Weatherproof lighting is a must in extreme environmental settings and the latest innovations are designed to make the installer’s life easier. Danny Bailey, Head of Marketing at JCC Lighting, highlights some of the features to look out for.
Weatherproof fixtures, often referred to as IP65 battens or NCFs, are one of the most installed categories in the UK lighting market. Arguably they cover the broadest spectrum of applications of any light fitting, from domestic garages through to commercial back-of-house, industrial and car park installations. Their durability, versatility and light output levels have made weatherproofs one of the more commonplace fittings that contractors are tasked to install.
When looking to redesign a product as commonplace as weatherproof battens, it requires a great deal of in-depth contractor feedback to identify the improvements that will deliver benefits to installers.
JCC took this approach when developing the new ToughLED Pro.
“We began by speaking to over a hundred contractors at industry events. This gave us the most demanding issues that provided the greatest opportunity for improvement. We then moved to focus group sessions of 10 to 20 contractors to review physical products in greater detail. We finally took our prototype concepts back to the same contractors to ensure that our design concepts delivered on their need to save time and simplify installation” said Barney Reed, Head of Product at JCC.
The key issues that were cited by the contractors covered many points, large and small, but could be grouped into three key areas.
- Steel side clips inhibiting installation
- Retrofit termination and cable management
- Marking, mounting and IP maintenance
First, was a request to improve the steel side clips. Contractors explained how the clips often fell off during installation and hung down in the way when reconnecting the diffuser onto the fitting.
The simplest solution to avoid these issues was to lock the clips into a 90º position* during installation. This ensured that they did not clash with the diffuser when closing the fitting or obstruct during wiring. Altering the way that the clips connect with the base section also stops them from falling off during installation. Additionally, the design was completed by rolling the steel to avoid sharp edges and finger space was created to unclip once mounted to the ceiling.
Secondly, the contractors showed JCC how fixed terminals on gear trays make installation challenging as the tray must be held whilst inputting cables into the terminal. Also, the fixed position often forces the installer to extend cables if the existing cable is too short, this adds time and further creates issues of cables gathering inside and creating an obstruction when closing the fixture.
ToughLED Pro aims to resolve these issues with a polycarbonate base design** that incorporates multiple terminal block positions, placed specifically for cable entry from side, rear and end entry points. The detachable terminal block can be moved to any location to meet retrofit cables, and oriented in any direction. Inbuilt loop-in loop-out cable restraints along the full length of the base ensure that cables are kept neatly away from the tray and do not gather or push down on the gear, ensuring the fitting closes smoothly. The product comes with a four-pin terminal and emergency provision as standard to further save time during installation.
Marking, mounting and IP Maintenance
Lastly, but equally as important was the topic of marking, mounting and IP maintenance. Traditional weatherproof fittings have little or no guides for accurate mounting. Some also have curved bases, making them unsuitable for installation onto BESA boxes and surface conduit applications. The surface mounting brackets are typically weak and their locating area on the base provides little tolerance for locating of beams to use as secure mounting points.
As a solution, ToughLED Pro has predefined mounting points in the base. Accurate BESA box drill locations with adequate space for penny washers are visible both on the outside and inside of the base. The marking design allows for a tolerance guide, so that even if previous installations are not accurate there remains a guide for positioning. Eleven 20mm conduit entry points are incorporated in the base ensuring accurate knock outs for side, rear, and end conduit entry requirements. For installations that have not used 600mm centres, a ruler in the base provides specific measurements from the centre of the fixture.
In addition, the surface mounting bracket of ToughLED Pro has been completely redesigned to reflect the Contractors feedback and has been strengthened to provide a more secure installation. The base incorporates a wide bracket rail, allowing for maximum tolerance for Contractors to locate the specific area that they wish to mount to. The surface mount bracket uses a ratchet design that allows for movement along the base whilst retaining a secure locked position once completed.
Despite one of the defining characteristics of this category being its’ ingress rating, it isn’t possible to maintain IP65 in surface mounted applications with rear cable entry. The use of a standard stuffing gland is not possible due to the distance between the rear of the fixture and the mounting surface.
The answer to this challenge was to create a gasket that could be installed from inside after the base has been mounted. The ToughLED Pro’s two-part IP65 stuffing gland* uses a loop-in loop-out silicon gland that can be placed over incoming cables and secured with a polycarbonate nut onto the rear cable entry position.
In addition to the points that were provided in the market research project, JCC developed a modular, plug-and-play emergency and microwave design. All standard products come prebuilt with permanent live provision in their terminal connections, allowing for a simple clip and connect system for their separate emergency pack (JCEM003) and microwave sensor (LEV71929). Contractors can select which products require adapting on site or add these features after installation.
Solving issues and delivering tangible features and benefits to customers first starts with listening to their feedback. Manufacturers have few answers when it comes to installation issues, which is hardly surprising as they are not the ones installing day in and day out. But by taking a humble approach and following the contractors direction, we can improve products and ensure that we are resolving installation concerns and making projects run smoother.
*Patent pending **UK Registered Design No. 6175833
To learn more about ToughLED Pro, click here