Part 2: Needs Assessment Essential for Lighting Retrofit Success
Needs Assessment Essential for Lighting Retrofit Success
By Denise Fong - November 2012 - Lighting
Before managers undertake lighting retrofits, one essential step is to determine the lighting needs for the area or facility in question. Questions to help in this assessment include these:
- Is the existing light level adequate? Is it too high or too low?
- Is glare a concern?
- Does the application need something more than on/off controls?
- Will this retrofit trigger a requirement to meet current codes for energy use or for controls? If so, have the new controls been included in the overall project cost?
- Will the change make maintenance easier?
- Will maintenance costs be reduced?
Once managers understand needs better, they can more effectively identify lamps and luminaires that help meet those needs.
Lamps and luminaires are changing rapidly, so managers should avoid selecting a fixture four years before its purchase and installation. If more than six months will pass between the selection of the fixture and installation, managers should include a working sample in the submittals process to ensure the product meets the application's requirements.
Also, if the project involves a utility rebate, managers should contact the utility before buying any products to be sure they understand the terms of the rebate program. Some utilities only make payments if the customer signs a contract before buying anything and will not provide reimbursement until one year after installation so they can verify the project is delivering the savings.
The best way for managers to evaluate lamps and luminaires is to examine working samples in an environment that is representative of the area the products will perform. In other words, do not use a conference-table display to examine a fixture designed for use in a parking lot. A physical mock-up is still the best evaluation tool.
In some communities, managers can tap into free or low-cost resources that can assist in this evaluation. Public utility companies in several states also sponsor lighting labs, and county extension services in some areas also can be a resource.