Coming across LED retrofit kits as an option while converting to LED can be enticing, especially with all of the added benefits that LED retrofit kits can offer. But there are also considerations regarding the integrity and true safety of LED retrofit kit luminaires.
To explore whether LED retrofit kits are actually just as safe and reliable as brand new LED fixture installments, we must consider certain safety elements that go into any good LED retrofit kit.
The main safety considerations for LED kits fall under certifications, installation and brand reputability. Without all of these, it is likely the application where the kits are installed will be deemed below standards and may lead to many potential hazards.
UL is a third-party provider of testing, inspection, certification, auditing and validation of products. In the case of LED retrofit kits, the UL1598C standard is what’s used by UL to list a retrofit kit that meets its retrofit kit listing standards. To find out if a product is officially UL listed, UL lists on its website all products holding a valid UL listed spot.
Intertek’s ETL listing is obtained from the same UL1598C certification that UL certifies by. Because both UL and ETL listed statuses are obtained from the same exact testing and standards, they both hold the same weight, and both UL or ETL are deemed acceptable as a qualifier of a safe lighting product.
Think of UL and Intertek’s ETL listing as the same, just tested in different labs. These labs are known as Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL), which are in place to provide independent safety and quality certifications on electrical products.
It’s typically true that contractors and project managers will not go near any lighting fixture that is not ETL or UL listed. Without a UL or ETL listing, it is nearly impossible to tell the true safety of a lighting fixture’s electrical build, and that’s why it’s highly recommended to stay away from any lighting fixture that is not UL or ETL listed.
Improper installation of LED retrofit kits is by far, excluding a ETL or UL listing, the most common safety concern for a project using LED kits. UL has released a warning about improper installation of LED retrofit kits and the hazards installation can cause if done improperly.
The best way to ensure any LED retrofit kit is installed properly is to ensure you work with a certified contractor that specializes in LED retrofitting to eliminate potential installation mistakes.
Lastly, kits from reputable brands will offer all of the above, along with precise expertise and guidance on the topic. Doing research on a potential LED retrofit kit product company is a surefire way to find out the true qualify of a brand’s products and service.
However, if a company specializes in LED retrofit kits, it does not give them a free pass as “experts”. In fact, it’s common for these sorts of specialized brands to over-advocate the use of retrofit kits even when it doesn’t make sense. Although this isn’t always the case, it’s always recommended to get extra opinions when it comes to a lighting system, especially because LEDs can last from 50,000 to 100,000 hours. LEDs consequently are a decision that sticks with a company for many years.
These safety considerations go to show that retrofit kits can a safe option to consider if they offer all of the proper certifications and installation guides. By following these considerations, when it comes time to choose a LED retrofit kit, project managers and contractors will better be able to choose a LED retrofit kit that won’t cause safety issues down the line while providing the great illumination and cost-saving benefits for which LEDs are known.