Our goal here on the Lighting Insights Blog is to offer helpful answers to common lighting questions and to keep you posted on key developments in the industry.
Practical advice on commercial lighting from LED retrofits to lighting design.
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Topics: Inside the Industry
There are a lot of big numbers that get thrown around in lighting retrofit discussions. The savings – from the cost of energy to the lessened maintenance workload – can be eye-popping.
Yet, oftentimes, the only number that is really eye-popping to your boss is that of upfront cost.
The reality is, no matter how common sense a retrofit may seem, big expenditures rarely get passed swiftly. (And sometimes, the sheer size of the number on the price tag can delay a quick-ROI, "common sense" project for years.)
If you're like so many of our lighting-savvy customers who have had trouble getting budgetary approval for an energy-saving lighting conversion, maybe one of the ideas below can help you to get something pushed through and start saving your company money with a refreshed look.
Topics: LED, Savings, Payback, & ROI, Restaurant Lighting, Movie theater lighting, Retail Lighting, Parking Garage Lighting, Hospital lighting, Hotel lighting, Warehouse lighting, Education facility, Multifamily lighting, Commercial office lighting
Last year, we helped the Staples Center in Los Angeles retrofit to LED lighting. Between that venue and the adjacent Microsoft Theater, the property manager retrofitted over 100 fixtures to LED, bringing the cost of energy down to 25 percent of what the venues used to pay, when they were using metal halide fixtures. Check out our case study here.
But their decision had more to do with maintenance than energy, which can be extremely difficult in hard-to-reach areas.
That brings us to our first reason why venues like the Staples Center and the Microsoft Theater are rapidly retrofitting to LED:
When you're in the business of opening beautiful places – be they retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, or apartment complexes – life can feel like a game of compromises.
Typically, you have four main objectives: meet building code, maintain design intent, stay within budget, and open up on time. And oftentimes, achieving all four of those things feels like a pipe dream. Just choose two or three. Something almost always has to give.
It doesn't have to be that way.
The busiest international port of entry in the world is 14 miles south of downtown San Diego, in San Ysidro, California. Every day, more than 20,000 people cross the U.S.-Mexico border through this port, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year.
When it came time to upgrade lighting, the U.S. General Services Administration – which manages the San Ysidro property – was looking to accomplish a few primary objectives:
- Raise light levels for border agents and customs officials as they process visa paperwork, inspect vehicles, etc.
- Increase fixture life rating to limit challenging, costly maintenance atop 125-foot mastheads
- Advance toward goal of net-zero energy consumption at San Ysidro by reducing energy required by fixtures
One of our lighting specialists was recently working with a chief engineer at a commercial office who was scrambling to get a suite ready for a new tenant. The process was pretty typical, and the tenant was putting a share of their improvement funds toward lighting upgrades.
But, as always with construction and remodeling, a problem surfaced: the lighting fixtures that the tenant's architect specified had a 6-8 week lead time, but the tenant was expecting to occupy the space in 4 weeks.
The chief engineer was caught in a pickle, and the manufacturer's rep the architect worked with on the spec had no similar alternatives to offer.
Dimming LEDs can be tricky for a variety of reasons, and it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint the source of the particular issue you're facing, like flickering. In this post, we'll zero in on one particular issue: a lack of load resistance.
Conventional (TRIAC) dimmer switches – the ones designed to work with incandescent and halogen light bulbs – require a certain amount of "holding current," or wattage in non-electrical-engineer terms, in order to work properly. When paired with an incandescent, the bulb draws enough voltage for the dimmer to work with and reduce. The control cuts the voltage, sending less to the lamp, or bulb, resulting in reduced light output (dimmed lighting).
Linear fluorescent lighting has for decades been the workhorse light source for so many applications, thanks to its long life ratings and relatively efficient use of energy. But the emergence of linear LED technology over the last decade or so has really changed the landscape, making buying decisions for linear applications more complex.
We get questions all the time about linear lighting. Is it risky to invest in LED lighting products? Are more fluorescent phaseouts ahead? What linear lighting products does Regency suggest?
It takes a lot of energy to keep an apartment building running. Unlike a commercial office or most retail stores, apartment buildings are open to residents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That's a non-stop schedule of keeping the HVAC running and lighting on.
But if you're an engineer at one of these apartment buildings, here's the good news for you: if you haven't already switched to long-life, energy-efficient lighting, you may be sitting on a gold mine of savings by simply upgrading your lighting.
Earlier this year, the Department of Energy published a report on LED failure that, among other things, found the lifetime claims for more than half of LED products to be inaccurate, or miscalculated.
Why is there so much bad information out there? Are manufacturers just fudging their claims, or are there other pieces to the puzzle?
Well, though we frequently stress the importance of vetting manufacturers, and manufacturer reps, a lot of this bad information just comes down to the industry adjusting to a new, still emerging and evolving lighting technology. That said, we're not here to make excuses for misleading or inaccurate lifetime claims. We're here to make the technicalities behind these inaccuracies understandable, so that you can effectively avoid the risk of getting left high-and-dry with early failures or poor light quality from LEDs.