When looking for new light fittings we are spoilt for choice with a huge variety of LED lights to choose from. But what does “value for money” mean to you? What approach do you take to selecting and installing the right light?
A simple Google search for “LED lights” yields over 200,000,000 results. So how do you make a selection and achieve value for money when choosing your lights?
The easiest option is to consider the lowest price. Thousands of light fittings out there provide plenty of light – tick – look similar to the old light fittings – tick – reduce energy consumption – tick – increase light output compared to those nasty fluorescent tubes – tick – and cost a third of the price of other brands. Job done! Or is it?
While cheap fittings appear to tick the boxes, are they really doing what they should be doing? There’s more to the story than just looking the part and having a lower power rating:
– Do they provide the required average lux levels and average uniformity according to Australian Standards?
– Are they certified to be sold in Australia?
– Are they as efficient as they should be?
– Is the light quality what you want?
– Can they be maintained and replaced if needed?
– Do you trust the manufacturer?
– Are the lights doing what we think they are doing?
Chances are, no, they are not.
Recently, we were able to compare the simple retrofit in a typical shopping centre car park. The client was trying to achieve an average of 30 lux over the entire car park using 35 budget-option LED fittings burning 170 W each.
Using their cheap option, they managed to achieve the required average of 34 lux – tick! But at what cost?
Below is a table comparing that budget fitting with a high quality, slightly more expensive fitting for the same car park design. It shows that budget lighting options may not be the smartest way to achieve value for money and get what you are paying for.
|Illuminance (lux)||Budget option, 170 W||Quality option, 80 W
(HELLA Eco Streetline Twin)
It’s pretty easy to see that to achieve similar average lux levels over the whole car park, the budget option needed to burn 170 Watts of power. The HELLA option only required 80 Watts.
We all know about the importance of considering a light’s energy efficiency: fewer Watts (power) to achieve more lumens (light) measured by efficacy (Lm/W) means that you get more light for your energy use.
That’s great, but there’s more than just efficiency to consider. What about the quality of the lighting environment that you’re creating?
When selecting new lights, people often don’t consider how their chosen fittings affect the resulting light distribution: the uniformity of the lit space. The layout (locations) of the lights may or may not be within your control, and it’s always important to consider individual light fittings in relation to the overall amenity of the lit area.
The budget option had a maximum of 127 lux (lumens per square metre) and a minimum of 2 lux to achieve the desired average light level. But the HELLA option only needed a maximum of 52 lux and a minimum of 10 lux to achieve that same average.
The budget option has a huge variance in light levels (difference between minimum and maximum) which means the car park would have “hot spots” of light and low levels of light in other areas. This is not ideal as it creates dark areas which do not conform to the Australian Standards and are a safety concern for car park users.
As the images below show (Figures 1 and 2) the HELLA option provides excellent uniformity, while the budget option (Figure 3) shows hot spots: There are instances of minimal to no light coverage and with large patches of wasted light spilling into neighbouring streets that are already lit!
The budget option in this example cost $450 each, while the HELLA option cost $900. Over a 12-month period the electricity cost of the budget option is $2,800 and HELLA, $1,400. That’s a 50% saving on the running costs while achieving much greater light uniformity. These savings assist greatly in reducing the payback period on the lights.
Plus, at the end of the day, if the reason for installing lights is to create a safe, desirable and productive environment, it’s worth questioning whether your chosen light will truly meet that outcome. Is paying for an inferior or inadequate result a good investment of funds?
Maintenance and warranty
We know that maintaining lights can be costly and being able to reduce these costs is paramount to achieving the desired savings when changing to LEDs. Is the budget light fitting going to do what it says it will do? You might want to check:
– Is it backed by a solid warranty so you can actually make a claim if things go wrong?
– Does it have replacement parts or upgradable parts available long into the future?
– Will the manufacturer be around in several years’ time to honour their warranty?
A trusted manufacturer like HELLA will provide at least a solid 5-year warranty on all parts, as well as a guarantee of 20 years that all of these parts will be available for replacement or upgrading.
Those sorts of guarantees show confidence in a product to do what it says it will do. It would be safe to say that this is not an option for most budget lighting.
So what’s value for money?
What does this tell us about the pitfalls of using lowest price as the main driver for choosing lights? A lot! There are many reasons why a budget light is cheap and there are many reasons why a quality light is more expensive. But as this case study suggests, choosing a quality light over a budget light can provide greater efficiencies (which means dollars saved in the long run) and better lighting amenity for you – as well as the peace of mind, convenience and savings associated with good maintenance and warranty provisions.
Considering not only product familiarity and energy savings (as most people do) but also uniformity, maintenance and warranty – not to mention many other factors not discussed here like colour rendering ability, hue, toxicity, recyclability, sustainability – it’s clear that “value for money” considerations span many dimensions.
And admittedly, value is always subjective. The criteria that determine “value for money” to the buyer will vary from person to person.
But we truly believe that in most cases, you get what you pay for and when it comes to making the right choice in lighting; quality lights have benefits which can outweigh the outlay costs.
But wait! An offer for the sceptics…
If the above is still not enough to encourage you to consider your future lights carefully, then budget is more important to you whatever the compromise. We might not agree with you there, but we care for each and every one of our clients so we even have an option to assist you if you’re not ready to pay the full capital on a light that’s not just the cheapest on the shelf.
Under our Shared Savings arrangement, we can own and install the lights and split any savings achieved. This provides a reduction in energy costs for you as well as an improvement over your current high burning lights. You’ll be spending less money while enjoying a quality lighting outcome.
Now that’s… value for money!