Singapore, 23rd July 2012
While I can sympathise with the huge commercial opportunities in the retrofit market when it comes to LED, I have come to the conclusion that for the moment LED retrofits (in down lights specifically) are not reallistically suitable for professional and commercial use. In other words, when it comes to professional lighting installations with high demands on performance and durability, the retrofit LEDs do not seem to match up with created expectations. Note that I say “created” expectations, as I feel the manufacturers have been guilty of hyping up the LED benefits while closing an eye towards the potential pitfalls and limitations. I have been engaged with Philips for more than half a year now trying to figure out why the retrofitted MR16 LED’s in one of my projects keep on flickering at certain low dimming levels, despite the extensive research and testing that was carried out indicating there should be no problems.
The fact is that one year past the official opening of my project I am still having issues with the retrofit LEDs. We have had a full lamp replacement (remember the dust/overheating issue in the fan cooled LED lamp?), we had further incidental replacements, but the problem keeps occurring. The dust issue having been settled, we are now investigating “wave forms”… really? Input and output voltage before the lamp, before and after the transformer, before and after the dimmer system, etc. We are testing with the A/C and other electrical systems off to see if there is possibly any magnetic or electric interference from other systems. So far no noticeable impact. But then we had already observed that in a same circuit the middle of 3 lamps was flickering and the others not, which would point to a lamp issue rather than an electrical or dimming fluctuation issue.
We are now also been told that the lowest programmed dimming levels (we had tested and found out that 7% was about as low as we could go without flickering at installation) have to be “upgraded” to higher values as we now observe that the flickering now starting to occur at higher levels…feels like trial and error approach! At the rate we are going in few years’ time we can probably only on-off the lamps! It nearly looks like the lamps are subject to fatigue! Story to be continued…
Light Watch 3-108: Here is a selection of retrofit attempts, from GU4 to GLS and MR16, from T8 to CFL…some are pathetic.