04/11/2007

Everything You Need to Know About Maintaining Your Lighting System

A solid maintenance program is the first step in realizing the maximum potential of your lighting system

 

Implementing group relamping - an important part of a good lighting-maintenance program - means that replacement is done at regularly scheduled intervals instead of for each and every burnout.

Energy Savings and Lighting Controls
Energy savings is just one result of a well-implemented maintenance program, and lighting controls are a way to achieve these savings. Lighting controls aren’t just for pre-set scenarios: A 10-percent reduction in light level is relatively imperceptible, but can double the lamp life of incandescent-type sources. In fact, dimming to 30 percent will quadruple lamp life. (For example, an MR16 lamp with a 4,000-hour life x 4 = 16,000 hours. This is longer than a standard fluorescent lamp, which typically has 10,000 to 12,000 hours of life.) Controls extend lamp life, resulting in less maintenance.

The energy savings for fluorescent lamps is approximately 1:1. For example, if a fluorescent lighting system is dimmed by 50 percent, you’ll achieve approximately 50-percent savings.

In addition to dimming, there are many other opportunities for energy savings using lighting controls. The simplest way is to turn off the lighting when it is not in use. As strange as it sounds, many people don’t turn off lights after the workday is over. Cleaning crews can be advised to do this, but automated controls and occupancy sensors are an effective way of using energy only when needed. Turning off your lights results in overall energy savings and reduces the need for maintenance.

By Jean Sundin

We've all heard about the benefits of utilizing efficient lighting equipment such as compact-fluorescent lamps, energy-saving ballasts, and occupancy controls, as well as rebate programs and the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system. But, navigating through this maze of "opportunity" can be quite complex.

In the meantime, the simplicity of lighting and building systems is lost now that buildings have become so "smart." Facilities are more complex, featuring interactive elements and, ultimately, more pieces of technology to be maintained, such as LEDs, color-changing systems, DMX controls, and video screens. All of these systems require special know-how and expertise to make sure a facility is running smoothly. It seems that facilities managers must now oversee and hire a network of specialists for every building system: IT, elevators/escalators, security, lighting, etc.

Like many of those systems, a lighting system is like a car: Most likely, you're in a situation where you need to work with the equipment you have. It may not be realistic to upgrade right now, but there are many ways to optimize the performance of what currently exists. Understanding lighting maintenance in more detail is the first step.

What to Do First
When considering lighting maintenance, what should come first (especially when there is a limited budget and/or workforce, and everything needs attention)?

Knowing and understanding priorities is essential in getting the maximum results out of any maintenance program. The first question you should ask when it comes to maintenance is this: What are you trying to achieve? Your answer to this question will vary, but answering it can help point you in the right direction. Are you trying to ...

  • Improve the lighting in your space?
  • Minimize costs?
  • Maximize energy savings?
  • Achieve social responsibility?

The priorities of lighting maintenance typically align with these goals when allocating funds. Items related to health, safety/security, and codes should be dealt with first, with other items following:

  • Items that may have adverse consequences if not addressed.
  • Items that will reduce future capital and operating costs.
  • Items that will add perceived value and marketability to your property.

Old or New?
Has the lighting in your facility been designed with lamping logic in mind? The answer can make a big difference. If the answer is "no," the frequency of maintenance, group relamping, and access to hard-to-reach areas becomes more critical. To simplify, maintenance issues can be broken down into two categories: new installation (within the last 5 years) and installations that are 5 to 10 years (or older).

Older installations have many things to attend to and will require prioritization in terms of which items are most critical and should be dealt with initially. In older installations, the lighting fixtures and general layout should typically be evaluated first for efficiency and overall effectiveness.

Rebates and incentives can help justify and offset new-equipment costs, if you decide to go that route. Because the matters of energy savings and rebates have become so important, Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) are increasingly popular. They make it their business to know all about the rebates that are available and how to qualify and apply for them. These organizations offer their services for a fee and, essentially, act as a liaison between the consumer and energy companies. Some manufacturers have software and online calculators to analyze potential savings. But, beware of these computational spreadsheets: Tweaking a few numbers here and there can often produce desired results without being realistic.

Components of a Good Lighting-Maintenance Program

[1] Group relamping. Maintaining a lighting system becomes exponential, based on lamp life. Even though there are sophisticated technologies available, you're more often faced with light sources that have a lamp life of 4,000 hours; 10,000 hours; 12,000 hours; etc.

For the majority of installations, the most sensible procedure is to replace all the lamps at planned intervals, known as "group replacement" or "relamping." Group relamping is one of the most significant aspects of a lighting-maintenance program. Why? Because group relamping has visual, electrical, and financial advantages over "spot replacement" (i.e. replacing individual lamps as they fail). If you only maintain as burnouts or problems occur, you will never establish a manageable, predictable cycle.

Visually, group relamping ensures that the installation maintains a uniform appearance. Electrically, group relamping reduces the risk of damage to the control gear caused by the faulty operation of lamps nearing the end of life. Financially, by arranging the lamp replacement so that it's associated with luminaire cleaning - and doing it at a time when it will cause the minimum disturbance to the activities - the cost of maintenance can be minimized. Group replacement is an appropriate procedure for routine maintenance, and its frequency has a direct bearing on the installed electrical load. However, in any large installation, a few lamps can be expected to fail prematurely. These lamps should be replaced promptly on an individual basis.

Knowing lamp life and the number of hours per day that the lights are on can help establish an ideal cycle for group relamping. Determine the total number of hours per year that the lighting operates and compare that number with the lamp life of the light source. (Lamp life is based on the particular type of lamp and can typically be found on the packaging, in lamp catalogs, or via the manufacturer or distributor.) For example, there are approximately 2,080 work hours per year. A lamp life of 4,000 hours would last approximately 2 years during normal business hours.

Lighting maintenance should not only be a "reactive" task - it is important to plan ahead. Limited resources, budgets, and/or manpower make this even more important. Hiring a temporary crew to conduct your group relamping can save the expense of having a large, regular staff on hand at all times.

  • Planning ahead can allow for allocation of resources.
  • Planning can allow relamping to be "scheduled" to allow time for other projects, or to simply avoid having a problem when you do not want one.
  • Planning ahead allows enough time to organize any special equipment (scaffolding, cherry pickers, etc.).
  • Group relamping means that you're buying in bulk, which results in volume discounts.
  • Buying a large volume of light sources at one time ensures that all lamps have the same properties (wattage, color temperature, etc.).
  • Group relamping in hard-to-access areas (such as over stairwells, triple-height spaces, and atriums) means that replacement only has to be done once every so often - not for each and every burnout.

[2] Know your equipment. To optimize your installation, be sure you have a copy of the lighting fixture schedule that is part of the building maintenance manual, if available. Otherwise, create your own survey and inventory of lighting equipment. Include manufacturer, fixture type/model number, and lamp/wattage information. This inventory can be done during relamping and maintenance, and will make it easier to deal with any problems that arise.

A checklist of maintenance contacts, such as manufacturer representatives, is also helpful. Representatives may be able to help with recommendations on how to optimize or improve existing lighting hardware (especially if it's their own). Some manufacturers also offer training sessions to make their products easier to use and understand. These sessions can be done on-site or at the manufacturer's facility, depending on the type of advice and training required.

[3] Focusing and adjustment. Are the downlights actually adjustable? Properly aimed and focused lighting has a significant impact on light level and appearance of the space. Light cannot be perceived until it hits something, so make sure that fixtures are focused on merchandise, wall surfaces, or whatever is being "featured." If high-quality materials are used, they should be shown to their best advantage. The right lighting can enhance a space without physically changing it.

Make sure all settings are tightened. Some fixtures have internal, lockable adjustments that allow fixtures to be maintained and relamped without upsetting the focus/adjustment. This is particularly helpful for special feature areas or in high ceilings. Once the fixture has been aimed properly, it doesn't need to be moved.

[4] Verify lamp types and wattage. Verify that all equipment is lamped with the correct lamp type, wattage, and beam spread. Watch for wattage and lamp "improvements." Often, designs are done by professional lighting designers to achieve a certain effect. When lamps are swapped out and "alternatives" are used (e.g. lamps with the wrong color temperature, different beam spreads, etc.), the lighting result will also be changed.

Just because a lamp has more lumen output doesn't mean that it's superior. Some installations become overly bright due to unexpected lamp improvements over time. If you have any complaints of glare or brightness, consider looking into this.

Lighting Maintenance Essentials
A checklist for some of the most common lamps in your facility

 

Lamp Type/Wattage

Beam Spread

Incandescent/Halogen

AR 70 & AR111

**Bi-pin bases appear similar, but have slightly different thicknesses and spacing of pins, depending on the lamp - inserting the wrong one may damage the socket.
**MRs w/cover glass are useful for open fixtures.
**Long-life MRs are helpful, but limit wattage availability.

**ARs only avail in spot and flood
**AR lamps have “built-in reflectors” - replacement w/ any other DC bayonet will not produce the same results.

MR11 & MR16

**Many beam spreads on the market.
**Try to get lamps from same manufacturer to ensure consistency.

PAR 16, 20, 30
PAR 36 and 38

**Infrared and energy-saving lamps available are useful to produce same light level and utilize less energy.
**Watch for “long-neck” PAR lamps, as they may not physically fit within your fixture.

**Many beam spreads on the market.
**Try to get lamps from same manufacturer to ensure consistency.

PAR 56 & 64

**Watch thermal requirements when using these fixtures - minimum distance to other fixtures, ventilation, and thermal devices should be checked.

**These lamps have oval-shaped beams - watch aiming direction.

Linear Fluorescent

Linear
T5 & T8

**Typically, lamp length determines wattage - except for energy-saving types.
**“Long-life” versions are available and don’t compromise performance.

 

Not applicable

Linear T12

**Outdated technology consumes more energy than T5 and T8.

Compact Fluorescent

Compact
Fluorescent
(All Types)

**Lamps should not extend down beyond downlight apertures or project out of any fixture.
**Fixtures are designed around specific lamps; light distribution may be compromised if correct lamp is not used.
**Base-down position works better in cold-weather applications.

Not applicable

HID

Metal Halide

**Verify lamp compatibility with burning position to ensure it functions properly.
**Fixtures for most metal halide lamps are designed around specific lamps types; light distribution may be compromised if correct lamp is not used.

**Not applicable for most types - optics and lensing required to shape the beam are typically integral to the fixture design.
**MH PARs becoming more common and do have beam spreads.

 

 

Color Temperature

Ballasts/Transformers

Accessories

Incandescent/Halogen

AR 70 & AR111

 

Not applicable

**Low-voltage transformers required.

**Use accessories provided by the manufacturer - sizes and attachment methods are not always interchangeable.
**Verify spreadlens orientation.

MR11 & MR16

PAR 16, 20, 30
PAR 36 and 38

 

 

Not applicable

**All PAR in this series are line voltage (120V) - no transformer required, except PAR 36, which requires a low-voltage transformer.

PAR 56 & 64

**Both low voltage and line voltage available - check compatibility w/ fixture and transformers.

**Fixtures in high spaces should have safety chains on reflectors to keep them from falling when relamping.

Linear Fluorescent

Linear
T5 & T8

**Critical aspect for this lamp type.

**Watch for lamp/ballast combinations that may require same manufacturer for both.
**May require cold-weather ballast if used outside.

**Bare lamp strips only glow - reflectors are required to push light in a direction and must be adjusted to be effective.

Linear T12

Compact Fluorescent

Compact
Fluorescent
(All Types)

**Critical aspect for this lamp type.
**Variation in color temperature more likely if relamping is done individually vs. group replacement.

**Watch for lamp/ballast combinations that may require same manufacturer for both.
**May require cold-weather ballast if used outside.
**Not all types can be dimmed - check base type (4-pin, etc.).

Not applicable

HID

Metal Halide

**Critical aspect for this lamp type.
**Variation in color temperature more likely if relamping is done individually vs. group replacement.
**Ceramic technology helpful for stabilizing MH color temperature.

**Due to re-strike/warm-up time, dimming is not common or recommended and cannot be used for emergency lighting.
**Watch for lamp/ballast combinations that may require same manufacturer for both.
**May require cold-weather ballast if used outside.

Not applicable

[5] Verify color temperature. Standard color temperatures typically range from approximately 2,800K (warm color) halogen-type sources to actual daylight/blue sky, which is commonly associated with 8,000K to 10,000K (cool color). "Daylight fluorescent" lamps with 5,000K to 6,000K are not ideal when used indoors. A warm or neutral 3,000K is better for office environments.

Look at areas with multiple lamps: If you see variations in color, it could be that the correct lamp was used, but that it has the wrong color temperature. It could also mean that the ballasts need to be checked. If voltage is not being properly regulated to the lamp, it will have an effect on the output. Lamp flickering indicates a problem with the power being regulated to the lamp and typically requires inspection of the ballast.

[6] Confirm that everything is in working order. In addition to making sure the fixtures work, be sure that accessories are not forgotten. If fixtures are intended to have accessories such as diffuser lenses, louvers, spread lenses, color filters, or glare-control devices, make sure that you have (and use) them.

An up-to-date equipment inventory makes it much easier to obtain appropriate replacement parts, if this should ever become necessary. Typically, you will need the manufacturer and model number of the fixture in question. From there, a distributor or local manufacturer's representative will be able to assist and determine product numbers for replacement parts and/or related equipment. Lighting professionals may be able to help as well.

When evaluating new fixtures, captive screws/hardware can avoid the problem of missing parts. Minimal tools needed to relamp and durable finishes are some desirable features to consider.

[7] Watch for compatibility issues. All fluorescent, compact-fluorescent, and HID light sources require ballasts, and all low-voltage light sources require transformers in addition to the lamp itself. These devices regulate power to the light source and should be one of the first items to inspect when experiencing any problems with a light fixture.

Replacing current equipment with "special" ballasts (such as energy-saving types, etc.) may also require use of "special" lamps. Additionally, manufacturers typically only warrant a product if the proper lamp/ballast combination is used.

[8] Get rid of dirt. Installations accumulate dirt over time, reducing the output of a lighting fixture. In the case of most office lighting (2x2 or linear pendant fluorescent), light is typically reflected off of the inner surface, which is usually painted white. If this surface accumulates dirt, it won't perform as well and there will be reduced output of the fixture over time. Dusting the lamps and cleaning these surfaces, as well as any lenses or perforated baskets or louvers, enhance lighting performance and allow the fixture to perform optimally. The frequency of cleaning the fixtures depends on the amount of debris and dust in the environment - cleaning even once a year will help. The ideal time to do this is during your group relamping cycle.

[9] Don't forget exterior lighting. Overgrown surrounding plant materials can burn and obstruct the lighting. Make sure that foliage is pruned and trimmed on a regular basis to avoid these problems.

In-grade fixtures can present problems if not maintained properly. Salt and chemicals used in the winter months can corrode fixtures and gaskets, causing condensation and fixture failures. Fixtures made specifically with Teflon (and/or fixtures designed to operate in a marine environment) can be helpful, low-maintenance alternatives.

Jean Sundin is founder and principal at New York City-based Office for Visual Interaction Inc. (www.oviinc.com).

 

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When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.

Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.


Mitsubishi Electric’s H2i R2-Series heat pumps provide 100% heating capacity down to 0° F and simultaneous heating and cooling down to -4° F delivering year-round comfort, regardless of climate zone.

Connectrac wireways offer discrete power and technology connectivity in open interior spaces of all kinds; affordably, quickly and with long-term flexibility.



When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.

Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.


Mitsubishi Electric’s H2i R2-Series heat pumps provide 100% heating capacity down to 0° F and simultaneous heating and cooling down to -4° F delivering year-round comfort, regardless of climate zone.

 
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