The high unit cost of LED replacement lamps often dampens enthusiasm for attempting retrofit projects in commercial environments despite the attractive energy savings compared to incandescent or halogen lamps. Successful LED retrofits require the right match between the strengths of the LED light source (long life, native directionality, small form factor) and the application. A luxury hotel in San Francisco found the right combination.
At the InterContinental Hotel (888 Howard Street, San Francisco), multi-lamp linear wall-grazing luminaires, mono-point track lights, and recessed adjustable downlights, all using either 20W or 30W halogen MR16 lamps, were retrofitted with 6W LED MR16 replacement lamps. In addition, two kinds of recessed downlights using 75W halogen PAR30 lamps were retrofitted with 11W LED PAR30 replacement lamps.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solid-State Lighting GATEWAY Program report released in November 2010, the LED lamps resulted in 70% energy savings compared to the halogen lamps and the retrofit provided an estimated payback of a little over one year. The energy savings was only part of the story; the savings in maintenance costs because of the less frequent relamping requirements made the project a financial success.
For high-end hospitality applications like the InterContinental Hotel, light levels and lighting system efficiency are not the primary considerations in selecting lighting sources and fixtures. Image, luxury, service, mood and visual interest are key marketing ingredients. Since the hotel operates 24 hours a day, maintenance must be performed at night at high cost. For this reason, reduced relamping frequency is of high value to the hotel to reduce labor costs. Retrofit projects such as this must be done without sacrificing the aesthetics and functionality of the designed spaces. In the case of the InterContinental Hotel, the LED lamp solutions have received high aesthetic praise and acceptability.
The other take-away from this project was the importance of testing LED lamps from various suppliers. Many of the evaluated products exhibited poor color, flicker, abnormally low output or no output at all, or other unexpected behavior, such as fire-alarm-type strobing when dimmed during the initial install of the retrofit project. The LED market has been flooded with product over the last few years. Compounding the selection problem is the lack of independent testing and manufacturer documents related to photometrics and other critical specifications. Any facility contemplating an LED retrofit must budget a product evaluation period. When that level of commitment is made, the promise of LED technology can be realized as demonstrated by the success at the InterContinental.
For the full report on this project and other LED projects see the DOE Solid State Lighting GATEWAY web page.
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