Lighting-Control Retrofits: Wireless Technology Lowers Project Cost
Traditional lighting retrofits primarily focused on re-lamping, but times have changed. Manufacturers now are introducing technologies designed to streamline retrofits and reduce labor costs.
"Retrofit projects that include lighting controls can provide very attractive ROIs for the facility manager," says Jeff Park, sustainable market development manager with WattStopper. "They also create very interesting and sometimes challenging scenarios that require a better understanding of existing site conditions, existing controls, and the needs of the occupants before the correct products can be specified effectively."
Managers should not employ a "cookie-cutter approach" when specifying controls for retrofits, Park says, due to the many different factors they must take into account. For example, a particular application could call for a range of sensor technologies, whether it is digital or analog, passive infrared, ultrasonic or dual technology.
Sensor placement, which can include devices that mount on the wall, ceiling or fixture, also can depend on the application, Park says. Coverage patterns, settings, and lighting-control sequences also vary, so managers need to understand the site conditions of a particular space to ensure a successful project.
The biggest challenge with a lighting-control retrofit is the wiring — unless, of course, managers specify wireless devices. Manufacturers estimate the cost of wiring for controllable lighting at $15-20 per fixture, which adds up quickly in a large facility.
"If someone is going to retrofit and they're using conventional sensors, there is a big cost involved in terms of wiring," says Bob Freshman, marketing manager with Leviton. "In general, the labor costs would greatly exceed the product cost."
Many managers are turning to wireless control devices not only to bypass the cost of wiring but also to ensure the retrofit does not interrupt building operations. Installing a wireless device on a ceiling or wall eliminates labor costs and man hours associated with installing wired units.