Is Your LED Investment Protected?

Is Your LED Investment Protected?

Three Key Factors To Consider When Protecting Your LED Fixtures

You have just completed a LED lighting upgrade, but you come in to work to find a quarter of the new fixtures not working. But, you were told these LEDs would last forever! What you probably weren’t told was that the driver powering the LEDs wouldn’t; at least not without proper protection.

Your Driver's Worst Enemy

The driver is the weakest link in your new lighting system. One of the reasons drivers fail prematurely are transient spikes in electricity. Transient spikes in electricity are responsible for up to 80% of all electrical downtime in a facility (Bark Technologies). According to the National Fire Protection Association, these spikes of voltage can only last one cycle in an electrical sine wave. They can only be detected if your meter reads each of the 60 cycles per second that occur in the United States. These spikes are caused by dirty power from the utility company, lightning storms or internally generated. Over 80% of surges are actually internally generated (EATON, 2016). They can come from a range of issues like motor loads turning on and off as well as breakers opening and closing.

Transient spikes are the cause of the “ghost” electrical issues some facilities experience. This can include machines operating strangely and electrical components failing for seemingly no reason at all. This is because the spikes in electricity are small, but happen frequently. Such a small spike in energy will not cause failure instantly, but the prolonged exposure eventually leads to driver failure. At our facility, our transient meter typically records 1800 transients each year. This would be like someone poking you with a needle 1800 times. Each small poke does little damage; but over time it will cause irritation and infection.

Protect Your Lighting System

  1. Install a Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor (TVSS). The only way to sufficiently protect your lighting system is to install a TVSS unit directly in the fixture, or on the circuit breaker panels. According to ECM ( Electrical Construction and Maintenance), TVSS units contain sacrificial material that absorb the spikes in energy. Eventually, the sacrificial material is eaten away by these spikes and the TVSS unit will no longer provide protection.

  2. Not all TVSS units are created equal. All external drivers will have a small TVSS to protect the driver from transients and voltage spikes. The issue with these pre-installed units is that they offer very little protection, and once the sacrificial material has deteriorated the driver will have no protection (EATON, 2016). This will infallibly lead to the driver needing to be replaced. To reduce warranty expenses, some LED fixture manufacturers will add a parallel TVSS unit to the fixture. This TVSS unit is a branch to the circuit, and once the TVSS unit is used up, the driver will still be left unprotected from voltage spikes.

  3. In Series TVSS Unit. The very best solution. A more efficient and long-term solution is to use an in series TVSS unit. When the in series TVSS unit has used up all of its sacrificial material, there will be an open in the circuit. This will cause the fixture to turn off to protect the driver from voltage spikes, and an indicator light on the in series TVSS unit will change from green to red. This alerts maintenance that the TVSS unit should be replaced, allowing the fixture to turn back on. This allows you to replace a component that costs around $20 and can handle thousands of transient spikes, instead of replacing a driver that costs around $60 that can only handle hundreds.

Protecting your investment with in series TVSS units should be a standard for all of your facility’s lighting upgrades. For more information on the importance of TVSS units or the in series TVSS unit that is built in to each-and-every ePower Manufacturing LED fixture, contact us today.