LED Frequently Asked Questions

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Why do some lighting controls fail to work over the lifespan of LED lighting applications?

Failure of a lighting control can be caused by the initial in-rush current required in order to light an LED. For example, when an LED light is turned on, an in-rush current is produced in order to light the bulb. That momentary millisecond of current spike creates stress on the contacts in the control and may shorten its lifespan.

What determines the level of in-rush current in an LED?

In every LED light, there is a driver—much like an electronic ballast—that determines the amount of start-up current required to illuminate the LED light.

Why does this pose a problem for the control?

LED drivers can vary widely from fixture to fixture, and not all drivers behave the same way. So, even though the LED light draws, for example, only 10W of power, the LED driver that produces the initial in-rush current can create a current spike of 10, 20, maybe 40 times that electrical load. The control needs to be able to withstand or work around that spike, and sustain that through the expected life of the LED.

What does LED compatible really mean?

When we say “LED compatible”, it means that Intermatic controls will not only work with your LED applications, but can sustain reliable control of them through the expected life of the LED lights.

What are the things I should consider when choosing a control for my LED lighting application?

It’s a natural inclination to think one must do elaborate calculations to figure out the best, most suitable control for a lighting application. However, Intermatic is able to provide access to simple and direct information about the suitability of your prospective lighting control solution. We can quickly and easily help you choose the right control.

How can you be sure that a particular control will work with my LED lighting application?

Each control is tested with thousands of on/off cycles to simulate actual in-use performance in the field.  This testing results in data that allows for the best pairing of choosing an effective control from Intermatic.

Why should I choose an Intermatic control?

Intermatic has truly taken the lead in this issue. Going beyond basic UL standards, Intermatic has developed a leading-edge testing capability in a UL recognized laboratory. Using NEMA 410-standardized testing methodologies, and thoroughly researched and repeatable test case scenarios, Intermatic products stand the test, not only to be LED compatible, but LED sustainable throughout the life of the lighting application.

Aren’t there industry standards for this?

Intermatic is focused on developing and implementing a rigid, robust testing approach in our UL-recognized laboratory to provide clarity to our customers.  Since there is no single industry standard for testing controls used for LED lighting, Intermatic took the best information from NEMA 410, UL and CSA standards, and combined them into a testing scenario for our products that could show true performance with LED Drivers.  This is particularly relevant for our controls that were originally designed for CFL and Fluorescent lamps to give assurance that they are robust enough to manage the in rush currents over the life of an LED driver.

What is NEMA 410?

NEMA has developed a standard that characterizes the electronic current inrush phenomena and proposes a testing methodology to ensure lighting control and lighting load compatibility. This standard is called NEMA 410—Performance Testing for Lighting Controls and Switching Devices with Electronic Drivers and Discharge Ballasts, which speaks to LED lighting.

How has Intermatic designed controls specifically to be compatible with LED?

Intermatic has implemented a number of proven solutions for addressing LED compatibility of its lighting control products. Our recent white paper, “Understanding Electronic Ballasts and LED Drivers and Their Impact on Photo Controls” (link), outlines four specific examples of the solutions we employ. One such solution, the “Zero-Cross” technique, is just one example of how Intermatic applies the most appropriate technique where it makes the most

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