Lighting Retrofit vs. Lighting Redesign
- Jul 16, 2019-
As more organizations look to make this transition, their first question is whether they should retrofit existing lighting systems to utilize LED fixtures and control systems, or move entirely to a new redesign of their entire lighting configuration. As with many other facilities-related issues, this decision will be a function of personal preferences, the facility itself, and budgetary considerations.
If you are working with a limited budget and the facility does not have unique lighting needs, a retrofit may be adequate. Existing lamps can simply be replaced with LED lamps and self-contained drivers. The end result will be equivalent or better illumination with an immediate reduction in utility costs, but maintenance costs will likely be higher than with a full or partial redesign. LED lamps can be more directional than traditional bulbs, and replacing existing lamps will not solve light distribution issues or elimination of any shadows that an existing design had created.
The next step up from just replacing lamps is changing all of the existing fixtures with LED-specific luminaires. New LED lamps and fixtures will likely generate greater illumination than prior-generation lamps, and this option might produce an environment that is overlit. Moreover, replacing the fixtures will not readily facilitate the addition of advanced controls for the LED lights, such as dimming and custom adjustments of individual fixtures.
A complete lighting system redesign will impose the highest upfront cost on an organization, but that cost can be more quickly recovered through utility and maintenance cost savings with a redesign than with a simpler retrofit. Design engineers will analyze the space that need to be illuminated and will sketch out a customized plan that includes a blend of different LED fixtures to achieve optimum lighting in the facility. LED’s are available in a variety of light dispersion patterns that can be mixed and matched to uniformly light a facility with a minimum of dark spots and shadows. The engineer can also incorporate advanced control systems into a new LED lighting design that allows a facilities operator to selectively dim or adjust individual fixtures to alter facility lighting to coincide with particular or changing uses of the facility.
LED lighting technology has advanced rapidly over the past ten years. Decisions about retrofitting or redesigning a lighting system should be based on the most current available information. Manufacturers and designers of LED lighting systems have also gained considerable experience in that time with helping their clients to make the best lighting choices that fit their needs and that do not go over budget. That experience extends to adapting specific color temperature and color rendering indices (CRI) into new lighting systems that can improve employee morale and performance with lighting that better matches natural sunlight throughout the day.