LED Lighting Upgrades – Where Do You Start and Will Your Utility Help with Funding?
By Pete Couture, Director, LED Lighting Division
A little confused about how to to perform commercial/industrial LED lighting upgrades efficiently and cost-effectively? ILT has put together this primer on what terms like "DLC" mean and how to get help with funding from your local utility.
Behind the scenes of most commercial and industrial lighting upgrade projects is an organization called DLC or DesignLights Consortium. You've probably heard about “DLC listed fixtures”, but what does that really mean?
- DLC was created by a consortium of utilities to manage a process for establishing product requirements for LED lighting applications not covered by Energy Star.
- Purpose – Utilities need to drive energy efficiency! It's too expensive to build new power plants, therefore, reducing power consumption is the next best thing.
- Efficiency Incentives – Better known as rebates, are how this is being driven by the utilities. They collect money from rate payers like you, and then pay incentives/rebates when energy efficient products (LED lighting) are used to replace old, inefficient products (incandescent bulbs).
- Why lighting? Lighting is one of the largest consumers of energy in most commercial spaces. LED has enabled significant reduction in energy consumption over established technologies, now even more efficient than new fluorescent tubes.
- How are products qualified? DLC has established a list of application categories and performance metrics for which products are tested for compliance. Once they are passed by DLC, they are added to the QPL (Qualified Products List). The QPL currently has more than 119,000 products listed!
- Premium Classification – In July of 2015, DLC launched their latest version of the Technical Requirements Table, V3.0. This now includes a two-tiered product qualification, Standard and Premium. Products qualified as Premium will need to meet higher efficiency requirements of 50-70% greater than those in the Standard classification. Most all of ILT's products meet the new Premium classification and we are currently re-submitting for Premium qualification. Note that currently, both Standard and Premium classified products typically qualify for utility rebates.
With all of these product options, how do you choose a fixture and/or manufacturer?
- Network with your fellow convenience/grocery store or petroleum marketing association members to get their experiences and recommendations.
- Look for those associations' supplier members (like us, the ILT LED Lighting Division) who are involved with and support your local organization.
- Talk to your utility! Many utilities manage lists of Trade Allies who have experience with various lighting products and are qualified to install them. These Trade Allies also have first-hand knowledge of the latest utility incentives and can typically get you the rebates up-front, resulting in a much lower out-of-pocket expense.
- Custom Incentives – For those applications not currently covered by Energy Star or DLC (ie. Signage Retrofits), utilities can provide what is called a custom incentive based on energy savings. Trade Allies can typically walk you through this process. This is another way to get additional energy savings along with incentives from your utility to help fund these projects.
Ask the right questions of both the Trade Ally and LED Manufacturer:
- Trade Ally
- What is their experience with the specific LED lighting project you are pursuing?
- How many projects have they completed?
- Get references!
- LED Manufacturer
- Are their products DLC listed? Standard or Premium?
- How long have they been in business? Producing LED fixtures?
- Where are their products manufactured? How is quality controlled?
- Do they work with local Trade Allies and Distributors?
LED is a disruptive technology in the lighting world. It's taken a similar path to PCs and Smartphones, changing and improving every 6-9 months. GE, Sylvania and Philips are no longer the “big three” with many other manufacturers jumping in the mix. Many refer to it as the “wild west”!
DLC was formed to manage this churn, establish performance criteria and provide a path to launch into the market. BUT, you still need to make the right choices for your business to improve lighting and save energy. Work with your utilities, Trade Allies and local suppliers. This team should help you cost-effectively implement LED lighting upgrades. Hopefully you will consider ILT as part of that team in the future!
ILT Sales Contact info:
Phone: (978) 818-6180