Choosing the wrong LED batten light increases maintenance costs

Choosing the wrong LED batten light increases maintenance costs

LED lights last longer, so we put less thought into what happens when they fail. But if they don’t have replaceable parts, they can be very expensive to fix. High-quality modular LED batten lights are a great example of how to save money by ensuring your lighting comes with replaceable parts, rather than trying to save upfront cost on cheap alternatives.

February 6, 2019

What is the problem?

A lot of the LED lights currently on the market do not have replaceable parts. This means your maintenance costs can actually go up in the long run, and this is especially true with LED batten lights, which are lights that replace surface-mounted fluorescent battens.

Often LED battens do not have replaceable parts or a plug lead. This means that if one LED chip fails you need to replace the entire light fitting, which could cost $100 or more. Likewise, if your LED batten lights don’t have a plug lead, you’ll have to pay an electrician to replace the light for you.

Some battens on the market are sold with replaceable ‘LED modules’, and in many cases these ‘modules’ will outlast cheap LED tubes. The problem, however, is these modules are not standardised and there is a high chance the manufacturer will no longer be making them when your lights fail in the years to come.

What is the solution?

The solution is to choose lights with modular (replaceable) parts, ideally high quality LED tubes. You can reduce your ongoing maintenance costs by choosing LED battens with replaceable lamps. This way, when a light fails, you don’t have to replace the entire fitting, and you don’t have to call an electrician.

For example, if you use an LED tube fitting with replaceable lamps, you can save money by replacing the lamps yourself when one fails. This is much cheaper than replacing the whole fitting: a high quality LED batten will cost around four times more than a high quality LED tube.

With LED tube batten lights, you can change the tube yourself without an electrician, while hardwired LED battens will incur an electrician call out fee of at least $100.

Therefore, the simple solution is to choose LED tube battens. The catch is to make sure you choose high quality LED tube lights, because the majority of LED tubes being sold are low-quality.

Whereas most LED tubes only have a three year warranty, and have no metal heat sink to draw heat away from the LED chips, our high quality LED tubes have a seven year warranty, an aluminium heat sink, and are flicker-free.

Anatomy of an LED batten light

LED batten lights are lights that replace surface-mounted fluorescent battens. For the technically-minded, the driver is usually the first part to fail, so lights with replaceable drivers are important.

For instance, cheap downlights often have an internal driver which cannot be replaced. Good quality downlights (such as our low-glare Brightgreen downlights) have an external driver that can be replaced.  For those even more technically inclined, it is the capacitor within the driver that fails first, which is why we use high end Rubycon capacitors. But that’s a whole other story .

This is not true in all cases though. There are now drivers rated to 100,000hr lifespans that will out-last the cheaper LED chips (which are the parts that produce light). Even though LED chips are often rated at 50,000hrs, this is usually measured by L70B50. Put simply this means “at 50,000hrs, up to 50% of the chips will have failed, or dropped below 70% light output”. Therefore, the LED chips may fail before the driver (or change colour) on some cheaper products.

Least likely to fail is the light housing, because in most cases it has no electronic parts. So, choosing a light with a separate housing that doesn’t need to be replaced when the electronic parts fail is important.

For instance, the low-glare fascias on our Brighgtreen downlights don’t need to be thrown away when you replace an LED module or driver. Likewise, our LED tube battens are IK08 impact resistant so they can last for decades even if you replace the lamps inside the fitting.

Tips on choosing LED lights with replaceable parts

Another thing to consider is how standardised the parts are, because you can’t be sure the company who supplied the light will still be around when one part fails.

You can avoid this by:

  • Purchasing LED lights that have replaceable parts
  • Avoid integrated drivers and lights without a plug lead
  • Ensuring the lights are ZHAGA compliant
  • This is the international standard for replacement parts
  • This allows you to interchange parts between manufacturers
  • They are not common in Australia and can be expensive
  • Selecting lights which have standardised connectors
  • This makes it easy to swap parts between manufacturers
  • Choosing lights which have low-voltage replaceable parts
  • Allows you to change parts yourself without an electrician
  • Purchasing lights with a plug lead that are plugged into a power point
  • Allows you to you replace the light yourself without an electrical
  • Selecting products with common lamp types, such as LED tube batten lights
  • Allows you to purchase a replaceable lamp even if the original supplier disappears

The LED tubes used in Austep’s LED batten lights are designed with high-end components (120,000hr LED chips, Rubycon capacitors, and 99% pure gold wire soldering) to maximise their lifespan.