Retrofits vs. Relights: What's the Difference?

October 9, 2012

This Kansas City office needed a lighting retrofit to increase illumination during peak hours.

So you know you need new lights, but how do you determine what’s the best investment for your facility?

Energy efficient lighting projects can include relights, retrofits, or 1-for-1 bulb replacements. But what’s the difference, and why should it matter to your building?

What is a lighting retrofit?

A lighting retrofit typically means a replacement of older lighting systems including bulbs and ballasts. Lights such as fluorescent T12s are outdated, and are being phased out by a Department of Energy ban. A retrofit would replace these lights 1-for-1.

Retrofits are usually the best solution when it comes to basic lighting systems especially for offices, warehouses, and retail spaces.

What is relighting?

Relighting a facility means installing an entirely new lighting system. This includes efficient technology as well as fixture layout. If you’re existing lighting no longer meets your needs, or if you need more light, relighting may be the answer.

Relighting is best if you manage or have a long-term lease, and if you want to customize your lighting to meet specific needs.

Lighting options include LED, light emitting plasma, induction, and efficient fluorescent lights.  Motion sensors add even more energy savings, especially if parts of the facility are not being used all the time.

In both cases, facility managers should investigate their current situation and consider all the choices, and to work with professional installers who are familiar with the lighting technology. It’s especially important to consider rebates and tax incentives, which can pay for nearly half of your investment.

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