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Hidden Costs of Quick Upgrades

What if you’re on a really tight budget but upper management demands energy savings? You run some numbers and see you have just enough money to swap out most of the fluorescent lamps for more energy-efficient versions. No need to buy new ballasts, either!

After a few months, the plant controller wants to know why the company is “Buying so many lightbulbs all of the sudden?” As often happens with quick fixes, the underlying problem wasn’t solved but a new one was added.

In this case, there’s a mismatch between the ballasts and the lamps, so the lamps frequently burn out. While it’s possible to successfully do a lamp-only upgrade, it’s also true that you don’t necessarily end up with matching components. Another problem with this lamp-only approach is it fails to tap into most of the potential energy cost reduction.

For a cost-effective lighting upgrade, you can’t think in terms of components. Begin with a lighting survey. Lighting must first be adequate for the needs of the users, then you can look at meeting that need with less energy cost. Determine how much light you need where. Then look at how to provide that level of light where needed. Pay attention to where you’re throwing the light now; maybe just moving a light will provide the needed lighting level.

Some energy-saving items to consider:

  • All fixture components - ballast, shade, lens, etc.
  • Controls - dimmers, timers, occupancy controls
  • Higher distribution voltages
  • Wiring, including oversized neutral

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection