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When considering specifying LED lighting, facility managers should carefully weigh the relative importance of initial expenditure against long-term savings in operating costs. "LED lighting solutions do usually cost quite a bit more 'up front' than traditional fluorescent alternatives," says Kurt Vogel, director of product development, RELIGHT, at Lithonia Lighting. "Their true savings advantage is realized in the overall cost of ownership over the life of the system, taking into account the combination of savings involved." These savings include lower energy consumption, minimal to zero maintenance, lower cooling costs and other related line items. "While these 'paybacks' are typically realized over a slightly longer timeline than a traditional lighting retrofit, the compounded benefits over the long run are much greater," Vogel says.
Also, facility managers need to be sure they are comparing "apples to apples" when it comes to assessing LED performance, Anderson says. "A 15W PAR38 may deliver the same or better performance than a 18W PAR38 lamp and save an additional 3 watts per lamp," she says. "That means you need to look at lumens, center beam candle power and beam spread in addition to wattage and lamp form and size."
Another important consideration when specifying an LED system is to select a reputable supplier, says Biery. "Facility managers should ensure that the entire system consists of quality components that will support the product in order to truly reap the benefits of this new light source," he says.
Because not all LED products are created equal, facility managers need to be vigilant in assessing LED products and suppliers.
"In this weathered economy, the investment community has identified the lighting market as a potential significant growth sector. As such, many new innovative companies have been spawned, and the market has been flooded with an abundance of new LED products," says Chris Bailey, SSL technology strategist for Hubbell Lighting. "Although entrepreneurialism is one of humanity's greatest assets, it must be backed up with a strong balance sheet and proven quality standards."
Says DOE's Brodrick, "the dramatic progress that's been made is far from being across the board, and there are many LED products on the market that are likely to disappoint."
The field of lighting choices available for commercial building installations is vast and can sometimes be confusing. How can facility professionals know if they want to specify LED lighting or fluorescent for their buildings?
"One of the best things FMs can do is educate themselves generally about the technology. There are a lot of courses available, both from manufacturers and industry organizations, which can provide a foundational understanding," says James Young, vice president of sales and marketing for WattStopper.
Here are some resources to get the education process started:
Lower Operating Costs, Energy Consumption Help LEDs Gain Ground
Energy Efficiency Drives LED Decisions
Exceptionally Long Life Another Selling Point for LEDs
Specifying LED Lighting Requires Comparison Of First Cost To Total Cost
Solid State Lighting Does Have Unique Challenges