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Wiring Matters

Wiring Matters issue 51 - Summer issue

LED: the electrician's view

Dean Coleman, of Crest Electrical Services, gives his view on the LED installer market, based on his domestic installation experience.

How long have you been fitting LEDs?

I’ve been fitting LEDs for approximately 8 years.

From a consumer perspective, the market seems muddled. How have you navigated your way?

Extensive reading and research over the years and buying products to test at home.

What do you find is the biggest selling point for your clients?

It varies, most clients like the fact that LEDs will last many years, particularly the elderly and the less able. (Although LEDs are newer to the consumer market and, to my knowledge, the projected life expectancy is still a theoretical projection, approximately 25,000 hours.)

Also LEDs generate a fraction of the heat that most traditional lamps do, and for flush downlights, this brings safety benefits.

Many are keen to hear the cost saving e.g. less energy usage, often recovering the cost of the LED lamp within 1 year of purchase.

What is the biggest challenge?

Influencing clients that the initial purchase cost brings far greater benefits.

Also sadly, people and media still refer to LED lamps as ‘low energy lamps’, which have a bad reputation. They are generally referring to CFLs (compact fluorescents) that were given freely by energy companies and take a long time to warm up.

LEDs are very low energy (average 5 Watts) and illuminate instantly.  

Is the line of work growing?

Yes – and will continue, as the development of LEDs give more options to clients, e.g. colour, spread of light, brightness, aesthetics and design, etc.

What is generally involved in fitting LEDs?

What needs to be taken into consideration?

Type of fitting required, e.g. 240 V or 12 V.

240 V mains lights can generally accept a new LED lamp without further expense or disruption; however, 12 V fittings ideally need the transformer replaced within the lamp location, e.g. bathroom/kitchen, internal/external.

Purpose of the LED, e.g. aesthetics, task, ambience etc.

What checks need to be made?

As per the IET Wiring Regulations, the normal checks to ensure the fitting is safe for continued use and the upgrade of the lamp/fitting.

Practically, how do you go about it?

Consulting with the client to assess their requirements and whether LEDs are suitable. If so, discuss the various features and benefits to ensure they meet client requirements. By going through this process I ensure that my clients are extremely satisfied with the outcome.

How does the installation of LED lighting compare to older/existing lighting products?

At this time, for me, because I mainly retro-fit lamps, the installation is similar as fittings are of similar size. If retro-fitting, the cable needs to be adequate to carry the existing load as per the original design.

What do you need to consider when designing an LED lighting installation and how does it differ from installing older/existing lighting products?

Many considerations are similar, however, now there is a huge choice of application that can be discrete but functional and safe, such as lighting stair cases, book cases, wardrobes (this needed careful planning due to fire risks from heat output) and kitchen/cupboard drawers.

So there is now a wider scope of installation that needs consideration, such as colour rendering, smart/intelligent controls.

What are your top tips for other installers in the field?

Listen to what the client requires. Take your time explaining the benefits and address their concerns. Demonstrate examples of LEDs in operation during the initial appointment.

Do you expect the market to continue to grow?

Yes, greatly. The cost of LEDs is decreasing and the choice of fittings is rapidly expanding.