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LED tubes - safety and warranty

For some time now, LED tubes have been becoming increasingly popular due to their tremendous savings potential in terms of energy consumption and maintenance. However, since autumn last year, after a few press reports, there has been a growing uncertainty on the part of customers as regards their safety and legal liability in the case of retrofitting.

A great deal has already been written on this topic, some of it right and some of it false, but in the end such that there was mostly still room for interpretation.

We would like to help clarify the situation by way of this article.

First-generation LED tubes were all supplied with voltage via both ends of the tube, i.e. there was one phase end and one neutral end. In contrast to conventional fluorescent lamps, LED tubes do not require increased starting voltage for ionising the gas in the tube, which means that current can flow as soon as the 230V AC voltage is applied. If the LED tube is negligently inserted into the base with the phase end, and the technician simultaneously touches a contact on the opposite end, he receives an electric shock. According to the Low Voltage Guideline and the Product Safety Act, this type of scenario must be excluded. Accordingly, since 2011, only LED tubes that exclude this type of risk are to be placed on the market.

Today, almost all LED tubes available are designed such that the operating voltage is supplied exclusively via the two pins on the one end of the tube. The contacts on the opposite end are not connected to the driver electronics and are consequently not live when the other end is inserted into the base.

This wiring of the tubes, however, means that the voltage conduit in the lamp must be modified. Conventional fluorescent tubes are designed such that they are supplied with voltage via both ends of the tube. That is, the wiring of the lamp must be changed in such a way that the voltage is guided from one end of the tube to a contact on the other end. Typically, in modern LED tubes that meet the standard, this occurs by replacing the regular starter with a bridge or fuse. These are built into a housing for conventional fluorescent lamp starters and can thus be installed in the existing starter socket. A major advantage of this principle is that the lamp need not undergo any conversion at all, which means it qualifies for the CE mark, and the manufacturer consequently becomes liable. The disadvantage, however, is that the ballast remains in the lamp and continues to consume energy. Electronic ballasts even require bridging or must be removed, which results in cancellation of the CE declaration. The party ordering this type of conversion then virtually becomes the manufacturer and is liable for possible damage that may result due to retrofitting.

In order to ensure safety for our customers, Helecta has taken it upon itself to deal with these two issues. Naturally, our tubes were already designed for one-sided voltage supply a year ago. This year, we have now also had the safety of our tubes officially certified by TÜV.

To eliminate the risk of liability associated with retrofitting of luminaires for our customers, we have luminaires that are specially designed for LED tubes produced by a partner. No retrofitting is therefore required, and no risk of liability is transferred to our customers.

A choice can thus be made for highly efficient LED tubes without taking risks concerning occupational safety or lost insurance cover.

About Helecta

Helecta GmbH specialises in development, production, consultation and distribution of innovative and sustainable LED products of the latest generation for public street lighting, industrial lighting and office and business illumination.