How to Figure out the Cost of Lighting for Your Austin, TX Business

Interior LED lighting

Are you looking at your business energy bill thinking there must be a cheaper way? Or, are you planning to retrofit your workspace with LED lighting but have no idea how to estimate it? Switching over to LED in Austin, TX is a step in the right direction to saving money and reducing your carbon footprint.

Calculating the cost of lighting for your business can be tricky. There are many factors that depend on how many bulbs and what types you need. Overall, LED beats out incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.

Let’s look at the total life cycle cost of these three bulb types.

  • Incandescent is often the cheapest to buy but the most expensive to run. 40 wattage, 6 month lifetime, annual ownership cost of $47.
  • Fluorescent bulbs cost a bit more upfront but last longer. 32 wattage, 1.5-year lifetime, annual ownership cost $30.
  • LED now costs the same as fluorescent but has a significantly longer lifespan. 5 wattage, 6-10 year lifetime, annual ownership cost $6.

Knowing the basics of bulb costs and energy efficiency will help you estimate the cost of lighting for your business. But, what are your options for buying and installing new lighting? The three main ways to purchase new lighting are a cash purchase, equipment financing, and LaaS (Lighting as a Service).

Cash Purchase For LED Lighting

Paying outright for LEDs is an option if your business has the ability to pay in full during installation. Many companies choose this to avoid interest and loans. It could be a smart choice, but it also puts a lot of pressure on your cash.

Most businesses in Austin, TX don’t have a lot of money laying around to be spent entirely on lighting. Cash purchase of LED can really be a big burden to companies looking to newly install or retrofit.

Paying cash is a huge investment and may drain your available funds. This could prevent your business from funding projects or initiatives. Because the initial investment is so large, you won’t see energy savings for a few years.

Equipment Financing For LED Retrofitting

Option two allows you to pursue an LED retrofit at a low upfront cost through equipment financing. This is a good option for owners who don’t have large funds available. Cash can then be put back into the business and the retrofit will save on energy costs.

Although this preserves capital in your business, it also adds to your debt. Taking out a loan to pay for equipment means paying off tens of thousands of dollars for years. Another drawback is that you will be spending more on the lease than the cost of the equipment itself. By the end of your lease that equipment could be outdated, and you will be stuck with it.

LED light bulbs

Lighting-as-a-Service (LaaS)

LaaS (Lighting as a Service) is a recent business model that is quickly gaining traction. Essentially how it works is the business owner pays for the lighting and not the fixtures or equipment. This is done through a subscription basis over a multi-year term. No big one-time payment or lease.

If LEDs are the most cost and energy-efficient then why don’t more businesses install them? The initial cost of buying and installing followed by outdated equipment a few years later keeps many companies from making the switch. Paying outright can cost small businesses an average of $20,000, medium businesses $60,000 and larger corporations can pay $500,000 or more!

LaaS looks to offer a better solution. The monthly fee, which is offset by energy savings pays for new lighting. This is much more affordable than a large up-front installation. Companies in Austin, TX can avoid outdated equipment by including upgrades in their contract or replacing old systems at the end of the contract.

At times you’ll run into lighting that needs to be replaced or upgraded. The contract may or may not include this type of maintenance. Your company can choose to take ownership of the system or upgrade the fixtures before beginning a new contract.

Dry, Damp and Wet Rated LED Lighting

When thinking about what kind of lighting you need to install, you need to think about the fixture rating. These ratings tell you which environment the light is made for. If you don’t see this rating on a bulb that means it is a Dry LED. A Dry bulb is not totally enclosed and should not be exposed to water.

Wet-rated bulbs are fully enclosed fixtures that tolerate full exposure to water. You would find them in outside light fixtures and submerged in pools. These types of bulbs have a waterproof seal to keep the water away from the electrical parts of a fixture.

Damp-rated bulbs are in locations that are protected from weather and cannot be fully exposed to water. They can tolerate a fair amount of moisture and humidity. These types of bulbs can be used in bathrooms, kitchens, and greenhouses. You can also use them in outdoor areas that don’t have direct exposure to weather such as eaves of roofs and patio overhangs.

Central Texas is known for its humid and wet summers. Interior lighting in your building may need to be damp-rated to extend the bulb life. Outdoor exposed fixtures will have to have a wet rated to handle the heavy rains and humid climate.

It’s Time to Retrofit LED Light Fixtures

Interior LED lighting retrofit

LED lighting uses up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Knowing how much you could save by retrofitting your business, what’s holding you back? Not only do you save money, but you can also lower your carbon footprint.

By looking at your needs and your budget you can find an affordable solution for installing LED lighting. You want the deal that will get you the most energy savings at the lowest cost. LaaS outranks the other options by offering a monthly subscription to lighting services, not a lease to equipment.

Take the guesswork out of lighting your building. You want lights that work, are regularly maintained and save you money on your energy bill. Make your lights work for you, your employees and your customers.

To learn more about the cost of LED lighting and services for businesses click here.

Basics of Lighting Terms for Dummies

Color of Light

One factor to consider when choosing the right light is the color of that light.  All lamps, whether it is a light bulb or a complete fixture, produces light of a single color or range of color often referred to a color changing or color tuning. For white light, the color ranges from warm white light around 2700K (K stands for Kelvin) to cool white around 5000K. Warm white light between 2700K-3000K is more yellow in tone and commonly found in residential applications. Cool white light around 4200-5000K is bluer in tone and similar to daylight.

In addition to the degree of warmth or coolness of the white light, you will also want to consider how well the light renders color. The accuracy of color is measured by a Color Rendering Index (CRI) on a scale from 1-100. The higher the number, the more effective the light is at rendering color. Good color rendering is 80 CRI and above. Excellent color rendering is 90 CRI and above.

Lighting Terms

Efficacy – The ratio of the light output of a lamp (lumens) to its active power (watts), expressed as lumens per watt.

Ambient Temperature – The temperature of the surrounding air that comes into contact with the lamp and ballast. Ambient temperature affects the light output and active power of fluorescent lamp/ballast systems. Each fluorescent lamp-ballast system has an optimum ambient temperature at which it produces maximum light output. Higher or lower temperatures reduce light output. For purposes of lamp/ballast tests, ambient temperature is measured at a point no more than 1 meter (3.3 feet) from the lamp and at the same height as the lamp.

Application – The use to which a lighting system will be put; for example, a lamp may be intended for indoor residential applications.
Average Rated Life – The number of hours at which half of a large group of product samples fail under standard test conditions. Rated life is a median value; any lamp or group of lamps may vary from the published rated life.
Beam Angle – The angle at which luminous intensity is 50 percent of the maximum intensity.
Beam Spread – The width of a light beam, expressed in degrees. The beam of light from a reflector-type lamp (PAR, R, ER, or MR) can be thought of as a cone. The beam spread is the angular width of the cone. Common beam spreads are known as spot, narrow, narrow flood, and flood.

Bulb Shape – An abbreviation of the shape and size of a lamp’s outer envelope. The letter or letters indicate the shape and the numbers indicate the bulb’s maximum diameter in eighths of an inch.

Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) – A specification for white light sources used to describe the dominant color tone along the dimension from warm (yellows and reds) to cool (blue). Lamps with a CCT rating below 3200 K are usually considered warm sources, whereas those with a CCT above 4000 K usually considered cool in appearance. Temperatures in between are considered neutral in appearance. Technically, CCT extends the practice of using temperature, in kelvins (K), for specifying the spectrum of light sources other than blackbody radiators. Incandescent lamps and daylight closely approximate the spectra of black body radiators at different temperatures and can be designated by the corresponding temperature of a blackbody radiator. The spectra of fluorescent and LED sources, however, differ substantially from black body radiators yet they can have a color appearance similar to a blackbody radiator of a particular temperature as given by CCT.

Color Rendering Index (CRI) – A rating index commonly used to represent how well a light source renders the colors of objects that it illuminates. For a CRI value of 100, the maximum value, the colors of objects can be expected to be seen as they would appear under an incandescent or daylight spectrum of the same correlated color temperature (CCT). Sources with CRI values less than 50 are generally regarded as rendering colors poorly, that is, colors may appear unnatural.

Fixture – A complete lighting unit consisting of lamp or lamps and the parts designed to distribute the light, position and protect the lamp(s), and connect the lamp(s) to the power supply.

Kelvin – Color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin, which indicate the hue of a specific type of light source. Higher temperatures indicate whiter, “cooler” colors, while lower temperatures indicate yellower, “warmer” colors.

Lamp Life – The median lifespan of a very large number of lamps (also known as the average rated life). Half of the lamps in a sample are likely to fail before the rated lamp life, and half are likely to survive beyond the rated lamp life. For discharge light sources, such as fluorescent and HID lamps, lamp life depends on the number of starts and the duration of the operating cycle each time the lamp is started.

Lumen (lm) – A unit measurement of the rate at which a lamp produces light. A lamp’s light output rating expresses the total amount of light emitted in all directions per unit time. Ratings of initial light output provided by manufacturers express the total light output after 100 hours of operation.

PAR Lamp – A lamp with a glass bulb and an interior reflecting surface, led chip, and a lens to control beam spread. The lens is hermetically sealed to the reflector.

R Lamp – A common reflector lamp in which the sides of the outer blown-glass bulb are coated with a reflecting material to direct the light. The light-transmitting region may be clear, frosted, or patterned.