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Lighting Best Practices for LED Conversion

By Krisha Brooks, P.E., Vice President of Engineering Services – GMR

With the economy still in recovery mode, business owners are looking to cut costs wherever possible. This creates real opportunity when it comes to identifying alternatives to traditional lighting sources. For many businesses, transitioning from antiquating lighting modalities can be an attractive and ultimately cost-saving alternative. While LED can produce a long-term cost savings in terms of maintenance and energy expense when full conversions take place, there remains sizable upfront costs that must be absorbed.

When considering an LED conversion, these upfront costs must be closely considered and analyzed. Itís important to understand the type of facility being considered and the external fixture designs that will be replaced. One of the primary obstacles currently in the industry is being able to fit the exact area that you are removing so that you do not incur additional patching or repairing costs. The simplest retrofit allows you to physically remove and replace the existing fixture with an LED equivalent without any additional ďtouch-upĒ work. When considering retrofitting an LED light, there must be existing adequate space or costs will escalate significantly.

For designers and developers of replacement LED kits, appealing to potential customers with advance awareness of the types of fixtures that will be replaced is critical. While itís understood that business owners across industries are looking for strategies to reduce costs and save money, understanding and adapting to their mindset will help improve sales and strengthen the potential for future purchases.

Below is a list of conventional benefits that decision makers are seeking to leverage and recommendations the LED industry can take advantage.

Energy Savings – This is the top and foremost benefit for businesses. When converting to LED lighting, itís key to understand that businesses want to convert the entire site at once in order to achieve ROI within two to three years. LEDs can draw up to one-third of what traditional light fixtures draw, which equates to a substantial amount of money back in the consumerís pocket without needing to alter or upgrade existing electrical panels.

Offering economy of scale on conversion projects can help make them more attractive to customers and thereby improve the probability of sealing the deal. In addition, itís advisable to identify opportunities to reduce the number of fixtures onsite to optimize lighting with LED. Since LED lights project more uniformly and reduce hot spots, it may only take five LED fixtures as opposed to the 10 original lighting fixtures, thus reducing energy costs, as well.† Working closely with customers to find additional efficiencies is always recommended.

Retrofit Designs – Most LED manufacturers boast a vast array of products that will retrofit into preexisting lighting designs. Occasionally, however there may not be an LED option available to replace an existing light. As such, manufacturers should analyze market demand and provide LEDs that can fit into preexisting light structures, including a broader selection of kits and LED retrofit options.

Manufacturers would be well-served to realize the looming rise in LED lighting and the focus on retrofit ability and capacity. Projects requiring retrofit options will be growing in the market for some time as existing businesses look to prepare for the future and reduce their overall energy usage and maintenance costs.

Uniformity – With the advanced capabilities offered with LED lights, the issue of hot spots can be dramatically reduced. Itís important to emphasize that LED lighting creates uniformity in spread across the entire site, facilitating attractive lighting levels across a large area. The color temperature options also aid in creating a seamless look when you may be blending LED lighting on site or wanting to keep uniformity within a group of buildings.

Since aesthetics plays a huge role with consumers, this will make locations more inviting. For security purposes, LED light can help improve video camera images and more accurate color brightness, therefore contributing to the safety of customers and employees. There have been cases where LED lighting has been implemented on sites and this has allowed enhanced facial recognition capabilities from the previous lighting conditions.

Maintenance Savings – Warranties and rebate savings articulated in sales materials can help customers realize the immediate and eventual benefits of LED.† If possible, manufacturers should emphasize any extensive warranties they can offer in parts and labor. This allows for the site to have any fixture performance issues taken care of and the lighting upgrade to remain in good standing for a substantial period of time which is important for a potential customer.

An emerging trend that should gain momentum is the increase in length of warranties.† Numerous manufacturers have increased their full warranty options from five years to 10 years. This can result in huge cost savings for businesses implementing mobile maintenance procedures.† Each time mobile maintenance is dispatched to a site for repairs or outages, the client is typically paying a per site fee for their physical presence on site.† The additional labor involved to repair the issue is added on top of the site assessment costs.† If a business owner can rely on the LED manufacturer to provide full parts and labor warranties for up to ten years on fixtures used on their sites, this can drastically reduce the mobile maintenance costs to visit the site and the fixture costs that are needed to repair or replace an existing light source.

Optic Control – LED conversions offer a lot more control within the actual optic of the lighting fixtures. There are those cases where a business is next to a residential area and lighting cannot cross property lines. LED provides the advantage to companies in this situation and allows them to change optics within the fixture through the use of an individual chip to provide backlight control and eliminate light trespass from occurring. This is a convenience for businesses in providing sufficient lighting on their site to provide a secure and safe location without any light spillover occurring on neighboring properties.

So while traditional lighting fixtures would need a shield on the fixture to control where the light was projected, LED lights offer more direct control through the use of individual chips.† This can be especially useful for financial institutions and parking lots near residential areas.

Executives, designers and manufacturers alike are seeing a growing demand in the LED space. Many businesses are buying and retrofitting existing buildings, and LED lighting can help rebrand the site and give it a new, inviting look. This in turn can increase foot traffic and customer interaction.

Executives are looking to implement LED conversions for the maintenance and energy savings, and want to avoid making extensive capital expenditures on repair, maintenance and replacement parts. To benefit from this market surge, manufacturers and designers should make retrofitting kits and emphasis in terms of all-inclusive packages that leverage convenience and economy of scale.

About the Author
Krisha Brooks is vice president of engineering services for GMR, a national provider of security lighting design, branding and compliance expertise. To learn more visit, www.gmr1.com.

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