If you are the Operations, Facilities or Maintenance Manager of a building you would more than likely have encountered LED lights by now. While some older lighting technologies are still common such a PL/CFL globes, metal halide globes and T8 fluorescent tubes, these technologies are being pushed out of the market by LEDs due to LEDs lower running costs, better performance and longer lifespan. The longer lifespan of LEDs has caused many manufacturers such as Philips and Osram, who traditionally supplied replacement globes and tubes, to rethink their business models. LED lighting is here to stay. There are no viable alternative new technologies that can compete with LEDs lights.
Green Power has been supplying a variety of LED lighting solutions into the South African market for over 6 years. In this series of articles, we would like to cover some best practices, common misconceptions and maintenance issues we have encountered relating to LED lights.
The first issue to tackle is what is the true cost of LED lights?
There is not doubt that good quality LED lights offer significantly improved lighting and greatly reduced electricity consumption. LEDs lights also have a higher light output for a much longer period than traditional lighting technologies. The net result of this is lower energy charges and lower maintenance costs. However, a significant cost factor that is often ignored is the replacement costs of LED lights.
LED lighting retrofit upgrades or ‘green fields’ projects expend significant capital on LED lights. In general, the payback on these projects is very favourable. However, LED lights are often integrated lights. What is meant by “integrated lights”? This means there is no “globe” to replace. When the time comes to replace the LED light often the entire fitting needs to be replaced and this is a relatively expensive exercise compared to a globe or tube replacement.
When doing a maintenance budget money should be put aside to replace the LED Lights. As an example, an LED Down Light with a rated life of 50 000 hours that is on for 18 hours a day will need to be replaced after approximately 7.5 years. It should be noted that in general the LED lights do not fail immediately upon reaching their ‘end of life’ but the light output drops below L70 (70% of initial output).
When the times come to replace the lights, it is more than likely the latest equivalent LED Light will be cheaper and more efficient than the old LED light and so there could be a return on investment. That being said, you will need to look at replacing all the older LED lights at the same time. Inserting an upgraded new light among older lights will be very noticeable due to the increased “brightness”.
In short, not only should the direct return on investment be considered when looking at an LED project but the longer-term replacement costs should also be factored in. In our experience given the large savings achieved with LED lights and the long lifespan of the LED lights the investment makes financial sense even when all future expenses are considered.