Why I Dislike Integrated Luminaires

As a landscape lighting designer, I've encountered various types of luminaires and have developed strong preferences based on their functionality, durability, and practicality. One type of luminaire that I consistently find problematic is the integrated luminaire. While they are often touted as the best solution due to their superior heat sinking and longevity, the reality is that integrated luminaires come with significant drawbacks that can outweigh their benefits.

The Drawbacks of Integrated Luminaires

Lack of Serviceability:

1. Most integrated luminaires are sealed units, meaning they cannot be serviced or repaired. If any component within the luminaire fails, the entire unit must be replaced. This lack of serviceability is a major downside, especially considering the cost of quality luminaires, which can range from $150 to $800. Replacing an entire luminaire because of a single failed component, such as a $2 capacitor, is not only costly but also wasteful.



2. Integrated luminaires contribute to wastefulness of resources and materials. When a minor component fails, the entire luminaire is discarded, leading to unnecessary waste. This approach is not sustainable and contradicts the principles of environmental responsibility that many of us strive to uphold in our work.




Incompatibility with New Models:

3. Another issue with integrated luminaires is the difficulty of matching aging fixtures with new models. Manufacturers frequently update their product lines, discontinuing older models and introducing new ones. This can result in significant differences in color, light spread, and brightness levels between the existing luminaires and the new replacements. Achieving a consistent and cohesive lighting design becomes challenging when the replacement parts do not match the original fixtures.

Limited Situations for Sealed Luminaires:

4. There are specific scenarios where sealed, non-serviceable luminaires are necessary, such as in smaller products or underwater applications. In these cases, the benefits of an integrated, sealed design outweigh the drawbacks. However, these situations are exceptions rather than the rule.


The Case for Serviceable Integrated Luminaires

Our recommendation is to use serviceable integrated luminaires whenever possible. These fixtures combine the benefits of integrated design, such as better heat sinking and longevity, with the practicality of serviceability. Here are the advantages of serviceable integrated luminaires:


Replaceable Components:

  1. Serviceable integrated luminaires allow for the replacement of individual components, such as capacitors, drivers, or LED modules. This means that if a component fails, it can be replaced without discarding the entire fixture. This approach is more cost-effective and reduces waste.

Longevity and Sustainability:

  1. By replacing only the faulty components, the overall lifespan of the luminaire is extended. This contributes to sustainability by minimizing waste and making better use of materials and resources.

Consistency in Design:

  1. With serviceable luminaires, maintaining consistency in lighting design is easier. Since the fixture body remains the same, replacing internal components does not affect the overall appearance and performance of the luminaire. This ensures a cohesive and harmonious lighting design.



While integrated luminaires are often marketed as the ultimate solution for landscape lighting, their lack of serviceability, wastefulness, and compatibility issues with new models make them less desirable in many situations. Opting for serviceable integrated luminaires offers a more practical and sustainable solution, allowing for the replacement of individual components and ensuring longevity. By making informed choices, we can achieve beautiful and efficient lighting designs that stand the test of time.