How Much is Your Lighting Retrofit Worth?

Start Your Project Right

How Much Will Your Retrofit Save?

Armed with just a calculator and a few figures from your utility and chosen vendor, you can easily determine how much money and energy you'll save by implementing any retrofit proposal. Use these equations to determine which projects are cost-effective.

kW Demand Reduction =
(Quantity of existing fixtures × wattage of existing fixtures) / 1000

Annual kWh Savings =
(Quantity of existing fixtures × wattage of existing fixtures × annual hours of use) / 1000
(Quantity of proposed fixtures × wattage of proposed fixtures × annual hours of use) / 1000

Annual Dollar Savings =
Annual savings × charge per kWh from utility

Net Payback Period =
(Cost of installation – incentives) / annual dollar savings


Facilities with a significant number of T12 or high-output fluorescent lamps are obvious candidates for retrofits, Havira notes, but so are three-lamp and four-lamp T8 fixtures, as well as older technologies like metal halide, pulse start, and HID.

You don't have to know exactly what you want, Havira notes: "It's very rare that someone will say to me, 'Mark, give me a 94W Lithonia 2-by-4 troffer.'"

However, researching your options will certainly pay off sooner rather than later. At minimum, learn enough about current lighting prices and incentives to make sure your expectations are realistic.

"Get with your contractor and make sure you explore all of the options available to find the right retrofit for your particular building," Green recommends. "How will the project be completed to minimize work disruption? That's one of the reasons why this retrofit met our needs – it was a turnkey project where work was done during off-hours, so we had little to no disruption in our normal business activities without additional expense. Make sure you've got the right kit, the right application, and the right timing."

Also make sure you're retrofitting for the right reasons, Minard adds. You may have a narrow payback period and a limited budget, but don't settle for new lighting that's just as dissatisfying as your old system – it won't take long to regret that decision.

"Make sure you're enhancing the visual environment with the new lighting system," Minard says. "If you want to retrofit and you have an old-style reflector parabolic that traps light but you just change out your lamps and ballasts and go forward, you're not doing yourself any favors. You'll have energy savings, but your light levels will still be subpar. Take advantage of improving the visual environment while you can."


Janelle Penny is associate editor of BUILDINGS.


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