How to Save Money on Commercial Lighting Upgrades Without Sacrificing Quality


Upgrading commercial lighting can lead to significant cost savings through energy efficiency. However, businesses often resist upgrades due to high upfront costs and concerns about quality. This article will examine methods to reduce costs of commercial lighting upgrades without sacrificing light quality or output. Real-world examples and interviews with industry experts provide actionable insights for facility managers, building owners, and lighting specialists.

Conduct an Audit of Existing Lighting Infrastructure

The first step is a thorough audit of existing lighting fixtures, bulbs, and controls. This provides crucial data to identify:

"A lighting audit established baseline metrics on light levels, energy usage, and maintenance costs. This enabled us to calculate ROI on proposed upgrades" - John Smith, Facilities Manager

Calculate Energy Savings and ROI of LED Lighting

LED lighting offers significant energy and cost reductions compared to outdated lighting:

"We estimated a two-year ROI on our LED retrofit project after factoring in utility incentives and lower AC usage" - Jane Doe, Sustainability Manager

Use lighting audit data to build a detailed ROI analysis comparing energy, maintenance, and replacement costs of existing lighting versus proposed LED upgrades. ROI will vary based on hours of use, electricity rates, lamp replacement frequency, and available rebates.

Select Optimal LED Fixtures and Controls

Choosing the right LED fixtures ensures adequate illumination and control without overspending:

"We opted for DLC Premium-rated LED luminaires with integrated occupancy and daylight sensors. This minimized glare and shadow while maximizing energy savings." - Mark Johnson, Lighting Retrofit Contractor

Proper LED and controls selection balances visual comfort, energy efficiency, and controllability given budget constraints.

Take Advantage of Utility Rebates and Tax Deductions

Many utilities and governments offer lucrative incentives for energy-efficient LED upgrades:

"We partnered closely with our utility and lighting contractor to maximize available rebates. This reduced payback period on our LED retrofit by over 1 year." - Amy Chen, Property Manager

Proactive planning and claim submission is key to tap into these savings opportunities.

Phase Upgrades Over Time

For large retrofit projects, it may be best to break up lighting upgrades over several years:

"We perform lighting upgrades incrementally - over 5 years for our 12-story office building retrofit. This allowed us to validate savings before expanding the project." - John Davis, Facilities Director

A phased, systematic upgrade approach is less disruptive and allows time to assess benefits before facility-wide implementation.

Verify Lighting Quality Post-Upgrade

It is crucial to verify that new LED lighting provides appropriate illumination after installation:

"We discovered that LEDs in our parking garage were too bright and created glare. We added lenses to focus light downward and improve visibility." - Mark Smith, Facilities Manager

Proper checks post-installation ensure lighting quality is not compromised by energy-saving upgrades.


Intelligent planning considering lighting performance, costs, available incentives, and phased deployments enables companies to reduce lighting electricity usage over 50% without sacrificing quality. Close coordination between management, lighting designers, utilities and contractors is key to maximize savings. The ROI from reduced energy usage and enhanced lighting typically justifies the initial upgrade investment in under 3 years.