As we start a new year, energy efficiency continues to be a hot topic for the building services industry but with many companies continuing to face cutbacks there is a need for efficient products which will provide a quick payback. Here David Scott from BAG Electronics explains why the taking a look at your control gear could provide the answer.
Energy efficiency is not a new concept because we are all very much aware of the need to make savings. The main problem lies in the fact that budgets continue to be cut and as a result there isn’t much left in the pot for renovations to existing installations. But this is something of a catch 22 situation because savings cannot be made with the current old and inefficient products so money needs to be found to replace it.
This is a common problem for many companies both large and small and the key to meeting the demands of the accountants and the demands of the building lies with retrofit products which can achieve a fast payback.
This may all sound very simple on paper but for many companies who have already dealt with the quick wins it is a problem which they don’t know how to solve simply because they are not sure where to look.
Lighting is a very good example because in a typical commercial environment it can account for up to 50% of your energy consumption and as a result of this there are huge savings to be made with better lamp selection, better fittings and lighting management systems.
Lamp selection is far and away the easiest problem to solve and it was probably the first thing which was addressed when the company started out on the road to efficiency. Likewise better fittings are another area which are a quick win and will provide that all important payback.
The choice of luminaire has also been the focus of the latest version of Part L and as a result many companies have been forced to make changes to ensure that their luminaires meet the required levels of efficiency.
This leads us on to lighting management systems, an area that many companies have been slow to embrace in the past due to the cost of installation. However changes in technology mean that they are now far more cost effective and as a result they are increasing in popularity as a way to achieve energy savings.
What happens next?
For many companies this is where the story ends and the lighting in theory is as efficient as it is ever going to be. But this is where care needs to be taken because there is one area which none of this addresses and that is the use of more efficient control gear.
In a typical building a single lamp can be switched on and off thousands of times and yet one of the most commonly overlooked products in a lighting installation is the control gear which can make a significant contribution to energy efficiency by operating the lamps under ideal conditions and thus ensuring maximum possible service life.
A perfect example of this is fluorescent lighting. By changing from one type of high frequency control gear to the new higher efficiency high frequency control gear you can make savings of over £1.50 per lamp per year and this saving will increase dramatically if the installation currently has magnetic (or wire wound) ballasts.
This issue has been addressed with the products in our new Primus range which optimise the efficiency of the lamps by protecting the electrodes and increasing the lamp’s lifespan irrespective of switching frequency. But perhaps one of the most important things about this range is that it has achieved an Energy Efficiency Index (EEI) of A2 BAT.
The Energy Efficiency Index serves as a basis for an objective evaluation of the efficiency of a ballast-lamp system and has been introduced by CELMA, the Federation of National Manufacturers Associations for Luminaires and Electrotechnical Components for Luminaires in the European Union.
The EEI promotes three levels of efficiency; A3, A2 and A2 BAT and in the case of the Primus range the achievement of an A2 BAT rating means that the electronic control gear offers a minimum of energy loss and Best Available Technology (BAT). This is the best EEI rating on the market and BAG is the first manufacturer to implement this standard in the entire range of control gear for T5, T8 and TC-L lamps.
To give you an idea of the savings involve, a lighting installation using conventional ballasts requires at least 30% more energy than an identical installation using electronic control gear where the energy savings come as a result of reduced lamp power and significantly lower power loss – which I think you will agree is a saving worth making.
It is therefore worth taking a closer look at your lighting because even if the obvious changes have been made, there are still some hidden savings to take advantage of. The additional benefit is that this type of technology will provide a quick payback and as a result meets the needs of both the building and the accountant.