8 LED lessons we’ve learned the hard way

I asked members of the LinkedIn Lighting Talk group to come clean on their attitude to LED retro-fit specifications and the things that we’ve learned over the past dozen years.

Where has it all gone right, and where has it all gone wrong?

The responses don’t really bring any real surprises; but the sense of disappointment and frustration is almost palpable. Don’t we all deserve better than this?

So, here they are, the things we’ve learned the hard way:

1 Don’t buy on price

Or as my colleague Alan Tulla puts it ‘if you buy cheap, you buy twice’. The trouble with cheap lighting fixtures is the light output falls dramatically short of expectations. A cheap LED fixture from a wholesaler will come with minimal technical data, but a buyer somewhere in a back office thinks it’s a good thing.

2 Don’t buy it if you don’t know what it does

Products that come with little or no data on the box and provide no idea of what should be expected of them need to be left on the shelves. They do no one any favours, least of all the contractor who gets it in the neck when they inevitably fail. Assume nothing; just because it quacks like a duck doesn’t stop it being a turkey.

3 Buy what you know

Don’t be the drive-by victim of the LED retrofit mugger! Only buy what you know, and only buy from those who have a real address with a real front door. Is there any point in acting as the guinea pig in a market place where GU10 lamps come and go like a bad smell? Once you know what you’re getting, stay with that and let someone else do the trend-setting.

4 Get it in writing

When you’re told that an LED retro-fit lamp will last for x years and maintain its y output, get it in writing (and then bet your business on the supplier that you’ve done the deal still being around when the first lamp explodes and falls into your soup). This is not a good idea. You need to learn to play by different rules.

6 Learn from other people’s mistakes

Ah well, at least it wasn’t me who specified a building’s worth of dodgy T5 LED replacements. Really, you’d expect better of them, wouldn’t you, after hearing them bang on about how robust their product inspection regime is?

7 Trust no one…

The saddest strategy of all because, once you’ve got to this point you’re probably better off out of the business altogether. So let’s turn this one around . . .

8 …but a few

This is a people business; the tech follows. Make a point only to work with those who you trust; trust them to know their tech; trust them not to do something silly; trust them to stay in business; trust them not to rip you off.

Now, all of that may not give you the guarantees that you’re looking for, but in this crazy marketplace you might just manage to stay ahead. And congratulations to all those of who have done just that; long may your ducking and weaving continue.