Top 10 Avoidable Lighting Mistakes

Is your facility suffering from poor lighting quality or burning through lamps too quickly? You may be inadvertently making one of these all-too-common lighting mistakes and wasting time, energy, and money as a result. Review your lighting practices and conduct an informal walk-through to find correctable lighting mistakes and decrease energy consumption.

6) This sounds too good to be true.
Believe it or not, sometimes you really can cut your costs drastically while maintaining the same level of light. It’s all about using real-world data to make decisions.

“A lot of people are reluctant to believe that you could reduce your wattage 30 to 60% using reflectors and technology and still have the same amount of light you did before,” Havira explains. “Skepticism is the biggest hurdle, even when you can look at a list of literally 1,000 companies that have obtained the same savings.”

7) Dueling mistakes: Overanalysis vs. underanalysis.
Many companies make one of two costly mistakes when reviewing potential solutions, Havira says – researching their options to death (a phenomenon Havira refers to as “paralysis from overanalysis”) or not researching enough. Both can derail your cost-cutting plans.

One foundry decided to retrofit their 320W metal halide lighting with pulse start products, saving about 100 watts per fixture, Havira explains. The problem: the lamps’ lenses were acrylic, not glass, and no one had realized this would backfire.

“Near the ceiling of this particular foundry, it’s 170-plus degrees F.,” Havira says. “The acrylic was melting off the screws holding the lens in place and falling on the employees. Know your environment.”

This applies to the entire installation, not just the fixtures and lamps, Havira adds.

“As a less common example, one facility went from metal halide to a T5 in over 1,000 fixtures. That’s normally a great retrofit option, except that this particular facility did a lot of acid washing in a corrosive environment,” Havira explains. “They hung it with aircraft cable, which is a very thin wire, and the cable just corroded. I don’t know what they were thinking. Those are things you have to be conscious of.”

8) We’ll lose this funding if we don’t use it now.
Institutional applications often suffer from budgetary restraints beyond the need to do more with less. The year-to-year structure of budgeting for schools and municipalities can lead to poor choices out of seeming necessity.

“They’ll fit whatever is in the budget to their parameters. It’s not necessarily the smartest decision, but if they don’t use that funding, they will lose it,” Havira says. “If they had waited a year or two to do the lighting properly, they could have saved more money – but the better option was more expensive and budgeting didn’t allow that to happen.”

9) If I can’t upgrade to X, forget it.
Don’t get too hung up on a state-of-the-art upgrade, says Eric Lind, vice president of global specifications for Lutron. The point is to have energy-efficient lighting that illuminates your facility well.

“People become so caught up in new technology that they’ve lost sight of the fact that there are a number of fluorescent products that last 50 to 60,000 hours,” Lind explains. “There are other sources beyond LEDs that last a long time, and people often discount how consistent some of these staid and true options are.”

10) I’m pretty sure we’re saving money.
To manage your energy consumption properly, you need hard data collected regularly, not assumptions based on design, Lind says.

The cost of the metering equipment is justified by the potential savings.

“Putting in meters does cost some additional money,” he adds, “but the meters provide the mechanism to help these buildings perform more efficiently.”

Remember that meters aren’t a cure-all either, Lind adds. Even the simplest plug-and-play technology should still be calibrated and tested routinely to ensure maximum savings.

“Often sensors are installed and the building is occupied, but the sensors don’t operate properly so people are bypassing the system manually,” Lind explains. “You may very well have a system that isn’t saving energy – that inconsistent performance led to the building owner bypassing it.”

 

Janelle Penny janelle.penny@buildings.com is associate editor of BUILDINGS.

 


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