Debating LED vs Fluorescent

by | Jun 14, 2013

Lighting retrofitCost is a big factor for energy managers weighing choices in lighting retrofits, but so are concerns that today’s technology will only get more efficient and less expensive over time. Despite these concerns, waiting will only delay the potential energy and cost savings you can get by upgrading to fluorescent or LED lighting that is available today, according to Sustainable Plant.

Large warehouses, manufacturing facilities and retail spaces require big outlays for a complete retrofit, but meanwhile, the cost of operating them with existing lighting systems that don’t have sensors and automated controls will keep increasing as energy costs increase.

Sensors that help reduce the amount of time lighting systems are on and the efficiency that a fluorescent or LED light will offer will lead to significant reductions in operating costs over the next few years, which makes for a compelling argument to proceed with retrofits and the technology that is right for a facility.

Run time plays a critical factor in the decision to upgrade – the longer your lights stay on at your facilities, the more it makes sense to retrofit them, especially if your lights are inefficient and your energy costs are high, which was one trend that emerged from LightFair in April.

While some facility managers opt to go with upgrading to more recent fluorescent technology, Independence LED’s CEO made the case for switching to LED, leapfrogging straight to cutting edge technology as opposed to repeatedly upgrading in phases to the next technology, which makes for multiple retrofits where the costs add up.

Rolling retrofits, where managers simply wait and replace burnt light bulbs with LEDs, is another option to retrofit.

Kitchen and bath supplier Davis & Warshow converted its entire 209,000-sq-foot Queens, NY, distribution center from fluorescent tubes to LED tube lighting last fall. As a facility with high lighting run times, outdated bulbs, and a location in an expensive electric market, it was a prime application for LEDs.

Davis & Warshow says it is the country’s first facility to achieve net zero lighting costs with LED tubes, thanks to a rooftop solar array installed in 2010 that provides more energy that the 200,000 annual kWh needed to power the lighting. Prior to the conversion, lighting equaled nearly 65 percent of the structure’s total power usage, costing almost $50,000 per year. It now has decreased to less than 50 percent of the building’s total energy use and costs less than $20,000 per year to run.


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