We at Bright Ideas Lighting Co have recently heard of companies in Idaho doing lighting retrofits at no net cost to the customer- the "free" lighting retrofit.
How are these companies able to do a lighting retrofit completely free to the customer? Generally under normal circumstances the Idaho Power lighting rebates will pay for about 50% of a job, with customer paying for the remainder.
How do these companies get the rebates to pay for 100% of the lighting retrofit job? The biggest thing that we have seen is excessive delamping. Idaho Power pays $12 per delamp. So if the fixture goes from 4 lamp t12 to 2 lamp T8 the delamping portion of the rebate is $24 (2x12). The 4-2 lighting retrofit is very common and generally looks good. What we have seen is the retrofit going from 4 lamp T12 to 1 lamp T8. This looks terrible, where there is only one light bulb in a fixture designed to have four. The light levels are actually far lower after the retrofit. However, with the 3 delamps, plus the retrofit incentives the Idaho Power rebates literally cover all of the costs. Other similar types of work are delamping 2 lamp fixtures to 1 lamp fixtures.
We are not going to do lighting retrofits where the end result is that the lighting looks worse than before the lighting retrofit! The point of a lighting upgrade is to get more energy efficient lighting and have the lighting look better than before the lighting retrofit. No point in doing a lighting upgrade if the end results is big energy savings, but lighting that looks bad.
Other things that we see done by the companies offering "free" lighting retrofits include using non licensed electricians, and using poor quality lamps and ballasts. Do you really want your lighting and electrical work done by non-licensed, non-insured workers? Do you want the light bulbs and ballasts to have a brand name that you have never even heard of?
At Bright Ideas Lighting Co we are always going to use 800 series high performance light bulbs and NEMA premium ballasts in all of our lighting retrofits.
One thing that from what we have seen is almost always a part of the "free" lighting retrofit is improper disposal of the old T12 fluorescent light bulbs. The old fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury and need to be recycled. Recycling cost money and from what we have seen is that many of the "free" retrofitters just throw all of their old mercury containing tubes in the trash. At Bright Ideas Lighting Co we recycle all old fluorescent tubes and can provide written certificate of recycling from our recycling company.
So with lighting retrofits, just as in most things in life, there is no free lunch. Our retrofits are not going to be free, but we will offer free estimates and consultation on lighting retrofits.