Out with the old and in with the new – but is retrofit refurbishment truly the best approach? Let's delve into what makes a professional LED refurbishment stand out.

In the lighting market, a retrofit solution involves modernizing existing fixtures with newer technology, like LED lamps. While the concept seems straightforward – just swap out the old bulb for a new one – the reality often proves more intricate. Upgrading outdated T5/T8 fluorescent tube systems to retrofit LED lamps can indeed yield quick, easy, and cost-effective energy savings. Yet, in professional settings, considerations extend beyond upfront investment and energy efficiency.

Compliance with standards, overall cost-effectiveness, lighting quality, safety, controllability, warranty, and financing. all play crucial roles in the decision-making process. The LED retrofit checklist offers a comprehensive guide to navigating these considerations in a professional setting.

Checklist for LED retrofit conversion

1. Retrofit conversion - An equation with many unknowns

In the case of retrofit conversion, the lamps are installed in gear trays from a wide variety of manufacturers. This technical and design diversity raises many questions, e.g. with regard to the functionality, lighting quality and service life of the luminaires. Often it is only after refurbishment that it is possible to clarify whether and how the lamp and gear tray function together. In comparison, LED complete solutions score with perfectly matched individual components and precisely predictable quality and efficiency parameters.

2. Surprise: What is the real illuminance after retrofit refurbishment?

Retrofit conversions are carried out in a simple 1:1 exchange. But beware: The luminous flux specifications in the data sheet refer to the gross luminous flux emitted by the "naked" retrofit lamp. Installation in the existing gear tray reduces the luminous flux, for example due to the housing and cover. This means that the lighting quality after retrofit refurbishment - unlike with a complete LED solution - cannot be predicted exactly. If the requirements of occupational health and safety are not complied with, insurance complications can arise in the event of an industrial accident.

3. Quickly refurbished, quickly gone? What does the specified retrofit service life mean?

The warmer an LED gets, the shorter its service life. LED luminaire systems therefore have a powerful thermal managementsystem that effectively dissipates heat through the optimum interaction of LED module and gear tray. In the case of a retrofit solution, thermal management is limited to the lamp, so the service life in the new "operating environment" cannot be predicted exactly. Unpleasant surprises are therefore inevitable.

4. Risk at the ballast - Retrofit calls for specialist personnel

Does an LED retrofit lamp actually require an inductive or an electronic ballast? The information on this can usually be found in the small print and requires the expertise of a qualified electrician. Anyone who commissions a layman to carry out a refurbishment in order to save costs may end up paying twice over.

5. Light quality: When it flickers afterwards

Retrofit solutions are used in various lighting systems, some of which differ significantly in terms of photometric and safety specifications. In practice, this can lead to quality problems such as flickering or stroboscopic effectsthat did not exist when fluorescent lamps were originallyused.

6. New lights in old sockets? Check the overall condition of the lighting system

New lamps, all well and good. But if the overall condition of the lighting system is poor, retrofitting is often a wasted labour of love, as the problems "come thick and fast". Therefore: pay attention to the overall condition of the installation, e.g. the sockets for the fluorescent lamps, which can age and become brittle over the decades. Retrofit solutions are sometimes significantly heavier than the original fluorescent lamps and can break out of the socket in the worst case.

7. Guaranteed a good idea: Clarify the warranty conditions

Attention: The installation of LED retrofit lamps in an existing lighting system voids the warranty or guarantee of the luminaire manufacturer. Therefore, clarify the guarantee and warranty conditions before refurbishing.

8. Long-term need - The next maintenance is coming for sure

You have professionally implemented the retrofit renovation according to all professional criteria? Congratulations. Now all you have to do is acquire a stock of the lamps used, which you can use in the event of maintenance. This is because deviating retrofit lamps or mixed systems can impair functionality and quality. Replacing an LED luminaire with a more efficient successor model, on the other hand, is not a problem because the central parameters such as luminous intensity and beam characteristics are retained.

9. Retrofit is often left out - Inform yourself about subsidies

Do you count on support for financing? The federal, state and local governments support the refurbishment of outdated, inefficient lighting systems through numerous funding programs - BMU funding currently amounts to up to 30 percent. But: As a rule, only complete LED systems are funded, retrofit solutions go empty-handed.

10. Savings through lighting management - Do you have an eye on the future?

Networked and intelligent LED lighting systems are becoming increasingly important. Unlike complete LED systems, however, retrofit lamps can only be integrated into a light management system under certain conditions and only to a limited extent. In comparison, LED luminaires can be integrated into a light management system quickly, easily and reliably via standardised interfaces - even retrofitted. And it pays off, because light management reduces energy costs by up to 31 percent.

11. Clarity instead of gut feeling - Carry out a clean total cost calculation

Retrofit conversions are economically attractive at first glance due to low investment costs and low energy consumption. But are they also superior to an LED luminaire system in terms of profitability in the long term? A profitability check that takes into account all cost points from investment and operating costs to service life and subsidies provides clarity.

Conclusion: LED complete systems are usually the better refurbishment solution

Fluorescent lamp out, retrofit solution in, done? In theory, a retrofit conversion is quick and easy. In practice, however, the effort involved is often underestimated. To ensure that the result meets the requirements of a professional environment, extensive planning, measurements and installation by a qualified electrician are also necessary for a retrofit conversion. The clever, simple and safe alternative: LED complete solutions. Although they have higher investment costs in comparison, they are characterised by enormous advantages in terms of lighting quality, service life and controllability as well as installation and operational safety. In addition, complete LED systems are subsidised with attractive government grants. That's why you should definitely find out about the alternative of a complete refurbishment with LED luminaire systems before retrofitting.

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