Adding to the debate for LED usage in hotels

The Centre for Sustainable Development and the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Cambridge issued a report last week on the use of LED lighting in hotels.

As this is an area close to our heart here at SaveMoneyCutCarbon I was keen to see what could be learnt from these centres of excellence to help us better serve our hotel customers.  The key findings of the report offer a useful summary of the main issues concerning the adoption of LED lighting in hotels:

  • Lighting performance of LEDs has improved dramatically over the past three years, and LED A-lamps, recessed downlight and track light applications are now fully capable of replacing incandescent, halogen or CFL lamps
  • According to the U.S. Department of Energy research, ‘LED AR111 product category and LED linear lamps are unlikely to effectively replace halogen AR111 lamps and troffers or in cove applications yet.’ This is because of the poor performance characteristics currently displayed in these two product categories
  • Despite manufacturers’ claims, the compatibility of LED products with the existing lighting system is still highly contextual. In certain systems, LEDs may not function well with the existing transformers and dimmers
  • Hoteliers are cautious of using LEDs in dimmable spaces and of adopting low voltage LED products. This is due to the unreliable dimming performance of LEDs and the incompatibility of certain LED products with transformers in low-voltage lighting systems
  • Costs entailed with installing and purchasing electrical accessories for LED systems can amount to as much as 100% of the overall LED equipment cost
  • Even when an LED project has a quick project payback period, the high upfront cost of the LED equipment is still a major barrier to LED retrofit in hotels
  • Energy efficiency financing programmes have received increasing support from governments in the UK and US, and an increasing number of financing schemes are available to finance LED retrofit
  • External financing services for energy efficiency can package design and installation services with appropriate funding channels for LED investments
  • The major barriers to adopting financing mechanisms are the complex decision-making processes in hotels, and the lack of understanding and knowledge of financing schemes by hotel operators

However in our experience there are two glaring omissions here which we come across on a daily basis and I would like to add to the list.

  1. The importance of binning to ensure consistence of light and colour – hotels are one of the few places where large amounts of bulbs can be seen in one place e.g. one of our customer hotel ballrooms has 900 GU10s so if the binning is poor they will all look slightly different colours and shades.   What does warm or cool white really mean and how can you ensure the bulbs you buy today will be the same shade as in a year’s time? Correct binning offers hoteliers the consistency they require, especially in the 4 and 5 star market.
  2. Unclear warranties on LED bulbs – one major brand of LED claims 40,000hrs life but in the small print says if on for 4 hours per day.  A hotel is one of the few environments where bulbs can be on 24/7 and in some cases never switched off. This requires superior heat / thermo design if not bulbs will over heat and go blue. To read more about LM79/80 and warranties you can download information from our home page.

Our recommendation is to bring these two important considerations to the forefront of the debate so that hoteliers and other organisations can select the right LED lighting to meet their needs. Jo Mann, lighting designer, recently commented “Discovering Save Money Cut Carbon’s LED lamp range has been the answer to a long awaited question.  At last, retrofit dimmable lamps that give off a warm, bright light, but at the same time look like the GLS and Dichroic lamps we are all used to.  This enables recessed fittings or decorative fittings to be low energy without compromising on the look.”



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