There are many different reasons to carry out an LED retrofit – and a handful of reasons not to.
But your motivation for an upgrade will dictate whether it’s a good time to carry out a project now, or if you should wait.
We’ve heard of a variety of reasons for carrying out an LED upgrade, from simply reducing costs, to minimising the amount of energy used per litre of beer produced.
So before you start making any decisions, first ask yourself why you’re switching from traditional light to LED.
Are you solving one of the following problems?
1: “I want to release cash flow”
Great idea, LEDs will do exactly that – but only if the existing fittings are high wattage, and you have long operating hours.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that all LEDs will pay for themselves in a matter of months because a number of variables come into play.
The good news is that replacing energy eating lights such as high bays with low wattage LED high bays, will absolutely release cash flow. This is down to basic maths – if you replace a 400 watt light with a 100 watt light, you will see significant savings. And even more so if you operate 24/7.
The bad news is that if your site is littered with 26 watt downlights, they won’t pay for themselves for many years. You could replace it with a 7 watt LED downlight but with a mere 19 watts saved on your energy bill, it will take many years to cover the cost of the fitting and its installation.
So unless they are broken, don’t replace low wattage lights if it’s cash flow you’re after.
And those lights in that corridor at the back that are rarely turned on? If the running cost for the lights is already a small number, then the savings generated will similarly small. Don’t do it if you want to see cash savings. And be wary of anyone who tells you otherwise in order to sell you LEDs.
2. “I need new lights”
Lights, like everything else, don’t last forever.
It is inevitable that your existing light fittings will start failing and at that point you will face the choice of either regularly sending someone up in a ladder or scissor lift to replace them. Or you could replace the whole lot. The risk with the former is that your ceiling will end up resembling a patchwork quilt.
The second reason people need new lights is because the old lights, while still going on and off as required, are no longer adequately bright.
And that leads us to our next question.
3. Is the quality of light hampering productivity?
Think light isn’t crucial to your business?
At UrbanVolt we’ve seen it all from warehousing staff having to use a light on their mobile phone to read labels on packages, to production lines being shut down temporarily because they’re no longer safe to operate in the dim light.
The reality is that light often isn’t important until there is none of it. What you really don’t want to happen is for your money maker to stop because the lights are out.
One of our warehousing clients recorded a 23% reduction in their average picking time after their old lighting was upgraded to UrbanVolt’s LEDs, delivering a measurable result to the bottom line.
So if productivity in your company has stagnated, it might be time to look up – and change those lights.
4. “I want to save the world”
Ok, so we haven’t heard that exact phrase.
We’re referring to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), or even just an environmental consciousness – an impetus to reduce energy consumption, rather than mere energy cost. But there is a crucial difference.
Every time we hear that CSR is important to a client we ask the questions, what is your metric and your deadline for delivery?
The reality is that unless you have a definitive answer for both those questions, you aren’t going to invite disruption on site simply because it’s the ‘right thing to do’.
Typically larger companies have a percentage reduction which each site must achieve. Many companies are also beginning to push back into their supply chain and are requesting to see proven energy reduction from their suppliers.
So unless someone has a number they must reach, this should be treated as ‘nice to have’ but not a ‘must have’.
5. Maintenance has become an issue
Changing your kitchen bulb at home isn’t difficult.
But if you need to change a bulb over a production line which operates 24/7 and which cannot have any particles falling on it, then you have a complex project on your hands.
Lights start failing when they come to end of life, or if they are in a particularly harsh environment. So if a significant amount of your staff’s time is going on switching out bulbs, it’s time to find a long term solution.
As LED technology has developed so much in recent years, it is the best solution for companies which are looking to upgrade their lighting and build in long term efficiency.