Whether you are a business owner, facilities manager, or home owner, chances are you have thought of ways to cut back and get in the black – lighting has been a popular and trending topic. “Convert over to LED and I’ll save money”? Yes, it is true that you can reduce the amount of energy consumed when switching over to LED, therefore reducing your bottom line. However, there are tons of variables and options that should be addressed when looking to convert lighting that is existing.

Commercial Recessed Lighting

If you have a CFL or HID light source, it may be beneficial for your ROI (return on investment) to look at retrofitting the fixture by passing the ballast and installing a high wattage LED bulb in place of replacing/retrofitting the entire fixture.

ADVANTAGE: Retrofitting decreases install time and increases energy efficiency – both factor with increasing your dollars.

NOTE: Look for DLC or Energy Star rated options

Residential Recessed Lighting

Most “residential” style housing/cans are currently equipped with a medium base socket with incandescent/halogen bulb. Chances are, the existing trim has been tarnished or started to fade/turn color. It’s very simple now-a-days to convert these 4” and 6” fixtures over to LED while using a “retrofit module” – these retrofits come complete with a trim. In addition to having a new trim that are available in multiple colors, you also have a glare shield to cut down the glare from the diodes as well as eliminating any gaps around the light bulb.

If you have low voltage (12V or 24V) there is a good chance they are a 3” or 4” lamp and house an MR16 bulb. Converting these to LED can be troublesome. If and when dimming it is important to try and find a bulb that is compatible with BOTH the dimming switch as well as the transformer. If using an import grade (cheap) LED they will flicker and cause a “strobe affect”.

ADVANTAGE: Both of these are great options which can cut the energy consumption by over 80% as well as lasting up to 25 times longer than incandescent or halogen and 5 times longer than CFL You also have the ability to set the tone by selecting the “kelvin” color of your preference.

NOTE: Look Energy Star rated options

Commercial Troffer and Strip Lights

These troffers, panels, strip fixtures often contain T5, T8, and T12 Light bulbs that range from 2’-8’ in length. Depending on the application, hours in use, and potential utility incentives/rebates (Must be DLC/Energy Star Qualified to qualify) There are 3 common applications to consider.

1A. Direct Install/A simple bulb change out – T5 and T8 bulbs can now “plug and play” with the existing ballast, you do not need to rewire anything, plug and go! T12’s use magnetic ballasts which must be removed prior to install and would use another type of LED bulb (hardwire type). The downside to this option is somewhere down the road, you leave yourself exposed to needing to replace the ballast in order for the LED to illuminate. These bulbs use shunted sockets/tombstones.

1B. Hardwire - Ballast removal or bypass is required. Once you have eliminated the ballast, and ensure you have a single sided Un-Shunted socket in place, you can install the tube.

ADVANTAGE: Both of these are great options which can cut the energy consumption by over 50% as well as lasting up to 5 times longer than fluorescent.

NOTE: It is recommended to look for a quality tube that does not have a large heat sink on the back side of the bulb. Rather is omni directional and is DLC listed. You also want to be sure the bulb is securely positioned in the socket to eliminate the chance of an arc.

2. Retrofit Plates

Retrofit plates will come with an external driver (driver is not built-in to the bulb/light source). Keeping drivers (same thing as a ballast in LED world) away from the heat source ensures the driver does not become week therefor causing lumen degradation – LED’s typically don’t just fail, they get weaker over time. The efficacy of these retrofit kits will be greater than “replacing a tube”.

ADVANTAGE: Retrofit plates last about 2-4 times longer than LED tubes, are typically DLC listed, and adaptable to multiple fixture types.

3. Retrofit kits

If your fixtures just look tired, have a broken lens, or you want to update the look of your property, there are kits now available that are intended for fixture specific applications. Keeping the fixture in tact is less labor intensive and you don’t have to worry about the disposal of a complete fixture – simply replace the ballast with a supplied LED driver and install the overlay (with plate and sometimes covers) and away you go.

ADVANTAGE: This is ideal if you have existing fixtures and considering replacing the fixture in its entirety.