The Retrofit Companies Blog

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

Interview with Darin at Wausau Supplies : HID to T8 to LED

 

Wausau Sign.jpg

 

About Darin & his work at Wausau Supply:

I’m currently Central Regional Manager for Wausau Supply, so I have five locations I watch over. I started in 2000 at Wausau Supply and came in as a day shift manager. I progressed to Operations manager, running just this location. After that I started the position they call District Manager, doing what I do now for the Central Region, watching over five locations.

Sounds busy! Are all of your locations in Minnesota?

It’s quite a bit of travel. The locations I oversee are in Minnesota, Iowa, and Kansas.

I know you’ve worked with TRC in the past on projects at one of your facilities back in 2009, and again most recently in 2016 on a different lighting project – can you tell me about that?

The first project was in 2009, and that was to address the metal halide bulbs that we had. We saved a ton of money when we switched to T8’s, which was the most current technology at the time. We still have that system in the warehouse. It saved a lot of money and it’s still saving compared to what it would have been if we continued to use metal halide.

Then we were talking to TRC rep, LuAnn, and she was proposing LED lights for us. We decided to give them a try in the space for this most recent 2016 project, and they’re fabulous. The lighting is so much better. You can see all the way to the ground underneath the shelves even. Before the upgrade, the bottom shelf would be dark. With the LED lights we get all the way down there and can see things on the bottom.

How did you originally connect with The Retrofit Companies?

One of your sales people just stopped in. The rebates were really good back then, 2008 or 2007, and she stopped in and said, “Do you mind if I take a look in your warehouse to see what you have for lighting?” And we said yes. So they looked at it and said, “We could really save you a lot of money if you just let us give a proposal to you.” We sat and listened, and ended up rolling out that plan at five or six other locations.

We knew it was kind of dumb to have metal halides, even at that time, when there’s so much better technology out there.

For your most recent LED project, you decided to purchase the Investment Grade Audit reports from TRC. Did you take that plan to any other contractors to get comparison bids?

No, but since we have a pretty good relationship with TRC, every once in a while someone will randomly stop in and want to propose to us. Then I’ll send it on to LuAnn, and say, “LuAnn, shoot some holes in this proposal for me.” She’ll say, “Oh my gosh, they’re not even talking about this!” or “They don’t even know the lighting level.” The competition is just trying to undercut everybody, and a few years down the road you’re probably not going to be too happy with it.

With the investment grade audit you know what to expect. It does cost a little bit more, but then you do know what you’re getting and they ask for your input, too.

The next project we’ve already greenlighted is the exterior lighting. It’s all metal halide and long overdue. Your team looked through it, asked some questions and determined that we needed one more light on a building. So, they’re redesigning it a bit based on our conversation.

So, you’ve seen a difference between The Retrofit Companies and our competitors?

I feel more comfortable that TRC is doing a complete job. We don’t want the cheapest job, we want a complete job – something you’re going to stand behind, that you’re going to do it the way that we want it, and listen to us. We’ve found that to be true with The Retrofit Companies, so I haven’t really needed to competitively shop.

Back in 2009, the TRC rep presented an opportunity to save with your upgrade from metal halide (HID) to T8 fluorescent, and now you have this opportunity to improve again with LED technology. What are your goals for this project?

We’d like to save somewhere in that vicinity again. We’re doing it in small bites because the philosophy at the corporate level is that we’ve got a few locations much worse off (lighting efficiency-wise) than we are here. So, if we can do that LED project somewhere else as a proving ground it will help – for example in our Montana facility which is still all HID.

We’re doing these small bits at our facility, the lockroom and exterior, but maybe another facility will be lucky enough to get their entire warehouse in LED. We’ll be able to do that eventually, it makes sense to within the next few years.

With the recent lockroom project, going to LED lighting, were there any surprising results? You mentioned earlier about the light reaching the bottom of the racks, and that it never had before.

The lighting is even and it’s not harsh at all. It’s subtle, like a daylight feel. We were hoping it wasn’t going to be a drastic change where it wouldn’t give us headaches or like the fluorescents that would sometimes have a harsh glare. Everyone likes the light, it’s nice and even and bright throughout the whole space – not overly bright. Everyone has said they like it, no one has had any complaints. Usually, when you get some kind of a new lighting system someone’s going to think it’s too bright, it gives them a headache, or something, but I haven’t heard any complaints at all.

BEFORE:

Wasuau Shelving before.jpg

AFTER:

Wausau interior w Darin.jpg

In your job, I’m sure you worked with many different contractors on various types of projects, and you’ve now worked with TRC at least twice on projects over the years – is there anything you can say about your experience with TRC, how it might have changed, or how it might be different from your experience with other contractors?

This latest project was all good, the install was very quick. They were attentive to what we were doing because they had to work around us, and did a great job keeping everything neat and organized. For example, the used fixtures were out of the way, not in our way, and your electrician did a favor for me. I asked him if he could take a couple of the old T8’s he was taking out and put a cord on there for us so we could use them as shop lights in our tool cage where we had some terrible lights. He said, “No problem,” and threw on two cords so we could also have new lights in that tool cage. I thought that was pretty cool, he didn’t even think about it at all, it was no problem.

Are there any other aspects of the installation or bid process that stood out to you?

This project was only an 8 light switch over, so it was a small project. The electrician came in at 8 a.m. and he was done by 3. All cleaned up and had our pallet of old fixtures ready to recycle, and they had someone from TRC come out and pick them up. At least I think they did, I have to check…

Well, if they haven’t yet, let us know and we’ll have someone come out for you!

Sure thing!

Have you been able to take advantage of utility rebates with your projects? Did TRC help with that?

Every project we’ve done has had rebates involved. The first one (2009 warehouse project) was pretty huge, about 30-40,000 dollar rebate and it really helped out. This last one, was a smaller project so a smaller amount, but the upcoming exterior project anticipates a fair amount of rebate. I probably wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t a rebate. We would probably wait because rebates seem to cycle in and out every few months so it would be dumb not to use a rebate.

How about sensors? What has been your experience with sensors on your lighting systems?

They have sensors on them now, they’re all sensored. That is something that should always be sold with a project. It saves us TONS of money because most of these companies (warehouses) aren’t flying around in all those aisles all night long. The sensors save us a lot. We had metal halides burning the whole time the warehouse was open, and now with sensors on the fixtures those lights might stay off 3 or 4 hours at a time. Consider all the hours saved in a year and that’s a lot of money.

Last question, do you have any advice for other companies that are just beginning to research energy-efficient lighting projects, or just starting out with hiring contractors for energy-efficient lighting project?

I would say, let them show you the numbers. The numbers don’t lie. Let them show you the proposal, show you what the project could save you if you switched over to new fixtures, the breakdown of how quickly it will payback. If the payback is within five to seven years it should be a no-brainer to anybody, whether you’re putting in carpeting or lighting. It would definitely be well worth an hour of your time, especially if you have metal halide lighting. What you’re going to save is going to be phenomenal. You’re going to be a hero within your company for doing it. =

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, or go ahead and get our guide to help you ask the right questions when choosing a partner for your next lighting project!

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor

read more case studies on TRC blog

You've Identified Some Efficiency Deficits - Now What?

energy deficits in lighting

You've identified some efficiency deficits in your lighting system when you completed the "Common Lighting Problems" checklist. Now what solutions are available to you? Let's review some of the common ways your energy-efficiency is being compromised and a few steps you can take to fix the problem.

Problem 1: Your Lighting Technology is Behind the Times

Whether you have discontinued T12 lamps operating in your facility, are using incandescent lamps, or you notice many different colors of light when looking up at the lights overhead, there is a good chance your lighting technology is behind the times. This aging technology is almost certainly costing you more money than it needs to.

Consider addressing the biggest offenders in your facility first by finding areas that waste the most energy:

+ Do you have any affected areas that operate 24/7 or that are on a majority of the time? These are prime retrofit targets. Upgrading outdated, inefficient lighting that is always on can make a definite impact on your bottom line.

+ Look for areas that are easy to retrofit like any accessible area with inefficient screw-in lamps. Replacing incandescents with LED's, or even CFL's can make a dramatic reduction when done en masse.

+ Do you have strange, mis-matched colors of lighting in your facility? This is commonly seen in HID applications like the orange-hued sodium lights common in parking ramps or metal halide lamps in warehouses and gymnasiums. Aside from being energy hogs and taking a long time to fire up, these lamps degrade over time giving less light, but still using their maximum amount of energy. Replacing them is a no-brainer and many utility companies will offer rebates when you install energy-saving solutions instead.

Problem 2: Things Aren't Working Correctly

It seems like something is always slightly wrong with your lighting. Maybe lights stay on when they don't need to be, your lamps are flickering, or they warm up slowly before coming on to full brightness. These are signals that you could be saving more energy with better lighting and cutting your maintenance costs. Not to mention, your facility is going to look a lot nicer without burned out or flickering lamps. 

Solutions here are three-fold:

+ If your lights are on when they don't need to be, you have serious savings potential. There's more to this than just turning lights off when not in use. There are many ways to reduce light output and energy consumption that makes sense for the way you work. Some easy solutions for you to save could be daylight harvesting, occupancy sensors, or high-end tuning.

+ Flickering lamps can be caused by a few things, the simplest fix is just to be sure that the lamp is firmly in place. A loose connection can cause flickering. On a more serious note, you may be seeing flickering as a result of voltage fluctuation. This can cause lamps to burn more or less brightly than intended, and can cause more frequent burn-outs. If you suspect this issue, contact an electrician.

+ We mentioned earlier that lamps that warm up slowly to full brightness could be HID lamps, or they could be some older CFL technology. Either way, more efficient lighting options exist today and you don't have to spend time waiting around for quality light. 

Problem 3: Maintenance is a Real Hassle

Replacing lamps and ballasts or repairing a failing lighting system seems like it's become a full time job for you, or for the maintenance crew at your facility. Perhaps you have a bulb or two that failed ages ago and still haven't been replaced because they are so difficult to access. This includes areas with very high ceilings, outdoor fixtures, exterior signage, auditoriums, churches and other environments where specialty equipment - more than a ladder - might be needed to change a lamp. 

Let's look at some immediate benefits that a lighting upgrade can have on these situations:

+ If you are frequently replacing many lamps and ballasts and maintenance is a regular routine, it might benefit you to consider a group relamp. When lamps are all replaced at one time and you have a good idea of their usage and  the next group relamp date can be easily calculated. Changing all the lamps at once, at the end of their useful life, for example three years after a lighting retrofit, can again dramatically decrease the regular maintenance costs associated with reactionary spot relamping, or replacing lamps as they fail.

+ If the lamps you are replacing are hard to reach, consider using lighting technology with a very long life. For example, did you know that LED lamp life for certain applications is as great as 100,000 hours? That's more than 11 years of diminished maintenance costs! Another quick LED fact is that they work great in cold environments. Imagine how nice it would be not to have to be outside in the winter performing maintenance on your failing exterior lights.

These are just a few ways you can begin so compensate for energy deficits and work toward a more efficient lighting system in your facility. Have you already completed any of these projects? Tell us about them.

You might also be interested in our article about 5 ways to control lighting for maximum energy savings!

Get new blog posts via email

FEATURED Lighting POSTS

Parking Garage LED Lighting Retrofit Case Study

Lighting Retrofit - Vs - Lighting Redesign

Linear LED & Other T8 LED Resources

Understanding LED Linear T8 tubes

3 types of linear Led tubes

T8 LED Lighting Retrofit Introduction & Safety

Pros and Cons of T8 LED REPLACEMENTS (Links)

What are the other benefits of upgraded lighting?

Alliant Energy Lighting Rebate Info

Lighting insight, Utility Rebates & More

FEATURED Environmental POSTS

Shedding some light on led lamp recycling requirements

Aerosol Can Recycling Process

Aerosol Can Recycling as Universal Waste in Minnesota

How to Plan Your Own Community Recycling Day (REPOST)

Pre-Paid Recycling Program

2016 Residential E-waste Recycling Prices for TRC

2015-16 computer Recycling Prices for TRC

New Residential E-waste Recycling Prices for TRC

Mercury Spills & How To Safely Handle Mercury Waste

Understanding Mercury Waste & Mercury Recycling Process

All posts by topic

View All Topics & Blogs