T12 to T8 lighting retrofits - The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.
Using top quality name brand products - Typically Bright Ideas Lighting Co uses Philips, GE, Advance or Sylvania bulbs and ballasts.
High kelvin lights - Unless the customer specifically requests different we use either 4100 kelvin or 5000 kelvin lamps in all of our retrofits. Sometimes we even use the 6500 kelvin lamps for a daylight look.
Documented recycling of all old fluorescent light bulbs. Your lighting retrofit provider should be able to provide a written certificate of recycling to you showing that they are in fact recycling the old fluorescent light bulbs.
Using 700 series T8 lamps. These area cheaper than the 800 series, but also provide less lumens and shorter life span. We still see some electrical contractors using these lamps in order to cut costs. Yes, using these cheaper lamps will allow the contractor to bid lower, but product quality is also less. The color rendering index on the 700 series lamps is mid 70s, while the 800s series is mid 80s. Much better color in the 800 series lamps. The 700 series lamps typically only have a rated life of 20,000 hours versus the 30,000 hours for the 800 series. Also much more lumen depreciation on the 700 series lamps.
Using cheap ballasts - We also see this done frequently in an attempt to save money on the overall cost. However, just like the 700 series lamps lower quality means lower prices, but also lower overall performance. We always use ballasts that are NEMA Premium. Ballasts earning this designation represent the most efficient ballasts available. The NEMA Premium ballasts are typically about 5-7% more energy efficient than the standard ballasts. The reason that a company does a lighting retrofit is to cut energy costs. Why leave an additional 5-7% savings on the table if you don't have to?
Delamping when you shouldn't - We have recently seen a several lighting retrofit jobs where the contractor delamped a 2 lamp fixture. The reason for the delamping is to gain extra Idaho Power rebates. However, when you delamp a 2 lamp fixture it looks really ugly. If there are rows of 2 lamp fixtures we sometimes have seen the contractor alternate (left or right side of fixture) to run the single lamp in. It does not look good at all. Best practice on 2 lamp fixtures is to use reduced wattage lamps or low ballast factor ballast for extra energy savings.
Yes, delamping a 2 lamp fixture does save the customer money, but it also looks terrible and give the company a less professional appearance. It is poor business to sacrifice quality lighting in the name of energy savings.
Another thing we have seen is contractors who when delamping a 4 lamp fixture actually use the middle 2 spaces to put the new T8s. When retrofitting a 4 lamp T12 fixture to a 2 lamp T8 fixture, the T8 lamps used should always be the outside 2 lamp space in the fixture. This allows much more light out of the fixture than running the middle 2 lamps as T8s. Besides less light output it just looks very poor.
This is somewhat personal preference, but we also still see contractors using the cheapest kelvin temperature light bulbs - 3500k. This kelvin temperature looks yellow-orange. Do you really want to sit under that color of light all day every day when you could be sitting under a lamp closer to a daylight color?
Throwing away of old fluorescent light bulbs. This one is very ugly for the environment. All fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury and should not be thrown in to the trash. We have seen the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality begin to get tough on companies throwing bulbs away. Bright Ideas Lighting Co is happy to see the stepped up enforcement of the recycling. It levels the playing field. Credible responsible companies such as Bright Ideas Lighting are at a cost disadvantage versus fly by night companies that simply throw the old fluorescent light bulbs away. We urge all companies to make sure they are dealing with a lighting retrofitter that is recycling the bulbs. After all you aren't a "green" company if your service provider is polluting the environment with mercury.