Warehouse Retrofit Case Study: Why more lights aren’t always better

Published March 2013 by Darcie DeFoe

Your facility might currently be lit with energy-hogging metal halide lamps that can take minutes to come to full brightness, or orange-tinted high pressure sodium lamps that make everything under them look gray because of poor color rendering. If these lighting situations sound familiar, your industrial or manufacturing facility may be ready to consider an energy-efficient lighting upgrade.

In today’s business climate, consumers require their products and materials faster than ever. Factories and manufacturers must meet this demand in all industries while keeping employees safe and continuing to provide quality products. How then, can a factory or a manufacturer remain competitive, contain costs and retain productive employees, all while being lean and green?

Efficiency is key in this scenario. If you’re considering an efficiency project, often times a lighting retrofit can yield immediate and calculable results, while improving the bottom line.

In one of our client case studies of factory space, energy-efficient T5 high bay fixtures were added alongside inefficient metal halides to try and remedy poor light levels. An unknowing lighting contractor was just compounding the problem by adding more fixtures, instead of giving the client an organized, efficient system to address the lighting requirements of a manufacturing facility. When the factory warehouse decided to remedy their lighting issues and had a full energy study performed, they found an opportunity for savings that astonished them.

Reasons this industrial facility retrofitted their lighting system:

  • to improve energy efficiency

  • to standardize lamp inventory

  • ease of maintenance

  • reduced maintenance expenses

  • to improve light quality

By replacing their Metal Halide fixtures with energy-efficient T5 fixtures, this warehouse retrofit is saving the client over $12,000 annually in lighting costs, and reducing Kwh usage by 61%. Immediately after project completion, these savings began. By simply reducing the amount of energy used, they were able to reduce utility costs.

Given the nature of their retrofit, because they were replacing an outmoded technology with very energy-efficient lighting technology, this facility qualified for a rebate from their utility company to help offset some of the retrofit project cost. With their dramatic savings, this project payback was calculated to be under one year.

Warehouse Lighting Retrofit Before and After

If you are considering a lighting retrofit, energy-savings is definitely on the forefront of your mind, but have you considered the other ways that this efficiency in lighting could help reduce overhead? Many retrofit projects help reduce maintenance costs by standardizing equipment. Facilities managers no longer have to stock a dozen or more different types of lamps or light bulbs and several ballasts for the event of burnout or failure. Also, it is probably clear to you that after a retrofit, all of the bulbs and ballasts are new, so there is an obvious initial reduction in costs to maintain that new lighting system. However, since all of the lamps were replaced at one time and you have a good idea of their usage, a group relamp date can be easily calculated. Changing all the lamps at once at the end of their useful life, for example three years after a lighting retrofit, can again dramatically decrease the regular maintenance costs associated with reactionary spot relamping, or replacing lamps as they fail.

Finally, one of the most dramatic and noticeable changes for this manufacturing facility was the improvement in light quality. After the lighting was completed employees in this building said, “We can actually see now!” Studies have shown that light quality correlates to workplace productivity, but in this case, it certainly also impacted safety. The new lighting system gave factory employees enough light to do a good job safely. •