Considering a lighting upgrade? It’s an excellent way to save energy and cut costs as well as create a more productive, enjoyable work or learning environment and even potentially boost retail sales. However, before you press go on a lighting upgrade or retrofit project, take a step that can save you money and time and help ensure success: Get an investment-grade lighting audit.
An investment-grade lighting audit takes a comprehensive look at all aspects of the existing lighting system, proposes a cost-effective solution based on the project goals and budget and outlines the return on investment you can expect.
Here are five reasons a good audit is worth the investment.
1. An audit is more than counting lighting fixtures
A fixture count isn’t a true audit — in fact, at WESCO we call it a survey, and a survey is not always sufficient to yield the best project outcome. Here’s one reason: An upgrade or retrofit isn’t as simple as replacing each lamp or fixture with an energy-efficient alternative. LED lighting, in addition to being much crisper and cleaner than most traditional light sources, can also be much brighter, so a one-for-one replacement could make the lighting in your space uncomfortably bright.
2. There’s more than energy to consider
Energy savings is often the factor that motivates a lighting upgrade or retrofit, but a quality audit should also consider other factors. Color temperature, lighting position and the increased controllability of LED lighting can all yield additional benefit in your environment.
In a retail environment, different products look their best under different (warmer or cooler) color temperatures. Repositioning, re-aiming or focusing the lights can also make product displays come to life. In a classroom environment, tunable white LED lights, which let you control the color temperature, can help students focus for examinations and reman attentive during instruction.
3. A bad audit can cost you money
The quality of a lighting proposal follows directly from the quality of the audit. A cursory, incomprehensive audit can create a “garbage in, garbage out” scenario that adds time, money or both to the project.
Failure to thoroughly assess and catalog the current lighting, electrical, and control system and to analyze the usage of the space often leads to complications during project execution, especially if the space is dynamic in nature. Those undocumented conditions lead to change orders. Multiple change orders could end up costing you an extra 20 to 30 percent over the proposed budget.
4. A good audit can save you money
There are often multiple ways to solve a problem, and lighting problems are no different. Some solutions are more effective and cost efficient than others.
An experienced company will develop the best solution for your desired outcome and budget. They’ll be able to identify, among many similar products from different manufacturers, the one that will give you the most bang for your buck. They’ll also recommend which fixtures should be controllable and the best controls solution for the use of your space.
When two different solutions would work, an experienced auditor will generally choose the one that’s easier to install. Less installation time means less labor and reduced cost. They’ll also access rebate information and consider how to maximize rebate potential. At WESCO, we have a team dedicated to helping us with that. Often, rebates can pay for a significant portion of a project if they are identified and scoped into the work early on. Using an experienced turnkey provider ensures all aspects of the project cost are addressed and value engineered for your maximum benefit.
5. Quality audits make for smoother projects
Beyond telling you how many lamps or fixtures you need to replace, an investment-grade audit will detail everything that is required to complete your lighting project. Some considerations are whether to retrofit or replace the existing fixtures, what kind of mounting hardware may be required, and what other miscellaneous supplies may be required, such as new pendants or gripples. Additionally, to complete a full project assessment, any necessary equipment for installing your new lighting solution must be considered.
An auditor working with a company that has an operational arm will determine exactly what equipment will be needed. This is critical to creating an accurate budget and timeline. Will a 19-foot scissor lift do the trick or will you need an articulating lift? Will the lift fit through the entryway, or will scaffolding be necessary? Failure to anticipate these needs can lead to extra cost and inconvenience.
An investment-grade lighting audit will also identify:
- The number of installers and their required skill sets
- The duration of the project
- Whether or not new electrical wire has to be run
- The best approach to minimize any disruption or inconvenience to employees and the working environment during the installation
- Additional savings and functionality available with controls
A lighting upgrade or retrofit can make a huge difference to a space, and to the cost of operating it. Before you embark on one, let an investment-grade audit shine a light on every aspect of your current lighting system and illuminate a path to the best solutions.