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Buzz From LightFair: LED Leapfrogging, Rolling Retrofits

Linda Hardesty

A couple of trending terms coming out of LightFair International in Philadelphia this week are: rolling retrofits and LED leapfrogging, according to Charlie Szoradi, CEO of Independence LED, a manufacturer of LED tubes.

While some facility managers have taken a measured approach to lighting upgrades, replacing older fluorescents with newer models, Szoradi said there’s more talk of LED leapfrogging, or just jumping to the end-game and retrofitting with LEDs, rather than repeatedly paying for the labor of installing slightly better fluorescents.

Another approach being discussed on the floor and at LightFair sessions is rolling retrofits, where building owners simply replace burnt-out lights with LEDs. In that way, they don’t have to wait for a system-wide RFP, they just roll the retrofit into regular maintenance.

Szoradi says there are three factors to consider to maximize the return on investment of LEDs:

  1. run time,
  2. inefficiency of existing lights,
  3. cost of electricity.

Run time refers to how long the lights are turned on. The highest run times are locations where the lights are on 24×7. If the existing lights are highly inefficient, then obviously the return on investment of a retrofit will be higher. And markets with high costs of electricity are good places to retrofit with LEDs, as well. If a building is high on all of these factors, it’s the perfect application scenario for LEDs, says Szoradi.

For example, kitchen and bath supplier Davis & Warshow used products made by Independence LED to convert its entire 209,000-sq-foot Queens, NY, distribution center from fluorescent tubes to LED tube lighting last fall. As a facility with high lighting run times, outdated bulbs, and a location in an expensive electric market, it was a prime application for LEDs.

Davis & Warshow says it is the country’s first facility to achieve net zero lighting costs with LED tubes, thanks to a rooftop solar array installed in 2010 that provides more energy that the 200,000 annual kWh needed to power the lighting. Prior to the conversion, lighting equaled nearly 65 percent of the structure’s total power usage, costing almost $50,000 per year. It now has decreased to less than 50 percent of the building’s total energy use and costs less than $20,000 per year to run.

What other factors come into play when considering LEDs? Share your comments below.



One comment on “Buzz From LightFair: LED Leapfrogging, Rolling Retrofits

  1. The same as in many business decisions, leapfrogging like this can make a big long-term difference but it comes down to a business being able to make the initial investment. But given the life, energy savings, maintenance savings, potential AC savings … LED bulbs seem like a good choice for those who can make it, even over fluorescent bulbs.

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