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Lighting

Are utility bills going up?

Lighting retrofits provide reliable energy savings and can improve the quality of lighting throughout a facility. A typical retrofit can reduce lighting energy consumption by 25 to 60 percent even if lighting was upgraded 5 years ago. Traditional lighting accounts for around 40 percent of the electrical consumption so this retrofit could reduce electric bills by 10 to 20 percent. Lighting retrofits can also reduce air conditioning costs but may increase heating costs.

Are lighting maintenance work orders increasing? Is facility lighting not addiquate for staff?

Implementing a facility wide retrofit can simplify maintenance and allow the purging of old lighting materials that waste storage space. By stocking only appropriate new lighting materials, maintenance mistakes can be minimized and lighting color can become consistent throughout the facility.

  • Ballasts convert building power into the kind of power needed by lamps. Ballasts have a typical life span of  about 55,000 hours. Many facilities were updated to “T8” lamps and electronic ballasts in the late 1990s. If lighting was updated 10 to 12 years ago, the ballasts may already be failing and many of the ballasts may fail by year 15. If failed ballasts are replaced one at a time that may cost much more than a complete lighting retrofit.
  • A state hospital was not allowed to hire more maintenance staff but they could finance a complete lighting upgrade. After a complete lighting retrofit, lighting maintenance requirements were dramatically reduced for 5 to 7 years.

Money

A low total cost ownership (TCO) retrofit could cost less than $2/ft2 and simple energy based paybacks can range from 1 to 7 years (national average <2 years) depending on the cost of energy, hours of operation and utility incentives.

The devil is in the details. If a low bid 2 lamp T8 retrofit costs $50 to install then using carefully specified best value lamps and ballasts might cost $65. During 40,000 hours of operation @$0.11/KWH, the low bid retrofit will cost around $324 to install and operate while the carefully specified retrofit will cost about $258 to install and operate.

Implementing a comprehensive lighting retrofit

Most lighting systems are adequately designed from the beginning so it may not be necessary to redesign a lighting system for most areas. Instead, it is usually just fine to replace the components inside a satisfactory fixture or install a new fixture in the same location.

A large hospital retrofit may be best performed by a lighting retrofit contractor in “safe areas” while sensitive areas might be performed by or under the direct supervision of hospital maintenance staff.

When practical, use the same lighting specifications for new construction, retrofit and maintenance.

Caveat

Lighting control is controversial. Many facilities find that “local” control including vacancy sensors, timers and photocells is most cost effective. Consider master lighting control systems only if the schedule will be regularly maintained.

The linked sample documents are provided as examples of how other facilities have structured lighting retrofit bid documents and the documents suggest some effective retrofit practices.

We do not expect the sample documents to make a lot of sense to most of the facility maintenance staff but they should be helpful to designers and whoever is in charge of lighting maintenance.