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Applications & Solutions : Why It’s Important To Protect Outdoor LED Lighting Controls From High Inrush Current Damage

Photocontrols

Why It’s Important To Protect Outdoor LED Lighting Controls From High Inrush Current Damage

Don’t let a good investment in LED lighting controls go to waste through the wear and tear of repeated high inrush currents.

Protecting LED controls high inrush  

It’s no surprise that light-emitting diode (LED) lights are becoming the standard for a wide range of lighting applications all across the world. Beyond their strength and durability, the unrivaled efficiency that LEDs provide make them an ideal solution for everything from automotive headlamps to interior design. 

But while building managers and contractors have come to appreciate LED lighting structures for their overall versatility, many have started to realize that their outdoor LED lighting controls aren’t lasting nearly as long as they should be. The promise of long-term value isn’t necessarily paying off because of unexpected maintenance after installation.

If you’ve been scratching your head to understand why your outdoor lighting system keeps breaking down, you may be dealing with a common but often unsuspected issue: high inrush current. 

Signs of High Inrush Current

High inrush current issues can be easy to spot. If a bank of photocontrolled LEDs appears to be stuck in either an on or off state yet the bulbs are intact, there’s a good chance the lighting control has been damaged by high inrush current.

But why does this damage occur?

LED lighting systems use electronic drivers and ballasts that have different start-up characteristics than those used for powering traditional HID or Tungsten bulbs. In certain cases, these drivers can produce a massive current spike that’s more than 100 times the normal operating level. 

When LED bulbs are paired with lighting controls that haven’t been designed to handle the additional stress of an LED configuration, particularly older photocontrols, control components can break down rapidly. In worst case scenarios, a control that would typically last three to five years may only function properly for a matter of weeks or months. 

An Elegant Solution to Premature Failures

Between new fixtures and additional staff resources, the expenses of maintaining structures that routinely fail due to high inrush current damage can quickly add up. Building managers who were pledged a maintenance-free installation will quickly come to realize theirs was anything but.  

If you’re currently in the process of installing a new LED lighting system, be sure to check manufacturer specifications to determine if the lighting controls you plan to use are specifically designed and tested to support LED bulbs.  

However, you don’t need to start from scratch to find a solution. New innovations in photocontrols and advanced engineering techniques can help mitigate the risk of premature failure. 

One elegant solution implemented by manufacturers uses a predictive load transfer switch that turns lights on at the A/C voltage supply’s point of zero crossing. This effectively eliminates the threat of damage and keeps controls in good working order. 

While it may be easier to defer work on your organization’s outdoor LED lighting system, proactively correcting issues related to high inrush currents before they do real harm can end up paying serious dividends. Just a few simple changes can have your exterior lights glowing and always turning on with ease.

To learn more, read our in-depth white paper that shares technical solutions to minimize high inrush current events.

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