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Practical advice on commercial lighting from LED retrofts to lighting design

5 ways to sell a lighting retrofit to your boss

Posted by Jules Tompkins on



There are a lot of big numbers that get thrown around in lighting retrofit discussions. The savings – from the cost of energy to the lessened maintenance workload – can be eye-popping. 

Yet, oftentimes, the only number that is really eye-popping to your boss is that of upfront cost.

The reality is, no matter how common sense a retrofit may seem, big expenditures rarely get passed swiftly. (And sometimes, the sheer size of the number on the price tag can delay a quick-ROI, "common sense" project for years.)

If you're like so many of our lighting-savvy customers who have had trouble getting budgetary approval for an energy-saving lighting conversion, maybe one of the ideas below can help you to get something pushed through and start saving your company money with a refreshed look.



1. Take it one step at a time

Many of our customers have had success by first retrofitting high-burn-time or hard-to-reach areas, and when the energy savings from that kicks in, you can allocate more money for similar projects in other areas of the building. This is also a great way to test how LED will look in your facility before you commit to a full-scale overhaul of your lighting technology.

We know it can be difficult to prioritize where you should install LED lighting first, so we put together a list of eight places in a typical building that are ripe for retrofitting, quickly paying for itself and making ongoing maintenance easier.

We also like to point customers to our Lighting Pyramid, if you're looking to swap out your biggest energy guzzlers for longer-life, more efficient lighting. This focuses more on retrofitting away from certain technologies, one by one, rather than prioritizing areas.

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2. Show them the money

Money talks. A buttoned-up presentation of just how much a company could save from a switch to more energy-efficient, longer-life lighting is often the ticket that gets a project through the gates of approval.

But how accurate are energy savings calculations? Should you include things like cost of labor and HVAC?

Well, you can start by telling them about the Total Cost of Lighting, as displayed below. 


If you're looking for a baseline number, use our energy savings calculator, which shows a simple payback, rate of return, and estimated annual energy savings – not labor or HVAC savings.

If you want to show your boss a more robust estimate for savings, you can download our Ultimate Guide to Energy Savings, Calculations, and Payback e-book, which will walk you through the calculations.


3. Point to quality

Do the tenants of your building complain about the harshness of fluorescent lighting? Are your designers itching to refresh and update the look of your space?

Let your boss know: a lighting retrofit could go a long way, resulting in more than just energy savings. LED provides better CRI, more color temperature variety, dimmability, and a number of other features – the combination of which many fluorescent, HID, and incandescent products do not provide.


We have heard from some customers, as well, that better lighting has resulted in increased productivity and fewer mistakes from their staffs. For example, quality lighting makes it easier to read print in cavernous spaces like warehouses and factories.

Other customers have pointed out the safety benefit of good lighting when, for example, their parking lots or stairwells are brighter and easier to navigate as a result of a lighting upgrade.

4. Emphasize the maintenance benefit

Untimely burnouts can be the bane of a chief engineer's existence. But the lower the frequency of the burnouts, the lower the chances of an untimely burnout.

If you've experienced one of these, you know the exact kind of headache that comes with this.

What if your staff spent less time playing whack-a-mole with the lighting around your building and could devote more time to other projects and maintenance needs? Wouldn't your boss like to know the answer to that question?

Point out how much time can be saved – and labor can be freed up – from a retrofit to LED. Heck, maybe you could save more money from this benefit than you might originally think once you put pencil to paper. That was the case for the Grand Hyatt in Atlanta. The hotel recently completed a retrofit that cut back labor so much that they ended up eliminating an entire position from their engineering staff.

And to give your boss peace of mind, mention the possibility of an extended LED lighting warranty.

5. Find rebates that will reduce the upfront cost

Ah, lighting rebates. Though there are fewer today than there were years ago, there are still plenty out there, ripe for the taking.

Rebates can be a powerful tool for getting that extra bit – or avalanche – of funding for a retrofit project.

But how do you find them? And isn't it a hassle to comb the fine print and jump through all the hoops to qualify for them?

We're here to help, because it's not easy.  

Looking for lighting rebates? We can hunt them down for you.

Here is some additional helpful info regarding lighting rebates:

Have you had success with a lighting retrofit? How did you sell your boss on it? Let us know in the comments below..