Retrofit for LED or Replace With LED Light Fixtures – Pros & Cons

Many people have two main questions when switching to energy efficient lighting:

  1. Can they keep their existing fixtures, or do they need to replace all of their current lighting equipment with a LED light fixture?
  2. What type of lighting technology should they switch to?

In many situations, the most accessible option that’s suitable for a huge variety of uses is LED technology. So, is making your property’s lighting more energy efficient as simple as switching to LED bulbs? In some circumstances the answer is yes. However, many fixtures will need to be either retrofitted with LED modules or replaced with new LED fixtures. Which should you choose for your transition to energy efficient lighting? Let’s look at why LED is a strong choice for your energy efficiency upgrade.

The Benefits of LED

LED technology is at the forefront of energy efficient lighting. Switching to LED will bring a range of benefits to residential, commercial, and industrial properties, such as:

  • - Improved Energy Efficiency

LED technology is highly energy efficient and will drastically reduce energy usage in all installations. Switching from traditional lighting to LED lighting solutions will reduce energy usage by 75% or more.

  • - Reduced Maintenance

LED lights can last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. This increased life span reduces the maintenance needs of both indoor and outdoor lights.

  • - Lower Heat Production

Incandescent lighting uses most of its energy through the production of heat. LED lighting produces very little heat, which reduces energy use and lowers cooling costs.

  • - Environmentally Friendly

The materials used to produce LED lighting are much more earth friendly than the materials needed for older types of lighting technology, such as fluorescent.

  • - Focused Lighting

Unlike many other types of lighting, LEDs produce light in a specific direction, which allows the light to be focused in the desired location without the need for reflectors.
This combination of benefits will bring significant energy savings to a business, which will help recoup the costs of switching to LED within a very short period of time.

Retrofit LEDs vs. LED Light Fixtures

When choosing between available LED options, it’s essential to understand the difference between available lighting solutions. LED lighting choices fall into two main categories: Retrofit LEDs and LED Light Fixtures. Retrofit LEDs utilize existing lighting fixtures whether through simple screw-in options or retrofit kits that fit into existing lighting equipment. LED fixtures are new lighting fixtures designed and built using LED technology, and can replace any existing lighting solutions.

We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each option in five key areas: Cost, ease of installation, choice, and maintenance.

Cost

  •  Retrofit LEDs
  • - Pros

Retrofitting with LED screw-in lamps is the least expensive way to upgrade your property’s lighting. For fixtures that need an upgrade to accommodate LED technology, retrofitting is still very cost effective, and the savings made on the reduction in energy use will quickly recoup costs. Rebate schemes are also in place to help with the cost of converting to LED.

  • - Cons

None

  •  LED Light Fixtures

  • - Pros

For new installations choosing LED light fixtures is similar in pricing to other options. New installations are one situation where installing LED light fixtures makes sense. We’ll discuss this later in the article.

  • - Cons

When comparing LED light fixtures to retrofitting, one of the main areas where there is a significant difference is cost. LED light fixtures can be expensive if you need to replace the existing lighting infrastructure, as you’ll also incur the additional expense of hiring a qualified electrician to complete installation work.

Ease of Installation

  • Retrofit LEDs

  • - Pros

Retrofit LED plug-and-play options offer the easiest way to switch to LED technology by allowing you to simply place the plug-in LED options into existing fixtures.

  • - Cons

Retrofit fixtures are a little more complex, as they need to be installed in order to adapt existing light fixtures for use with LED components. However, they still offer a relatively easy installation.

  • LED Light Fixtures

  • - Pros

LED light fixtures are as easily installed into new construction projects as any other type of lighting technology.

  • - Cons

Installing LED fixtures as a replacement for existing lighting may require significant work, which will extend the time it takes to complete the switch to energy efficient lighting and increase costs.

Choice

  • Retrofit LEDs

  • - Pros

There are a huge variety of LED retrofit products available to fit into existing lighting fixtures. This gives you the option to have an energy efficient lighting wand so you can choose from a huge range of fixtures to achieve the desired look you want in regard to. color and wattage.

  • - Cons

Maximum lumen strength is limited by the existing fixtures.

  • LED Light Fixtures

  • - Pros

LED light fixtures are available with much higher lumen outputs than retrofit options.

  • - Cons

There is currently a considerably smaller selection of LED light fixtures available than there are for other lighting technologies. This will limit the design/look you can achieve with integrated LED lighting.

Maintenance

  • Retrofit LEDs

  • - Pros

Retrofit LED products have a very long lifespan and need very little maintenance.

  • - Cons

None

  • LED Light Fixtures

  • - Pros

LED light fixtures require very little maintenance. Regular dusting and inspection can help LEDs last longer and prevent component failure.

  • - Cons

Entire lighting units may need to be replaced when the LED reaches the end of its lifespan; however, this may be many years in the future, as the lifespan of LEDs is around 10 to 50 times longer than other lighting options. Depending on the product used, the actual lifespan of an LED fixture can range from 20,000 to 50,000 hours of usage.

 

Which Option Should You Choose for Your Energy Efficient Lighting Solution?

Both retrofit LED products and LED light fixtures offer a great selection of benefits, so how do you decide which option is best for your project? There are a few simple things to take into consideration when choosing the product for your lighting solution needs:

  • Is this a new construction project?

If yes, then both options provide an easy lighting solution. One of the biggest limitations of using LED light fixtures is that rewiring is often required; however, if this is a new project or a remodel that gives easy access to the lighting infrastructure, this isn’t an issue. LED fixtures will generally cost more than LED retrofits, but the cost will be quickly offset by their better efficiency. LED fixtures also provide a bright and focused light that can be used to create dramatic lighting designs. One final consideration is that LED fixtures can be a huge help in achieving the energy efficiency required by many building codes.

  • What condition are the existing lighting fixtures in?

One reason people lean towards the retrofit option is that their existing fixtures are in fully functional condition. Installing new LED fixtures would mean removing perfectly usable lighting components. In this case, it makes sense to choose retrofitting over replacement. However, if the fixtures in question are near the end of their lifespan, you should consider LED fixtures.

  • What features are needed from the lighting?

Hi-tech features are often a requirement on many lighting projects—does the lighting need to be dimmable, color changing, network connected, or offer demand response capability to reduce power usage in response to a signal from the local utility provider? If it does, you should lean towards replacing any old technology with new LED fixtures, which, unlike traditional lighting solutions, have the capability of meeting these demands. Utilizing existing fixtures, even with LED retrofits, will not provide the same level of functionality as using LED fixtures.

  • Is up-front cost a major consideration?

If purchase and installation costs are one of the major determining influences, then LED retrofitting will have the edge over new LED fixtures. Simple lamp replacements are by far the most affordable option when it comes to up-front costs; however, check what rebates are available in your area. You may find that the rebates offered on certain products can make fixtures a better choice.

Finding the Right LED Lighting Product

Although the sheer amount of information can make choosing between LED fixtures and retrofit LEDs seem confusing, it doesn’t have to be! Rest assured that whatever decision you make, you’ll be choosing a product that will lower your energy use and drastically reduce costs for many years. Shine Retrofits stocks a large selection of both retrofit LED products and LED lighting fixtures for you to choose from. If you’d like help selecting a product or have questions about any of the items available in our online store, our qualified lighting experts are here to help via our contact form!