Beware of LED Retrofit gimmicks you don’t need

You are looking to upgrade the lighting in your facility or for your business. You have discovered that you can replace your Metal Halide or High Pressure Sodium lights with a retrofit solution. So you start doing some research. You discover there are some options out there to choose from, some offer the basic lights, others offer lights with additional features. Are these features worth the cost? Will you ever use them?

There are features across all lights we thing is important. Warranty – look for 10 years. Efficacy or lumens per watt – this should be in the 150-165 lm/w range. DLC Premium – this guarantees that the product is extremely efficient and will save you the most operating money. There are many kits available that don’t meet this simple but necessary criteria. Instead they try to bedazzle you with “options” that, well to be frank, you probably won’t have a need for.

Some competitive products offer some “features” that we would like to discuss and help you come to the same conclusions we did. We think of it as options you don’t need to pay for.


1. On-board Watt Switching Toggles

The purpose of these toggles is to allow you to select the wattage you would like to run at. Sounds like a good idea, but here’s the big problem with that way of thinking. If the head you purchase has a top power setting of 135W, but you only need 100W, the price you pay is for the unit at it’s top power setting. They do not give you a discount because you are only using 70% of the products capacity. Wouldn’t you rather pay for only what you need? That is what we have a family of 11 retrofit heads. If you only need 60W, I would rather sell you the 60W retrofit head instead of selling you the 105W retrofit head and telling you to toggle it down to 60W. So using this onboard toggle technology, you may be dramatically over paying for what you don’t need or will b=never use.


2. On-board Controls like DALI.

Sounds great, but in over 5 years of selling LED Retrofit heads (currently on version 4), not once did we hear from a customer that they needed DALI. So why pay for features you don’t need? A better approach may be to include a DALI compatible driver, when DALI is required. Many wireless controllers on the market today can easily talk to retrofit kits that include a 0-10V dimmable driver. The wireless network talks to the wireless controller, the controller talks to the driver, and the magic happens. If you don’t need this technology, then you shouldn’t have to pay for it. But if you need it, it should be available.


3. On-board Energy Reduction Programs

Once again sounds great, as long as your environment works exactly the way they set up their lights to work. If you really need the sophistication of a smart control system, then that would be a better option. If on the slim chance you need this feature, and it works exactly the way they set it up, then this might be a good option for you. Otherwise, you are paying for a feature you probably won’t use or need. And more importantly, this feature is designed in such a way that this is exactly how you have to use it. There is no customization. You either like it or not, need it or not. More importantly, the probability of you not needing it is much higher than you needing it. So once again, you are being up-charged on features you will probably never use.


4. Ballast Compatible Retrofit Bulbs

This one is new to the market, but the concept is not necessarily new. Ballast compatible LED tubes have been on the market for some time, and it makes sense in the tube world because in an installation, there could be 10’s of thousands of  fluorescent tubes in a facility or building. The cost of replacing ballasts would be significant. However, there is a down side to this, ballasts fail. And a LED tube that is connected to a fluorescent ballast is not as efficient as one that is directly connected to AC power.

The same applies for Metal Halide bulbs. Some new offering shows that you can go up and screw in a LED bulb. Sounds good. Installation cost is low. However, that ballast will eventually fail. And these bulbs need a ballast. So even though you converted to LED, you are still in the ballast replacement nightmare you were in before. A few other points about these bulbs. They have certified UL components, but they are not certified UL as a total package. Every light you purchase should be UL or ETL listed, not just contain UL certified components.

Secondly, these bulbs are not DLC Premium Listed. Ours are. The money you would receive in rebates would easily offset the cost of doing a proper installation. So while on the surface these bulbs seem good, digging a bit deeper, they are not the bargain they are made out to be.

In all the years we have been selling LED retrofit products to our customers, not once has some asked us for on-board watt switching toggles, dali compatibility or on-board energy reduction programs. So why pay for features you don’t need.


Click Here to View Our LED Retrofit Kits

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *