The Retrofit Companies Blog

Small Business Rebate Program Deadline: Oct. 19!


 

cash backAre you a Small Business planning a lighting upgrade project this year? 

You may qualify for great rebates through One-Stop Efficiency Shop (Xcel Energy), But you will need to act fast! 

 

 

 

 

What You Need to Know: 2018 Rebate Checks

The Center for Energy and Environment's One Stop Efficiency Shop is warning small businesses of rebate deadlines approaching this fall. The One-Stop Efficiency Shop is a full-service rebate program available through Xcel Energy's Minnesota service territory to small businesses with a monthly electric demand of 400 kilowatts or less.

In order to receive a rebate check through this program in 2018, please make sure to:

 

  • Submit a signed program Participation Agreement to CEE by Friday, October 19 so the project can be recorded as scheduled for installation in this program year.
  • Complete work and submit invoices to CEE by Friday, November 2.

 

Rebate checks for jobs completed in 2018 will be issued this calendar year if work is completed and invoices submitted by November 2. Jobs completed after the deadline will be rebated in 2019.

More information on Xcel Energy's other rebate programs can be found here; if you have questions or want to clarify how these deadlines may impact your project with TRC, be sure to contact your account manager or call us at 800-795-1230.

Consult a Lighting ProfessionalReady to start your lighting project? Contact our Lighting Experts to take advantage of this program.



 

 

 

 

 

3 Types of Linear LED Tubes

3 LED tubes

CONFUSED ABOUT DIFFERENT TYPES OF LINEAR LED TUBES?

We break down the 3 most common types of T8 and T5 LED tubes used in LED lighting retrofit projects and their various pros and cons.

Consult a Lighting Professional

TYPE A LINEAR LED TUBES

 

Does your facility, such as a gymnasium, commercial or industrial building, have high ceilings?

Type A LED tube

Type A lamps are a good solution in many applications because of the increased ability to control the light via ballast factor.This is currently the only LED T8 lamp system that is capable of matching a T8 system operating on a high ballast factor.

Type A lamps are a fluorescent ballast compatible lamp with exceptions. These exceptions are expansive, in fact almost every manufacturer suggests consulting their list of compatibilities before installing LED T8 tubes. We have found that there are even scenarios where the LED lamp product is not compatible with ballasts from the same manufacturer.

 Additional benefits of Type A lamps are that they come in different wattages and beam angles, and lumen output for this type can be controlled by the existing ballast: Low Power (LP), Normal Power (NP), and High Power (HP). Most often, these lamps are installed as a simple “relamp” project, but it is important to consider the age of your ballasts when choosing this type. If you intend to change ballasts the week after you install these LED lamps, that may undermine the goals and objectives of your project. Whether or not type A is going to be the best solution for your project depends greatly on your maintenance story.

 

TYPE B LINEAR LED TUBES

 

Type B lamps are seeing a lot of changes in the industry due to their many risks.

Type B led tube

We are still seeing issues with the direct wire single-ended lamps, which require the ballast to be removed and the socket wired directly to line voltage. Risks include the possibility of lamp failure, sparks and even fires. These single-ended lamps may have been previously chosen to reduce maintenance time, but they pose such a large safety risk that the industry is shifting towards the double-ended lamp.

Double-ended Type B lamps mitigate many of the safety concerns because there is no longer a way for the electrical current to travel across the lampholder. This includes a situation where you install a fluorescent lamp . You also no longer have to install an unshunted socket due to the dual-end nature of the new lamps.

Some of the main downfalls of the new version of these lamps are that they are very limited in lumen output options (generally two light levels) and that there currently are no known lamps on the market that can reach high output light levels required in the applications mentioned above.

Another common downfall of Type B LED lamps is the "flicker" factor. This is an issue that used to be prevalent with T12 and was basically eliminated by T8 solutions. It has now come back with the Type B tubes, but it is not prevalent in Type A or Type C solutions. There are a couple of manufacturers that have come out with a flicker-free type B solution, but options are limited. The flicker is unnoticeable to many, but with some segments of the population it can be very debilitating (causing headaches, nausea, etc). 

TRC Lighting Case Studies

TYPE c LINEAR LED TUBES

 

Type C's are really the only “true LED system” among the T8 lamp options. 

Type C led tubeType C Lamps are an LED lamp with a fixture mounted driver, with drivers now available with three different standard outputs as well as programmable for more/less output depending on required light levels. The Type C lamp is similar to an LED fixture in that you have a light engine and a separate driver.

Type C's typically offer the longest life, and dimming capability that the others do not. The reason they’re not chosen as often is due to their higher price point. Total cost of owning a lighting system should be evaluated when considering whether these are your best investment. The type C lamp has just recently achieved controllability using different Mili-amp Drivers. The drivers are more expensive, but in some instances the will achieve a higher lamp life rating 60,000 versus 50,000 hours.

Type C lamps have their benefits, but as with Type B, most of the market offerings do not capture the high lumen output category. The other issue we have discovered with Type C is that virtually none of the systems are cross-compatible across manufacturers. This means that you could potentially be stuck with the manufacturer and product line that they have installed in the facility. You would most likely not be able to find a lamp or a driver from a different manufacturer that works with your existing system down the road if that system is discontinued, or the manufacturer goes out of business, in many cases resulting in a completely new system investment.

Consult a Lighting Professional

While linear LED lamps are popular now, that does not mean that it is the only option, or always the best option when upgrading to LED. You should consult a lighting professional to ensure that you are aware of all of the pros and cons for all options available to ensure you are meeting all of your project goals. 

 

Case Study - ISD #299 Caledonia Public Schools LED Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

Case Study Interview and Project Spotlight with Craig Ihrke, ISD #299 Caledonia Public Schools Superintendent,
and Lee Morem, Facilities Director
LED Lighting Upgrade, Retrofit Light Fixtures, New LED Technology, Energy Savings

 

Project Overview

ISD #299 Caledonia Public Schools prides themselves on empowering learners for life and their strong ties to the community. In a school district serving Caledonia and the surrounding areas, it became abundantly clear to superintendent Craig Ihrke and his team that providing a welcoming environment was a necessity. “There are a lot of things that add to the pride in our schools, and lighting is certainly one of those things, said Craig Ihrke, superintendent of Caledonia Schools. 

A complete LED lighting retrofit across both buildings “provides a brighter, more welcoming environment, but more importantly it provides a lot of energy savings. We could save up to $10,000 annually,” said Ihrke.  

Middle_High School Sign

Caledonia Area Middle School and High School 

 

The most important factor for Caledonia Schools, which include Caledonia Elementary School and the combined building for Caledonia Middle and High School, was really focusing on the potential energy savings across both buildings. Lee Morem, Facilities Director at Caledonia Schools said “The Retrofit Companies, Inc. (TRC) helped us decide that retrofitting the lights was the best course of action, and the most economical. It has been a wonderful experience to see the buildings transform.” The decision to upgrade the lighting across the entire district not only impacted the staff working in the offices, the students learning in their classrooms, but also the athletes practicing before and after school. As an added bonus, the community gets to watch their all-state caliber athletes in efficient and even lighting.  

 

 Photo Aug 23, 9 51 26 AM

Caledonia Elementary School 

 

Outdated technology throughout district 

As The Retrofit Companies, Inc. fully inspected the district with an Investment Grade Audit and their team of experts, it became clear that there were a variety of issues at play, both with the interior and exterior of each building. Exterior lighting is very important, especially when we have events in the evenings and the MN winters get pretty dark. Having quality exterior lighting is important for safety and it also gives a welcoming feeling when you enter the parking lot” said Ihrke.  

Specifically, the buildings were running on outdated technology, which resulted in a high level of lamp failure and maintenance headaches. 

“We had a lot of exterior metal halide lights that we were having a lot of trouble with. The building is 18 years old and we were seeing a lot of things start to fail, both fixtures and ballasts” said Morem. 

From a security standpoint, we had a lot of dark spots, and when we do snow removal there were a lot of areas that were not well lit. That was a motivation for sure. With this in mind, it was apparent that TRC address the light levels through design using photometric layouts.  

The Caledonia Middle/High School was also undergoing a renovation in their main gymnasium; a pivotal area of a school that is known for their impressive athletic programs. Ihrke said “The importance of having quality light in the gymnasium, especially for our strong athletic teams...we are very excited about the lighting in the gym. The light has changed drastically and people are going to notice right away.” The Retrofit Companies, Inc. partnered with Caledonia Schools during multiple district renovations, both exterior and interior projects, including new sidewalks, that all showcase the pride that the district takes in providing the best educational facilities. The district had to ensure they found a partner for their lighting upgrade that could work with the many moving parts of an entire school district, their existing projects and the schedules of community buildings that never sleep. In the end, TRC and Caledonia Schools worked together to create a smooth upgrade across all facilities.  

 

Photo Aug 23, 11 23 30 AM-1

Caledonia Area Middle and High School Gymnasium 

 

Making the Investment

“This was a peculiar project; we actually went out and created our own bid form for this project; it was very involved. Chris Wendling at TRC was very helpful in guiding us with what specifications were needed for this large project. It was very helpful to have Chris help with that part of the process. The audit that TRC provided had the existing technology, the recommended replacement, as well as additional recommendations for replacements. You could clearly see what was the best way to go” said Morem. 

When considering alternative solutions, the Investment Grade audit provided by TRC gave a clear choice as to the most economical and financially responsible solutions. 

Morem said We went from a T8 fixture, with 32 watts per lamp, to 15 watts per lamp, so we cut it in half. We were told from the outset that we would see considerable savings right away, and to take your total load and to cut it in half is substantial. I don’t know of anything else in your building system that you could do that with; you can’t cut your heating costs in half, or your cooling in half by making one change. To see over 50% of your consumption reduced with an overall better quality light, the answer was clear.”  

In fact, the proposed cost savings was a reduction in annual energy costs by 58%. Based on hours of operation, the existing energy costs under the old technology would have been $82,124. With the implemented solutions they are expected to see operating costs of $34,536.30. These savings not only came from lamp replacements but also from retrofit kits and fixtures to offer longer life solutions in areas where maintenance issues were a concern. Breaking that savings down, Caledonia School district is saving $130.38 a day.  

 

 Elementary 1st & 2nd Floor_Page_1-445118-edited

Caledonia Elementary School Light Layout 

 

Keeping it Local

TRC worked diligently to accommodate the many challenges and variables of this project. In general, summer is a busy time for schools to get projects of all kinds completed, this was no different. TRC worked with the painters when they needed to get in to paint the gym ceilings, and change their installation schedule as necessary. “These buildings never really sleep...the high school is a living organism and is always going. From people lifting weights at 5am to evening events that push 11pm.” With facilities that have such a high demand for light usage, it was imperative that TRC provide a full scope of work in their Investment Grade Audit, detailing the various parts of their buildings and their unique demands. It was very exciting to work with Retrofit (TRC) about how detailed the audit was, how everything fell together in exactly the order in which they said it would"...

"The timelines and schedules were met without any issue, and most of the times in advance. Scheduling was very easy, if there were needs for the building, the team would be flexible and work on another area. This could actually be done with school in session, that’s how easy it was to work with TRC Morem said.  

“I was also very happy to see that they hired a local contractor to sub out the work down here in the elementary building. We like to have community involved and we like to have local contractors; it’s a small community and we take pride in keeping things local” said Morem. TRC always supports the area being served, and working with a local contractor is part of the full circle of service provided that matches the TRC company values. 

 

 library

Caledonia Elementary School Library 

 

LED Lighting Transformation

The only surprise I had was how quickly an area had progressed. You return to a room and all of a sudden it is transformed. You could do this project with school operating, the crew kept things tight, clean and I was surprised at how smooth everything went.”  

 Photo Aug 23, 11 34 00 AM

Caledonia Area Middle and High School Hallway LED Lights 

 

When asked about how the new light has been received by staff and faculty, Morem said “In recent weeks as school starts to start up again, and students coming in for sports programs, we have heard many times how much brighter it is in the building, noticing things they have never noticed before” even if that means needing a fresh coat of paint on the walls. “Especially the impact at night, the color and the quality of light makes an impact. It’s almost like you are getting a new chance at a new room.”  

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant
 

Customer Spotlight - Crown Plastics

 

4 reasons we decided to upgrade our lighting

 

Photo Aug 02, 9 58 41 AM-084782-edited

Crown Plastics, Inc.
Plymouth, MN

  

 

1). "To Invest In Our Employees"

They say a company will never succeed without being employee-centric, and this is the approach that Matt Van Beusekom, Operations Manager at Crown Plastics, Inc., fully believes in. Taking pride in this family business not only means pleasing the customers, but it also means taking care of their employees and providing them with an excellent place to work.

 

2) "We Needed Light"

As with any business, Crown Plastics, Inc. has a variety of areas throughout their facility that require very different light depending on the work space. The ceilings in the office areas are lower, and employees are working on computers and conducting meetings, whereas in the production areas, the ceilings are much higher, employees are working on both large format machines as well as very fine detailed fabrication work, and the hours of light usage vary. These are just a few of the unique details that were considered when our TRC Lighting Experts developed a full re-design for each space that was custom fit to the needs of Crown Plastics, Inc.

 

"We just took a look at our overall lighting, mainly from our production areas, and they were all either running T8 or T12 fixtures, some metal halide...and they were failing. I was done switching them over. I didn't want to do it one by one...I knew there had to be a better solution out there," -Matt Van Beusekom. 

Crown Plastics Before and After

3) "To Save Money"

When our lighting expert LuAnn Verduzco met with Matt at Crown Plastics, Inc. to discuss his facility, she knew that this project would benefit from our expert level attention to detail, starting with a custom Investment Grade Audit. The full scope of work provided with this IGA showcased a proposed energy reduction of 45,584 kWh, or a nearly $5,000 annual savings just in energy costs. This is the equivalent of saving 30.2 acres of forest from deforestation in 1 year, or saving 70,647.6 lbs of CO2, which is the leading cause of global warming. This project not only provided Crown Plastics, Inc. with a 13.37% ROI, or a simple payback of 8.8 years, but it also had a significantly positive impact on the environment.

 

"To be honest, that was probably one of the biggest reasons why I chose to go this direction...being able to see the light output of each area, the recommended solutions and the reduction in energy costs, I felt more comfortable seeing the math behind it," -Matt Van Beusekom

 

Crown Plastics PRO 1

 

4) "To Showcase What We Do For Our Customers"

Having pride in your business and your services not only means you are confident in your results and your customer satisfaction, it also means you have invested in your facility; this is something that every business can relate to. When a business is proud to show their customers through their work space, showcasing their custom processes and their expert level in-house talent, the whole package comes together with a much stronger impact.

 

"We are a custom fabricator and distributor of plastic sheet rod and tube...what we do is really unique. 98% of what we do is driven by our customer demands; we are a custom job shop." Matt Van Beusekom, Operations Manager at Crown Plastics, Inc.

 

Take a look at the video below to see how this project provided a complete transformation to the multiple work areas of Crown Plastics, Inc.

Customer Spotlight, Crown Plastics, Inc.

LED Lighting Upgrade, Retrofit Light Fixtures, New LED Technology, Energy Savings, Investment Grade Audit

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant
 

Wendy Fry Featured in Local Magazine

 

Wendy River Valley Woman

River Valley Woman Magazine

Applauding the dynamic women of the MN River Valley.

Wendy Fry, the fearless President of The Retrofit Companies, Inc., is featured in this month's newly released edition of River Valley Woman Magazine. It should come as no surprise that Wendy was approached by the magazine when the mission of their publication is to applaud and support successful women of the MN River Valley.

Wendy's success story is worth a read, not to mention the insights that she shares with readers regarding how to find success in any business. Take it from the woman that worked her way up through the ranks and finds herself at the helm of a decades-long successful business that is growing at a rapid pace in the Lighting and Environmental Services industries. 

 

 

 


rvw pg 1-1
 

Wendy Fry, President of The Retrofit Companies, Inc., featured in River Valley Woman Magazine, August, 2018.

  

Want to learn more about TRC and how you can become part of our successful team? Check out our job openings in your area.

TRC Lighting Division Jobs


TRC Environmental Jobs 

 

Rebate Cuts Proposed by Xcel Energy


 

led stock photoAre you planning a lighting upgrade project this year? 

Your rebates through Xcel Energy may be changing as soon as September, 2018. 
 

 

 

 

Will these changes impact me?

New rebate levels have been proposed in Minnesota to the Xcel Energy Commercial Lighting Efficiency Program. If approved, these changes may go into effect as early as September 1, 2018. If you are planning a lighting project this year, the new details of Xcel's rebate program may impact you.

More information on Xcel Energy's rebate programs can be found here; if you have questions or want to clarify how this will impact your project with TRC, be sure to contact your account manager or call us at 800-795-1230.

 

 

xcel rebate proposed changes
Rebate Categories with Proposed Changes:
 
  • LED troffers
  • LED exterior lighting
  • Lighting Controls
  • Shelf-stocking LED lamps
  • Fluorescents

 

Download Xcel Energy Rebate Changes
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Customer Spotlight - Steve Grandgenett, Algona Municipal Utilities

 Algona Lobby

Algona Municipal Utilities
Algona, MN
  
"In the process we were able to reduce the amount of energy we use per fixture by 45-50%." - Steve Grandgenett, Algona Municipal Utilities

Located in the small town of Algona, Iowa, approximately 3 hours south of the Twin Cities, the Algona Municipal Utilities (AMU) recently renovated their office building. AMU supplies electric, water, cable, internet, and phone to Algona and the surrounding areas and always strives for energy conservation and efficiency. Built in 2003, this office not only needed some remodeling to better suit the needs of their employees and customers, but they also quickly realized that they wanted to couple this remodel with some important lighting upgrades throughout the facility. Ken Gleason, a Senior Sales Executive at The Retrofit Companies, Inc., has been working with Algona and the surrounding areas for 11 years, and was pleased to partner with them for this project. Ken and Steve Grandgenett, the Safety and Energy Efficiency Coordinator at AMU, discussed the priorities of the project, what their company was striving for, and determined their main goals were both aesthetic upgrades to match the look and feel of their office, as well as address energy conservation. Energy reduction and efficiency are cornerstones of both AMU and TRC, making for a very well suited business partnership. 

Photo May 15, 10 00 26 AM

 

An office remodel often brings forward some lighting issues that can be easily addressed with the proper expertise, and AMU quickly noticed some problems throughout their space. Uneven light levels throughout conference rooms, offices and common areas, as well as frequently failing lamps and ballasts were causing an unnecessary amount of maintenance. This was slowing down regular business, reducing efficiency of their staff and causing unnecessary out of pocket costs for operations. The remodel project also brought forth the desire to upgrade the look of the lights to match the design and functionality throughout the building. 

 

TRC met with Steve and his team to discuss their specific needs, possible solutions and was shown a fixture selection to ensure AMU found the light fixtures they were really looking for to match their decor. Our lighting experts guided them through this process by providing expertise and unique recommendations for their space. For each area of their facility, for example small spaces with no natural light versus large open areas with high ceilings and windows, multiple solutions were considered based on factors such as frequency of use, the amount of natural daylight and the types of individuals using the space and for what functions. A conference room is better suited to lighting controls, allowing meeting attendees to dim the lights for presentations on a projector, and a lobby area is better suited to controls that automatically adjust according to the amount of natural sunlight through daylight harvesting. Occupancy sensors in the office spaces, as well as new LED fixtures throughout, proved to be an integral part of the lighting redesign. 

 

When the desired solutions were identified, the project came together quickly and TRC ensured that the installation was done with no interruptions, working around employees’ schedules and also taking into consideration customer traffic. Our design team was able to use customer suggestions along with their lighting design expertise to best fit the needs of AMU.  

For this office space of approximately 8,000 square feet, we reduced the overall lighting energy consumption by 45-50%, and met the needs of all occupants. By switching to LED and smart lighting, the energy savings is equivalent to recycling 4.85 tons of waste instead of landfilling, or the equivalent of reducing greenhouse gases by 13.9 metric tons. 

After a few months of regular usage following the new lighting installations, we checked back in with Steve at AMU to see how things were going with the lighting upgrades. We were pleased to hear that employees felt the space was not only brighter and more evenly lit, but that the controls throughout the facility were truly helping out with employees’ daily functions allowing them to customize their lighting in their own offices as well as saving energy. 

 

 

Customer Spotlight Interview with Steve Grandgenett, Algona Municipal Utilities

LED Lighting Upgrade, Retrofit Light Fixtures, New LED Technology, Energy Savings

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant
 

Customer Spotlight - Nate Cardin, Southern Hills Golf Course

 

Photo May 10, 11 03 44 AM_preview-593376-edited  Southern Hills Golf Course

Farmington, MN

“The first thing that our customers noticed is just how much warmer and inviting the atmosphere was. The Retrofit Companies, Inc. made it so easy.” – Nate Cardin, General Manager

 

The frustration of continuously changing and replacing burnt out light bulbs and ballasts is a maintenance nightmare for anyone, and Nate Cardin, the General Manager at Southern Hills Golf course, was experiencing this daily hassle before he decided to give TRC a call.

 

We checked in with Nate to talk about the recent interior lighting renovation and his experience working with TRC. Southern Hills and TRC have partnered many times in the past, and today Nate tells us about their clubhouse remodel and why it was important for them to upgrade their lighting and why he chose to work with TRC.

 

The new technology has helped reduce their overall energy consumption by nearly 50%, equating to nearly a 50% lighting energy cost savings! That is a huge improvement and TRC worked hard to ensure Southern Hills received their maximum rebate dollars, making the decision even easier to invest in the upgrade.

 

LuAnn Verduzco, Lighting & Energy Design Consultant at TRC, talked through the maintenance problems that Nate was facing, and what options would best suit their space when replacing the old technology. Nate was looking for new fixture options that would last, require minimum maintenance, as well as enhance their interior decor and highlight the features they were investing in for their clubhouse.

 

In addition to lowering the required maintenance, the new LED technology that was installed provided a drastic improvement on the distribution and quality of light throughout their entire facility. The changes were noticeable immediately, and both customers and staff alike felt that the new lighting worked with the natural light of the clubhouse and brought a warmth to the space.

 

 

 

 

Customer Spotlight Interview with Nate Cardin, Southern Hills Golf Course

 

LED Lighting Upgrade, Retrofit Light Fixtures, New LED Technology, Energy Savings

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant
 

Industry Expert NALMCO Highlights LED Project

LM&M Magazine

 

A Must-Read in the Lighting Industry.

LM&M, the official NALMCO publication, provides information on the latest industry trends and developments in planned lighting maintenance and lighting technology — content that’s beneficial for NALMCO members as well as owner-occupiers and other industry professionals.  

 

TRC is thrilled to grace the pages of the NALMCO LM&M Magazine as a featured Project Spotlight in the newly released May issue. NALMCO is an organization that has really set the standard for Lighting Quality Management and brings together business experts in the Lighting Industry.

We are a proud member of NALMCO and are honored to share our case study, focusing on LED lighting, design and energy savings in schools and school districts, with the loyal LM&M readers. We get a lot of questions from our customers regarding success stories that they can relate to, and so many businesses face similar challenges to those that were resolved in this project. Check out the original case study Lakeville School District - Lighting Case Study.

 

LM&M May Cover

 

 

Are these issues sounding familiar? Take a look at our Investment Grade Audit E-Book to learn why this the likely the next step for you.get a smart start to your lighting projectReady to take that next step and improve your lighting? Have questions about if you should go with LED lights and why?

Talk to a Lighting Expert

 

 

5 Ways Lighting Can Save Our Planet

 

Chances are that your business has discussed ways to limit their carbon footprint, be more environmentally friendly and maybe even kick starting some green initiatives. Learn more about how easy it is have a positive impact on our planet with this 5 Easy Ways Lighting Can Save Our Planet infographic. 

 

Lighting Can Save the Planet - Infographic

How-To Find the Best Energy Rebates


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You probably know that there are a lot of energy rebates out there that may save you money upfront or have a great payback in the end. But are you sure you are maximizing your savings through energy rebate programs? Do you hear about rebate programs in your area but are not sure what you quality for?

TRC has a team of experts that help you find rebates through utility companies and other programs to reduce upfront costs and increase your payback. We pride ourselves on serving our customers with a full service rebate program from start to finish, providing the research, expertise and best possible options for each project as we stay on top of the ever-changing rebate programs.

Step 1: Make rebates easy

This is the easy part, just call one of our experts and we will help you find the best rebate programs in your area.

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant

But if you want to know a little bit more before calling...

Step 2: Know your market

The LED market is expanding rapidly and this energy-efficient lighting is becoming more affordable. The utility companies are adjusting the rebate levels based on these trends. Rebates for some LED lighting categories have reduced in 2018, but new lighting categories get added to the rebate programs as the lighting technologies continue to change and develop. There is still time to take advantage of the opportunity to save on your energy efficient LED lighting.

Step 3: find the right rebate program

We can help you determine what programs you qualify for and where you can maximize your savings. Many businesses will qualify for programs under the following utilities, however most utility companies (small or large) offer some sort of rebate program. Call us and we will do the work for you!

Xcel Energy

  • Prescriptive and custom rebates
  • Larger users often qualify for Xcel rebates
  • Rebate Finder Tool

New Call-to-action

CEE (Xcel Energy territory program)

  • Calculated based off of total energy savings
  • If you are a smaller user within an Xcel territory, you may qualify for these rebates

SMMPA (Southern MN Municipal Power Agency)

  • Prescriptive and custom rebates

Step 4: take it a step further for more savings

Have you considered installing lighting controls in your building for even greater savings? Lighting controls can save thousands on annual energy bills while increasing comfort in your building and making it easier to run. As part of Xcel Energy’s Efficiency Controls program, you may qualify for a cash incentive that corresponds to the energy-savings potential of your control system.

The more energy your project saves, the more your business can earn rebate dollars.

  New Call-to-action

By working with our rebate experts, you could be saving your business hundred or thousands of dollars just by letting us guide you. It’s so easy, call us and we will walk you through the simple steps.

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant


 

Lakeville School District - Lighting Case Study

 

Lakeville Schools (MN) and The Retrofit Companies, Inc. (TRC) recently partnered to discuss the district’s 2 and 10 year plans at Eastview Elementary School. Both of the strategic plans included goals of implementing energy saving lighting solutions across the entire district. Specifically, the 2 and 10 year plans included exterior lighting along with a parking lot that needed to be completely replaced. The goal was to complete these projects by the end of summer 2017 before the start of the school year. These projects were a combination of replacing old, damaged light poles, with new, and replacing all of the existing inefficient exterior lighting. This school would be the first of many completed during the first two years of their strategic plan. With a goal of improving light quality, increasing light levels, while creating a standard technology for the school district, Sara Guyette of Lakeville Schools and LuAnn Verduzco of TRC developed a plan to perform a study on the exterior lighting along with a district wide study to replace all interior and exterior existing metal-halide inefficient and unsafe fixtures. Partnering with TRC, Lakeville School District was able to make an educated decision to properly address their lighting concerns while implementing energy savings.

 BEFORE W LIGHT POLLUTION-1.jpg

BEFORE: Parking lot with light pollution

PROBLEM:

The district lacked a focused energy-efficient plan that could be utilized across the board, and with multiple goals in their strategic plans, Sara and the Board saw the value in partnering with lighting design and energy efficiency experts at TRC to help them address their needs.

 AFTER NO LIGHT POLLUTION-1.jpg

AFTER: Parking Lot with no light pollution

ANALYSIS AND SOLUTION:

Lakeville partnered with TRC to conduct the district wide Investment Grade Audit to determine the full extent of their lighting needs. Photometric layouts were also provided to Lakeville Schools to ensure industry standard light levels would be installed and would meet their long term strategic goals. Through the study, Lakeville decided to move forward and requested competing bids using the equal scope of work, fixture specifications, and performance standards. TRC was awarded the work and recommended the proper solutions and design expertise for their parking lot and exterior lighting as the first phase of their district wide strategic plan.

Lakeville photometrics.pngEastview Elementary School Exterior Photometrics

Implementing the project presented certain challenges across the board, including construction deadlines and project management for all key partners involved in the total project. With a parking lot replacement, there is a strategic plan involved all the way from coordination of materials, the architect, the sub-contractors and the building engineers being available to provide access to the building when needed.  Some unforeseen circumstances came up during the project, but TRC and all other partners involved were able to work an alternate schedule to ensure the project was wrapped up before the start of the school year. Having confidence and trust in the vendors and contractors that you use for projects is vital to timely implementation and problem solving.

BEFORE BASKETBALL-1.jpg

BEFORE: Basketball Court 

PROJECT GOALS & SUCCESSES

  • Replace and recycle all metal halide and other inefficient fixtures
  • Drastically improved light quality, distribution and levels
  • Decreased lighting energy costs by 44%
  • Annual energy savings of $2,500.00/yr.
  • Simple payback of 7.35 years
  • Cut maintenance costs, new fixtures have 5 yr warranty, minimum of 10 year life rating on new fixture components
  • New fixtures contain no mercury and are much better for the environment

AFTER BASKETBALL-1.jpg

AFTER: Basketball Court

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

  • Carbon Savings: greenhouse gas reduction metric tons equivalent to 22.7
  • Passenger cars not driven for one year: 4.4
  • Gallons of gasoline saved: 2,540.50
  • Acres of forest preserved from deforestation: 0.22
  • Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled: 7.90

 

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant

Shedding some light on led lamp recycling requirements

 IMG_5852_ARROW EDIT.jpg

It is undisputed that LED lamps have become the leading lighting technology, offering the benefits of energy savings, longevity and quality of light. With the rise of their popularity, several of our customers have inquired as to the regulations regarding their proper disposal and recycling.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s publication W-HW4-62: “Although the bulb portion of most light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are not hazardous and thus not (Universal Waste) lamps, the circuit board to which the LEDs are attached is a regulated electronic waste in Minnesota.” See more from the MPCA on E-waste recycling here.

Some of the reasoning behind the MPCA’s decision to regulate these devices is found in the materials used to construct the lamps themselves. Circuit boards have long been known to contain toxic lead solder (along with several other toxic substances), and is regulated in the State of Minnesota.

To help illustrate the situation, we have taken apart several screw-in style LED bulbs to show the hidden circuit board. Red arrows annotate the photographs and highlight the silver colored solder.

IMG_5855_ARROW EDIT.jpg

 If you happen to be outside of the State of Minnesota, be sure to check with your local authorities as to the regulations in your area. Even if your State permits you to “throw them away”, the better choice is to recycle them. After all, why would you just landfill them, knowing that your decision will have a lasting impact on our environment, and the world that our children will inherit.

With over 25 years in the lighting and environmental business, we know about LED lighting and waste regulations!

If you have any questions or would like more information regarding the regulations of LED lamps and fixtures: 

Consult our haz waste team

If you have not yet made the change to LED lighting, we can help there too! There are many things to consider when making the move to LED; don't take on the project alone:  

Consult a Lighting Pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another interview with Darin at Wausau Supplies : Exterior Lighting LED upgrade

Wausau Sign.jpg

Darin is the Central Regional Manager for Wausau Supply, overseeing five Wausau Supply locations. As you may remember, Darin has provided us with great feedback on the previous lighting upgrade/energy projects that we have worked on in the past.

(In case you missed it, here is his last interview: http://blog.retrofitcompanies.com/blog/interview-with-wausau-supply-hid-to-led )

Earlier this year, we completed his exterior lighting LED upgrade project, and he was nice enough to let us know how it went.

What problems or issues did you have with your exterior lighting, and what were you hoping to accomplish with this lighting upgrade project?

"The outside of our building had traditional metal-halide bulbs on the building and on light posts.

Very poor lighting and not cost effective at all…We were throwing money away!!

It also was very unsafe since we have employees coming in at all times of the morning and they could not see ice in front of them."

 

What solution did The Retrofit Companies bring to you to address these issues?

"TRC came out and analyzed the situation and came up with a great, cost effective option

LED lighting …strategically placed so we could get the most bang for our buck

Now when it is dark outside these lights come on and light up the place just like it was daylight outside!!

Very impressive! Satisfaction beyond our expectations!!"

 

Why did you chose The Retrofit Companies to be your partner on this project?

"We used TRC on several other projects and they did an awesome job for us. So when it was time to make the move to LED, it was a pretty easy decision, once they showed us what they could do to  solve our problem. The rebates were an added bonus…payback will be pretty quick compared to our old lighting."

Any other thoughts that you have on the project, your sales rep, or TRC in general?

"Working with good, honest people always helps to calm any concerns we might have!"

THANK YOU DARIN!

BEFORE:

Wausau before.jpg

 

AFTER:

Wausau after.jpg

Did this interview help you get some insight on what it's like to work with The Retrofit Companies? You can read more customer stories here, get our guide to help you ask the right questions when choosing a partner for your next lighting project, or just schedule a call with one of our lighting specialists!

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor

read more case studies on TRC blog

Xcel Energy Efficiency Awards 2017

Thank you to Xcel Energy, once again, for including The Retrofit Companies in this year's Energy Efficiency Partner Award recipients! This is the 3rd year in a row that TRC has received this award. (See 2015 Award and 2016 Award)

Please read below for their press release and information on the recent awards event:

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Greg Olson of Xcel Energy presents the Energy Efficiency Partner award to Wendy Fry and Jake Andrist on May 4th, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS (MAY 11, 2017) – Xcel Energy recently recognized 39 Minnesota businesses for their outstanding efforts to help customers save energy and reduce their environmental impact. The awards, presented May 4 at Pinstripes in Edina, recognized the top contractors, equipment suppliers and engineers that contributed the greatest electricity and natural gas savings to Xcel Energy’s Minnesota conservation programs in 2016. These are the top 39 trade partners out of the 1,475 partners working with Xcel Energy.

The rebates submitted by these 39 companies saved customers 81 gigawatt-hours of electricity and 54,000 dekatherms of natural gas. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, that’s the equivalent of powering 8,800 homes for a year.

Xcel Energy offers incentives, such as rebates and funding for energy efficiency studies and upgrades, to its business and residential customers to encourage them to make energy-efficient choices. Through the help of this group of partners, Xcel Energy distributed more than $5 million in energy efficiency rebates for the various projects completed, which is about 15 percent of the total amount of rebates paid in Minnesota by Xcel Energy last year.

The rebates dollars also helped fund capital projects and create jobs. The Minnesota Department of Commerce reports an 80 percent increase in energy efficiency businesses in Minnesota since 2000 and a 49 percent increase in energy efficiency jobs.

“Xcel Energy’s trade partners are valuable allies that really make these projects happen,” said Greg Olson, Xcel Energy trade relations manager. “They help us reach our aggressive energy conservation goals, save customers money and help them reduce their environmental impact.”

The 39 companies recognized were: Apadana ● Apollo Heating and Ventilating ● Campbell-Sevey Inc. ● Home Service Plus ● Coles Electric, Inc. ● Compressed Air Concepts LLC ● Corporate Mechanical ● Data Center Systems Inc. ● Egan Company ● Energy Management Collaborative ● Graybar – Minneapolis Branch ● Golden Valley Heating & Air ● HomeSmart ● Inflow ● Ingersoll Rand Minnesota ● JIT Energy Services ● John Henry Foster ● Johnson Controls Plymouth ● JT Electric Service Inc. ● Louis Degidio Inc. ● Master Mechanical ● Midwest Mechanical Solutions ● MSP Plumbing, Heating & Air ● Mulcahy Company Inc. ● NHA Heating and Air Conditioning ● Northern Air Corp. ● Noble Conservation Solutions ● Premier Lighting Inc. ● Pronto Heating & Air Conditioning ● Standard Heating & Air Conditioning ● State Supply ● Strebe Energy Services ● The Retrofit Companies ● The Snelling Company ● Trane St. Paul ● UHL Company ● Viking Electric Minneapolis ● Voss Lighting ● Yale Mechanical

For more information on Xcel Energy’s energy efficiency programs, visit www.xcelenergy.com.

 

For additional information on rebates and programs contact us for a consult any time!

Talk to a Consultant About Rebates

Why Invest in a Lighting Study? (Video Interview)

 why invest in a lighting study video.png

Sweet Harvest facility manager, Brian Pleschcourt talks about his experience with an aging and inefficient lighting system, and tells us how the Lighting Redesign Study process worked for his facility.  Read the interview now.

Why did Sweet Harvest decide to replace the lighting in your facility? What were the issues you faced and what were some of your company's goals for the lighting project?

"We knew it was time to replace the lighting in the facility because we had a lot of older existing fixtures with lamp failures and also with ballast issues. We had a general yellowish tint to the building. We wanted to improve the lighting and the quality of lighting for our employees' productivity and safety. Also, to support our green initiatives toward saving energy."


What solutions were evident in the study that you may not have been able to realize without that first planning step of an Investment Grade Audit?

"We saw with the motion sensors and controls on the lighting that we could save more energy. Sweet Harvest foods has a commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and we take that very seriously. We were able to take out the length of the project - as far as payback - a little longer knowing we were making good decisions, environmentally sound decisions. [These were] decisions that would save us money in the long run."

In your opinion, what were the benefits of the lighting study process?

"One of the benefits to the lighting study was that we were able to look at new technologies in the existing building. That [part of the study] allowed us to reduce the amount of fixtures in the layout, lighting exactly to what our needs were going to be. There's no guess work. Everything is calculated and engineered."

 

Watch the video! 

 

If you're thinking it's time to invest in a lighting study, get our free e-book today & learn more:

get a smart start to your lighting project

Lighting Retrofit - Vs - Lighting Redesign

lighting_retrofit_vs_redesign.png

 

As our company approaches its 25th business anniversary, we know this for sure: no two lighting projects are the same. So, when you're presented with several options for a lighting project, how can you know which is the best option for you - lighting retrofit or lighting redesign? In this post, we're going to step through three common approaches to lighting projects and discuss each in detail. First, let's talk a little bit about why all projects are so different.

YOUR BUSINESS IS YOURS. YOU DO WHAT YOU WANT.

You know that your business needs may be similar to another company of your same size in the same industry, but you also know that you've got differing needs. Here are some factors you should consider and questions you should be able to answer as you consider whether or not to upgrade your lighting: 

  • Do you know if you over or under lit?
  • Do specific areas of your process have different lighting needs?  For example, in manufacturing an inspection line and a warehouse/staging area would require different types or amounts of lighting. In an office setting you may have presentation spaces and work spaces where different tasks take place.
  • Are areas of your space unoccupied for long periods of time?  If you are not using any lighting controls currently, this would be a great place to consider implementing a controls system.
  • What does the future of your business look like? Do you have expansion plans or anticipate a change to your layout? 
  • Do you need a lighting system that is capable of growing with you?  By designing with a smart fixture that can do more than what we’ll tell it to do, you can always adjust the light level as your needs change. (This applies to most LED options.)
  • Because each business is different these are just some of the variables that are taken into consideration when planning or designing a lighting system.

WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?

Understanding your business needs is the first step in project planning. Your needs may be simple and direct and your business may not be changing, or you may be a company in the midst of growth and you envision many changes in the future to your business process. Three general options exist; we're calling them "Good," "Better," "Best."

What_are_my_project_options.png

OPTION 1: GOOD 
REPLACE THE LAMPS

This option has a low up-front cost and results in minimal waste. Replacing lamps is generally a quick and simple solution, energy-efficient lamps are relatively easy to find. There is typically a good simple payback with reduction of wattage per lamp. With this simple scope of work, the rebate is also straightforward. In most cases rebates are per lamp, but this depends on the type.

This option will have a shorter over all system life than most fixture replacements; it will result in higher future maintenance costs. Replacing lamps will not necessarily address inconsistent light levels, improve performance, or reduce shadows that currently exist in your lighting. This option is not recommended for rugged or hazardous environments.

OPTION 2: BETTER
REPLACE FIXTURES 1-FOR-1

Nearly half of the projects evaluated will have a one-for-one fixture replacement solution. This solution is pretty likely to result in a successful project, and has been a pretty standard approach in the lighting industry for years. Again, the scope of work is pretty simple, and so is the rebate structure. Rebates are typically per fixture, and removing some fixtures can result in a higher rebate. Replacing fixtures in their existing locations also means a lower up-front cost to this project type because you do not have a cost associated to wiring fixtures to new locations.

With this sort of project, we have seen results where light levels went from 30 to 100 foot-candles in a gymnasium. Without controls, or ability to adjust light levels, a lot of energy is wasted to over-light this space when no events are happening in it. In addition to being over lit, keeping these unneeded fixtures will result in higher costs for energy and higher maintenance costs.

This solution may work just fine for half of projects as we noted, however; the best projects are given more consideration. Redesign planning is where a lighting design professional will outshine a standard electrical contractor.

OPTION 3: BEST 
LIGHTING REDESIGN

Lighting redesign is a collaborative process between a business owner or operator and a lighting professional. The process takes into consideration your business, how it functions, how spaces are used, and any financial and environmental goals that your business has in sight. The solution begins with a study, or deep dive into all these factors, and when research is completed a custom lighting system is designed. Certified lighting professionals work with you to ensure that the scope of the project will meet your needs, and all aspects of it will be planned out in a series of reports before a single piece of equipment is ordered. This is the most sophisticated route for a lighting project, an investment in your investment.

Some utilities offer reimbursement programs to reduce the cost of the investment in a lighting study, which is in addition to the rebate received for energy savings. While a project study may increase the payback time period, the overall results are a lowered long term cost of ownership factoring in maintenance savings and energy reductions. 

Why should you consider a redesign if a one-for-one fixture replacement would be just fine? Once again, this comes down to the level of sophistication that is inherent in LED lighting. There are as many solutions as there are businesses, and sorting through all of those is nearly impossible unless you plan with the help of a lighting partner. You can have a good project, or with a little more insight you can have a great one. Partnership with a great lighting professional will allow you to get the most out of your lighting project investment by starting off with the best plan possible.

 

Curious about the redesign process? Learn about Investment Grade Audits now - get our free ebook!

Why invest in a lighting study?

Auto Sales Lot LED Lighting Retrofit

UPDATED APRIL 2017

Many lighting projects focus on the inside of a facility, but there are many businesses that require high-quality, energy-efficient lighting for their exteriors. Auto sales lots are a great example of a business that needs exceptional exterior lighting. Their "sales floor" is their entire parking lot, there lighting shows off there product, and customers can see what is on display at all hours. Incentives are also getting better to upgrade exterior lighting, even though the energy-usage is lower during peak hours.

Let's take a closer look at a specific TRC project for a car lot:

This client took initiative to educate himself about the kind of fixture and results that he wanted for the auto lot at his business. He needed an evenly lit lot to make the cars look great when people come by to shop. He wanted to make sure that all potential customers are presented with a memorable first impression during off hours. The secondary goal was to achieve fewer shadowy areas so the lot is safer at night. An LED lighting retrofit and energy efficient redesign is an obvious savings solution. Let's take a closer look::

Goals for this Auto Sales Lot redesign and retrofit:

  • to improve energy efficiency

  • to improve the overall 'look' of the fixtures 

  • to reduce maintenance expenses

  • to improve light quality, achieve even lighting, and increase perception of safety

Let's see how a custom lighting design by TRC stacked up against a 'cookie cutter' option where fixtures are just replaced with energy-efficient options instead of a redesign. We compare photometrics and see the competitor’s one-for-one replacement retrofit project was 4.6 average foot candles with a whopping max of 50. The result is all the red ‘hot spots’ you see in the graphic below (left). This solution saved energy, so it looked good on paper, but it wasn’t the best design. Most importantly, it did not achieve the client’s goals.

 
 

 Photometrics-for-Auto-sales-lot.jpg

TRC's thoughtful system redesign (on the right of the graphic above) achieved the client’s goals and allowed even more savings to be captured. This redesigned system reduced the number of total fixtures, removing 48 unnecessary ones. The new design used custom optics packages on those fixtures to achieve a highly efficient, evenly lit lot with 5.6 average foot candles, and a maximum of 10.4. No hot spots, even light, and tons of energy savings. The client achieved maximum efficiency while decreasing their kW and kWh by 85% overall, and met their project goals!

By replacing their HID fixtures with energy-efficient LED fixtures, this parking lot retrofit is saving the client over $3,800 monthly in lighting costs, over $45,000 annually! Immediately after project completion, these savings began. By simply reducing the amount of energy used, they were able to reduce utility costs.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

CARBON SAVINGS: Total greenhouse gas reduction Metric Tons equivalent to: 316.6

  • Passenger cars not driven for one year 62
  • Gallons of gasoline saved 35,490
  • Acres of forest preserved from deforestation 3.1
  • Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled 110

Given the nature of their retrofit, because they were replacing an outmoded technology with very energy-efficient lighting technology and because they redesigned the lighting system, this facility qualified for a rebate from their utility company to help offset some of the retrofit project cost. They received $53,000 in rebate incentives.

If you are considering a lighting retrofit, energy-savings is definitely on the forefront of your mind, but have you considered the other ways that this efficiency in lighting could help reduce overhead? Many retrofit projects help reduce maintenance costs by standardizing equipment, especially in areas where special equipment, such as a lift, is required just to replace a bulb.•

 Read more lighting case studies

Case Study: Test Fixtures & Exterior Lighting

We're sharing another LED retrofit case study story today. For this exterior lighting project, the client is a company with facilities located nationwide. Their savings goals take into consideration the entire network of facilities, but we can see in this single project area how much of an impact that an HID to LED retrofit can make, visually and in energy savings. Another unique aspect of this story is that because this is a multi-unit business, the client wanted to work toward a unified lighting solution to be used across all their locations. This project began with a lighting project design, and was confirmed effective after a real world test install. I spoke with TRC's lighting project and design consultant to learn more.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the Beta test that you did? 
TRC Lighting Consultant: We started this process in 2013 and installed a pair of 90 watt test fixtures in the west side of the lot. They performed well but the customer decided they wanted a more dramatic increase in light levels and the 136 watt fixture was used. It was the fixture we used in the final project, seen in the photos.

Did TRC do any models or photometric layouts before hanging the test fixtures?
TRC Lighting Consultant: 
We went through several photometric layouts using the client's CAD files from original construction. TRC sometimes builds a photometric model, but we can use other CAD files, if the client has them. Through this process we achieved a well distributed light level in the model and selected the first fixture to try in our real world test.

How many fixtures were in the test?  
TRC Lighting Consultant: The initial mini-test was the two 90 watt fixtures. Once we decided that the 136 watt fixtures gave the desired outcome [more light], 58 of those fixtures were installed in their corporate location as the beta test for all company locations.

How long did the fixtures stay up?
TRC Lighting Consultant: They are there for the duration. These fixtures will remain in place as they are satisfied with the outcome.

Did you test more than one fixture type?
TRC Lighting Consultant:  We used just one fixture type, but experimented with lower wattage and optimized to what you see here.

Will TRC install these same fixtures at all the client's locations now? 
TRC Lighting Consultant:  That this is the best lighting solution for the client and their needs, is the hope and dream confirmed by this test. When they are ready to upgrade the other locations will depend on rebate structures and utility rate plans, and how those factors influence the overall project viability. TRC builds the project models with the fixture we know will work best for them, and after taking all the financial factors into consideration, the client will decide which project locations make the most financial sense for their business.

I also briefly spoke to the client, we asked why were they motivated to do this project & what has been the response to this dramatic change? The client said they knew an update was needed, but the beta test convinced them what a noticable diffference they would see by upgrading the lighting system. The guest's responses were also very strong, "I feel safer, WOW!"

Below are some sets of before & after photos and project details, notice the rebate the client recevied for this project:

NW-lot-before.jpg

 

NW-lot-after.jpg

PROJECT DETAILS

  • Replaced 400 Watt Metal Halide Area Lights with 135 watt LED fixtures with custom optics package.
  • Existing lighting had multiple hot and cold spots.
  • The new lighting offered superior distribution giving users of the parking lot a sense of confidence and security. 
  • The fixtures installed also offer L95 Light levels at 100,000 hours.
  • New system eliminates any maintenance costs for 10 years.
  • 70% reduction in energy usage and utility costs.
  • Project qualified for over almost $13k in utility rebates.

North-lot-before.jpg

North-lot-after.jpg

If you are interested in more information about outdoor lighting safety & savings, keep reading.

 Outdoor Lighting, LED Retrofit Case Study

How a Single Variable Can Ruin a Lighting Project

In this comparison we're going to look at one promising lighting project, designed with energy-efficient LED fixtures to replace aging and costly CFL fixtures. However, the initial outcome of the project was horrible, and didn't give nearly the results the client was looking for when they decided to do a lighting upgrade. The premise of this story is that it's important to do your homework for every project, to look at photometrics, understand the products that are being specified in your project, and know how they will perform in real life. This knowledge is paramount to project success. Let's examine the project and how the tiniest change in a fixture almost ruined it.


Here's the before photo of the project area, a gymnasium. The existing CFL high bay lighting system was 66 total fixtures, each containing eight lamps, four ballasts, and using 42 watts per lamp. Fixtures are designed on a fairly dense grid, and the light quality appears to be pretty good, but we know these fixtures are burning a ton of energy. This system also required more regular maintenance than an LED system would require; aside from the energy savings, maintenance savings was a big consideration for doing this project. Even though this isn't a very old system and was engineered to be efficient, no consideration was given to the cost of future maintenance.  With lamp prices exceeding $15 and ballast prices in the $20s, we know how much it must have cost to maintain.  


Fixture-Before

A new lighting system was designed using LED fixtures. Successfully, half of the fixtures were removed, light levels were increased in the new lighting design, and this customer was set to save $6,700 in lighting costs annually. Looking at this second photo, you can probably tell something was wrong with this installation, but whatThe correct fixture was installed, after all. The answer is the LED optics, the way the light is directed from the fixture, was incorrect. The system was designed to put a specific amount of light onto the floor, without considering vertical footcandles. These incorrect optics led to a scalloped effect on the wall. You can see in the next photo, the incorrect optics are casting these cave-like shadows, and make the room look awfully under lit. Keep in mind, this fixture is the same fixture specified, technically: it reduces energy usage by 65%, has a long life to reduce maintenance costs, and is an "LED hi-bay" fixture. After some research and working with project developers, it was determined that a low bay optic would provide must more uniform lighting all the way up the wall.

Fixture-Incorrect-Optics

The point of sharing this story is to say that the success of any lighting project is in the details. In the final photo below, you can see the project area with the same fixture used in the second photo, but now with the correct optics. It's the project envisioned from the start, with successful results. 

Imagine in this scenario, the same project is being presented by two different lighting contractors. The quotes presented to the customer both promise dramatic energy savings and reduced maintenance costs that match the project goals. Imagine further that you were purchasing this lighting project, and that each quote you received is equal in cost. How would you know which project to purchase? Looking at the results photos for incorrect optics and the final after photo here, which would you want? This is an issue that can happen any time two energy-efficient lighting designs are presented by different contractors. In this example, the only variable in the final results is one digit in a fixture code. The fixture manufacturer, layout, installation, and project area are all the same. 

Fixture-After

We're sharing this project with you to highlight the extreme importance of comparing apples-to-apples when you compare lighting projects. Here are our top three tips to be sure you are making good comparisons:

1) Compare the total number of fixtures being installed on the proposal to the number of existing fixtures. Are these numbers the same on each quote?
2) Ask for photometrics for your project. This will tell you the existing and anticipated foot candles in your project area. Which proposal's photometric layout meets your project goals?
3) Investigate and compare the cut sheets for the proposed fixtures to be installed. Are you really comparing the same variables? (wattage, lumens, and fixture life)

Read more by downloading "11 Questions You Should Ask a Lighting Contractor" or our ebook, "How Much Does a Retrofit Cost?" for more insight on project planning for your lighting upgrade.

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor


How much does a retrofit cost?

Why Invest in a Lighting Audit?

Energy-efficiency is a direct path to savings and makes a positive impact to the bottom line for many businesses, but you may be wondering "What's the point in investing in a lighting study," or investment grade audit? We believe there is a singular and simple reason why an Investment Grade Audit is the best way to help prepare for your lighting project investment.

Whether you purchase your study from TRC, another energy service company, electrical contractor, retrofitter, engineer, or architect, our theory is really simple: You shouldn't have to become a lighting expert to expertly buy a complicated lighting project.

More often than not, you want to invest in a lighting upgrade because it makes sense for your business to do so. However, you may not have considered why an investment grade lighting study is the best way to begin. It's the first decision you can make that will allow every consecutive decision to take off in the right direction and result in a successful lighting project.

With an investment grade audit you have an RFP you can submit to several vendors. Inviting several firms in to your business to bid the work you want done will inevitably result in an equal number of very different bids left for you to compare. An Investment Grade Audit arms you with a standardized bid document where fixture counts, operating hours, equipment specs, and every other possible project variable -aside from vendor- are the same, making your job slightly easier. With all the "lighting expert" variables accounted for and all the critical data already collected, you can be sure the project proposals provided by multiple vendors allows you to compare "Apples to Apples."

Your job at that point is to choose a vendor based on price, reliability, availability, experience, corporate buying preferences, or whatever credentials make the most sense for your business. Investing in a lighting study means you've taken the first step toward due diligence. You have reduced the likelihood that you could have been presented with a good looking project based on sub-par data.

To help you in decision making when trying to choose the right partner for your investment grade audit, here are the categories of reports included in an Investment Grade Audit from The Retrofit Companies: 

  • In-depth details on your existing lighting system
  • Existing energy cost benchmarking
  • In-depth details on the proposed (new) lighting system
  • Proposed system operating costs & annual savings
  • Line by line cost-benefit analysis
  • Operational and Maintenance savings comparisons
  • Fixture cut sheets for proposed equipment
  • Photometric layouts for existing and proposed
  • Rebate studies & submittal forms

 

For full explanations of the reports listed above and for more information about Investment Grade Audits, download our e-book here:

 

E-book: Why should you invest in a lighting study?

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