In our last blog post "How Much Does A Retrofit Cost? Part 3" we discussed five points like Sustainability, Environmental, Financial and Business goals concerning your specific business objectives.
Today's article discusses various topics that can impact the final price of your lighting retrofit project.
FACTOR 4: OTHER PROJECT VARIABLES
Your facility, your existing lighting system, your needs, and your project goals are all factors in the cost of a lighting retrofit; a few more tangible factors also come into play. Our best advice to anyone comparing multiple lighting project quotes from multiple vendors is to be sure you are comparing apples to apples, in all aspects of the project: Service, Product and Extras. Here are the most easily identifiable variables you should be aware of when you consider the cost of a lighting retrofit or upgrade.
What products are to be installed? Which brands of lamps, ballasts and fixtures are being used in your project? Are the names national brands or a fly-by-night manufacturer using untested, sub-par materials? Be sure you understand the quality of the products you are buying, the warranty that is issued with them and that they are fully tested for dependability and safety. Additionally, if your lighting application is very specific or rare (explosion proof, underwater, etc.) the fixtures required will likely be more expensive. Some lighting types lend themselves to energy-efficient, cost-conscious options, but highly specialized products are an exception. Keep in mind that quality, tested products from respected brands will likely cost a premium, but an experienced lighting contractor will also know that those products work reliably and that is why they spec them.
What Lighting Technology is being used for your retrofit or upgrade? Some types might include: Fluorescent T8, Fluorescent T5, LED, Induction, or others. Be aware that the type of lighting you choose, or require, can profoundly impact the success and the cost of your lighting project. Newer technology like LED is more expensive and more efficient, generally, than older technologies like linear fluorescents like T8 or T5 lamps. Some of the newest LED technology may not be as tried and market tested as linear fluorescent or induction technology, but based on your needs and goals, your lighting contractor will find a solution to make your project a success. (Also note that LED third party testing entities exist to protect consumers, and offer certifications on qualifying LED products that pass their tests for lamp life, performance and efficiency.)
What is the location and length of your project? These are both labor factors to take into account for your lighting project. Will the electricians doing the work have to travel to you? If so, there is a chance your project price includes drive time, per diem and lodging expenses.
Recycling Costs (have they been included in your quote?) All of the items that are taken out of your existing lighting system should be responsibly disposed of after the completion of your job. These items include: universal waste lamps, ballasts, fixture housings, wiring, packaging, transportation to the recycling facility and actual recycling fees. (learn more about Universal Waste Recycling [link to other blog post])
Are you paying an engineer or lighting designer for a Lighting Study? Every quality project needs to be designed, more or less, from the ground up by taking an inventory (auditing) the existing lighting system, along with hours of operation and utility costs and calculating those factors against a proposed, new, energy-efficient lighting system based on your needs and goals. Depending on the size of your facility and how intricate your system is, this study can cost thousands of dollars. Be sure you are spending your money wisely. If you are hiring an engineer or architect to build this study, there is a chance your one-time fee will be sizeable and non-reimbursable. If you hire a lighting company to do this study, find out if this fee is reimbursable. Ask if the cost of the study will be applied to the total cost of your lighting project, if the project is signed with the firm that completes your lighting study. Knowing this information before you engage in a lighting project is crucial. Understanding this single, powerful point could save you thousands of dollars.
Rebates & Incentives for your lighting project (Are you getting a utility rebate for your project?) Finally, one of the most exciting aspects of any lighting project is the potential for utility rebates or incentives. These funds, commonly provided through money contributed to a utility’s Conservation Improvement Program by fees on every monthly utility invoice, are re-distributed as incentives for individuals and businesses that invest in energy-efficient or energy saving equipment. Essentially, utility companies want to reward smart energy consumers that make steps to improve efficiencies. Lighting project incentives are usually based on watts saved by replacing your existing lighting system with a new, energy-efficient one. Two kinds of rebates exist: Prescriptive and Custom. Prescriptive rebate amounts are based on pre-determined scenarios. [Replace Existing Fixture A with New Fixture Y and you will receive X dollars rebate]. Custom Rebates are just that, custom. Often lighting designers will submit retrofit project plans, with watts saved, to the utility company and try to achieve a greater rebate. This method is also used for facilities and lighting types that may not be exceedingly common. All utilities require a fair amount of paperwork and documentation to issue these rebates. The amount available in rebate funds is usually maxed out each year, so applying early for your project dollars is important. Additionally, most utilities max out individual rebate amounts at a certain percentage of total project cost. In a nutshell: Rebate dollars are limited, You must submit proper Prescriptive or Custom rebate paperwork to achieve maximum savings, and you must provide appropriate documentation to have money issued to your project. A reputable lighting contractor is able to assist their clients with all of these items, and many times you only need to provide them with a couple of your previous utility invoices and access to your facility for a lighting study so they can get started.
Interested in reading the other parts of this series? Here's parts 1, 2 and 3.
Looking for more information about energy-efficient lighting projects? Read our article "11 Questions to ask a Lighting Contractor" before you start your lighting project!