Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lighting Retrofit Is Benefitting Schools

In many instances, schools will benefit from technological advances or energy savings that create “opportunity costs.” Schools that installed systems with T-12 fluorescent lamps and magnetic ballasts during the 1950s and ‘60s have found the systems are not only inefficient but costly to operate. The trend is to replace these systems with the more efficient T-8 lamps and electronic ballasts.

Many schools are removing the aged fluorescent systems installed in classrooms and offices and replacing them with more technologically advanced systems. Often the motivation for a retrofit is reduced operating and energy costs. However, schools are also reaping the benefits of higher quality illumination.

At Northwood Middle School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for example, retrofitting an existing fluorescent system boosted light levels to 50 foot candles in classrooms. Replacing an aging fluorescent system in the library of Holy Spirit Catholic School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, increased horizontal footcandle levels by 34 percent. Vertical foot candles were also increased by more than 25 percent.

In the library at Holy Spirit Catholic School, 15 4-foot fluorescent fixtures with three T-8 lamps and electronic ballasts replaced 12 8-foot units with two T-12 lamps and magnetic ballasts. According to Phil Onstott, owner of ProElectric, Tuscaloosa, who led the lighting project, the new system increased light levels and reduced energy and maintenance costs.

The existing system with the T-12 lamps required 1.92 kilowatts, compared to 1.3 kilowatts for the new system. Lamp life for the T-8 lamps is 20,000 hours, compared to 12,000 hours for the T-12 lamps. With the original system, ballast temperature was 180 degrees. Now, it is 85 degrees.

“The previous system generated a lot of heat on the ceiling, which escalated air conditioning costs. Much less cooling is needed now, which saves the school money,” Onstott described.

Call Aztec Electrical today at (541) 245-8560 to learn how our services can assist your project and to discover how rebates and incentives can improve your ROI.

Adapted from material at

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