Why this high bay is just £12: It could kill you

EVER received an email offering unbelievable deals on high-performing lighting? We have. And with international safety certifications, long warranties and a stupidly-low price, who could resist a bargain?

So, out of curiosity,  Lux took up the offer of one email to see just how much of a bargain buyers are getting.

The email received by Lux. Thousands of such marketing messages are received by lighting specifiers daily.

We chose a high bay with UL certification, a CE mark and a three-year warranty. 

The price? A mere $15.80.  After a bit of email back and forth to clarify the colour temperature, delivery charges and payment information, we placed the order.

Four weeks later a robust package thudded on the floor of Lux Towers. Ten out of 10 for the quality of the packaging.

On first inspection, the mechanical finish was good; there were no sharp edges; the screws were in the right places and it had a decent paint job.

The fixture was lighter than we expected so perhaps there’s a lesson here in how to value-engineer a heatsink.

Four weeks  after order, a robust package  containing the high bay luminaires thudded on the floor of  the Lux office. 

But on closer inspection, a few things appeared awry. First, there was no product label.

Second, there was so no sign of the promised UL approval. Or CE requirements. Or power rating.

For a fixture with lots of exposed metal, we were also surprised to discover that there was no earth wire in the power lead.

However, let’s not hold that against them: it could be a Class 2 double insulated if the appropriate safety design steps have been taken.

A key element in achieving the light weight appears to be the patented driver. But after a sneak peek under the cover, we revealed there wasn’t one!

Time to power up the beast. Standing well back, we switched it on and it lit up – very brightly – with perhaps a hint of visible flicker.

After a few hours, the unit was still working. The heatsink was hot and there was the smell of paint curing.

We weren’t brave enough to leave the unit powered up for more than a few hours so the next step was to hand the unit over to the experts at the Lighting Industry Association laboratory in Telford, England.

A key element in achieving the light weight appears to be the patented driver. But after a sneak peek under the cover, we revealed there wasn’t one!

The LIA team subjected the unit to the usual battery of tests required to achieve compliance with EN60598 the fixture standard for Europe and the backbone of any CE certification.

The unit didn’t make it far in to the test routine before the safety testing caused the unit to fail, meaning under certain conditions the casing of the unit becomes live. This is a big deal.

You can imagine a scenario where a few years down the road a unit fails and someone climbs up a set of ladders to investigate why the light is not working, and touches the case.

Shame we didn’t get far enough to see if the unit was 100 lumens per watt. Equally, we couldn’t get any information on colour quality and flicker.

So next time you get an email promising an unbelievable bargain, you’ll know that’s probably what it is: unbelievable.

 

  • Find out about product testing, certification and safety at the LIA Zone at LuxLive 2017. Experts from the LIA Lab will be live testing products to explain test procedures and common faults. LuxLive takes place on Wednesday 15 November and Thursday 16 November 2017 at ExCeL London. Entry is free if you pre-register HERE.

 

  • Find out about the LIA Laboratory and its testing and accreditation services HERE

 

 

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