By Chip Walker, President, CFI Design Management Inc.
Part 2: Putting Your Lot Lighting Update into Action
In Part 1 of the series “All-LED and Controllable Exterior Lighting Becoming a Trend at Dealerships”, we reviewed the basics of lot lighting. This included an overview of utility expenses, fixture types, older style heads & fixtures, and light color. Now, we will discuss what the actual process of updating your lot lights looks like.
Keep in mind that almost all counties, cities, and towns have some form of lighting restrictions and covenants. Before you pull the trigger make sure your new plan meets all of the guidelines in place in your area. Your engineer and electrician can help with that.
The first step to an outstanding finished project is having your engineer produce a photometric plan. This is simply a blueprint of your facility showing your pole locations, heights, number of heads, and how powerful the bulbs and ballasts are. The computer will then do all of the calculations to show you mathematically the performance of your system by values delivered to every square inch of your lot.
In the same software we can now switch the type of lighting systems, i.e. LED and vary the bulb size and head configuration to customize our lighting plan to meet our goals and budget. In some cases we can retro fit new heads on existing poles and update the entire lot at a much lower price. As a bonus, since LED fixtures use much less power, we can reuse the wiring that is already in place, (as long as it is functional) so there is no need to tear up the asphalt to run new wire.
Okay, we’re all good…..let me add one more layer for you. The new LED lighting systems have a tremendous advantage in operational expense. If you allow me a bit of wiggle room, because there are so many variables, here is some simple math: If you are operating one LED 400 watt fixture at 100%, it delivers the same light as a 1000 watt metal halide fixture at half the cost!
Note, I said the LED fixture is operating at 100%. One of the most powerful advantages of LED lights is you have total control. They can be dimmed, just like your dining room chandelier. So go back to the math. LED lights operating at 100% are half the cost to run as non-LED fixtures. And, now we can dim the lot and NOT affect how the inventory looks. Our savings are compounded by operating the system at the levels needed by the surrounding light, so our lots always look bright and cheerful.
Lastly, we can tie in security systems to our lighting systems with cameras and motion sensors that can detect movement. So if it is after hours and the exterior lights are at low/security levels, and a camera or a motion sensor detects movement, the entire site can be raised to 100%. The system will send an e-mail to the dealer detailing what just happened and the dealer can log into his/her system, pull up that camera and “see” what just happened from anywhere in the world via smart phone/IPad. Isn’t technology great!
In conclusion …
There is tons of information available from lighting manufactures and trade publications. Remember, there are lots of people in the business right now because the market is very hot! Do your homework and ask questions. Who actually makes the product, is it produced or assembled, who backs the warranty, how and where do you get service? Investing in your dealership’s appearance is always money well spent. Work hard, ask questions, and get the most bang for your buck. Good luck as always in creating your “Custom Facility”.
CFI Design Management Inc., based in Indianapolis, Ind., offers design/build, construction management, and general contracting services to dealerships nationwide and has more than 40 years of dealership-only experience. CFI can be reached at (317) 460-4444 or firstname.lastname@example.org