In this four-part series, we compare ‘modular’ and ‘sealed for life’ LED Ex luminaires, and how the design and certification of these different methods impacts how easily maintenance can be carried out.
In this third part, knowing that a sealed for life luminaire must be returned to the manufacturer for maintenance, we consider the environmental impact; an increasing global concern.
Sealed for Life Luminaire
Once the luminaire eventually reaches the manufacturer, even they may be unable to repair it. Accessing the unit for investigation may be impossible without damaging it. The process of returning the luminaire is more likely to be for fault identification purposes (and whether it can be covered under warranty). Regardless of whether the fault is due to a manufacturing or user error, the most likely solution will be to send a brand-new unit to replace it, with the existing housing being scrapped.
Furthermore, the logistics of shipping the luminaire could also add to the luminaire’s environmental footprint (the extent of this will depend on the location of where the unit is installed, and of the manufacturer). The best case is that the manufacturer has a local repair centre (to reduce shipping distance), but with many manufacturers the luminaire will have to be returned to a single global location.
The environmental impact of a modular luminaire is a fraction of that of a sealed luminaire. Because the components are interchangeable, a PSU failure will not render the whole luminaire useless. Basic troubleshooting should allow the faulty component to be identified, and the ability to remove the PSU from the unit in-situ means, in theory, there is never a requirement to return the entire fitting to the manufacturer.
To identify the exact cause of failure, and for warranty claims, the faulty PSU could still be returned to the manufacturer for inspection, but the ease and environmental impact of doing this is much smaller when compared to returning the entire unit (the ability to keep spare parts also means the rig won’t be left without light).
With a greater understanding of the environmental cost associated with maintenance, our next and final episode will round off by considering the costs associated with maintenance and luminaire design.