Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid with a Commercial/Industrial LED Conversion (PART ONE)

10. Going with the cheap stuff. I shouldn't be surprised at this point but I do get amused every time I talk to a company that owns a multi-million dollar building with equipment worth many millions more. The investments companies make to ensure they have a competitive, quality products are significant. They take pride in their safety records and in the people they employ. I think that's great. But for some reason when it comes to lighting, it feels like a race to the bottom. There are so many vendors willing to sell you any type of LED light cheap. They all think that the customer only wants the lowest cost. In our experience, customers want value. The simple adage still exists...you get what you pay for. Go cheap, and you will be dealing with lighting headaches forever. Do it the right way, once, and you will be done with lighting for a very long time!

9. Not reading the actual warranty. These days, 5-year warranties are common for most LED products. But with the surge in demand for more industrial and commercial LED lighting conversions, some manufacturers are now giving a 10-year warranty. The trick with warranties is making sure you read the actual warranty policy. Just seeing the warranty on a spec sheet is not enough. You need to understand the limitations. We see many manufacturers who give a 10-year warranty but if you read all of the fine print, they only cover the driver for 5 years. Or they may say if you are using the fixture more than 4800 hours, the warranty is only 3 or 5 years. Do your homework and read the entire warranty.

8. Avoiding dirty power issues. If you have had electrical issues in the past with machinery in your facility, you need to address this before you make the switch to LED. LED technology is a bit more fickle and prone to surges than some of the older lighting technologies. The number one cause of LED failures is heat, but the second major cause is electrical issues. If you don't have any surge suppression, it may be a good time to invest in this fairly cheap technology. You are about to invest quite a bit of money to upgrade your lights so it makes sense to ensure you have clean power going to them.

7. Using occupancy sensors everywhere. While we love using sensors and control systems in projects to reduce energy consumption, it often does not make much financial sense. If you have a 24/7 warehouse that alternates occupancy in certain sections by shift schedule, then yes, it probably makes sense. Why have lights on when they could be off or dimmed 75%+ of the time? But on the other hand, if you have an active manufacturing floor with lots of people and machines, the fixtures will barely shut off. So you just spent an extra $75 on a sensor that saves you an extra $5 a year. Not a good deal!

6. Using the wrong energy rate assumption on your financial analysis. When calculating the kw/h rate to use in your financial analysis, most people just take the total monthly bill and divide that by the monthly kilowatts used. The problem with this is that you are not billed this way. You are billed on how many kilowatts you do use, but most importantly you are billed on the peak demand that you need during any given month. The utility measures your consumption all the time and they want to make sure you have enough power for the times of the month where you need it the most. So they reserve this amount of energy for you and then they charge you for it. If you are a heavy industrial user of energy and have lots of high horsepower pumps and motors, have a large HVAC system or use heavy manufacturing equipment, the percent of energy that your lights use may be fairly small. Just because we reduce your lighting consumption by 75% doesn't mean we will reduce the peak demands or even the kilowatts by that much. You must account for this when figuring out what energy rate to use in your analysis. If you don’t, I can guarantee you will be disappointed in your overall savings.

Stay tuned for the remaining 5 mistakes to avoid in our June post!

Converting your facility to LED is hard enough to do one time. Imagine doing a re-install because of massive failures? If you avoid the mistakes above, you can enjoy a new lighting system that will save you money, increase the light levels, create more uniformity on your lighting and will be hassle-free for the next 10+ years! That's a good deal!!

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