LED lighting is now main stream – the revolution is over

Predictions are that LED will be the dominant lighting technology by 2020. But with so much new technology on the market how do you separate the good from the bad? MHA Lighting Managing Director Tom Harrison explains why industry regulation is now vital.

The LED lighting industry is still relatively immature and there are horror stories aplenty regarding poor light quality and the reliability of fittings.

If selecting LED technology care needs to be taken to ensure high quality and high reliability products are installed.

In many cases customers don’t fully understand the technology they’re buying and end up not getting the lighting solution that they actually wanted. Whether the discussions were based on price or the “promises” of the salesman, the end result is disappointment.

I’m afraid with LED lighting you often get what you pay for and people should be more concerned about payback periods as opposed to the initial upfront cost of the lighting scheme.

Lighting buyers want to be educated but only to a point. They want to have a basic understanding of the technology without having to become a lighting expert. And why should they? You don’t have to be an expert in automotive technology to buy a decent car.

Industry Regulation

New technologies require new standards and testing benchmarks. Buyers want to be able to confidently purchase a solution that works well for them and does what it says on the tin.

What is desperately needed is industry regulation, a standard or kite mark that proves that product has been independently tested and qualified. But until there is a formal industry standard then buyers must ask the supplier for all relevant documentation.

The benefits of LED technology are completely dependent upon longevity in the fitting. And longevity in a LED light engine is completely dependent upon three crucial factors:

  • The LED itself
  • Thermal management of the junction temperature
  • The driver

Responsible LED lighting suppliers will have independent test data for each of those factors as well as photometric data, CE marking and IP rating certification, TM 21 reports and LM 80 reliability data. They will also be happy to share case studies with you and should provide reference sites for you to visit.

If they can’t supply the necessary independent test data then don’t buy from them.

Why Regulate?

The above said there is still a lot of inconsistency in the way different customers present their data which makes it extremely difficult for even the lighting experts to compare products accurately.

From an industry perspective, standards and regulations will provide a platform for consistent language in regard to definitions, test methods, laboratory accreditation and for product design, manufacturing and testing. This can only help the buyer compare products accurately and make informed choices.

Don’t be put off – LED is the future

The problem for reputable LED lighting manufacturers like MHA, is often lighting buyers have already had a bad experience buying LED and are naturally reluctant to consider it again. What they don’t realise is there is a huge gulf in the quality of different LED lighting solutions out there and a good LED solution in almost all instances will outperform others.

What I can say for certain is that there are now an ever growing number of very professional LED lighting manufacturers and suppliers who are working hard to create industry standards. They have also been working hard to publicise how far the industry has come and put distance between themselves and the “sell it cheap / pile it high” manufacturers who seem to care little for the quality or longevity of their fittings.

Meanwhile MHA Lighting continues to work with some of the UK’s biggest and best known Blue Chip organisations, Local Authorities and NHS Trusts. To date they have been delighted with major energy savings of between 70-80% and equivalent Co2 reductions. They have been further impressed by light quality and other associated benefits of LED lighting ranging from zero maintenance to the long life and cleanliness of fittings.