Lighting Design – Top 5 Reasons Why You Wouldn’t Start an LED Conversion Without One

In an effort to reduce LED conversion costs, some project owners fall into a trap: discarding the lighting design and specification process. However, this causes many problems and additional costs down the road. In some cases, overlooking the design phase can be the direct cause of project failure!   This article will provide an overview of the top 5 reasons why you should never skip the lighting design phase before an LED conversion. The downsides and risks are far greater than the short-term savings of not paying for a professional design.

1) Lighting Design Guarantees Top Performance

An LED conversion project has the goal of reducing the operation and maintenance costs of a lighting system, while delivering a quality of lighting that meets or surpasses that of the lamps and fixtures replaced. However, there are two very important factors to consider:  
  • LED products come in a wide variety, designed for a broad range of applications. There is a high chance of selecting the wrong product for an application without professional guidance.
  • Not all products are reliable: LED manufacturing companies open and close on a daily basis, and many products in the market don’t deliver what their packaging says.
  With a professional lighting design, you make sure that the LED lamps and fixtures deliver lighting with the right characteristics for each application. You can also rest assured that all products specified for the project have been rigorously tested by their manufacturers, and are guaranteed to deliver energy savings and a long service life.

2) Lighting Design Guarantees Code Compliance

Given that deficient electrical installations come with a high risk of fire or electric shock, there are many legally-enforced construction codes in the USA, and they change by state and city. If you carry out a lighting upgrade without a proper design process, there is a high likelihood of failing to meet code requirements. If your facility is inspected and your lighting system is found to be against the code, you will face legal action; in fact, skipping the lighting design is a code violation by itself in most cases!   Why risk facing legal consequences? It is better to hire a professional lighting design firm and ensure that your installation passes any inspections to which it is subject.

3) Lighting Design Can Actually Make Your Project Cheaper!

When the lighting design is overlooked, many project characteristics are defined based on “rules of thumb”, which often result in oversized wiring and an excessive number of fixtures. If this is the case, the extra cost of the project can end up being many times higher that the cost of professional lighting design!   Lighting design can be considered an investment: you are paying qualified design professionals so that they can specify an installation that meets your requirements at the lowest possible cost of ownership.

4) Lighting Design Provides a Roadmap for the Contractor

Working without plans and specifications increases the likelihood of errors, since there is no documentation for the contractor to do the job. Verbal instructions and “napkin drawings” are no match for a detailed set of lighting plans with technical specifications and submittals.   When the project proceeds without a professional lighting design, the lack of documentation has a negative impact from day one: there are no plans and documents to guide the kickoff meeting and discuss the project. All parties involved are confused from the start of the project, defeating the purpose of the kickoff meeting, which is to have everyone on the same page before.

5) Lighting Design Documents Are Still Useful After LED Conversion

Lighting plans and specifications are useful when carrying out maintenance activities or future upgrades for the lighting system. If this documentation is not available, all future activities that deal with the lighting system will be based on trial and error. If an LED fixture must be serviced, there is no way to answer questions such as the following:  
  • What type of lamps does it use?
  • Which lighting circuit is it connected to?
  • Does it have a ballast or a driver?
  • What is the operating voltage?
  The list could continue, and all these questions can be answered immediately by checking the design documents. However, if they are unavailable, there is no choice but to waste time inspecting the lighting system and proceeding by trial and error.