Cost Effective LED Retrofits Help Schools Reduce Operating Costs

school lighting in lecture hall

With a variety of lighting applications and lamp types, schools have many opportunities to both improve the quality of the lighting in their facilities and reduce operating costs. In addition to higher efficiency traditional lamps and better controls, LED lighting retrofit opportunities have reached a point both in the maturity of the technology and in lower prices to warrant strong consideration.

Retrofit Classrooms with T8 LED Tubes

Classrooms, usually illuminated with T8 fluorescent recessed troffers or surface mounted linear fluorescent fixtures driven by instant start electronic ballasts, can be easily retrofitted with ballast-compatible T8 LED replacement lamps.

For example, a 32 watt T8 can be replaced with an 18 watt LED, that uses the existing instant start ballast, simply by removing the fluorescent bulb and substituting the LED bulb in the same socket. No rewiring. No electrician required.

These latest generation LED tubes provide the same light output, the same selection of color temperatures and offer most of the same control options, including occupancy sensors, as fluorescent. The difference — 40% lower energy costs and 10,000 to 20,000 hour longer life resulting in lower maintenance costs.

There are also ballast bypass type LED tubes with internal or external drivers that allow the ballast to be removed entirely from the fixture. This approach prevents any possibility of reverting to the use of fluorescent tubes.

For a more in-depth description of LED T8 retrofit options, see the blog post “LED Linear T8 Retrofits: Sorting Through the Options“.

Improve Gymnasium Lighting with LED Replacements for HID

Gymnasiums or multi-purpose rooms using HID lamps in high and low bay fixtures offer another LED conversion opportunity. Mogul based LED lamps are available as either direct metal halide replacements or as ballast by-pass installations.

LED replacements for 175W to 400W metal halide save up to 40% on energy costs and reduce maintenance by providing 15,000 to 20,000 hour longer bulb life than metal halide. In addition, LED bulbs ignite instantly, even in cold temperatures, without the warm-up time required for metal halide.

Lower Exterior Lighting Costs with LED Lamps and Fixtures

Exterior security and area lighting, whether wall packs or pole mounted fixtures, may also be retrofitted with LED lamps. Or, for situations where it makes sense to replace the entire fixture, integral LED module-base fixtures are usually rated at 50,000 hour LED life and come with multi-year warranties.

The Bonneville Power Administration, which administers utility incentive programs in the Pacific Northwest, suggests the following guidelines before purchasing LED lighting products:

  • Understand warranty coverage.
  • Install a sample before committing to a purchase.
  • Check the local electric utility for incentives, requirements and applicable codes.
  • Look for Energy Star and Design Lighting Consortium (DLC) qualified products.

Given the fact that most manufacturers are (in 2017) on 5th or 6th generation LED products being sold at much lower prices than even two years ago, schools and school districts looking for operation cost savings can with confidence include LED lighting retrofits for consideration.

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Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.

One thought on “Cost Effective LED Retrofits Help Schools Reduce Operating Costs

  1. Mary says:

    Dave, can you tell me the best MR16 LED replacement for a halogen in a kitchen (over the sink) area? The recessed can is 7′ above the granite countertop. I am looking for a spot light with the most light. The kitchen overall is on the dark side. The 4″ recessed cans were installed 11 years ago. Thank you.

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