Be careful when you're shopping online to determine what brand or service you want to use to upgrade your commercial lighting for your building. You see big statements like '50,000' hours, '5-year warranty', 'LED's last forever' and all sorts of other big claims. Let's go into a bit of depth and pull the covers off the lighting industry to help you make more informed decisions.

1) Watch Out For Warranties

New Zealand lighting companies are great at offering big warranties for their products. The catch is that the warranties often don't provide provisions for the high costs of retrieving a faulty lighting fixture that is already installed. In the terms and conditions of most lighting company policies, they offer to replace the product only and the labour cost and access equipment is on your watch. To give you an indication of what that cost looks like - to retrieve and replace a highbay light that's mounted 12m in a ceiling space, you're looking at $400-500 which is often more than the installed cost of the light fitting in the first place. Given the high cost or repair, it's really important that whatever product and/or service you choose, that you ensure that you have 'parts and labour' protection to avoid scary surprises if something was to go wrong.

2) Some LED lights aren't efficient at all

We're not saying LED technology isn't an improvement on older filament or fluorescent technologies that pre-date LED technology. However, there is a really wide variation in the efficacy of lighting products in the New Zealand market. If we take, for instance, 2 common LED highbay products. The first common product produces 21,000 lumens at 210 watts of energy consumption. The second produces 21,000 lumens and uses nearly half of the energy at 110 watts. For a similar price point, it's important to make sure that you are looking at the efficacy of commercial fittings. We suggest what you look for is the fittings 'lumens per watt' or lm/W which is essentially the amount of light you get per watt of energy use. Note: make sure that the lm/W is for the whole fitting (lamp and driver) and not just the lamp to ensure that you are accuracy reflecting the products energy efficacy.

Minimum System Efficacy Suggestions

  • Highbays: 140lm/W
  • Flood Lights: 130lm/W
  • Downlights: 80lm/W
  • Troffer Panels: 105lm/W
  • Oyster/Button Lights: 100lm/W

3) LED vs Product Lifespan - The Tricks

Many lighting companies claim '50,000+ hours' as the lifespan of their light. Unfortunately, in many cases this isn't quite the truth and the trickery is in the wording. LED's are a solid state component which means that they last a long time. Most LED's don't operate without the driver and many companies are totally silent on the lifespan of the driver unit which is a crucial part of the lighting product (essentially it's like the engine in your car, without it, the car isn't particularly useful). LED Drivers are the most likely part of a lighting product to fail which makes it even more important to know what you're getting. We recommend looking for terms like 'system lifespan' or 'driver lifespan' or ask the supplier what the driver lifespan under its normal usage conditions is. If the supplier doesn't have the data or doesn't know - think very seriously before committing to purchasing the product. Note: Driver lifespans are measured at a set temperature. We suggest a lifespan reporting of at least 65C at 50,000+ hours and ideally at 75C. i.e '50,000hrs @75C.'


LED lighting is definitely the way forward for New Zealand businesses to gain environment, maintenance and energy efficiency benefits. The important take home message is to do your research and use the right products for your application to make sure that the product performs the way it should.

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