Most likely, your hospital facility relies on a variety of legacy lighting systems. Depending on the technology used (and the age of the system), lighting may account for a large portion of your monthly utility bills due to frequent use and poor energy efficiency.
In the past few years, LEDs have started to take over the hospital lighting scene. In addition to the well-known benefits of energy efficiency and long lamp life, there are several other advantages to using LEDs in healthcare environments:
• They can be used almost anywhere inside and outside your facility: hallways and storage areas, parking garages and lots, walkways and pathways, night lights, exam rooms, etc.
• They can reduce maintenance costs, especially in buildings with high ceilings and hard-to-reach fixture locations.
• They provide consistent light by offering multiple points of light instead of just one, reducing shadows and uneven lighting.
• When connected to lighting control systems, they offer the ability to adjust lighting schedules and levels.
• They allow the lighting system to be fully operational at all times, without having to worry about burned-out lamps that prevent tasks from being completed.
• They offer the ability to “tune” the lighting color, changing from warm to neutral to cool to meet patient and/or staff preferences and create certain feelings or mood.
• They deliver high-quality light without impacting room temperature, unlike other lighting options. They don’t generate as much heat when they’re on, reducing cooling requirements. This can further decrease utility bills and lengthen the lifecycle of HVAC equipment.
But upgrading your hospital’s lighting system to LEDs can seem like an overwhelming task. How do you begin to coordinate and come up with funds to replace lighting systems across thousands of square feet?
Unbeknownst to many facilities managers is the fact that lighting upgrades don’t have to be completed all at once – especially if LED retrofit kits are used. LED retrofit kits allow you to replace existing light sources with LEDs while using the same fixtures. Fluorescent, incandescent, halogen, high-pressure sodium, and metal halide lamps can all be replaced with LED retrofit kits, preventing you from having to invest in an entirely new system. You can retrofit as few or as many fixtures as the budget, schedule, and staffing levels allow.
By reusing existing lighting fixtures and lenses, you can maximize your hospital’s lighting-fixture investment and reduce overall costs while also preventing disruption to hospital operations. Retrofit kits install much faster than a complete lighting system replacement.
No special tools are needed; installation can be completed by a third party, or by in-house staff members who have basic electrical and wiring knowledge. If professional installation is desired in certain areas (perhaps in hard-to-reach areas), installation can be split between a third party and an in-house team.
How do you know whether your hospital is a candidate for an LED retrofit? Go through this list of questions, find your answer, and read the recommendation.
Q: Are the existing fixtures in your hospital in good condition?
Check housing, lenses/shades, reflectors, trim, and wiring for damage. Is anything cracked, falling apart, or suffering from poor installation?
YES: LED retrofit kits may be a good choice for your hospital since you can use existing fixtures.
NO: It’s not a good idea to retrofit your existing fixtures for LEDs. The lamps could fail, or may not offer expected performance levels.
Q: Do you like your existing lighting layout and fixtures the way they are?
Make sure that your lighting configuration and fixtures function well for your environment. Is there anything you want to change? Are fixtures spaced correctly and directing light to the appropriate places? Is a one-to-one lamp change-out necessary?
YES: LED retrofit kits won’t change the look of your ceiling or the existing lighting fixtures in any way, so they may work well if you’re comfortable with the existing lighting fixtures and layout.
NO: An LED retrofit probably isn’t for you – your hospital’s fixtures and lighting layout will remain the same. A complete lighting system replacement will give you the opportunity to switch out fixtures so you get what you want.
Q: Will your existing fixtures need to be replaced soon?
Are fixtures showing wear? Is there a planned renovation in the future that may change the colors or look of the space?
YES: If you’re going to replace your existing fixtures in a few years, retrofitting to LEDs won’t provide the best investment; you’ll have to remove the retrofit kits for a new installation, and they’ll no longer be useful.
NO: If you’re completely satisfied with existing fixtures as they are – in terms of look and functionality – and have no plans to change them later as part of a larger building project, then LED retrofit kits may be a good option for your hospital.
If your answers to these questions indicate that an LED retrofit may be a possibility, look for LED retrofit kits that are:
• ETL Listed or UL Listed to confirm that products will perform without safety hazards.
• DLC Listed. There are two DLC levels: DLC Standard and DLC Premium. The DLC Premium Standard indicates lighting products that are more efficient than DLC Standard products.
• From a manufacturer with ISO certification, which tells you that the products are built and tested in a consistent manner.
No matter whether you invest in a new LED system to replace your existing lighting, or use your existing fixtures and invest in an LED retrofit, LEDs will help your hospital significantly reduce energy usage, lower operating costs (by shrinking utility bills), reduce maintenance expenses, and improve lighting quality.
Dwayne Kula is founder of MyLEDLightingGuide, a consultant to commercial and industrial building owners looking for LED lighting solutions that will work in their specific environments and according to their specifications.