Challenges When Deploying LED Lighting Retrofits

  November 2, 2015

With many of the opportunities afforded by new lighting technology, such as LED lighting, come new issues. New technology can sometimes create new, unforeseen challenges, which then need to be dealt with. Calculating savings with care and the variance in the quality of LED systems are additional issues.

Some SSL systems may create new glare sources when their intense points of light reflect off specular surfaces such as telephones, windows, polished tables, and glass-covered artwork. Fixtures or kits that use lenses, diffusers, or indirect lighting may be essential to mitigate that problem. Many SSL devices cannot be dimmed using existing controls without causing visible flicker. New dimmers — chosen from lists of equipment known to be compatible with SSL units — are often the answer, potentially adding unplanned cost to an upgrade.

While SSL devices may eliminate the need to regularly re-lamp, they don't eliminate the need to clean fixtures. Significant lumen depreciation may occur due to buildup of dirt that would otherwise be removed during the relamping process. Claimed labor savings due to avoided relamping should not be exaggerated by assuming zero attention to fixtures for many years.

The quality of LED systems varies widely. Also points the compatibility of controls is an ongoing issue, especially with outdoor lighting. Look for devices listed with the DesignLights Consortium (DLC) or having a DOE Lighting Facts label. Each means that an independent lab has tested samples to verify manufacturer claims for efficiency, color, etc.

A sharper pencil may also be needed when calculating savings. Once high-efficiency lamps and ballasts are installed, potential savings from adding controls may be greatly reduced, making their incremental payback too long to be acceptable. Regardless of the technology, experts recommend doing several mockups to assess ease of installation and occupant acceptance, before committing to a major purchase. Keep the mockups in place for several weeks to ensure there are no glare or other issues that might only become apparent as conditions vary.

When pursuing any cutting edge or high-tech opportunities, don't skimp on the expertise.

To learn more about the possibilities available with lamp retrofits, read this.


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