7 Tips to Maximize LED Retrofits

What are your priorities for your next LED lighting project? Are you aiming for energy savings? Is the constant need to replace failed lamps cutting into the time you could be spending on other maintenance? Or are you just not happy with the quality of your existing light sources?

LED lighting could help solve these issues. This ultra-efficient light source is more affordable than ever thanks to plummeting component prices and energy efficiency incentives. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, make sure your LED retrofit delivers maximum value with these tips.

1. Define the issue

What problem are you trying to solve with an LED retrofit? Are you mainly prioritizing energy savings, or are there other problems that the new installment needs to solve too?

The General Services Administration (GSA) suggests asking yourself these questions to help define your needs:

Is the space already overlit?
What are your current and future lighting needs?
How long do you plan to occupy the space?
Do you want to incorporate sensors into fixtures?
What control capabilities are you looking for, even beyond your lighting system?

2. Comprehend Unique Challenges

Special spaces may have more requirements than a standard office. For example, the natatorium project required fixtures that were IP rated for at least a damp location. “Even though it’s a controlled environment with air conditioning and dehumidification, humidity still creates a issue,” Cherone says.

Stopping glare was also crucial for safety and navigability, so Optec used an indirect lighting strategy where the light was tilted onto the ceiling first and then back down into the water to ensure the pool was adequately lit while minimizing glare.

Weather and the ability to stand up to tough kitchen environments were crucial considerations for the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. retrofits, Rogers notes. She sought out suggestions from trusted suppliers who were familiar with the restaurants’ needs.

3. Customize Solutions to Every Application

Use the audit results and your assessment of your own needs to further narrow your lighting options. Rogers used footcandle measurements to select fixtures after determining that the restaurants needed 30-50 fc in the dining room and 80 over the order counter and in the kitchen area.

4. Review Product Design

GSA suggests doing a mockup for all retrofit projects, especially if the replacement lamps will use the existing sockets. “For one-to-one replacements, compare light distribution to determine if the light levels will be comparable when switching from an omni-directional (fluorescent) to a directional (LED) light source,” GSA suggests. “Use the mock-up to assess the complexity of re-wiring for a retrofit lighting system.”

5. Optimize Lighting Controls

Lighting control systems will further drive down your space’s lighting power density and help you derive maximum value from your new LED lighting, GSA notes. Some will dim your LEDs initially and increase light output over time to counteract the gradual degradation, while others have additional features such as zoned control and occupancy detection.

6. Coordinate Carefully

A retrofit covering multiple sites requires extra attention upfront. Rogers suggests using the same company that conducts your audit to handle the ordering and installation—fewer handoffs amongst vendors means fewer opportunities for miscommunication. If you have a large portfolio, consider having the manufacturer ship supplies to every building ahead of time to eliminate potential ordering hiccups.

7. Keep Up with Cleanings

LEDs have a fairly long service life compared to other lamp types, so as long as you purchased quality products, the installment went smoothly, and the new lighting system is operated within the parameters specified by the manufacturer, your lighting system should remain hands-off for years. However, GSA suggests that you continue the regular cleaning you’re already doing on your existing lighting.