Upgrading a lighting installation to LED is potentially rewarding, but also full of risk. For many businesses the move has become de rigueur as they seek huge savings in energy and maintenance costs. But done badly, the new ambience can be a turn-off and poorly chosen products can fade and die before their time.
Avoiding that risk was the subject of our first Lux webinar on the key mistakes to avoid when upgrading your lighting to LED. Simon Waldron, electrical engineering manager at Sainsbury’s, and Richard Felgate, energy management professional, shared the lessons they have learned from presiding over LED upgrades at supermarkets and hospitality venues across the UK.
Five years is a fair and reasonable assessment for both the end user and manufacturer’
Lighting case studies tend to focus on aesthetic effects and energy savings, but what quickly became clear from the webinar was the importance of reliability and longevity when installing LED luminaires in vast quantities across large estates.
Waldron and Felgate were joined by James Conduit, managing director of retail lighting specialist Dexretail, and Darren Ward, group technical director of Dextra Group, in a Q&A session. Choose manufacturers and suppliers with solid track records and the financial backing to support volume supply, listeners were advised. Ask tough questions about product performance and failure rates. Futureproof the installation as far as possible by selecting luminaires with interchangeable components.
Tailoring product warranties to particular needs was another key message. Warranties should be negotiated to take account of expected operating hours and address specific concerns such as colour shift and lumen depreciation. Special attention should be paid to LED drivers, often a luminaire’s weak link and a prime cause of failure.
But, the panel warned, don’t be seduced by the 10-year warranties increasingly dangled in front of anxious buyers. These, said Waldron, ‘just beggar belief’. No established manufacturer aware of the complications of long-term LED operation is likely to offer them, he said, concluding that ‘five years is a fair and reasonable assessment for both the end user and manufacturer’.