The biggest hurdle to carrying out an LED retrofit is rarely price – it’s paralysis by analysis.
It has become ingrained in companies of all sizes to ‘get 3 prices’ so they can be sure they’re getting value.
The problem arises when the 3 different companies come back to you with wildly differing prices, and conflicting advice.
As a non-lighting expert, you obviously don’t want to make a mistake. So the safest bet is usually to do nothing at all. The result? You’re wilfully wasting energy which is adding to climate change, and you are also wasting the opportunity to improve the working environment for company staff, as well as reduce costs.
So if you’re suffering from this paralysis, here are a few questions to ask yourself.
1: Are you being advised to replace bulbs or the entire fitting?
Replacing bulbs is a quick and cheap option. And it will work for you if, for example, you are leaving the building in 18 months time. But if you want a long term solution which will ensure you are seeing the results for many years to come, replace the entire fitting.
After all, you wouldn’t put a new engine in a decade old car and expect that both would last the same amount of time.
2: What is the wattage of the new fittings?
It’s ‘just a difference of a few watts’ you say? Sure it is. But when each of those watts cost money, and you need those lights on all day every day, be careful that you’re not building in long term inefficiency.
Take the below example which represents a small to medium sized premises. Using a base rate of 0.14 cent per kWh, with operating hours of 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, the difference of a ‘couple of watts’ in just 2 fittings makes a difference of over €63,000 over 10 years.
And that’s without factoring in inflation or the inevitable rising energy costs.
It is only by looking at the long term run cost that you can figure out if you are getting a good financial deal as what is ‘cheap’ today, could start costing you more than the ‘expensive’ option in as little as 12 months.
And the longer you put off making a decision, the more it is costing you both in terms of waste money and energy.
3: Have you asked for and spoken to references?
Have doubts around what you’re being told? Then speak to someone who has been through the full process. You will likely only carry out one major lighting upgrade during your working lifetime, so you want to get it right.
Ask to speak to and visit sites where the proposed company has already carried out works, and contact them armed with questions. Every site is different but find out what went right, and what went wrong. How did the company handle problems and delays? Was everything delivered as promised? And what was their post-install service like?
4: Is a supplier focusing on the brand of fittings and rubbishing all other brands?
Not all brands are created equal. But LEDs are also a commodity product so the vast majority of brands will deliver a good-to-excellent light fitting and light output.
If someone is dissing another brand, the question should not be what is wrong with the other brand. But rather, why are they not confident enough that their own brand can measure up against all others?
5: What are the finance costs and clauses?
If a company is offering financed or leased lighting, seek clarity around the long term costs and responsibilities.
If you prefer a financed option to true Light as a Service (LaaS®), are they offering you a good deal? Or would it make more sense to seek finance from your own bank?
And get clarity around the warranty or insurance supplied with the fittings. If a fitting fails, who is responsible for its removal and replacement? Some warranties force the client companies to shoulder the responsibility for the faulty fitting, including its removal. If height is required to remove and replace the fitting, the costs quickly add up.
But even more costly is the management time which could be involved, or down time if lights fail over a critical production area.
Ultimately, you need to be happy not only with the product, but also with the company you are dealing with. Ensure you choose a long term partner who will be there to help you resolve any issues in the future.