Have You LED’d Yet?

As a building owner or operator, maybe your “to do” list for 2020 includes finally getting around to tackling this “LED thing”. Sure, you see it everywhere now. The futuristic looking street lights, the “not the same looking light bulb” that now lines the shelves in the home centers and all this talk about how great LED’s are. But perhaps you’ve had so many other priorities that you just haven’t gotten around to it. Plus, the new language like lumens instead of watts, foot-candles and seemingly too-good-to-be-true claims of product longevity…it’s all so confusing, right?

Then you may have stumbled across headlines like these…

LED Streetlights in Brooklyn Are Saving Energy but Exhausting Residents

City of Detroit files lawsuit claiming 20,000 LED streetlights are dimming prematurely

The L.E.D. Quandary: Why There’s No Such Thing as “Built to Last”

Well let us DECODE it for you.

If you haven’t “LED’d” your commercial building yet, that is to say if you haven’t upgraded your old outdated lighting technology to more efficient LED lighting, you might not be as far behind the times as you might think.  

Sure, you’re missing out on the potential for very real (and dramatic) savings, but, quite frankly, only if your project is done properly. You see, the lighting industry is still, some 10+ years later, trying to make sense of light emitting diodes (LED) and how to properly bring them to market.

Let us explain. 

LED Lighting

The commercial lighting market in the U.S. was flooded with start-up LED companies right around the time of the 2007-08 economic downturn. Many of these companies had no history in commercial lighting, let alone an understanding of  the over complicated U.S. commercial lighting market. No, these companies were searching for ‘the next big thing’ similar to those chasing gold by loading up their wagons and heading out west in the 1850’s. Only this time, the inferior, untested, false claims LED lighting products were flowing in from off-shore, mainly from the east. One great example of false claims are revealed in the 2013 lawsuit brought (and won) by the Federal Trade Commission against Lights of America, a light bulb manufacturer. The lawsuit, based on a theory of false advertising, challenged the claims made that the LED bulbs “replaced” incandescent bulbs of specific wattages. It was proven  the LED bulbs were not as bright (i.e., produced fewer lumens) as the incandescent bulbs the manufacturer said they could “replace.”

Because false claims of performance, especially longevity, were becoming so outrageous and egregious, the US government stepped in. Shortly into the North American LED rush, a Department of Energy (DOE) division was created. Known as CALIPER (Commercially Available LED Product Evaluation & Reporting) the department independently tested and verified specific products in an attempt to debunk many of these false claims and expose ‘industry pretenders’ trying to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes. 

So, by not LED’ing early on you avoided many of these rampant false claims by fixture manufacturers, inferior products flooding the market, misapplications and grossly overcharging consumers. You’ve also missed out on the efficiency levels increasing dramatically year-over-year, manufacturers entering and exiting the industry and utility rebate programs, different all over the country, offering monetary incentives (rebates) to jump-start your upgrade project.  

Let’s look at the City of Ann Arbor in Michigan as an example of this. 

The CIty of Ann Arbor MI, a very proud early adopter of LED street lights, originally went to LEDs in 2007. The efficiency at the time was merely 70 lumens per watt. Fast forward to today where technology is delivering virtually double that. Another way to understand this is to say the roadways in Ann Arbor MI can be lit using much less energy today than when the LED’s were first being offered.  The US DOE reports the market should top out at about 220 lumens per watt. .

But, with all the confusion, all the chaos, LED’s make a great deal of sense. Not everywhere and not for every application, but the fact remains, removing a 100 watt light bulb and replacing it with a 10 watt LED bulb, you’re saving 90% energy. If that LED bulb does indeed last 25 times as long as a standard incandescent, the maintenance savings becomes an even greater argument for upgrading. That’s a simple example. Complete a full Total Cost of Ownership spreadsheet (yes, a spreadsheet for lighting) taking all factors into consideration.

LED, Energy Efficiency, Cost SavingsLED Lighting, Energy Efficiency, Steel Plant, Cost Savings

If you haven’t LED’d yet, don’t fret, it’s OK, but certainly worth putting high on your 2020 radar. Expert Lighting Group specializes in putting together full total cost of ownership studies to determine how viable your facility is for a lighting upgrade. Let’s have a chat. We offer a no-fee, no-obligation assessment of your facility.