A case study on upgrading to LED lighting

by FM Media
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LED (light-emitting diode) lighting is a fast moving world. Without requiring facility managers to become lighting specialists, the issue is how to navigate the murky sea of product quality assessment and technology jargon to find the best solution.

The education challenge for facility managers is how to focus on long-term project value and not upfront cost. New lighting technology requires projects to be assessed differently. Energy performance, operating life and light depreciation factors play an important role.

Quality LED lighting is often a greater upfront cost than old technology replacement. Energy efficient LED lighting upgrades are competing with other valid demands for CAPEX (capital expenditure) budgets, so the more we can help in equipping the facility manager with the project value data, the better.

Technology uptake
Energy efficiency has not been a priority for areas such as fire stairs, car parks and service corridors, as there has been very little technology innovation since the fluorescent tube in the 1970s.

When enLighten introduced its patented energy efficient Chamaeleon LED light onto the market in 2011, integrated motion sensors within the light fittings in fire stairways were a novelty.

“We had to change the mindset of electrical contractors, building managers and engineers on the opportunities for energy savings via the concept of lighting for people and not spaces,” says enLighten’s CEO Steve Cahill.

“Five years on, we are seeing an enormous volume of products enter onto the market with similar features.”

Selling the project payback
It was strategically important to run an installation business, so that we could gain insight from our customers, which fed into the research and development process. We developed a thorough Return on Investment (ROI) spreadsheet, which took into account lighting type, hours of operation, use of sensors and site electricity tariff data. In the back end, we entered cost data of emergency light battery replacements, call out rates and lamp replacements.

The end result is a calculation of energy savings per area (kilowatt hours, kWh pa), percentage energy reduction, greenhouse gas savings, approximate value of energy efficiency certificate rebate and project payback in years.

This information assists our FM clients to propose lighting upgrades. On request, we also provide further financial analysis incorporating internal rate of return (IRR).

Why upgrade from T5 to LED?
When introduced in the 1990s, the T5 fluorescent batten consumed approximately 28-watt (ex ballast). This marked the first efficiency improvement in fluorescent lighting technology in over 20 years – down from the T8 batten consumption of 36-watt (ex ballast) and a staggering 56-watt for the T12.

T5 lamps were initially designed for commercial offices to fit end to end in T-bar ceiling grids. Being recessed into the ceiling space, the T5 lamps weren’t exposed to temperature changes and have been designed for warmer indoor areas. The maximum light output of 100 percent is achieved at 35 percent. This drops to 60 percent at 15 degrees Celsius and 40 percent at 10 degrees Celsius.

Unfortunately, the rebate chasers in the early rollout of energy savings schemes in New South Wales and Victoria, who often had limited lighting knowledge, have specified T5s for areas where they were not suited. One common area is open car parks, where the T5 lights are exposed to lower temperatures, significantly reducing the light output.

This has now been largely ruled out, with demonstration required that light levels meet AS1680 requirements for areas of installation before any energy savings certificates are generated. Similarly T8 to T5 adapters were also banned this year, due to electrical safety non-compliance.

Case study – car park lighting upgrade


Shopping Centres Australia – managed by Jones Lang Lasalle

Project site location:

41 Harries Road, Coorparoo, Brisbane QLD

Project type:

Retrofit of twin T5 battens with Chamaeleon LED light in parking bays and driveways and 90W Tauro Blu LED low bay light in car park entry.

Project cost:


Energy efficiency rebate:


Estimated electricity savings (kWh):


Estimated electricity savings (%):


Project ROI:

2.7 years

Project background
The existing T5 fluorescent lighting in the undercover car park level of the retail shopping centre in the south-eastern Brisbane suburb of Coorparoo operated 24/7 with no controls. Similarly in the car park entry, twin 28-watt T5 fittings were installed in the 10-year-old centre, which had been retrofitted in 2012.

Operations manager, James Dwyer of Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) investigated lighting upgrade options when a large percentage of the T5 lights were failing. Dwyer was looking for a solution with a longer life span than the average two years for the T5 lighting, thereby reducing lamp replacement and maintenance costs.

Dwyer liaised with his JLL colleagues at CP1, a commercial office tower at 345 Queen Street, Brisbane, as they had recently completed a fire stair and car park LED lighting upgrade. Based on the strength of the results, owner Shopping Centres Australia was happy to proceed.

Project scope
The Chamaeleon light’s integral microwave motion sensor instantly switches the light from standby light output (eight watts) to full light (35 watts) on detection of movement in the space. After a set period of time (15 seconds to five minutes), the light returns to standby mode.

A 12-chip standard Chamaeleon light was installed in all parking bays. Permanently-on models and models with side emitting optical lenses ensured good visibility for driveway areas approaching a turn. All lights were replaced on a one-for-one basis.

A 90-watt two-module Tauro Blu LED low bay light was installed in the car park entry, a net increase in energy consumption compared to the existing T5 fixture (62-watt including ballast). This was necessary to improve the light levels in this area.

This article was contributed by enLighten Australia. For more information, go to www.enlighten.com.au.

Photo by supplier: enLighten and installer: Let There be Light

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