Don’t base LED lighting decisions on price over suitability, says Graham Lewis
Choosing the right type of LED product for the right application is vital and can make a big difference in a commercial environment.
Fortunately, their versatility means that there is an LED light source to suit almost any need, and their long lifespan and energy-saving qualities make them a good long-term investment.
However, some LED products fail to deliver on this promise and as most consumers base their purchase on price rather than suitability, contractors need to be sure that they are making the right decisions before every installation.
What is the purpose of the lighting?
Customers always welcome aesthetically pleasing and creative installations, but contractors should never opt for style over substance. You can save on future electrical and maintenance costs to the end user by choosing lighting that suits the task in hand, and considering light levels, uniformity, colour temperature and colour rendition.
Lighting needs are specific; lighting in a warehouse differs from what is needed on a factory floor where people are working with fast-moving machines, or in an office where people need to concentrate.
Do not just consider the design – think about the long-term objective. What is the purpose of the light application? Remember, not all LEDs are equal; a product that claims to be and looks the same does not guarantee the same performance.
Where is the installation?
The environment plays a big part in every installation. For example, if installing a chandelier at 20 feet high or floodlights on the side of a tall building, how often will the LEDs and their fittings be cleaned and maintained? How much will a climate prone to dust or fumes affect the light reduction over time?
Although LEDs come with extended longevity, they still require changing and cleaning to maintain a high performance – a dirty light fitting will not transmit as much light as a clean one. To overcome this issue, always set the light level higher than the recommendation on day one of an installation, and factor in maintenance. Don’t assume that LEDs will last forever – the components that run them will still need replacing even if the lights don’t.
Is a complete rewire needed?
Every installation is different, and it’s worth remembering that old light fittings may not need the same amount of required LED luminaires. Instead, choose the number of luminaires to suit the wiring infrastructure. Sometimes retrofitting may be a more suitable option than a complete rewiring – but always check when installing LEDs that the new number of light points doesn’t affect the quality of the light produced.
Do I need an occupancy sensor?
In some commercial settings an occupancy sensor can offer many benefits, including energy and cost savings. But absence or presence detection comes with different advantages depending on the use and surroundings.
How long will the lighting operate each day? Will dimming to a standby level be beneficial when areas are unoccupied? Would switching them off completely be a better solution? How often is a light left unused in a building?
Available daylight should also be considered. When lights are coupled with a daylight-harvesting device, your customer can always be sure of consistent light levels.
How can I convince customers?
Convincing consumers to convert from traditional lighting to LEDs can be challenging, but this technology comes with many different benefits.
LED light sources are far more energy efficient than conventional incandescent lamps and have a long operating life if correctly installed. They also emit less heat than a filament bulb, thereby reducing the risk of fire, and they have little to no UV. They are low-maintenance, offer a better light quality and do not carry any harmful by-products such as mercury so are much safer when it comes to their disposal.
Graham Lewis is sales director at Red Arrow Electrical Distributor