Since late 2007, LED technology has evolved dramatically. The individual components have advanced in terms of lumen output and efficiency—hence increasing fixture brightness. Also, the fixtures have improved drivers, optics, energy- and power-efficiency, and are more adaptable to various voltages. However, there still are a few tricks of the trade you should consider when installing LED lighting in your next project.
Retrofit vs. Redo
As with any lighting project, some key questions must be considered up front. These include the following:
Do you want a one-for-one replacement or should you redesign the existing lighting layout? In a one-for-one replacement, you use existing-lighting wiring and circuits, which may be challenging. For example, on an industrial campus with a 277VAC electrical lighting system, certain LED fixtures may not be compatible with this voltage. You may need to adapt and install additional electrical circuits to match these LED fixtures.
Are the current foot-candles or light levels acceptable? The reality is, if you are happy with your current lighting, there is no need to change the light levels.
What is the condition and voltage of the existing wiring and circuitry? Some LED fixtures are more easily installed based on your facility’s voltage. If you have outdated wiring and need to update it, you can likely configure the new system to maximize the energy efficiency of the LED lights.
Do you want dimming and/or motion control? The addition of occupancy sensors can yield incremental energy savings. LEDs are adaptable to this technology. In addition, good quality LED fixtures can be dimmed, giving occupants additional control over their lighting.
What are the various manufacturer warranties for LED fixtures, light output and energy savings? As in any industry, warranties vary based on individual manufacturers. For LED lighting, the most widely used standard for warranties is based on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program, which requires a minimum three-year warranty for rated LED products. However, there are LED manufacturers that offer a five-year warranty on products that are not Energy Star rated.
How much energy savings can you expect? Energy savings will vary based on the fixture. Depending on the application, it’s not unusual for LEDs to achieve 30 to 85 percent energy savings compared to traditional lighting.
What inconvenience should occupants expect during the install? Depending on the specifics of your installation, a retrofit can be minimally intrusive if done during off-hours.
Can your maintenance staff do the work or do you need a licensed electrician? Most municipalities require electrical work in non-residential installations be done by a licensed electrician. In some cases, an owner’s maintenance staff can perform the work if the team is properly licensed.
Should you take before and after light-level and energy readings? This is necessary if benchmarking and reporting information will be required. With the emphasis on metrics to validate performance, establishing baseline data on energy and light levels allows a comparison to justify investment.
Can you get rebates from your electric utility and/or tax deductions or credits? Many electric utilities are putting programs in place to encourage the use of more energy-efficient lighting. Contact your local utility to determine what is available for your business area. You should also consult your corporate tax department to determine if federal tax credits or deductions based on energy savings per square foot are applicable. A great resource for potential lighting-related tax deductions is www.lightingtaxdeduction.org/tax_deduction.html.