Professional Electrician hears how Zano Controls’ ZBARLED dimming solution helped contractor, Matt Hancock, avoid a headache when he was retrofitting a restaurant’s old halogen light fittings with new, dimmable LEDs.
Contractor Matt Hancock was in a tight spot. Left in the lurch by a lamp manufacturer with days to complete a project, Matt was stuck with over a hundred mixed LED fittings that needed to be connected to existing wiring – and be fully dimmable. The problem is, no-one – not even the brand’s technical support – seemed to know how to do it effectively, until Zano Controls provided a ﬂexible solution.
Matt was renovating The Dial in Burton on Trent, a restaurant bar with a high-end vintage aesthetic. A busy venue, Matt was given a limited time frame to complete the work; retrofitting 112 dimmable halogen fittings located throughout the restaurant to dimmable LED.
The halogen lighting system – a mix of downlights, candle and globe lamps – was dimmed by a series of traditional TRIAC dimmers, and the restaurant owner wanted to achieve the same effect with energy-saving LEDs. Ambient lighting is essential to restaurants and bars, and it’s often a deciding factor for owners when it comes to switching to LED – or deciding not to.
The Dial Restaurant, Burton-on-Trent
Contractor: Matt Hancock
Brief: To retrofit mixed dimmable halogen fittings to a mix of dimmable LED downlights, LED Edison and LED bayonet lamps.
Total number of circuits: 24
Dimmers: 24 x ZBARLED 0-1000W from Zano Controls
Lamps: 112 x GU10 LEDs, E27 LEDs, AR111 dim-to-warm LEDs Lamps/wattage per dimmer: Up to 20 lamps/170W per ZBARLED Dimmer
Wiring: Existing twin & earth cabling; no need to rewire
Matt was already aware of the perils of pairing LED with TRIAC dimmers and was ready to source a digital dimmer to cope with the LEDs’ continuous forward current.
However, he hadn’t anticipated just how much of a challenge finding a compatible – and affordable – product would be. While the standard GU10 and E27 LEDs chosen for the project were relatively straightforward, Matt and his client opted for branded AR111 dim-to-warm LEDs, to recreate the soft glow of halogen lamps at low levels. Brand new to the market, the AR111 drivers were an unknown commodity, and less simple to dim than expected.
Left in the lurch
“I looked around at a range of manufacturers, but none could guarantee compatibility with the AR111 drivers and the existing wiring,” explains Matt. “Those that were ready to use with the AR111s required rewiring, with all ﬁttings and switches controlled by a single master unit for the whole building. Rewiring just wasn’t an option with the time frame I was up against, and a single programming point wouldn’t have worked with the building. They were also ridiculously expensive, with some of the dimmers I looked at costing thousands.”
Unfortunately for Matt, the brand who manufactured the lamps were less than helpful. “They weren’t brilliant,” he explains. “Their attitude was very much, ‘your project, your problem’ – not really what you want to hear when you’ve invested in dozens of brand new lamps. It really left me in the lurch.”
Problem solving products
Matt took up the case with his local wholesaler who pointed him in the direction of Zano Controls. A ﬂexible solution to dimming LED, Zano’s ZBARLED can dim between 0-1000W, with multiple control points and an unlimited number of lamps on each circuit. Yet with the AR111 being a brand new product, it hadn’t yet made it onto Zano’s list of pre-approved lamps. Faced with the daunting prospect of testing on site, Matt contacted Zano’s technical team.
“David Proctor (Zano Controls) really went out of his way to fix the problem,” says Matt. “He drove to the site that day, collected the lamps and tested them there and then. He had the results with me almost immediately – the dimmer worked really well with the dim to warm AR111s and the other lamps.”
Quick and easy install
What’s more, the ZBARLED could be connected straight to the existing wiring, meaning that the project could be completed on schedule without causing damage to the décor. Multiple rotary switch points also gave staff greater control over the lighting, while AR111s dim-to-warm technology helped to seamlessly recreate the ambience of the dimmed halogens.
No project gets off without a hitch, but thankfully the finished result at The Dial was worth the headache. Thanks to advice from our wholesaler and technical support from Zano, Matt was able to complete the project to an excellent finish within the tight time frame. Restaurant owner James was thrilled with the result, which allowed him to keep the restaurant’s atmospheric lighting and save on energy bills.
“I couldn’t fault Zano – I will definitely use their products again and have a lot of confidence in the technical team,” Matt concludes. “I was really impressed with how David went out of his way to help, and how well the dimmers worked with the new technology.”