A helpful reference is to have two years of energy and maintenance costs available for your old fixtures, says Teichman. Rather than a modeled estimate, these numbers will help you project a true payback and validate manufacturer performance claims once the installation is complete.
When considering your budget, also make sure to compare initial vs. lifecycle costs. It’s tempting to go for the lowest upfront price, but it may not yield the savings you’re looking for in the long run, cautions Wilcox.
“A solution with a slightly higher upfront cost will often be the lowest cost solution over the product’s lifecycle,” adds Eric Snyder, marketing manager for Eaton.
You should also consider options that will make it easier and faster for your crew to reach fixtures for repairs, cleaning, and inspections. Ask your lighting vendor about service packages that can save money in the long run, Wakefield advises.
For multitenant properties, confirm which party owns which light fixtures and how costs are divided between the tenants and owners.
“Large anchor tenants, for example, may be responsible for the lighting outside of their storefront. But as businesses change over the years, the responsibility for ownership and maintenance can get lost,” Teichman says. “Building owners may be inadvertently maintaining certain poles and shouldering those costs when in fact they don’t own all of the fixtures.”
4) Read the Fine Print
While energy and maintenance are key considerations, keep an eye out for variations in housing, installation, and listings and standards.
“When comparing two products, key differences can be buried in the specifications,” Snyder emphasizes. “Don’t overlook details such as surge protection, vibration ratings, lumen maintenance, and warranty coverage.”
No matter how long your warranty period is, make sure to inspect fixtures after installation to verify that their performance is on track.
“Most LED failures tend to happen within the first month of installation so make sure that you go back to confirm everything is still working,” Teichman stresses.
5) Try It Before You Buy It
There’s no reason you can’t retrofit a smaller area before committing to a solution for the entire installation, says Wakefield.
“If you have a large project, you could be buying dozens, if not hundreds, of replacement fixtures. Buy a couple first and see how they look once they’re in place,” Teichman recommends. “Try out a handful of the new lights to confirm there’s an improvement in illumination, uniformity, and aesthetic presentation.”
This wait-and-see approach allows you to tweak the design if necessary and iron out any other performance problems. You might, for example, find compatibility issues between older components and the replacement parts or run into communication challenges between controls, says Wilcox.
Don’t be shy about asking your manufacturer about installations you can visit in person either, notes Snyder. It’s helpful to see real applications before partnering with a vendor, particularly for large renovations.
Jennie Morton firstname.lastname@example.org is senior editor of BUILDINGS.