Is There Such A Thing As Maintenance Free?
At Lumilow we’re great fans of LEDs. Our team have been working with LED as a light source for many years now and we are continually looking at new technologies to improve the efficiency. But we are also very realistic, nothing can ever be maintenance free.
We are lucky to be part of a larger Group of Companies. Our Sister Companies include a leading Electrical Contractor (Pitts Wilson Electrical) and a fantastic Property Maintenance Company (MSL Property Care). So we see a vast number of installations and also unfortunately a variety of over enthusiastic promises about the life span of LEDs.
So let’s first look at ’50,000 life’. For an average factory working 12 hour shifts plus overtime on a Saturday, this equates to more than 14 years useful life. Thinking logically, is this really practical? We are used to the phrase L70, so within this time manufacturers expect 70% lumen output, or 30% lumen depreciation. But the DOE has now recognised that failures due to poor design is becoming common place, so manufacturers are now being encouraged to declare their expected catastrophic failures – an ‘F’ rating. So F10 would mean the manufacturers expect 10% catastrophic failures within the expected life.
But as an industry we should be more open and honest with Clients. Nothing can ever be expected to be maintenance free. There must be an element of After Sales Care and lighting should not be exempt from this. When calculating whole life costs, we allow a figure for on-going after sales care. Think about an Office environment, if the ceiling void is old and dirty, can you guarantee that the drivers will never become contaminated with insulation, dirt, dust, etc? It is good practice to carry out routine cleaning and some love and affection on the lighting system. This is simply a professional approach to our Customers.
Warranty of luminaires is a really contentious and possibly the cause of so much confusion for Customers. How do manufacturers know their luminaires will last 50,000 hours? The LED industry is still quite immature. Assuming 24/7 operation, 50,000 equates to over 5 years. How many of the new breed of LED Companies offering LED products have been in business for 5 years? So how do they know that they will last 5 years? Ask to see results. Check what will happen if (when!) they go out of business, who will take on warranty responsibility?
We have been informed by one of our Clients, a major UK Retailer, that the supplier of their Induction Floodlights has gone into liquidation. They are now experiencing numerous failures and where should they go to address concerns. Unfortunately, there is nowhere for them to go. The really tragic thing though is that the ex-Directors of the supplier have set up under a new name, offering the same products. Stress test the manufacturers, check out the full procurement chain, ask to see test results, get a full written warranty and don’t be afraid to tailor the warranty to suit you.
Our staff try really hard to be seen as the honest brokers of the industry. That’s why we’ve written The Lumilow Logic, our explanation and guide as to how we remain Outstanding at all times. We believe that all manufacturers should show the same honesty to their Clients.
My closing comment concerns the adage that there is no such thing as a free lunch. If you are being given something for nothing (50,000 warranty in this case), then be cautious. Somebody is going to have to pay for that warranty and this needs to be transparently explained.