13 April 2012 – Eskom has lifted its hold on T5 tubular fluorescent lamp retrofit kits, and will again be subsidising approved lighting retrofit projects using these conversion systems as part of its energy efficiency rebate programmes. Many of the systems have been found to be safe, based on findings of a specialist work group comprising representatives from Eskom, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), equipment manufacturers, and the Illumination Engineering Society of South Africa (IESSA).
Eskom will, however, only consider rebates on kits that comply with safety requirements, have detailed product information clearly and permanently printed on the outside, and are properly labelled and installed by a qualified electrician. All relevant information relating to the modification and installation should be kept in a Technical File by the user following the modification on the original luminaire; the file should be used to order spares and train staff.
“Based on the findings of the specialist work group – tasked with determining whether all T5 adapters were unsafe during and after installation, and whether or not any standards had been contravened – Eskom deems complying T5 retrofit lamp systems safe.
“The work group found that many of the units did not have any exposed live parts during or after installation, provided the supplier’s instructions on the packaging were followed. Three systems were submitted to SABS to ensure the safety standard was adhered to, which in this case is SANS (IEC) 60598-2-1 for luminaires.
“These lamps have significant potential to reduce energy usage in commercial and industrial buildings. Eskom will, therefore, once again consider rebates on compliant projects using T5 tubular fluorescent lamp retrofit kits,” says Andrew Etzinger, senior general manager, Integrated Demand Management (IDM) department, Eskom.
Recommendations include suppliers having their kits tested and approved by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), and attaching labels featuring detailed information – including the equipment supplier, circuit diagram and any unique catalogue numbers of the components – on the outside of luminaires.
In the absence of a current SANS that can be applied to these types of lamps, systems will be tested to SANS 60598-1 as a semi-luminaire. A recommendation has been submitted to the SABS that SANS 60598-1 be amended to include semi-luminaires with G13 lamp caps.
Suppliers are also obliged to train installers on correct and safe installation, which must be carried out by a competent electrician with the existing luminaire disconnected and switched off. Also, adaptors are not to be used in emergency luminaires.
In addition, installers and project developers have to ensure illumination levels of the site after installation comply with the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act; depreciation factors must be included in the calculations and initial illumination levels must be above the OHS minimum value.
Etzinger reminds installers and building owners that by modifying a luminaire installing ballasts, adaptors, and lamp-holders; and repositioning lamps; they legally assume the role of a luminaire manufacturer with regard to safety, EMC, photometric, and environmental. In addition, they assume all other legal responsibilities from the original equipment manufacturer and have an obligation to ensure compliance with all statutory safety, performance and energy requirements.
“When assessing the suitability of any specific product or installation, the user must make their own judgement and take appropriate advice. Eskom urges that the post-modification of installed luminaries be carried out by a qualified, competent electrical engineer. Only when compliance is met in all respects should modifications proceed,” he advises.
“Eskom can change or withdraw its decision to continue offering rebates on T5 adapter systems at any time, and review it after the amendment to the SANS 60598-1 or publication of any standard covering these products,” Etzinger concludes.
Eskom will be contacting all customers who have previously installed these systems through the rebate programme to check on its safety.