Lighting safety tips with Dr Electrician.

20th November 2012

Sydney-based sparkies Dr Electrician pride themselves on punctuality – something that's admirable, but remarkably so because they're on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anyone who is willing to get out of bed for a customer at 3am gets our thumbs up.

Since opening in 1998, this team of fine gents has been servicing the Sydney North, East and West as well as the CBD in a friendly and professional manner. Dr Electrician's Mat Dunn took some time out from putting out fires (hopefully not literally) to give us some lighting safety tips.

What kind of Australian electrical standards exist for residential lighting?

There are a lot of electrical standards for lights in the domestic market, here are a few codes with a brief description:

AS/NZS4783.1:2001 Performance of electrical lighting equipment; Ballasts for fluorescent lamps; Method of measurement to determine energy consumption and performance of ballasts lamp circuits.
AS/NZS61000.6.1:2006 Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC); Generic standards; Immunity for residential, commercial and light-industrial environments.
AS/NZS61347.1:2002 Lamp control gear; General and safety requirements.

How can I tell if a light meets these standards?

When buying lights that comply with Australian standards, always look for appropriate labels on the packaging. Every light must have appropriate labels marked on them either with writing or a sticker. You generally see labels like a QC sticker (Quality Control). Over the years of handling many lights I can see and feel a good quality light and it's true what they say—you get what you pay for.

What are your tips to ensure that lights are installed correctly and safely?

When it comes to changing any light and you have any doubts, don't proceed and call a licensed electrician. If you feel confident take these steps:

1. Turn off the light circuit or the main switch at your electrical switchboard.
2. Ensure you have a sturdy ladder.
3. Wash your hands to avoid messy marks.
4. Whether it be changing a globe or a downlight, only handle one thing at a time.
5. If you are using an Edison screw globe make sure it's screwed in tight.
6. Avoid changing/touching anything with exposed or damaged wiring.
7. When re-instating a downlight make sure the transformer/driver is pushed well away from the light.
8. With any light double check before thinking it's finished, there's an old saying, "check twice, finish once".

What are the most common misconceptions surrounding LED lights that you encounter?

The biggest misconception is the quality of light from an LED. When LEDs came into the domestic market for your general retrofit lights, I purchased one of each different brand through the whole range (MR16, GU10, ES, BC).

I installed them into a makeshift ceiling and left them on 24/7 to see the comparisons. A lot of them looked OK but there was a need to make them better. Once the bigger companies started making improvements, the range of LEDs now come close to 90 CRI (Colour Rendering Index).

I have a lighting display ceiling in one of the vans and customers are surprised now when I show them the quality of light from LEDs, especially the range from Brightgreen.

For more information on Dr Electrician, visit drelectrician.com.au.