What You Need To Know About LED Retrofitting

In today’s energy conscious environment, LED retrofitting has become an increasingly popular option for commercial and industrial businesses throughout the world. While the energy savings benefits of LEDs are obvious, there are several other benefits that business owners and building managers should consider when making the decision to retrofit their facilities to LED lighting. These include significantly reduced maintenance costs, as well as dramatically improved lighting quality.

Overall, switching to LEDs provides an environment that’s more aesthetically pleasing and also more conducive to safety and productivity. For these reasons, LED retrofitting is something your business should seriously consider when looking to improve your facilities and your bottom line. This is particularly true for large industrial applications such as warehouses.

Throughout this article, we’ll explain what’s involved with retrofitting. This includes explaining the various benefits and also providing examples of cost savings associated with it.

What is An LED Retrofit?

LED stands for “Light Emitting Diode”, which is what gives LED lighting fixtures their light. LED’s are used in practically every electronic device being sold today. Specifically, LED’s have become dominant in the lighting industry due to their compact size, energy efficiency, minimal maintenance requirements and the quality of their color rendering (known as CRI – Color Rendering Index).

An LED retrofit is essentially a conversion of an existing fixture (whether it be CFL, Fluorescent, Incandescent, etc) to a LED lighting fixture. Sometimes it is not possible or practical to retrofit an existing fixture to LED – in those cases the existing fixture would be replaced entirely with a new LED fixture.

Cost Savings

In this section, we’re going to provide a case study from one of our end-users. This example involves a busy office building based in Michigan who switched from fluorescent lamps to Straits LED office lighting fixtures.

  • Improved annual return on investment by 115%
  • Annual savings of $62,000
  • 22% increase in lighting levels
  • Longer lasting lighting
  • 100% reduction of lighting mercury levels
  • Removed 29 tons of CO2 annually

Below are images showing their office space before and after using our products. Their T8 fluorescents were replaced with X-Series LED T8 tubes. 15 watt X-Series tubes are a direct replacement for 32-watt fluorescents.

Dimly lit office space with fluorescent lighting prior to using Straits LED lighting fixtures
Brightly illuminated office space after replacing fluorescent lights with Straits LED troffer lighting fixtures.

What Are The Benefits of LED Retrofitting?

Energy Savings – The primary benefit of LED retrofitting as previously mentioned is the drastically lowered energy consumption compared to traditional and fluorescent lighting – resulting in as much as an 80% reduction in energy costs over a year. Roughly 90% of a building’s total lifetime cost (including the initial cost of the building itself) is wrapped up in operating expenses, the largest portion of which is energy costs from lighting. This makes energy efficient LED retrofitting an obvious choice for commercial and industrial buildings.

Reduced Maintenance Costs – Another benefit of LED retrofitting is the dramatically reduced maintenance costs of LED lighting fixtures. Traditional light fixtures have a finite parts lifespan, incurring a significant cost in terms of maintenance labor hours as well as replacement bulbs, ballasts, etc. LED lighting on the other hand has an exponentially longer operating lifespan, requiring far less parts replacement and the associated labor hours. The savings in these costs associated with LED lighting can add up to a significant amount long term, making the switch to LED lighting a wise decision.

Improved Lighting Quality – One thing that is often not discussed regarding LED retrofitting is the increased quality of the light itself from LED fixtures. The primary measure of the quality of a light is its Color Rendering Index (CRI). The CRI scale runs from 0 (grayscale) to 100 (natural light) – the higher this number the better the quality of light. Any light with a CRI of 90 or above is considered excellent – which LED lighting achieves. This increase in the quality of light will not only increase the aesthetic appeal of commercial and industrial facilities, but it will also increase the general quality of life for employees, customers and anyone in these facilities.

Increased Safety – Switching to LED fixtures also increases the safety of facilities due to the improved visibility. Traditional lighting falls below the CRI of LED lighting – somewhere between 70 to 80 CRI range in best case scenarios, but usually far less.

The color temperature of LED retrofit lighting (independent of CRI) can also be selected to match the environment it is being used in – a benefit which is not possible in most traditional lighting. The color temperature is essentially the “glow” of the light. This is measured on a scale of approximately 1500k to 8000k. The lower the number on the scale, the more red the color of the light and the higher the number on the scale, the more blue the color of the light. Typically sunlight is 5000k, and can reach up to 6500k depending on cloud cover. The color temperature selected for your application is ultimately up to your preferences, there is no best color temperature for every application.

What Should Be Considered When Doing an LED Retrofit?

LED lighting functions in a different manner than traditional lighting. Therefore, a couple things should be considered when doing an LED Retrofit in your facility:

  • Retrofitting existing fixtures can somewhat limit your options in terms of what is available in the LED lighting marketplace. Most LED lighting is offered in multiple retrofit configurations to work in most existing fixtures, but sometimes it’s not possible.
  • Dimmer switches and controls for traditional lighting will not work for LED lighting. When retrofitting your fixtures, you will also have to change the dimmer switches to an LED specific version if you would like to keep the dimmer feature.

Types of LED Retrofits

There are several types of LED retrofits and fixtures available for offices, corporate facilities, retail stores, warehouses, and general commercial and industrial use. These range from drop-in LED bulbs that work in existing traditional fixtures to replacement LED fixtures that mimic the size, shape and aesthetics of the traditional lighting fixtures they replace. Below is a list of fixtures commonly available:

LED Tubes – This is the most common type of LED retrofit. This simply involves the removal of existing fluorescent tubes and replacement with LED tubes – reusing the existing lighting fixtures.

LED Strip Light Fixtures – These are also commonly known as “shop-lights”. These are simple light fixtures that provide a precise amount of light over a work area, at a minimal cost. Most often seen in garages and workshops, they may also be used in places such as storage facilities & warehouses. These can either have replaceable LED tubes or permanently fixed lifetime LEDs.

LED Troffer Lights – This is a type of office lighting fixture that mimics a traditional troffer light, allowing an office space to integrate LED lighting without a disruption to its existing aesthetics. These are typically installed in drop-ceilings and provide optimal light for working at desks and cubicles.

LED Vapor Tight Fixture – This is a common type of outdoor lighting that is “vapor tight”, meaning it is sealed from moisture, dust and weather. This is commonly used in wet or dusty environments such as parking garages, manufacturing facilities and farmyards.

Interested in Upgrading Your Facility?

Straits Lighting is a U.S. based manufacturer of LED lighting fixtures for commercial and industrial businesses. Our lighting solutions provide high performing, eco-friendly, and energy-efficient illumination for our customers.

If you’re interested in retrofitting or replacing lighting fixtures inside or outside your facility, contact our LED experts for a quote on your project.

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