5 Considerations When Choosing a Lighting Company for Your Project
1.When to Pull the Trigger
The first step in calculating your ROI is to examine your existing
lighting. It might be strange to hear this from a company that
manufactures LED fixtures, but the technology is not the right fit for
every facility and budget — at least not yet. Project managers should be
wary of any company or salesperson that tries to claim otherwise.
The next decade will likely bring new capabilities and cheaper
technology. If you have a facility full of modern fluorescents that are
well-placed, you may be wise to switch to LED fixtures in phases. Begin
with the areas where LED light can have the biggest impact, like
high-volume production lines, warehouse aisles, cold storage and cranes.
These areas can suffer significant productivity losses when lighting
goes out and stopping production during normal shifts is not an option.
The best results from a full LED retrofit will be seen in facilities
still using metal halides or other high-intensity discharge lamps, as
LEDs have the potential to cut lighting-related energy expenses in half
and decrease overall energy use by up to 50 percent.
2.The Site Visit: They Should Come To You
Once you’ve decided on an LED retrofit, the first step is a site
visit. There is no universal standard or equivalency formula that
ensures quality coverage when switching out metal halides, flourescents
and LED fixtures. Each type of fixture distributes light differently, so
a 1-to-1 fixture swap rarely produces the ideal coverage. Because of
that, any responsible lighting project design should begin with an
Light levels are impacted by a variety of factors including
placement, obstructions, wall colors and the amount of dirt and dust
present. The same plan won’t work for a cold storage facility in Houston
that works for a manufacturing plant in Kansas, even in a building with
the same square footage.If companies offer over-the-phone or
over-the-Internet quotes based on the idea of equivalencies, they are
offering rough estimates, not guarantees. On the other end of the
spectrum, specialty firms also charge exorbitant fees for
engineer-designed layouts. Good project management includes a no- or
low-cost site visit in your scope of work and a specialized layout that
is part of a larger project management cost.
3.A Good Quote: It’s a Workhorse, Not a Unicorn
There are three key elements to project management: quality, service
and price. Every manager wants the unicorn — a company that delivers
high-end products for a low price with services like installation and
rebates. But that’s not a sustainable business plan. If companies
promise you the impossible, or even just a high-end fixture at a bargain
price, they’re probably stretching the truth to make the sale. Be
leery.Instead, a good quote offers expert advice, outlining how you
should devote your project resources to maximize your ROI.
If your budget is limited, or allocated over a five-year period, then
a strong quote will include installation in phases. The quote is your
blueprint, so it should focus on your goals and resources instead of
offering canned options or simply replacing halides or fluorescents. A
well-designed LED layout will account for changes in light distribution
because LED output is more focused horizontally and vertically than
light from older technologies. You’ll likely need grid adjustments
involving electricians and other contractors.
Aside from seeing your goals and having a clearly articulated
implementation plan, a strong project proposal should also spell out who
will take responsibility for everything from electricians
to contractors to scheduling. If the contract is unclear or the sales
reps sidestep the issue — walk away from the deal. It’s more valuable to
pay for good service than to pay twice for bad service.
4.Installation Done Right: Avoid Costly Disruptions
The most important question to ask a potential project management
coordinator is “Can you guarantee installation that minimizes work
interruptions?” Paying for project management is valuable, but only if
the project management works. Demand a single point of contact,
accessibility during installation and confirm a clear plan of
responsibility for potential delays.
Installation is one of the hidden costs of retrofit projects. On
paper, coordinating your own retrofit installation reduces the project
costs, sometimes significantly. In practice, your own lack of expertise
can cause hiccups in the process that can cost valuable production time
and staff time, and reduce the overall quality of your LED
investment.It’s essential your project manager understands local,
statewide and national energy codes. This is a key detail that may help
you weed out the light bulb salesmen from the lighting experts. If no
one is talking codes, then you’re more likely to be left with a
liability than an upgrade.
5.Closeout Procedure: Don’t Walk Away Before You Measure
Before you end the project, the company you hire should come in with
reliable technology and measure the new light output in your space. If
you don’t hit your foot candle goals or if the occupancy sensors aren’t
working properly, your point of contact should make it right, at no
The final step in the close-out procedure – the rebate – should also
be free of charge. Rebates can cover up to 50 percent of your total
project costs when switching from an older or inefficient system. Push
back if your project manager asks for rebate fees or guarantees a rebate
as part of a price reduction plan. A rebate is an estimate and it’s
critical to understand that rebates are not guaranteed. Local and state
rebates can depend on the money available to the issuing agencies or
factors outside the scope of your project.
Utility providers qualify the availability of funds only at the start
of projects and typically must visit your facility to validate the
existing system compared to the LED system being installed. Relying on
remaining available rebate dollars that may be exhausted prior to your
approval and start date may leave you frustrated with your project.
When you are ready to speak to someone about a lighting retrofit for your facility, contact our professionals
at Worldwide Energy. After explaining the process of upgrading your
lighting, you will see that our practices follow Mike’s guidelines laid
out in the article. When you work with Worldwide Energy, you get an
experienced and efficient team working hard to provide you with the best