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LED Project Conversion – 6 Common things to Consider

Home / LED Project Conversion – 6 Common things to Consider

What questions to ask to when doing an LED Conversion Project

6 Little Known things that should be considered when doing an LED Conversion project

While most internet research will tell you that you need basic information for an LED conversion. Things like wattage of existing fixtures, hours of operation and wattage of new equipment are typical information for comparing the financial impact of an LED conversion. We have found that many times when clients look at just this information they leave out opportunities to save additional dollars while also incurring additional expenses because they select the wrong product for the application. While this information is absolutely necessary to do an economic analysis, it over simplifies the conversion project. Upgrading to LED is not like changing out a light bulb. In your home you might have recessed lighting, and that lighting may have A-19 lamps in it. Seems pretty simple right… replace the bulb with LED, save money right… Well lets ask some more questions. Is that lighting on for more than 3 hours a day? Is the A-19 that’s in there now sufficient. Do you need a 9W LED, 7W LED, 4W LED? What color do you have in your home, is it Day-White, Natural White, Cool White? If this is starting to sound like an exam don’t fret, its not meant to be, its meant to show how much information we dont consider when looking at a conversion to LED. We have seen many clients go and buy lamps from Home Depot or Lowe’s, get them home and report back that the colors don’t match or the light level hurt their eyes, or the light was too directional. The immediate thought is to blame the lamp, the manufacturer or the fact that sales consultants at Home Depot couldn’t answer their questions appropriately. An LED conversion is not a bulb replacement, its a designed project engineered to reduce your utility costs, improve or match your aesthetics and maximize financial incentives.

Below are 6 things that should be considered when looking at your LED conversion. While this is not in all inclusive list, these items are often over looked and can cause your conversion to under-perform to expectations.

1. Function of the Area being converted:

What we mean by function is what is the primary use of the area being converted. Is it manufacturing that has to accommodate fork lifts or machinery, is it an office setting that requires 30-50FC at the desk, is it a conference room that requires dimming functionality or lighting controls. LED technologies equate closely to a computer…. you could use Microsoft Word to do your budget but MS Excel would be more appropriate. Same is true with LED lights… you could use an LED PAR lamp to retrofit a 20ft recessed can, but an LED down-light may be more appropriate. One of the main benefits of LED’s are their directional behavior. Directional means they can be pointed at the area of need without using refraction or reflective aluminum to direct light to a specific area. The primary reason and LED reduces utility costs is because of the lower wattage, but the second most efficient characteristic of an LED is that its directional properties means it has no wasted light loss based on refraction. LED’s also require no reflector, and in most cases manufacturers will ask that the reflector be removed because its a heat insulator. At ASG Energy we understand that its primary to understand the use of the existing lighting. LED’s are specific and more controllable than a fluorescent and HID. Utilizing the function of the location allows for additional savings opportunities and appropriate outcomes for a retrofit project.

2. Aesthetics:

Building owners pay big money to architects to build, design and plan a properties aesthetic look. Sometimes in involves expensive designer fixtures, or shielded can lighting. No matter the design a retrofit to LED should take into account the existing look and feel. A client should be asked whether that design is appropriate or if there is a need to enhance or change the design as part of the LED conversion. Opportunities exist to enhance, add or reduce lighting in given areas during a design so these should be incorporated in a conversion project. In addition retrofit technologies should be utilized to minimize expense and increase return to a project.

3. Color Rendering should be considered as part of cost benefit

Color Rendering Index (CRI) has been widely considered to be one of the determining factors in quality and thus preference in an LED project. CRI, or color rendering index, is a numerical scale (0 to 100) used in lighting to indicate how a light source will make the color of an object appear to human eyes. The higher the number, the better the color rendering ability. In many cases, this difference is not important. However, for certain applications such as illuminating art or comparing fabric in retail clothing stores, CRI can make all the difference. There is also evidence that high CRI bulbs might be perceived to be brighter which could allow for the installation of lower wattage bulbs to save energy. So why is this important.. well if you asked your current light provider the price of an LED with a 90 CRI you would find, that on average, they are more expensive than the market standard which is about 75-82 CRI. He would also tell you this is required because the color rendering necessary and that without it you would be sacrificing quality and light level. This is true in certain cases like the statement above suggests, and if your looking at an object like art or fabric it could make all the difference and worth the cost. However, if your in an office setting and you ask your current maintenance supplier what is the CRI on the existing fluorescent bulbs you have now, they would most likely say roughly 70 CRI or less. Nowhere near the CRI your LED sales man would have you believe is required. So what is a client to do…. Here is the thing, I higher CRI is great and is a better rendering and quality, however this increase in quality should be looked at in coordination with other factors, like configuration, Aesthetic, and cost. When your ASG Energy Sales Consultant works with you to design your conversion project, he/she can factor in areas that need this additional CRI (like art work, fabrics, display cases, conference rooms with tv’s etc.) and exclude areas like parking lots, and office settings that would just be extra cost, without significant benefit.

4. Existing Equipment:

Identifying the existing equipment is important to understanding what retrofit opportunities are available for a project. Understand the wattage’s, the dimensions of the fixtures, voltage at the line and the amperage of the fixture. A lot of time focus is on the wattage of the lamp. However the real power draw from the fixture is based on the amperage draw from the fixture. A faulty ballast will draw a higher current which will be represented by a higher amp meter reading. ASG Energy Sales Consultants sample fixtures to test for amperage draw so you can get an accurate assessment of potential savings.

5. Configuration:

One main fact in retrofitting is that existing buildings change, lighting moves, and what a property was designed for originally may not be what its being used for currently. As configurations change, so do light levels. Identifying the layout of a room and running a photo metric based on the required foot-candles will help identify if savings can be generated from re-configuring the existing lay-out, reducing fixtures, de-lamping existing fixtures, etc. ASG Sales Consultants will spend the time with the client to determine the purpose of the area and then maximize the configuration to meet that need, looking at both functional design and aesthetic design to determine the right approach for the retrofit

6. Rebate policies and Perimeters:

Local utility companies are incentivized by the federal government through the use of clean energy programs. These programs are designed to reduce the need for power plants and minimize the impact on the environment. This funding is allocated each year by the utilities as cost avoidance. The money is spend in order to increase energy efficiency technology uses by clients, reducing the load on the power system. However money can be allocated by efficiency measure however the utility company sees fit. Years ago solar was a big push and incentives were high in order for users to take advantage of this technology. In recent years LED lighting has been pushed to the forefront because of its significant cost benefit over other technologies. Generally utility companies will rebate based on one of two methodologies (custom or prescriptive). Within these options they will designate what criteria is necessary to receive a rebate. This can be certification based (Energy Star or DLC ratings), could be manufacturer requirements (Light Facts, etc.) or it could be performance based (ie. warranty must be 50,000hrs, harmonic distortion less than 15%, power factor over 95%, etc). All these items determine what products should be used in a certain application. ASG Energy Sales consultants are trained on rebate management. Our team includes accounting professionals including a CPA that reviews the rebate requirements and determines acceptable products to meet those requirements to maximize the projects return.

7. Let your sales consultant analyze your Energy Bill and costs:

Clients don’t like to part with their energy bills. I lot of times clients will say I know my rate or here is my rate. If you have decided to look at a conversion project seriously then do yourself a favor and let your sales consultant analyze your bill for you. The reason for this is your sales consultant is working for you, to get the best rates for your project while also understanding what you are being charged and what generates your charges. This is used to set up your rebate, plan your savings, but also so they can communicate with your utility provider to let them know a project is commencing. Certain costs the utility charges are not read in the meter and are not updated just because you lower your consumption with an LED conversion. Energy cost is a lot of times just one or two line on your utility bill. However most utility bills read like hieroglyphics. They include things like Peak Demand, Actual Demand, Average Annual Demand, Energy Costs above a kWh, transportation, Energy Adjustment, Taxes and Fees, etc. While energy cost is one piece of the calculation, LED’s save on consumption first, then dollars. What we mean is that if any rate on your bill is using kWh or KW as a base for the rate charge, that number is also saved in an LED conversion. This includes Taxes and Fees based on kWh, or Transportation and Distribution based on kWh, or even Peak Demand based on KW. ASG Energy LLC Sales consultants will analyze your bills in detail. Looking at the specific space your looking at retrofitting, is it interior, is it on during peak times of the utility company, what are the impact to demand peaks after the lighting conversion. One Major factory we have seen is that utility companies apply average demand peak consumption as an average over a period of time. That could be a month, a quarter or annually. If you don’t determine when you Peak gets evaluated you might do a complete conversion and not see any savings because your peak charge charge is still based on a previous period. Our consultants work with the utility companies in our clients areas to make sure they are aware of the project and that the client gets all applicable rate changes once the project is completed. Giving this information will not obligate you to anything but rather, will gain you a free analysis of your utility costs that can help support a conversion, as well as a measuring stick to be used at the end of a project to determine the actual results and financial impacts.

While there is a lot of information that goes into an LED Conversion Analysis, those looking at these projects should keep in mind, the effort that goes into the planning of the project will equal the quality of the results that come out. We encourage our clients to meet with our sales consultants, work through these items, design a plan and execute to ensure success and measurable outcomes for the client. If your ready to look at an LED Conversion contact an ASG Energy LLC consultant and experience the difference of designing a project vs replacing a light bulb.

LED Conversion Economic Example

LED Conversion Economic Analysis
LED Conversion Economic Analysis
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