In the decision to upgrade your existing outdoor commercial lighting fixtures to the more energy-efficient LED option, it can sometimes be unclear whether the best choice is to retrofit what’s already there, or to simply replace the entire system altogether. With the many factors involved in this decision, every situation should be addressed as unique in terms of overall lighting goals.
Retrofitting existing light fixtures is very possible and a great idea for the building owner in most cases. On top of the long-term energy usage and maintenance cost savings, the process of removing the existing lamp and electronic ballast that powers it, and replacing it with an LED lamp and new electronic driver, is far less expensive than replacing the entire fixture system.Given that the time required to replace a single light during a retrofit is about 15 minutes, the reduction in time, labor and parts,when compared with an entire system redesign,makes for significant installation savings. Retrofitting existing fixture poles also means they don’t have to be re-engineered to meet new load and height requirements, and that any aesthetic value of the original fixtures won’t be lost.
But is there a downside to the retrofit? On the surface it would seem that the minimal installation costs alone should make this the first choice for anyone considering a switch to LED technologies, but the situation isn’t always so straightforward.Sometimes the replacement approach just makes more sense. Despite the potential for disrupting regular business operations, a redesign is often dictated by the need for an entirely new layout of the existing lighting fixtures, and there’s simply no choice in that case but to grin and bear the necessary costs and inconvenience.
Although there seems to be little disadvantage to the physical conversion of existing lamps and ballasts to their LED counterparts in most cases, there is sometimes more involved with a retrofit than a business owner may initially expect. Depending on the project location, the modification of an approved electrical product like a luminary can cause it to lose its “safe” rating, and it may require pre-assessment and/ora post-install inspection before it can be used. This can lead to the involvement of various certifying agencies and authorities, as well as the submission of applications, test reports and other supporting documentation. An appropriate time strategy would be needed to efficiently plan and execute a conversion project under such circumstances.
Existing electrical or building codes may also be affected when changes or improvements are made to fixtures using the connected lighting load. An example of this would include the fact that exterior lighting in many locales cannot be left on during the day, and so must incorporate photocells or timers that will need to be checked on a regular basis. And sometimes, in preparing for a retrofit, initial inspections will reveal that one or more of the existing fixtures have been improperly installed, or are otherwise unsafe or in poor working condition. This would require them to be replaced, and would add to the overall cost estimate of the project.