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Done wrong, lighting retrofit kits could pose fire or shock hazard

March 31, 2016 - UL has issued a warning to authorities having jurisdiction, building owners, installers and consumers over “the growing number of reports of improperly installed and uncertified retrofit lighting kits that may pose a fire or shock hazard”.


March 31, 2016
By Anthony Capkun

“While the move to more modern and efficient lighting fixtures is a positive step,” says UL, “care must be taken to use certified retrofit kits and install them properly.” A qualified electrician must complete the retrofit according to accompanying installation instructions, says UL, as improper installation may pose a fire or shock hazard.

“Many of these retrofit installations are completed in ways that create safety hazards where none existed before, creating unintended consequences in the name of energy efficiency,” said Marguerite Carroll, manager of UL’s Regulatory Services Department.

The components used in the retrofit may have individual certifications, explains UL, but if the kit (including the accompanying installation instructions) is not certified per the applicable standards for safety, problems can occur.

“The common thinking is that LED retrofits are low-voltage. This is not true. All retrofit kits will include branch circuit connections and should be treated with proper safety precautions,” added Bahram Barzideh, principal engineer with UL’s Lighting Division. “A retrofit kit is more than just parts. When a luminaire is modified using off-the-shelf parts, there is no way to know if the luminaire is compliant or even safe.”

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UL urges those undertaking a lighting retrofit to use only 3rd-party-certified kits and follow the accompanying installation instructions. Got questions? Email UL’s retrofit experts at LightingInfo@ul.com .

ALSO… check out Nansy Hanna’s column Luminaire retrofits and ‘approved kits’ (Electrical Business Magazine, July 2014, page 86).