LED lighting uses much less electricity than traditional Fluorescent/ Metal Halide/ Halogen systems, and last 2 to 3 time as long. This makes them a great tool to use for large facilities to reduce operating costs. But what are the factors around saving money, and how do you save the most money? Hopefully this article will help you.
1) What is your operating profile?
Savings from LED lighting is directly related to the number of hours they are required to be on. For that reason alone, based on the use of the same LED lighting, private residences will have low to negative returns if you already use CFL bulbs (Although I LED in my house due to the great government subsidies available on them on Costco, etc).
Multi-tenant residences tend to have decent savings, although condo corporations tend to only have control in the common areas such as hallways and garages. There is great savings in changing out all hallway lights to LED bulbs as the lights are always on and it is easy to do. Make sure you go for big-name manufacturers - the discount brands suffer from very spotty reliability and no-body wants to replace lights left and right after 6 months. The parkades and storage may benefit more from motion sensors than LED lights due to low overall traffic. To save more money, make sure you apply for the available government rebates in your area.
Commercial and Institutional users will get the biggest savings because there is usually traffic throughout and lighting is required to be on most or all of the facility during operating hours. Reliability on these are important as the facilities are always open to the public and there is a real cost to maintenance changeouts. High-mounted lighting may also require man-lifts to reach. For commercial, there focus is more efficiency, which tends to be whiter lights, fluorescent tubes, panels and troffers. For retail, the look and feel is more important and energy efficiency, so there tends to be softer colours and a higher mix of down lights and spot lights to create that warm atmosphere.
Industrial facilities (warehouses, workshops, etc) are also prime candidates, but these facilities usually have high output highbay lighting and lower level of constant traffic. In these scenarios moving to LED highbays and adding built-in motion sensors may offer the best savings.
2) Type of Retrofit
There are several types of LED light retrofit used depending on the specifics of the project.
a) No re-wire direct swap retrofit.
This is generally the most cost-effective option for facilities. Considerations include what the existing lighting levels are, and whether there are opportunities to reduce the total number of lights. As most facilities have fluorescent lights, the facility will not be maintenance free due to existing lighting ballasts remaining in the system. The project should include a program to check the status of the existing components during the changeout to ensure long LED life (eg. malfunctioning lighting ballasts should be switched out).
b) Fixture retrofit.
This generally costs 2 to 3 times more up front than a direct swap retrofit due to higher cost parts and more labour required. However, due to better LED optics, facilities will get a big aesthetics boost to the light distribution and levels. Also, the lights will be completely maintenance free for a number of years (5-10), eliminating ongoing labor/ material costs. Moreover, for high-ceiling applications, there are also opportunities to reduce the total number of lights needed for increased savings.
3) Reliability is Required to Achieve Any Savings
Lamps that fail (whether within warranty or not) can quickly wipe out facility savings. Although they look similar on the outside, there are huge differences between different LED lights. High quality lights are manufactured in high-tech automated factory lines, use more expensive internal drivers, circuit boards, and has professionally engineered thermal cooling design backed by lab testing. Stick to major manufacturers known for high quality and who back their product.
4) Other considerations:
Client Drivers - Cost and aesthetics are key considerations. What is the right balance?
Staged Retrofit - Maybe it makes sense to break up the retrofit in phases and only do the highest return lights first
Indoor vs. Outdoor - The economics and considerations are very different for outdoor LED lighting.
Lighting Survey - What is the current light level? Does it meeting industry req.? How will it look after retrofit?
Lighting Model - In some cases, it makes sense to do a 3D lighting model to better understand the changes
Lighting Purchase - What is a good light? What are the terms and conditions? How is warranty handled?
Color Temperature - What color temperature to use for your application?
Project Execution - Schedule/ Timing? How will the work be done? What to do if issues arise?
Power vs Maintenance Savings - What is the Return on investment for the project? What is the optimal design?
Government Rebates - Are there any rebates I can apply for?
5) Talk to a Professional !
To get all the facts, save the most money, and to avoid making money-losing pitfalls, talk to a professional! Most reputable companies including ourselves will offer free consultations, and explain to you all the important things that need to be considered for your project.
If you are considering LED lighting for your facility, contact us for a free consultation!