Is It Safe to Retrofit to LED Lighting?

Is It Safe to Retrofit to LED Lighting?

By Leah • Apr 8th 2019

When upgrading to LED lighting, commercial properties have various options. Not all these options will be available as it depends on both the nature of the existing light fixtures and the lighting requirements of the building. One of these options is to retrofit LED bulbs into old fixtures. In this article we discuss the nature of this process and look into any safety concerns which may be involved.


What is Retrofitting for LED?


Upgrading to LED lighting means you can save upwards of 80% on energy output. This is thanks to the greater light output from much less wattage than rival technologies such as metal halide or high pressure sodium lamps. The result is less strain on energy resources and direct savings on energy bills.


To achieve all of these benefits, the bulbs need to be installed which can be done via one of three possible methods:


  • New fixtures: there are many older buildings which are still being used as viable workspaces for many industries. Unfortunately, the lighting fixtures can be outmoded and do not have the necessary requirements to accommodate LEDs which means new ones need to be installed.

  • Direct replacement lighting: the easiest option, this requires simply plugging in the bulbs and functioning right away. As industry standards improve in all departments, this is increasingly becoming the option for more and more businesses.

  • Retrofitting: retro fitting lies somewhere between the above two options. It requires taking the existing fixture and adapting it to accept the new bulb without having to replace it completely.


Why is Retrofitting Needed?


For high intensity discharge bulbs, the amount of energy needed to send the light arc between electrodes is high. It is so high, it needs to be controlled with a ballast so the energy can flow without causing the bulb to short. LED lighting requires so much less energy, they do not require a ballast, so this function will need to be bypassed. Additionally, the socket may need to be changed and brackets added to accompany the new light.


To carry out the retrofitting, the new LED bulb comes with a retrofitting kit. This kit contains everything you need to update the old fixture, as long as it is suitable for retrofitting in the first place. The brackets used for installation may vary according to the type of bulb being replaced.




Is Retrofitting to LED Lighting Safe?


Retrofitting LED lighting requires conversion of electrical hardware. It is not the hardest task to carry out, but it requires someone who knows what they are doing. This person doesn't need to be a highly experienced electrician or electrical engineer, but they need to have the right safety precautions. This means knowing to turn off the power supply to the fixture and to ensure the wiring is replaced correctly.


The retrofit kit will come with instructions, but it is important that the person has experience. For this reason, many companies will hire an electrician to fit the new bulbs. However, many will have persons on the premises who are already qualified to carry out the job.


Another aspect is the fact that industrial spaces often have high ceilings where the bulbs are to be installed. If this is the case, the right safety precautions for ladders or pneumatic machinery will need to be carried out. However, this is a safety concern which will affect a bulb replacement for any lighting fixture.


Retrofitting does not require advanced electrical engineering knowledge. It does require a firm grasp of re-wiring and a healthy dose of common sense. For this reason, although retrofitting is a relatively safe process, it does require the expertise of someone who knows what they are doing.