When is the Right Time to Upgrade to LEDs?

Given that light emitting diode (LED) based lighting can save money, reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and has a long life and high quality light output, why aren’t all facilities managers upgrading to this technology? Marcus Brodin, Commercial Director at Future Energy Solutions (FES) believes there’s nothing to fear from LED lighting and that now is a great time to make the switch.

With rising utility bills and growing legislative pressure for organisations of all kinds to reduce their carbon footprints, the case in favour of LED lighting is highly persuasive. It therefore follows that with prices for this technology falling, a wide range of innovative solutions to choose from, a fast return on investment (ROI) and the potential for a low total cost of ownership (TCO), upgrading to LED makes more sense than ever. Yet there are still some facilities managers who are still proving reluctant to invest in this technology.

Choice cut

So why is this? Perhaps for some facilities managers it is not that the arguments in favour of LED lighting are not understood, rather it is simply a case of not knowing where to start, with so many manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and contractors offering a diverse array of products at a variety of price points.

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It’s important to be able to differentiate what’s on offer and make the right purchasing decisions, as the pitfalls of selecting a poor quality LED products should be avoided at all costs. Premature product failure, poor lumen output, low lm/W and inefficient design are just some of the factors that can compromise a lighting upgrade. In addition, the knock on effect of having to replace products can quickly have a negative effect on any expected ROI.

An LED upgrade can also be a time consuming process, particularly if there are numerous stakeholders involved, such as consultants and finance/procurement departments. Equally, identifying and analysing the various comparative factors between different products can be a semi-complex exercise and knowing which potential partners to trust can be difficult, especially with some bold claims being made by certain vendors, and in a UK climate whereby the failure rate of LED manufacturers (going into administration) is higher than their predicted LED product failures.

These are just some of the reasons why leading manufacturers are starting to work more closely with facilities managers, as doing so can speed the process up by making the supply chain more efficient and effective. This type of multi-party engagement can save valuable time and money by taking much of the legwork out of the specification process. It will also help to configure a bespoke solution that meets a defined set of budgetary and performance based criteria.

Different strokes

When it comes to attitudes towards LED lighting there are those who take the ‘if it ain't broke, don't fix it’ approach and think that the maintenance of an existing, but often inefficient, lighting scheme is less hassle than a wholesale upgrade, and that regulatory compliance is the only thing that matters.  And there are others who are constantly looking for new ways to improve the performance, effectiveness and overall quality of a building services infrastructure.

That said it is unlikely that any large organisation would embark on a wholesale installation of LED lighting in one go. Instead, a strategic business case involves identifying different zones that can be tackled in separate projects, usually addressing the ‘low hanging fruit’ first of all. For example, in a shopping centre the most immediate payback would be in the car park or back of house, rather than the more aesthetically sensitive front of house area. This is because the car park lighting is operational for the longest periods and utilises commodity light fittings, while the installation process can be carried out more quickly and with less disruption compared to areas with high footfall.

Cost effective

LED lighting still suffers from a reputation for being expensive and this is proving to be a difficult misconception to dispel. Of course, there are some expensive products out there but the truth is that prices have declined to a point where this type of lighting is becoming the economical choice in most applications.

Rather than simply looking at the upfront cost of buying and installing a luminaire, building a business case is a must if all the advantages of an investment in LED lighting are to be recognised, acknowledged and understood. This requires the identification of any aims and objectives in advance – for instance, is the goal to achieve ROI as quickly as possible, or is a longer-term TCO desirable?

The answer to this question will usually dictate the most suitable types of luminaires to invest in. Those responsible for a building that operates its lighting on 24 hours per day / 7 days per week basis will still be able to afford higher end fittings and get an ROI on two years or so. Conversely, those with buildings that are in operation for 8 hours per day / 5 days per week take longer to achieve an ROI, so might wish to consider a less expensive product. Ultimately, it’s about optimising the business case through the use of the best available products for the budget.

Make the move

Now firmly mainstream, LED lighting continues to be one most exciting areas of modern technology and manufacturers are constantly developing products that improve energy efficiency, operational lifetimes and light quality. It should therefore be on the radars of all facilities managers who want to invest the time and effort to reduce their lighting bills by up to 65 per cent.

Brought to you by FMJ, the Official Magazine Partner of Facilities Show.

For further information please contact Marcus Brodin on +44 (0) 207 908 3921 or [email protected]www.feslighting.co.uk