Planning for an LED Upgrade
Part three of a three part series on LED lighting upgrades
A hands-on approach
Planning for the upgrade of swimming pool lighting included a hands-on approach from Thompson and his staff. The first phase involved specifying the lighting system components that would go into the application.
“One hundred percent of the product selection happened through our buildings and grounds office,” he says. “We worked with two different lighting suppliers. They gave us samples and we tested the samples. We really kicked the tires on this whole process before we made a decision on which way to go.”
The second phase involved the actual upgrade, which staff was heavily involved in as well — they did all the work in-house. How did technicians handle the upgrade work and their daily duties?
“We prioritized,” Thompson says. “We went from 44 lamps to 22, so when the guys had a little time, they’d go up and they’d knock out four (lamps). Then they’d go and do whatever else they had to do, and then they’d knock four more out. It happened over a month’s time, and the team really worked well together getting the whole thing done.”
Thompson’s strategies for successful management of LED upgrades includes a willingness to learn and change. “One thing we learned is to not get locked in,” he says. “There are a lot of different (LED) suppliers, and even though we’ve been happy with our initial supplier, the technology is changing almost daily.
“We brought in two other suppliers, and we’re testing their lamps right now to see if they’re right for our summer renovations. We’re making sure we’re staying on the cutting edge, so we’re testing some different products that we might use rather than just stick with what we’ve done.”
Thompson’s approach also involves an embrace of long-term quality and performance over low initial cost.
“You truly get what you pay for in the realm of LED lighting,” he says. “Some will say that they can get a 25 cent lamp from the local hardware store. But keep in mind that the drivers inside that lamp probably are not the same drivers that you’re going to get from a lighting retrofit company. That’s important because you want to be able the set these LED lights and not have to go back and revisit them for 10 years.
“All the lighting in our facility has a 10-year warranty, but some of the cheaper fixtures do not. For some of the cheaper fixtures, you also want to be sure they have the UL rating because there could be some fire hazards, as with any electrical components you put in a building.”
Thompson says he has used this emphasis on quality products to generate bottom-line benefits for the district. “You really have to do the work to find a good-quality product,” he says. “When you find that, then you can find two or three lighting firms that will start to bid against one another.”