What is the LED Retrofit Process?

According to the Department of Energy, the typical business uses about 7 kWh per square foot on lighting alone, which is one of the biggest energy expenditures for commercial facilities.

To combat rising energy and maintenance costs, many property owners respond by upgrading their lighting technology. For many, that means transitioning to an LED lighting solution. And while some property owners are ripping out their existing lighting entirely and starting fresh with LED fixtures, that’s not the only option.

Another way to get LED lights in your facility is through a LED retrofit. During a retrofit, LEDs are installed in your building’s existing fixtures, or the fixtures and lamps are both replaced at the same time. In both cases, the result is the same – high quality, efficient LED lighting without the cost of full system replacement.

What Does an LED Lighting Retrofit Include?

The typical retrofit project involves a good bit of planning before any new LEDs are installed. For most retrofits, this is what the process looks like:

  1. The facility’s lighting and energy usage are audited – The first step is to analyze the building’s current lighting technology and its energy usage. To do this, the lighting provider will review the facility’s fixtures either through a site walkthrough or through the building’s drawings. Part of this process typically involves an energy audit, which looks at the facility’s energy usage patterns and spots where potential improvements can be made.
    It’s common for the energy auditor to spot lighting-centric areas of improvement, especially if the lighting solution is nearing the end of its lifecycle.
  2. A photometric plan of the property is developed – Once the lighting provider has an idea of what the existing system looks like, they can create a photometric plan of the space.
    Photometric plans are used to mathematically and visually model the new lighting solution following installation. A photometric plan allows lighting designers to precisely place each fixture and know exactly how much light will be present at every square foot. Photometric planning ensures property owners remain compliant with local lighting ordinances while guaranteeing sufficient visibility throughout the property.
  3. The new fixtures and lamps are installed – With a plan in place, the installers can get to work either replacing the lamps or the entire fixtures, housings and all. By opting for entire fixture replacement, your building will be compatible with all types of LED bulbs and products.

This is a high level overview of the process, but depending on your lighting needs, additional site preparation and construction may be needed to place the lights. For example, if your property requires a set of parking lot poles and fixtures, lighting standards may be needed before the poles can be erected.

What Affects the Cost of a LED Retrofit?

It’s difficult to estimate the cost of a retrofit without a few pieces of information. When providing such an estimate, the lighting supplier will account for the following:

  • The scale of the retrofit – In general, the more fixtures that require retrofitting, the more expensive the project will be.
  • Whether fixtures need to be replaced – If existing fixtures are compatible with retrofit LEDs, then the project cost can be minimized. Not all fixtures are able to take retrofit LEDs, but a lighting expert can point this out during a site survey.
  • The impact of any lighting rebates – Lighting rebates are offered through utility companies and are available in most markets. Rebates can greatly offset the cost of installing new or retrofit LED systems, and a lighting expert can help your company determine if such a rebate would be available.

For most solutions, the buyback period associated with LED lighting is a few years or less, which makes it one of the most cost-effective upgrades available to facility owners.

Three Benefits of Retrofitting LED Lighting in Your Building

Over the decades, property owners have always had good reasons to upgrade their lighting technology, but LED lighting makes a compelling case. LED lighting solutions are an improvement over legacy systems in nearly every possible way, including:

  • Better energy efficiency – The cost of operating LED lighting is minimal for two reasons. One reason is its impressive energy efficiency. LED lighting is the most efficient on the market, and compared to metal halides, LED lighting is 70 percent, or more, efficient. LED lighting has a similar advantage over fluorescent lighting. In both instances, LED’s superior efficiency means a quick buyback period.
  • Lower maintenance costs – LED’s lower operating costs are also attributable to its near-zero maintenance design. Following installation, LED lights require almost no maintenance throughout their life, which can be up to 100,000 hours for some fixtures. Compared to legacy lighting technologies, LED lamps maintain higher lumen counts for longer and do not require replacement near as often. This is another big maintenance cost reducer.
  • Enhanced lighting quality and reliability – Facility operators don’t have to compromise on lighting quality, either, because LED fixtures generate high volumes of high-quality illumination. LED lighting is directional, so it can be aimed and metered with better precision, compared to other lighting options. LED illumination is even, free of noticeable imperfections and high-CRI rated fixtures are available for superior color rendering. This all adds up to better visibility and performance.

Retrofitting LED Lighting Can Provide a Quick ROI for Your Business

You may have considered the benefits of an LED lighting system, but are concerned about the initial costs? A lot of organizations are, but LED retrofits offer a perfect middle ground, as companies can get all of the advantages of an LED solution at a price that most businesses can recoup in just a couple of years.