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CES Blog

The Guide to Retrofitting

  • September 12, 2019
  • Written By: Brooke Williams
  • No Comments

LED lighting has officially set the benchmark for energy-efficient lighting, and it’s not looking to be outdone any time soon. So, how do you take advantage of this innovative lighting solution? A lighting retrofit should do the trick. A lighting retrofit covers any upgrade to your light fixtures or lamps to increase energy efficiency. It can refer to adding new technology or features to an existing system, such as an update to an existing fluorescent fixture, or the replacement of a fluorescent fixture for its more efficient LED counterpart. In this guide, we’ll lay out the benefits of retrofitting and how CES can save you energy and money when it comes to your next retrofitting project.

Tax Incentives and Other Savings

When it comes to residential or commercial retrofitting, it’s important to consider the overall cost, the energy savings, and reduced maintenance costs. Tax incentives and rebates are also available for non-residential buildings, which can make a retrofitting project that much more appealing.

With incentives for many different types of commercial buildings, be sure to check the database for statewide and federal rebates. If you’re on the fence, this may provide enough savings to offset the initial material cost. In some cases, the Energy Savings Cost Council noticed that energy-efficient lighting provides the highest return on any single-technology project, averaging a 45% ROI. With this return, some upgrades can pay for themselves in a little over two years, with even more returns over the lifetime of the new lighting system. Factoring in lower maintenance costs for LED lighting is yet another reason to make the switch.

Going Green

Along with incentives, retrofitting your lighting fixtures can help your building go green and achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, increasing property value and sustainability. With so much focus now on buildings going green and reducing energy consumption, this is yet another reason to upgrade to an energy-efficient lighting solution.

Improved Safety

With LED lighting, employees have noted better visibility in their workplace, reducing accidents and improving productivity. Better lighting has also been linked to increased employee satisfaction. Not to mention, LED bulbs are generally 40 degrees cooler than conventional fluorescent bulbs. With less heat given off, your HVAC won’t have to work as hard either, and employees will certainly enjoy the cooler work conditions.

Do You Need a Retrofit?

We’ve covered why you should consider a retrofit project, but do you really need one? Although it sounds like it should work for everyone, some commercial buildings, especially newer ones, may not see the same level of benefits as an older building going through an extensive retrofitting project.

Be sure to ask yourself these questions to make sure it’s right for you:

  • Do I need to reduce my building’s lighting energy costs?
  • Is the lighting in my building more than 15 years old?
  • Are there code changes that will soon require me to change my lighting?
  • Am I spending too much on lighting maintenance and replacement?
  • Do some parts of my building not have good lighting or visibility?
  • Are my lights on for longer than 12 hours a day?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it may be time for an upgrade. To see how much you can save with new LED lighting, try using an energy savings calculator. You can get a rough estimate and see if the initial cost is worth it for the long-term savings.

Different Types of Retrofitting

Retrofitting is not a one-size-fits-all solution. You may find that your fixtures are fine, but your lamps could use an LED upgrade. You may need dimmers instead of switches, or to add motion sensors to your existing lighting so you’re not wasting energy lighting unoccupied rooms. Whatever the case, there’s a retrofitting solution for you.

Lamp Replacement

This is the easiest and the simplest form of retrofitting. Because LEDs don’t require a separate ballast like their fluorescent counterpart, you should just be able to do a quick swap and start saving money immediately. Just be sure to get the right LED tube for your fixtures.

Retrofit Kits

Keep your original fixture, but outfit it with an LED retrofit kit to make the most of your LED bulbs. However, depending on the wiring of your existing lighting system, an electrician may be required to complete a retrofit kit installation. We recommend trusting a professional if you’re unsure. Although it may cost a little more than a simple lamp replacement because of the added labor cost, it can help you save more in the long run.

Replacing Fixtures

The costliest of the retrofitting options is just to replace the entire fixture with an LED fixture. This may be better if your existing lighting system isn’t of the best quality or hasn’t been upgraded in a while. Also, if you notice cracks or obvious signs of wear in your fixtures, this may be your best option.

Some LEDs may not be approved for enclosed spaces, so make sure that your LED lamps can work in your fixture before deciding between a simple lamp replacement and an entire fixture change. If the LED lamp is not approved for an enclosed space, you may see your bulbs burn out quicker because the heat can’t leave its heat sink.

High Bay vs. Low Bay

Found in most warehouses, high bay lights are mounted to light areas 20 feet or below. Low bay lights work at heights below 20 feet and cover wider areas. Low bay lights are generally found in industrial spaces and other public buildings. Because of the advances made in fluorescent lighting, most high bay and low bay lights can be replaced on a one-for-one basis.

CES doesn’t just supply quality products from trusted vendors in the electrical industry. The employees in our branches are experienced, and some have even worked as electricians before working with us, so they understand what you’re looking for, what you need for any retrofitting project, and solutions for any roadblocks you may come across. From Fusion Lamps, Tamlite Lighting, and many more trusted vendors, we have the quality products to supply any retrofitting project. Stop in today to upgrade your lighting system, or even just to swap out some fixtures.

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