When new LED lamps are used to replace traditional light sources or LED fixtures are part of a retrofit project, an important but often overlooked issue that must to addressed is the compatibility of existing controls.
Lighting is a system. The light source is one component. Ballasts, transformers, dimmers, occupancy and photo sensors must be compatible or the new LED light source upgrade will not function properly.
It’s not uncommon, after LED lighting has been installed, to find that the dimming system or occupancy controls suddenly do not work. In many cases new, LED compatible control devices must be purchased and installed.
Ideally, before the LED retrofit begins, check the specification sheets for existing controls. Know at the outset if new control devices need to be installed.
The specifications of the devices will call out “LED compatibility” or not.
Whether the existing controls will work or new ones must be installed, controls add a new level of complexity as well as additional maintenance skills. In many cases LED controls may require training to understand, troubleshoot and program the occupancy sensors, daylight sensors and dimming systems being installed.
Controls require more attention than LED lamps. Periodic checking of controls devices to determine they are working as intended – and the ability to troubleshoot – add to the maintenance requirements.
For new, large and expensive LED installations, building owners should hire a commissioning firm to test the lighting system and controls before the space is occupied.