Building & Facility Lighting Upgrades (DIY in-house)

What if I want to do a facility lighting upgrade in-house?

A lot of the time, folks in the energy services and solutions space talk about “turn-key” projects. A turn-key project means that one entity handles all steps and all paperwork of an energy upgrade project. When someone at Horizon Solutions uses the term turn-key, it usually means that we do the audit, our electricians and/or our qualified subcontractors do all of the field install work, and our team will manage the incentives & rebates on behalf of the end user. It’s a fine system, but what if you don’t want to do a turn-key job?

Why would you NOT want to do a turn-key job?

Some users want to control every step of the installation. It is YOUR infrastructure after all, it isn’t unreasonable to ask to be in the driver’s seat. Maybe you have a team of skilled, qualified and/or licensed electricians as a part of your team. If they’re already on your staff and if they have the available time it can really make sense. Many feel a sense of pride in doing the job themselves.

Maybe the energy upgrade you are looking at is just replacing lighting fixtures. Depending on the fixtures, the building structure and the existing electrical distribution, this could be a fine candidate for a job that could be done in-house. There are a whole host of reasons why an end user would want to not do a full blown turn-key job, and that’s OK.

How do you decide: turn-key or in-house?

Let’s look at an example. There is a company in the southern tier of New York State that is a leading provider of factory automation and robotics. Between electrical engineering, facilities and maintenance this company has a lot of skill and knowledge already in place.

This company is privately owned and the ownership is local and involved. They already had done some research and knew a lighting upgrade made sense. The plan was to target a 20,000 square foot space within their main building. They did have some questions on fixtures:

  • What fixture(s) will give the best performance in each area?
  • Of those, which will be quickest and easiest to replace (swap out)?
  • Which fixtures are eligible for incentives from the local utility? (NYSEG)
  • What are the good / better / best fixtures? What gives me the most value?

Just because you do the project yourself, doesn’t mean you have to go it alone!

If you keep hitting a wall when talking turn-key, don’t get frustrated. Horizon Solutions has lighting specialists that can provide expert recommendations. You can hold the reigns; you can guide us. In our example, Horizon Solutions answered the end users’ questions listed above.

Our team did a quick audit. We were able to identify the best solutions for each area, and in most cases were able to offer multiple fixture options with a few different metrics. This helped narrow a very wide array of choices to a reasonable number with some clear decisions for the ownership to make. Being able to weigh fixture cost versus rebate versus lamp life versus lumens and other metrics helped keep the decision making process painless.

Turn on the lights – Success

The total job ended up being about 90 fixtures; 70 on the shop floor and 20 outside. The order for the product was delivered on schedule and the internal team at the end user installed all of the fixtures successfully and with minimal hassle. Many of these employees are, literally, building robots all day so most of the lighting fixture install work was within their expertise. For the few technical support questions they did have, we provided quick answers to keep the job on track.

Here is a BEFORE picture:

Building & Facility Lighting Upgrades In-House

Here is an AFTER picture:

Building & Facility Lighting Upgrades In-House

Horizon Solutions did not treat this as a turn-key job, but we did help the customer in the filing of their incentive paperwork. We have done it a few times and like to consider ourselves experts. This represented a check that came in directly to the end user for just over $14,000. As with many energy projects, this incentive was part of the financial justification for the upgrade.

Upon completion, the team is very proud of what they accomplished:

The installation process was straight forward. Our employees did a great job and we ended up with a professional look. Horizon Solutions did a great job offering us options. The lights have exceeded my expectations.

–Jim Morris, Owner

A true measure of success is always in the follow up. Our closing note: one of the members of the end user team that installed these fixtures liked the fixtures so much he used the exact same fixtures on his pole barn at home. We consider that a vote of confidence.

Do you have questions about lighting applications? Do you have questions about fixture recommendations? Please let us know in the comments section.

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About the author

Peter Cook
Peter Cook

Pete is a lighting professional with 19+ years of experience covering many aspects of lighting – from design and engineering, to field work required for successful project implementation. He brings experience and expertise regarding all things LED. Frequent training on LED lighting is a great way for Pete to bring modern technology to the most challenging lighting applications.