Another LED down for the count

Are you getting the necessary return on your LED lighting investment? Probably not.

Today, industrial plants are facing increasing rates of high-bay LED lighting failures. Some are seeing failures in a few months, and most don’t make it two years. The estimated life expectancy of 100,000 hours isn’t happening. But why?

You probably remember that there were early failures with high-efficiency fluorescents. It became apparent that something changed besides electrical savings. These electronic ballasts were a wonderful indicator of poor power, electrical surges, and transient activity. They began failing where the old magnetic ballasts just kept on cranking. The same is happening with LED.

The older magnetic high-density discharge (HID) that the LEDs replaced just did not have the same sensitivity to poor power and transient activity. The sensitive electronics we are dealing with are LED drives or electronic ballasts that act as a buffer between the lamps and the power supply.

Electrotek and others in the engineering community have been taking note. They’ve completed studies and analysis and those reports are available. One of the most recent articles was in EC&M in July 2017. The article explains why the metal oxide varistors (MOVs) built into some of the fixtures don’t adequately protect the electronics from internally generated transients.

Here’s the bottom line: transistors are the most sensitive critical components in today’s electronic chips. They act like tiny switches – and a voltage transient is their great nemesis.

Almost all ring wave transients are below the turn-on point of the avalanche diodes and MOVs used in surge suppressors on the market today. Most are less than 1,000 volts. You need surge protection with tight filtering designed to handle these low-magnitude events.

We took an in-depth look at this a few months ago. Check out
our study on protecting sensitive electronics.

Let’s learn from the failures. Use your facility’s LED or high-efficiency lighting failures as a leading power quality indicator and monitor. Bear in mind that most power quality disturbances in industrial and plant settings are generated within the facility. Do an informal power quality study:

  • When are they failing?
  • Is there a pattern?
  • What branch circuit?
  • What loads are starting or stopping at that time?

If you’re losing lights, you definitely have a power quality problem. And it’s most likely affecting other control systems.

If you’ve got questions or are ready for site-specific recommendations, CBG Technology can help. Call us at 479-244-0480. And stay tuned for the second part of this article next month.