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Is Your Building a Candidate for a Lighting Retrofit?

August 29, 2017 | Best Practices | Lighting

led lighting retrofit

Instead of replacing your lighting system, a lighting retrofit switches some of the components within the system to make it more energy efficient and longer lasting. But how do you know whether your building would benefit from a lighting retrofit instead of a full system replacement?

A good place to start is by asking yourself these six questions. If you answer “yes” to them, then a lighting retrofit may be a good option for your building.

Q: Is the building more than 10 years old?

The age of the building – and its systems – may make it a good candidate for a lighting retrofit. More than half of U.S. commercial buildings were built before 1980, and many of them are relying on outdated lighting technology.


About half of all buildings were constructed before 1980. The median age of buildings in 2012 was 32 years.

U.S. Energy Information Adminstration, 2012 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey


Over the last several years, federal legislation has been phasing out older lighting options – or making them difficult to find (and more expensive once you do find them). T12 fluorescent lamps are a good example. Although manufacturing and importing of most T12 lamps was barred in the United States as of July 14, 2012, the lamps are still in use and available – but they cost much more than they used to. Lighting retrofits can help buildings of any type move away from outdated lighting technology, which ultimately reduces operating and maintenance costs.

Q: Do you like your existing fixtures?

led retrofit lighting kits
Philips InstantFit tubes are compatible with 80 percent of fluorescent ballasts and provide up to 50 percent more energy savings than T8 fluorescent systems.

Philips EvoKit LED Retrofit Kits - Animated Installation Video


Even if you upgrade to energy-efficient LEDs, fixtures don’t have to be replaced in most cases. The lighting retrofits can be completed without breaking the ceiling plane, so network cabling, ductwork, and potential asbestos don’t have to be disturbed. A retrofit kit can be installed into an existing fixture by removing the door frame assembly, disconnecting the ballast, de-lamping the fixture, and placing the kit into the open space.

Q: Would it be helpful to free up money currently being spent with the local utility each month?

Spending a certain amount of money each month to the local utility can be painful as you think about other ways the cash could be used. A lighting retrofit can help reduce your energy costs, which reduces utility bills – and frees up money that can be used for other projects or purposes.

Q: Do you want better control over your lighting system?

Many of today’s lighting retrofits involve an upgrade to LEDs because of their lower energy use and operating costs. These lamps can also provide dimming options that may not be available with your current lighting system.

Dimming controls can help reduce lighting energy usage even more by allowing lighting levels to be lowered when natural light is available or a space is empty.

Q: Are there financial incentives available?

Right now, rebates and incentives are available from the government and local utilities. There are some signs, however, that these financial motivators may not be around forever. As an example, one major utility in Iowa recently decreased its rebate amount for tubular LEDs (TLEDs).

There’s no guarantee that lighting rebates and incentives will be around in the future; capturing these incentive dollars while they’re available can help lighting retrofit projects become more feasible.

Retrofit Lighting Case Studies:
led retrofit lighting kits
LED Retrofit Kits Helping College Campus Cut Costs

When Palmer College of Chiropractic realized their lighting was out of alignment with current technology, they turned to LED retrofit kits.
Read more »

retrofit lighting upgrade
Retrofit Lighting Helps Healthcare Facility Save Big on LED

St. Anthony's Regional Hospital took advantage of a generous rebate program to retrofit its facility to more energy efficient LED lighting.
Read more »

led retrofit lighting
LED Retrofit Lighting Brightens Historical Building

With fluorescent bulbs burning out daily and enticing rebates available, the Nelson family was ready for a LED retrofit lighting upgrade.
Read more »

Q: Do you want to reduce lighting maintenance costs and time?

It’s true that an LED retrofits can provide longer lamp life, significant energy savings, and reduced replacement requirements. But it’s important to know that the systems – just like any lighting system – will reach the end of their useful life one day. LEDs fail differently than other lamps (they dim gradually instead of suddenly turning off), so they don’t go out without warning, giving you time to plan for a lamp replacement.

Getting Started with a Retrofit Lighting Upgrade

The best way to get a good result with your lighting retrofit is to work with a partner that knows which types of solutions work in certain situations, can steer you in the right direction, will make sure you claim the rebates and incentives you quality for, and has a strong warranty supporting its lighting products.

Van Meter’s new retrofit lighting program, FlipSwitch, service helps buildings of all types achieve cost-effective lighting retrofits without large capital investments. In three to five years, most buildings can expect to see a full return on their lighting investment. Simplified financing using Van Meter dollars is also available with Flipswitch, giving you the option to complete a lighting retrofit even if it wasn’t originally in your budget.

See how much you can save with FlipSwitch »

energy business development manager ARTICLE WRITTEN BY:


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