Converting to New T8 Lighting: The Maintenance Trap Door

April 8, 2002
Be Progressive With Lighting System Management - Part 3
Property owners/managers are retrofitting to new T8, T5, and/or compact fluorescent (CF) lighting systems. Most renovation/ retrofit proposals include expected additional maintenance savings in their payback analysis. These savings are based on the expected average life ratings of the existing lamp-ballast combination.Proposals that include anticipated maintenance savings emphasize that the T8/T5 lamps usually carry a two-year manufacturer’s warranty and the electronic ballasts carry a five-year warranty. But when warranted lamps and ballasts fail, who changes them? The labor costs in most cases far exceed the costs of the replaced warranted product. More importantly, over time the failures in the new system will inevitably approach that of the previous system. Thus, the facility stocks a few “extra” lamps, ballasts, transformers, etc. on-site to cover these expected failures. After a few years, the stocks get larger as the failure rates increase. Thus, there are millions of dollars tied up in service inventories.The best way to improve this situation is to specify that the contractor performing the lighting conversion/retrofit include planned maintenance as part of the proposal. This program would include:• Perform the initial renovation/retrofit.• Inspect spaces/zones/locations on a regular, periodic basis for outages.• Respond to emergencies.• Administer the client’s lamp/ballast warranty.• Schedule interim fixture/lens cleaning, if applicable.• Plan with the owner/manager the next group relamp based on the mix of light sources, burning hours, and specified maintained light levels.Many sites retrofitted to T8/CF in the early 1990s have yet to be cleaned and relamped. T8 lamp failures are often 10 percent per year, while CF failures are often 20 percent per year – or more. Plan for maintenance now before you convert.

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