help managers feel better about their decisions.
Managers have quite a bit to learn about LED technology and products. As a result, they need to be cautious about all LED products and their manufacturers because if product offer good quality, they are more likely to deliver longer performance lives. The key is to be thorough, ask questions, talk to more than just the sales person, and make sure the manufacturer's claims are supported by facts.
Rodney Heller LC, CLEP, is managing partner with Energy Performance Lighting, a consulting firm in Cottage Grove, Wis.