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Lighting ballast evaluation

Lighting ballast evaluation

In most facilities, lighting is a major element of operating cost. Part of that cost is due to energy, and part is due to maintenance. The maintenance costs can be significant. Light fixtures require periodic maintenance—for example, lamps burn out, ballasts fail, and lenses need cleaning.

The amount of maintenance required varies with the age and design of the lighting fixtures. The logistics of the maintenance (for example, needing a personnel lift for high ceiling areas) can magnify “typical” cost estimates by an order of magnitude. It is sometimes cost effective to replace an entire system with a more efficient one.

While reducing the maintenance costs can be a driving force in obtaining a replacement system, reducing energy costs might be the driving force in selecting a replacement system. Determining the actual reduction in energy consumption can require significant research. The research can be difficult because there is no common platform for comparing the widely varying performance claims from competing suppliers. Sometimes critical specs are missing altogether.

It is worth noting that each manufacturer bases its performance claims on a specified set of operating conditions, and that these conditions may be ideal or they may be “typical.” The conditions vary between manufacturers and the conditions differ from actual applications. Therefore, those claims, while made in good faith, can be a poor basis for a final product decision. When trying to make economic decisions on lighting or other electrical applications, measuring actual performance under actual conditions—with the right test equipment—is a sure way to arrive at the best decision.