Planned obsolescence or simply put “designed to fail” is a classic product design philosophy which tends to hold true for most items we purchase, especially LED Lighting Products. The importance of knowing how to deal with this cannot be overlooked otherwise it will be costly down the road. To handle this problem, you must look for products that feature a modular design and easy long-term maintenance which is typically indicated by painless internal component replacement. Let’s explore this a little further.
Image by Dan Nott (http://dannott.com/2013/11/)
“Designed to fail” is a commonplace strategy used by manufacturers to provide single packaged product that will operate well for 3-5 years, and when a single component fails, an entirely new unit must be ordered in order to replace the existing one. Apple Laptops are a great example of this product strategy: One buys a new laptop in 2009, it runs great for a few years, and then in 2012 the user starts to notice a sluggish processor, poor battery life, and heat issues. Coincidentally Apple releases a new model of laptop with 2X processor speed, better graphics, and battery life. Sure enough, the customer ops to buy the new laptop and is impressed with the stellar new performance gains only to realize the same issues in 2015.
This 3-5 year product lifecycle has become a key strategy for LED product designers. Why go through the cost and effort of designing something that is built to last when LEDs are getting more efficient every year? Good Question. In the example of the Mac Book, the only pieces that are actually getting more efficient are the processors and boards. Much like LED lighting, the only items getting more efficient are the diodes and boards. The cost of those upgraded materials is 10 to 20% of the cost and labor associated with all new light fixtures. If this is the case, why do consumers buy new Apple products and LED Lights every few years? The Answer: convenience, marketing, and specific product designs that limit one’s ability to easily maintain and upgrade their system.
This strategy is genius for businesses, but more costly for users. At Bright Ideas, we looked at the other LED products on the market and realized that LED fixtures can be designed to provide substantially lower costs of long term ownership. Companies tout 5 or 10 year warranties on products, but require the client to remove the fixture, mail it back, and then the manufacturer will mail a replacement unit which will need to be reinstalled. Business owners do not want to pay an electrician $65.00+ per hour plus lift rental costs that are associated with replacing fixtures. There is a better way to design a product.
At Bright Ideas, all of our products are designed to be modular. The fixture housing is designed as a basic template that allows for interchangeable lamps, power supplies, and accessories. The diodes are accessible and can easily be replaced without removing or uninstalling the light fixture. Drivers are located in separate serviceable compartments and are wired in a way to be replaced in 60 seconds or less. No electricians are needed to perform routine or repair service on Bright Ideas’ products. Moreover as LED technology becomes more efficient over times, customers can easily upgrade their diodes without needing to modify or remove a fixture. A “Hot Swap” plug-and-play system is used for all outdoor shoebox lights, meaning that if a customer buys a 100 lumen per watt diode set, 3 years from now Bright Ideas can send them a new self-contained 200 lumen per watt diode set that will fit into the same fixture. In doing so, the client can cut their wattage in half for a fraction of the cost of buying new fixtures and all while saving thousands on installation labor.
The Bright Ideas difference allows for greater efficiency, lower life-cycle maintenance costs, and ease of upgradability.