Let there be light


Contractors don’t care about using LED lights because they only have to put them in a building for a year and then it’s ‘someone else’s problem’ when the contract finishes, claims Andrew Prince of RWN Trading, which sells architectural lamps from LEDs to direct replacement of these and CFLs and is the distributor for Cube Lighting in UAE.

The drawback to switching to LED is the initial cost but the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the lighting systems will drive demand for more affordable lights. Irrespective of cost there are still tremendous financial and energy savings to be made.

Nathan Savage, principal lighting designer/partner, Light Touch, believes budgets for lighting are often unrealistic and the amount of times lighting has not been thought about until the project is almost complete is frightening.


“Ecological issues are becoming forever more prevalent however the key issues that surround ‘energy efficiency’ when related to lighting are not well understood,” he said.

“There is a huge misconception that as long as you buy a branded bulb and have a good transformer or control gear to run it, this is OK. The luminaire itself is not just a lamp holder and needs to be correctly wired, electrically tested and fit for purpose.

“The idea of cheaper is better more often than not leads to the scenario of buy cheap, buy (at least) twice.”

The operational life of most LED lamps is 50,000 hours. This is 10 plus years of continuous operation, or 20 years of 50% operation. The long operational life is in stark contrast to the average life of an incandescent bulb, which is approximately 5,000 hours.

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are available as small solid light bulbs, panels, direct replacement, tubes or in cluster form with diffuser lenses.

“I was at a meeting recently on energy management in the region, it was a breakfast meeting held in a large clear glass fronted mezzanine room, with 50 people including MEP, contractors, suppliers and FMs.

Blinds were drawn and there were 40 MR16 spotlights plus five standard artistic lamps all incandescent and ranging from 50 to 100 watt all on at 8am,” said Prince.

“Three quarters of the way through the meeting one member suggested we open the blind and turn off the lighting to be proactive in putting into action what we were discussing.

The point of this comment is to show that all too often we discuss the need to be sustainable but fail to see the importance of making the discussed points become reality. It always comes down to the belief that it is someone else’s problem.”

Over the last three years RWN Trading has been trying to encourage contractors to switch over to more energy efficient lighting but there are various reasons that prevent this from happening; money, colour quality and a lack of understanding.

Prince added the cost is considerably higher in comparison to standard lamps, approximately AED 60 for a typical LED compared with AED 5 for incandescent.

“Though the lifeline is longer for the energy bulb 50,000 hours compared to 10,000. The focus for many property developers and contractors is to achieve minimum requirements, low operating costs all at narrowest of financial outlay.

If energy efficiency were put in place at day one then the retrofitting charges at a later date would be at a lower cost. To be able to achieve this, the designers and property developers need to be making the decisions way before the contractors get involved in building or running the property,” he said.

Secondly there is a myth that the colour and quality is not as constant as in traditional lamps but developments in the last two years has meant quality is more than acceptable and the range of lamps is broader.

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