Field Tips

Lighting Retrofit Best Practices

When helping a customer with a lighting retrofit, what are the key elements a trade ally should consider? Senior lighting specialist Jeff Anderson, a veteran of 33 years in the lighting industry, shares his thoughts about four important components of a lighting retrofit.

1. Count everything. The most important factor in a successful retrofit is to count absolutely everything in the facility and take advantage of all possible opportunities. Some trade allies will simply look at TLEDs, or narrow their focus to one element of the facility’s lighting, but they ignore exit signs, exterior lighting, recessed cans – even table lamps. There’s no risk in helping the end user understand every aspect of its lighting system that contributes to energy use. While the customer may not choose to upgrade everything, you’ve done your job by preparing a complete picture of all the potential energy-saving possibilities.

2. Consider all options. Every project has good, better or best options. The business of the customer might influence the final recommendation; an industrial site might be satisfied with one solution while a law firm in an upscale office may require something else. When I’m walking through a project, I examine all the options. Sometimes the good recommendation is a fine option. You could use a kit to dress up fixtures for a better, more elegant solution. Or you could install a new fixture that might last longer and be more energy-efficient as the best choice. Talk to the property owner about their budget and goals to help you make the recommendation that serves their need.

3. Check existing light levels. Too much light in a work space can be just as bad as not enough light. When I do a walk-through, I ask employees what they think of the light levels. Is it just perfect? Or should it be brighter or dimmer? I also consider the ages of the occupants and whether there is nearby access to natural light. I use a light meter to show them how the measurement ties in with the IES recommendation for the industry sector. And I match that result with their personal preference for how they work in the space. We neither want the occupants blinded by too much light nor squinting in not enough light. It is important to provide the right amount of light for the task being performed.

4. Add controls everywhere. There needs to be a good reason not to use controls. If possible, every fixture should have a control on it of some kind. When I do an audit, I look for places where controls can do a better job of managing when lights need to be on or off, and for how long. A lot of energy can be saved with controls and not enough people use them. Plus, as energy codes become more rigorous, controls may be your best option for meeting higher standards for saving energy.

Your customer relies on your expertise to get the most out of their lighting investment. Make sure you take time to be thorough, consider all the options, do your homework and offer a comprehensive solution to their lighting challenges.