End of the free ride for LED tubes and T8 to T5 converters – removed from Energy Savings Scheme

We welcome the news that under the NSW Energy Savings Scheme (ESS) retrofitting LED tubes and T8 to T5 converters into existing T8 fluorescent tube luminaries will no longer be eligible to generate Energy Saving Certificates (ESCs).

The writing has been on the wall for some time. Several reports have raised issues regarding the safety, compliance and long-term cost effectiveness of these retrofit options. A review of the ESS recommended the tubes be removed from the scheme some time ago.

While this technology can be appropriate in some situations, in other situations it may be better for sites to replace the existing old luminaire with a new compliant luminaire, install motion sensors, upgrade to new LED step-dimmable fittings, or even simply switch lights off. But the market has been flooded with LED tube and T8 to T5 installers whose business model is based on installing as many of their tubes as quickly as possible to generate ESCs… regardless of whether it is the best thing for the site. When the ESC price was good many supplies offered to install their products free of charge (how could a business say no?).

The way these tubes were installed en masse is reminiscent of the days when CFLs and shower heads were handed out for free in shopping malls under the old NGAC program.

Energy management is about finding the best solution, not the cheapest. With LED tubes and T8 to T5 converters leaving the ESS their may be more room in the market for new innovative solutions. This is especially true if the ESC price increases if the market is it is no longer flooded with LED tube and T8 to T5 ESCs. And, most importantly it may force businesses to re-think the best options to reduce energy usage and costs.

LED tubes and T8 to T5 converters can be effective in reducing energy usage in some applications. But these technologies are already pretty cheap. The end of the free ride for these retrofit tubes can only be good for the energy efficiency in NSW. There are many other options to upgrade fluorescent tube lighting. An energy audit can assess the cost-benefits of each.

Lastly it is important to note that we are all paying the price for the ESS, it is part of our electricity costs along with the national SREC and LREC environmental charges. With energy prices so high in NSW it is good to know that the ESS is trying to allocate our money just a little bit more wisely.