> FOCUS STREAMLINING THE SYSTEM
the building, which could require the
involvement of the power company.”
Choose a quality fixture: When
deciding on the best solution for a
project, “research your options and
select a fixture from a manufacturer
who stands behind their product,”
Barney said. You may want to avoid
mass-produced brands that are available in do-it-yourself or big-box retail
outlets because some of these are lower-end systems that may
be more trouble than they are worth.
“It makes sense to pick quality over cost and opt for a more
expensive system from a trusted brand,” Barney said.
Meanwhile, Benya said that more expensive drivers perform
better and are often better-built.
Review the warranty: “Don’t opt for an LED product offering less than a five-year warranty, and 10 is best,” Benya said.
Barney said that a minimum five-year warranty is ideal, but
reading the fine print is also critical.
“Lower-end fixture companies will give you a five-year
warranty and agree to send you a new fixture if it breaks or
is defective, but this shows no commitment to quality,” Barney said. “A truly good warranty may also offer reinstallation
costs up to some maximum. The goal is to install quality lighting equipment that won’t fail for many years and will live well
past its warranty.”
Avoid dimming debacles: The presence of dimming circuitry in modern LED systems often creates new grounds for
“If the connected system comes on but either flickers,
doesn’t dim, or doesn’t shut all the way off, the first move is to
make sure everything is connected properly, especially with the
added wiring for dimming,” Barney said. “Take time to ensure
that the wiring from the dimmer on the wall running through
dimming wires in the driver is all correct and secure. If the
system still doesn’t dim well and/or doesn’t shut off, change
out the dimmer switch on the wall or the driver because the
problem most likely has something to do with the dimmer on
the wall or the dimmer software in the driver. Lighting-fixture
manufacturers can’t necessarily control this aspect of the pro-
cess because they don’t know the specs of the building their
system is going into, so this part is more in the hands of the
specifier or contractor.”
If the system still doesn’t work after these steps, contact the
lighting manufacturer, driver manufacturer or dimmer manu-
facturer for assistance.
“If it happens more than once, it’s likely due to incompatibility with the light engine or else that the dimming switch is
designed for 1–10V [volts] and the dimming software is designed
for 0–10V, so you won’t get the full range,” he said.
Benya said there are at least eight ways to dim LED lighting and none is interchangeable or compatible, so ordering the
correct dimmers for the drivers is key.
It’s not your father’s lighting
system: It’s important to understand
that modern LED systems require
different expertise, especially as it
relates to their connection to dimming and controls systems.
“A lot of contractors think that,
if you simply hook things up, it will
work,” he said. “Contractors can’t
necessarily rely on being able to figure
it out—due to the complexity of these systems and the fallout of
errors, that old approach doesn’t work anymore. It may work
when you hook it up, but it also may not. A lot of the installation
process will still be familiar to a contractor, but what’s changed
is that all of the LED lighting will ultimately have to be controllable and eventually dimmable, too, to meet energy codes, so
installation will have to include a control function to enable
controllability through such means as daylight harvesting, a
manual dimmer, a demand-response feature, etc.”
Pursue training: Benya said the industry doesn’t regularly
reinvest in education and instead simply expects its channel
members to keep up. He recommends that electrical contractors pursue training or certification in this technology through
a program such as the Advanced Lighting Controls Training
Program (CALCTP or NALCTP), an initiative aimed at increasing the proper installation and effective use of lighting controls
in commercial buildings and industrial facilities through education and training.
“Contractors can truly benefit from getting a professional
education in these systems, so we recommend that they take
the time to gain expertise in modern lighting controls and LED
systems through CALCTP or an equivalent,” he said.
Investigate other resources: If hands-on training isn’t
possible, virtual aids such as You Tube videos can also be a big
help when learning about this technology.
“For example, at ERG Lighting, we created a video tutorial
for our driver retrofit kit that’s three minutes long and takes
a contractor through the installation process step-by-step so
that the information is easy to process, usually after they see it
once,” Barney said. “For those who don’t want to bother reading
a manual in today’s digital age, these type of resources walk you
right through the steps and many can pull up the video right
on their phone.”
Barney said to focus on the positives of LED lighting.
“Some contractors don’t understand or believe in LED technology, or else they’ve heard horror stories about it, but it’s an
amazing, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly light
source,” he said. “LED lighting is here now and will definitely
be here in the future, so we tell contractors to be proactive
when it comes to learning about it, and that they shouldn’t be
afraid—it’s not beyond anyone.”
BLO OM is a 20-year veteran of the lighting and electrical products
industry. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. IST
“A lot of contractors think that, if
you simply hook things up, it
will work … that old approach
doesn’t work anymore.”
—Jim Benya, Benya Burnett Consultancy