The Myths and Truths of LED Downlights Exposed
If you have halogens in your home or you are building a new home, then you will be in the market for Led downlights. Well at least you should be, because halogen downlights have had their day. They are terribly inefficient and a fire hazard to boot. But which LED downlight to choose, the market is saturated, every factory in China that was making key-rings last week seems to be making LED downlights. Importers big and small are touting the benefits of their product. Lighting shops, your electrician, random sellers on ebay are all offering downlights. They look the same but the price and performance are all over the place. And led downlights still have their issues!
In this thesis I will go over what you need to know. I will gloss over a lot of technical details but I will link to this in the wattsaver resources page on their website with more factual information. I recommend the following publication “Practical Lighting Design with LEDs” by Ron and Carol Lenk. This is where my facts have come from.
So who am I to be professing some kind of higher knowledge of the topic. Well I am the guy that started Wattsaver Lighting Solutions five years ago in Sydney Australia. But more importantly I made a decision that we should manufacture LED downlighting right here in Australia. Simply because I wanted to bring a product to the market that performed to the expectation I had for LED lighting and most importantly so I could offer a product that will stand up in Australian conditions. I could not find one else where that achieved these goals.
So with an engineer friend (retired Phillips engineer) we designed our own range of LED downlighting. The performance and longevity of our product stacks up well and some of you will be surprised so do our costs, despite manufacturing locally. We have had our challenges and learning experiences along the way, so it is these experiences I will tell you about in the context of led downlights in general. You can then make your own purchase decision, perhaps the ebay special does the job for you or you want to install what your electrician advises but I am sure the experiences we have had in manufacturing the product will be of assistance in your purchasing decision and better enable you to see past all the slick advertising of some over priced mass produced competitors.
There are 6 criteria I think you need to consider when deciding on an LED downlight and I will deal with each in turn.
•Pay back or return on investment (this is linked to service life)
•Brightness or useful performance
•Color rendering quality
Most people are purchasing LED Lighting to save money, saving the planet by reducing carbon may occur but primarily we all want to reduce electricity bills. So you need to consider your total spend on the LED downlight and determine if you are actually going to save money. Most LED sites have a little calculator that you plug the numbers in and it shows the amazing savings to be had. And it is a no brainer, you go from 60W (halogen and driver) to a 7W led and you will save money.
But you need to consider;
Overpriced led downlights take years to realize a potential payback based on electricity savings. A downlight in an average install is only turned on for 3 hours daily.(read this somewhere)
Cheap led downlights often underperform and die before their claimed service life expires. Most importers will give you a warranty but will they pay for your electrician to come and reinstall. Chinese mass produced products work on the principle that some will last until their warranty period is up, some will not. And as the goods are really very cheap, with 500% markup, they just give you another one to replace early failures.
So my first take home point is:
If you buy a cheap LED downlight make sure you can reinstall the replacement yourself.
If you buy an expensive LED downlight make sure it is going to last long enough to pay for itself and that the warranty covers any possible reinstallation.
Beware of paying too much for poor quality LED Downlights dressed up with slick advertising as quality. Usually the warranty period is their service life.
This is why we now offer a reinstallation Guarantee with our premium drivers. Our standard drivers are mass produced and although reliable, they still have a 1.5% early failure rate. I replace these for my customers but the cost of the electrician to come and reinstall the light is nearly as much as the light. So we introduced the Premium driver range. Why not pay a little more and know the true costs of the product. Warranty or no warranty, reinstalling stuffs the return on investment if you have to pay an expensive electrician.
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