Which LED light to purchase is probably the hardest question to answer for any person without experience in LED lighting. Often judging the merits of using LEDs on a specific project is the easy part. Supplier selection and product selection are the hardest parts and the areas of the project that can have most severe long-term impact on the success of a LED lighting project.
Like with most products on the market there are cheap-and-nasty, domestic/retail and commercial products. And in general, the price reflects the application.
If you are the facilities manager of a retail, commercial or industrial facility we will assume your view is long term, quality and ‘fit for purpose’. As a rule, most products you will buy at your local China Mall or hardware store fall into the categories of cheap-and-nasty or domestic. Domestic products often have much shorter rated lives and shorter warranty periods as the LED’s burn cycle (how long it is on for on an average day) is shorter than that of a commercial grade product. Warranty statements are only relevant when the manufacturer or supplier is a notable company that can stand behind the warranty. Some lower end products out there have irresponsible warranty terms such as “Lifetime Warranty”. This type of statement should immediately make you suspicious.
Entire books could be written on the technicalities of ensuring a LED is of a high quality. This article does not have the scope to cover the technical details. We will rather give some rules of thumb the average person can use to mitigate the risk of purchasing a below quality LED light.
The single most significant way for the layman to ensure they get a quality LED Light is to know the manufacturer. If you have never heard of a specific manufacturer, an internet search should quickly give you an idea if the manufacturer is a “real company”. Some large international companies have a local presence. The likes of Philips (now Signify), Aurora and Osram (now LEDvance) are all available for commercial projects in South Africa. There are some local manufacturers that also have quality products in their niche such as Regent Lighting and Beka Schreder.
Selecting a well known manufacturer is important as large, recognised, international manufacturers generally have quality standards that they must live up too. It is also important should you need to claim a warranty in a few years. The larger and more recognised the company the more likely they will be around to honour the warranty.
However even within these well-known suppliers there are various ranges for various applications. Some manufacturers are strong in some areas such as street lighting but weak in other such as down lights. When planning for a large scale and multi-area LED swop out it is best to investigate which suppliers have the best products in each range and take a “horses for courses” approach.
As with most things in life, budget is something to consider. Even within a single manufacturer there will be a premium and budget range, and this will depend on a lot of your own decision-making criteria. While I would always advise to go with a premium LED product there could be cases such as putting lights in a tenant space where you may go for a lower grade choice. You can always speak to the manufacturer and get multiple options.
Something to always remember is that the long-term cost of LEDs needs to factor in the replacement cost. A cheaper LED with lower energy savings that you need to replace a lot more often may cost more in the medium term.
LED technology is changing rapidly. The only way to stay on top of progress and developments is to stay on it all the time. While the article above is a guide to potentially reduce your long term pain, I would recommend consulting a professional who specialises in LEDs for any large scale project that you may be considering.
In the next article we will investigate some of the technical specifications to look out for when deciding you a LED purchase.