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Updating Commercial Lighting Systems

The right lighting is important in a business. Commercial lighting makes a workplace safe, providing bright light to allow staff to clearly in warehouse settings, and avoid eye strain when looking at screens all day in office settings. However, when people upgrade their lighting, many people make the same mistakes. Here are the mistakes that you need to avoid when upgrading your lighting.

They Buy Lights With A Different Light Distribution

The most common issue with commercial lighting system upgrades is getting different light distribution. LED lamps and light fittings usually have a more directional light output. This means that if you replace something a halogen downlight with an LED light, you have much less spill light. Spill light can be useful, such as for lighting walls in the corridors of a hotel. Swapping fluorescent for LED means you can end up with the top third of your wall in shadow.

How to avoid the problem: Buy a sample first to check the distribution of light

They Buy Lights That Are Too Dark Or Too Bright

If you’re considering a like-for-like replacement of fluorescents with LED fittings, don’t just match the light output of the fluorescent, which is measured in lumens, or lm. LED lights are directional, so you’re likely to get a lot more light from the LED. Be careful, however, as the light output can be overstated on the data sheet, and different light distribution can make a room appear much darker than you were expecting it to.

How to avoid the problem: Buy your lighting from a reputable brand. Check a sample against your existing lighting, or have a sample tested first.

They Buy Lights That Are Too Cold

The warm or cool appearance of a light is measure in Kelvin. Incandescent lamps are 2700K, while halogen lights are 3200K. If you swap either of these for LEDs, which are 5000K, then your space will end looking very cold. LED panels often tend to be cool, and it is often easier to buy more efficient LED lights that are in cooler color temperatures.

How to avoid the problem: Check the specs thoroughly before you buy, and order a sample to check how cool the light is.

They Buy Lights Which Make Colors Appear Dull

Light can render colors very differently. The ability to do this is measured in the color rendering index, also called the CRI. As a rule, you want to make sure lights have a CRO of 80 or 90. LED lights can be weaker in the R9 value. This is red, which isn’t included in the CRI measurement. Check that this is over 80 as well, or you’ll end up with lighting that makes red shades look muddy and dull. This can be a problem, especially for making warning signs visible, or for correctly identifying stock.

How to avoid the problem: always ask the supplier for their CRI values. If they won’t supply these, be suspicious, and look for your lights elsewhere.

They Buy Lights Which Are Incompatible With Their Dimmer

LED lights don’t always dim all that smoothly when connected to a dimmer that has been designed for halogen or incandescent lamps. At low levels, you may find that LEDs flicker and flash, which is a real problem. This happens because halogen and incandescent light sources have a standard resistive load on the dimmer, whereas the differing circuitry of an LED can confuse it. Sometimes, both sets of electronics will struggle for dominance, which can lead to components failing.

How to avoid the problem: Test your dimmers with your LEDs, or add a ‘dummy load’ to test it, such as one incandescent lamp.

They Don’t Check Out The Supplier

There are a lot of lighting suppliers, especially LED lighting suppliers, on the market and it can be overwhelming to choose between them. It’s important to do an audit of them. Make sure that you’re buying from a company that is reputable. Check to see if they are member of any kind of trade association, such as the Lighting Industry Association. Have they been around for a long time, or only just starting to trade? Do they test their products at a test house that is reputable? Check to see if the company has a physical presence in your country.

How to avoid the problem: Check out each company you’re considering very thoroughly. Read reviews and ask for recommendations.

They Don’t Get A Decent Warranty

Does the supplier that you’re buying from give you a warranty? Make sure you buy from a company that you can trust will still be around to honor that warranty if something goes wrong with your lighting later on. Be wary of a warranty that is longer than the amount of time a company has been in business. Always read the small print very carefully. Sometimes there may be limits on burning hours, or you may have to register online within a certain timeframe to get your warranty. Check the requirements and act on them.

How to avoid the problem: always buy a from a reputable manufacturer. Read your warranty very carefully.

They Buy Lights That Won’t Last

The rated lifespan of an LED is the point at which the light it gives out has dropped to 70% of the original output. This is known as L70. For example, you might see a light a with a rated life of 50,000 hours to L70. Be wary of over-optimistic ratings that you will often see on the sales literature of LED lights. Early failures are not common, as some lights will fail not all that long after they have been installed.

How to avoid the problem: Ask your supplier about the kind of testing they have done to base the L70 rating on.

They Don’t Future Proof The Installation

Imagine that one of your new lights fails in 18 months’ time. When you call the supplier you got it from to order a replacement, they tell you that they are no longer manufacturing that model, and suggest their new model as an alternative. This new model might look completely different to the rest of your lights that you painstakingly chose not so long ago. An even bigger disaster is finding that the company you bought from no longer exists, so you can’t order a replacement from them at all.

How to avoid the problem: If matching lights are important to you, buy some extra luminaries to store as spares in case something goes wrong and you can’t order a matching replacement.

They Get Lights With Too Much Glare

With LED lights, you can experience a problem with too much glare. This is especially common when used in office settings. LED panels often deliver all the light at the diffusing surface of the luminaire, not in the depths of a louvre system. This can result in too much light. Too much light but not sound like a problem, but it can cause headaches and is a problem when working with screens, as it can reduce visibility. The unified glare index, or UGR, is a way of defining with numbers how bright a luminaire appears when it has been installed. The UGR should be under 19 to avoid problems with too much glare.

How to avoid the problem: calculate the UGR of the lights you’re considering in a computer render, or you can ask the supplier for the installation example that they used to get their UGR rating.

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