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LEDs — what to look for

Covering all the bases with LED lighting

What’s on your favourites list?

Andy Douglas, MD, Timeguard

Flick through any issue of Professional Electrician and you’ll probably see dozens of advertisements and ideas for LED lighting for the installer market. 

Go to the wholesaler counter or catalogue and there will probably be hundreds, and yes, they probably do all look pretty much the same – so how do you choose? These are likely to be products you use every day, especially as you don’t want to start from scratch every time you pick one. How do you pick your ‘go-to’ favourites?

Books and Covers

Never judge a book by its cover we are taught, but we all know in practice that your customers care very much what the device you are putting on their wall looks like. Nevertheless, make sure you see beyond the pretty pictures.

The overwhelming trend in recent years has been for LED lighting, especially outdoor lighting, to get smaller. That said, every millimetre in reduced size calls for serious electrical engineering to make sure it all fits – you want to be sure that the manufacturer has invested in that engineering, so you can really trust a product not to let you down– but how can you tell? Branded quality and extended guarantees are clearly going to be good indicators, as is looking for a clear statement on rating – and testing – specifically for LEDs.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time investigating other manufacturer’s products and a rule of thumb I’ve found is cooling fins. LEDs need cooling just as halogens did. If there are no obvious cooling fins, then someone has either not understood the physics or has cut corners on design.

Design edge

For someone’s home or office, cosmetics do matter. The industry is getting wise to this, but design and re-tooling take time and there have been some pretty-ugly interim attempts at aesthetics by people who haven’t made the effort. Advertising and packaging shots are probably Photoshopped: if you aren’t familiar with a brand, don’t trust to luck. You may to get the light out of the box and look at it.

Where’s it going?

When deciding what basic stock to carry, or what to have on your ‘favourites’ list for your next visit to the counter, be sure to consider where you are installing as well. We’ve all seen those rust-like marks dripping down below wall-mounted lights. The luminaires may still be fully functional, but they look dreadful. So, for coastal, wet or humid areas, you might want to look for guaranteed corrosion resistance; and do bear in mind that means internal componentry, not just the case and bracket! 

The sleekest design can look clumsy against the wrong background: if he wall of the soffits ae white then, for heaven’s sake, find a whit light.

For extended or awkward areas, you’ll probably want to look at master and slave combinations to cut your customer’s cost. Here you’ll want to check out the connectivity – how easy will it be for you to loop out? And is the master rated to switch multiple lights?

How much power do you need? You can cut back on the stock you carry by choosing models that enable you to plug the PIR controller straight onto the right LED light, be it 10W or 100W equivalent or anything between.

​Tips for building your favourites list:

Floodlights designed in the UK for the UK, rated and test for LED.
PIR or Photocell controllers that plug in to any PRO 10W to 100W floodlight within seconds to give you maximum flexibility.
The right product for the area: corrosion free in coastal and damp areas.
A range that gives you a choice of black and white housings Extended guarantees for jobs you won’t get called back to.
Easy-install master and slave connectivity.
Stunning designs for the extra edge in homes or offices.

This article first appeared in Professional Electrician, September 2018.

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