January 6, 2023

LEDs are available at a cost-effective price for many fixtures and lamps. Replacing outdated or failing lights pay for itself in electric savings in as little as one to two years. This makes lighting upgrades a simple first step for many businesses looking to cut costs.

Below are a few highlights from our engineering consultants to help you prepare for a lighting project.

Product Selection

The quality of LED products greatly influences the success of your lighting project. The easiest way to know if you are getting a good product is to see if the product is listed by the DLC or if it is ENERGY STAR certified. Check for these logos on the product’s packaging or contact Efficiency Smart for help verifying.

In general, look for the following when choosing a product:

  • 50,000 hours estimated life rating (L70 rating)
  • A minimum of 100 lumens per watt for LED fixtures
  • A minimum of 120 lumens per watt for LED tubes 
  • At least a five-year warranty for DesignLights Consortium (DLC) listed items, or a three-year warranty for ENERGY STAR® certified products 

Efficiency Smart only offers incentives for quality products that meet these standards.

Replacing Lamps vs. Replacing the Entire Fixture

A common question about lighting upgrades is whether you need to replace the entire fixture or just the lamp. The answer is: it depends. But there are a few general guidelines to consider.

Are the existing fixtures and lenses in good shape and are current lighting levels acceptable? If so, replacing just the lamps is a good option as this approach will typically result in a lower overall project cost.

However, if your existing fixtures have some wear and tear or if the lighting levels are subpar, then a replacement fixture might be the best option. 

Lighting Design

Many businesses repurpose rooms in their facilities over time, which may result in a lighting design that is no longer optimized for the room’s current use. This leads to over or under-lighting and a negative experience for staff or guests. 

If this sounds familiar, review the lighting design of a room with your contractor. This may help to minimize your overall lighting costs.

Keep in mind that you may be able to improve the overall lighting of a room or outdoor space by reducing the number of fixtures. Not only does this save on the number of products to purchase, but it also reduces long-term maintenance costs. 

Lighting Controls

Lighting controls take a good lighting project and make it great. Even if you’ve recently upgraded your lighting, controls can still be added after the fact to maximize your energy and cost savings.

There are many types of controls to consider, including:

Occupancy Sensors

Occupancy sensors turn on lights when motion is detected and turn them off after a period of inactivity. These are a good option when replacing lights in lower-use areas, such as warehouses, storage areas, and bathrooms.

Vacancy Sensors

Vacancy sensors take occupancy sensor controls one step further. When an occupant enters a space, they must physically change the lighting to the “ON” setting. This allows the occupant to determine if overhead lighting is needed or if the ambient sunlight is enough. As with occupancy sensors, vacancy sensors will automatically switch off after people leave the room.

Daylight Harvesting

Daylighting sensors help maintain a consistent light level in areas that receive a lot of natural light. Lighting levels are gradually adjusted as needed to properly light a space.

Bi-level Dimming

Bi-level dimming raises a fixture’s light level to 100 percent when movement is detected. After a set amount of time without movement, the fixture dims to a lower light level. Then, the light level can be set to either remain at the reduced level or be turned off completely if there is continued inactivity.

High End Trimming / Task Tunning

Task tuning allows fixtures in a defined area to permanently dim down to an appropriate level. For instance, light levels can be tuned down to 80 percent in certain areas where full-strength lighting isn’t necessary. This reduces electric usage by 20 percent without being very noticeable to facility occupants. Task tuning is typically used alongside a lighting controls platform.

Lighting Controls Platform / Lighting Management Platform

A lighting control or management platform provides the most control over a lighting system, which maximizes your energy savings. However, these systems typically come with a premium price.

Certain applications are better candidates for lighting controls than others. Efficiency Smart can use light loggers in your facility to discover where occupants aren’t diligent about turning lights off. This helps determine where adding lighting controls would be beneficial, and how much energy they could save.

Putting it All Together

Lighting upgrades are a great opportunity for many businesses. Since 2018, a typical small business that has worked with Efficiency Smart on lighting upgrades has saved nearly $700 annually—which adds up to more than $9,000 over the lifetime of the installed upgrades. Meanwhile, a typical large business has saved more than $3,200 annually and will save nearly $45,000 over the lifetime of the installed upgrades.

Variables like operating hours, existing lighting, and the number of fixtures all play a role in determining your potential savings. Efficiency Smart can help recommend improvements and calculate estimated savings based on your unique lighting project. Financial incentives are also available for qualifying projects.

Questions? Contact Us

Efficiency Smart’s engineering consultants are available to help you prioritize projects, review proposals from vendors, or answer your energy-efficiency questions.  For more information, contact your local key account manager or our customer service team at (877) 889-3777 or [email protected].