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Practical advice on commercial lighting from LED retrofts to lighting design

Steps to retrofit hotel lighting

Posted by Todd Colgate on



Does thinking about a lighting retrofit for your hotel seem overwhelming?

Take some peace of mind from this: You don’t have to upgrade all of your lighting at once. If your ultimate goal is energy efficiency, you can take smaller steps to get there.

The benefits are probably worth it. Energy Star estimates that hotels spend $2,196 per room on energy every year. If you can save even a fraction of that by upgrading your lighting, it could change your operating budget.

We're outlining four steps that could help you realize the financial benefits of a lighting retrofit.

 1. Set goals

Before you go any further with your lighting retrofit, stop and think about what you want to accomplish. Here are a few good questions to ask:

Do you want lighting to make guests feel more comfortable?

Are you trying to save money? 

What does your budget look like? Are you ready to commit to a full lighting retrofit? 

Do you need to meet stringent building or energy code?

Do you want to cut down on maintenance time?

Your answers to these questions will shape which lighting retrofit is best for you.

If budget is the largest deciding factor for you, you don’t have to complete a full retrofit. Start with smaller steps.

If you’re trying to attract more guests who are focused on sustainability, you might want to consider a full retrofit complete with lighting controls.

We helped one hotel that wanted to upgrade its look, decrease monthly energy costs, and also realize payback in under two years. Click below to watch the video or click here to read more.

2. Look for high-burn areas

If you’re not ready to commit to a full retrofit, consider taking smaller steps towards your final goal.

Areas where lights are always on will typically provide the largest payback if you switch to LED. This is a great place to start.

These areas likely include:

  • Lobby – You want to create a warm welcome for your guests, who could arrive at any hour of the day. Leaving lights on is a must, so switching out your traditional lighting to LED will help you save energy. Bonus: lobbies probably use incandescent or halogen lights in decorative fixtures, and they use more energy than other types of traditional lighting.
  • Parking lot or garage – Keeping your parking lot or garage well-lit is a must to keep guests safe. Switching to LED can still give you the coverage you need.
  • Stairwells – This is another safety issue. In case of emergency, your stairwells should always be lit. But they can be lit with LEDs instead of linear fluorescents to save energy.
  • Exterior areas – You want your hotel sign to shine and guests to easily find their way inside your hotel. Getting rid of HID lamps outside will help cut down on energy costs.

You could also find where to start your retrofit by using what we like to call the lighting pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid is the highest energy consumer, incandescent lighting. At the top is the most energy efficient lighting, LED.


3. Use reliable products

What’s the point of spending thousands of dollars on a lighting retrofit if your light bulbs are going to burn out too quickly?

Don’t buy any LED product you can find online. We recommend buying from a manufacturer you trust and who has a long track record.

Here’s why: when LEDs hit the market and took off, we saw a rapid increase in the number of manufacturers producing them. Just because a product appears to have a great price does not mean it’s the best product in the long run. In some LEDs, we’ve seen a quick color shift or a complete burn out.

If you are trying to cut back on the cost of a retrofit, we recommend looking for rebates instead of the cheapest products. Here are some of the most common questions we get on lighting rebates.

Shop LED retrofit bulbs

4. Use lighting controls

If you’re looking to maximize the results of your lighting retrofit, consider adding controls.

Lighting controls are especially beneficial in hotel rooms, where guests only spend a limited amount of their time. Leaving lights on in empty rooms is a huge waste of energy and money.

You can think outside of hotel rooms, too. Do you have large meeting rooms that will be empty for hours at time? What about a gym or office that guests may only use at certain hours of the day?

Lighting control systems can be as simple or as complicated as you would like, but you should make sure they are simple for your guests.

Here are a few options:

  • Dimmers: Dimming light bulbs reduces wattage, resulting in energy savings. This is a great option for guest rooms or to set different tones in your conference rooms.
  • Sensors: Installing sensors ensures that light is only on when it’s needed. If no motion is detected, the lights turn off, saving extra energy.
  • Timers: Do you only need accent lights on for certain hours of the day? Timers give you the option to limit when lights are on.

You might also consider wireless energy controls. They’re easy to install without extra wiring.

Lighting retrofit benefits for hotels

If you decide to upgrade your hotel, here are some of the benefits you’ll notice.

  • Energy savings – LEDs use much less energy, so you will notice an immediate reduction on your electricity bill. If you want to calculate how fast you can receive payback on a retrofit, use the calculator below.

Lighting calculator: calculate energy savings on lighting projects

  • Overall sustainability – Guests have plenty of hotel options. What separates yours? Sustainability can be a huge selling point for millennials. Plus, when you have more sustainable lighting like LEDs, you don’t have to worry about recycling your fluorescent and HID light bulbs.
  • Safety improvement – Have you checked for dark spots around your property lately? A lighting retrofit forces you to take a good look at the placement of your lighting. A lighting upgrade can also mean a safety upgrade.

If you're interested in other ways to save energy for your hotel, click here. 

Questions about lighting retrofits

A lighting retrofit is a big decision that we believe you should not take lightly. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Our lighting specialists will help walk you through the process and decide which option is best for you. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

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