New lighting installed at Exeter

Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Michael Ortiz, Exeter school district evening custodian, has spent time each evening switching the ballasts and bulbs throughout the buildings to LED. Jordan Pirvett/

Exeter school district switches to LED lights, lowers energy usage

The Exeter school district is lighting its way to a better future by replacing lights throughout campus with LED lights.

Ernest Raney, Exeter superintendent, said the biggest benefit to making the switch is to keep the district’s energy usage down.

“This is something we have been working on over the last three years,” he said. “As ballasts and our lights go bad, we have been replacing the bulbs in the troffers and wiring around the ballasts. We wanted to get the life out of the existing bulbs and ballasts we had.”

The district completed a lighting modernization in 2011, and that is now coming to the end of the life span of many of the ballasts.

“Now, we are at a point where about half of our district is still on the old ballasts and bulbs,” Raney said. “Throughout this process in the last two years, we have spent a lot more on bulbs. As we have needed them, we would replace them with LEDs.”

Raney said LED bulbs have been in past years much more expensive than they have been recently.

“We paid as much as $10-$12 for an LED bulb in the past,” he said. “When you put four bulbs in each troffer, that starts to get really expensive really quickly.

“Just recently, however, we have been able to find LED bulbs for $2.87, which is a far cry from $10-$15 a piece,” he said. “Also, the wattage has changed, in the past, we have been able to purchase 18-watt LED bulbs. With this last purchase that we did, we were able to get 12-watt LED bulbs.”

Raney said the LED bulbs use less energy and cost much less, so the district decided it is more practical to do more, rather than just replace them as they aged out.

“We purchased 1,500 bulbs at $2.87 each, and we are doing a district-wide update,” he said. “We are replacing bulbs in each classroom, one per night, and we hope to get to a place to be able to focus on replacing the bigger areas that will require a lift over Thanksgiving and Christmas break.”

The district will also get a rebate from Barry Electric for switching.

“We do the installation, and when we are ready for them to come out and look everything over, they will basically do a light audit,” Raney said. “They will look at the work and what has been replaced. I will take the representative through different areas of the district that have received lighting modernization, and they will make sure it meets the level of expectation that I had previously documented.”

Raney said they will check the figures on how much energy is saved according to the estimate.

“From there, they derive a figure that will get us a rebate,” he said. “The LED bulbs and ballasts’ life span is rated at 50,000 hours. They are warrantied for a five-year free replacement, or 20,000 hours.”

Raney said he figured it will be fairly standard at 15-20 years of use, depending on the areas of usage.

“Some areas where they are going to be used more frequently may be as short as 10 years,” he said. “These are guaranteed for 50,000 hours, so if they quit before the five years is up, we can get them replaced.”

Aside from the energy savings and the longer life span, another benefit to the district doing this is to show its students that having a responsibility for the environment is important.

“Also, we are doing it in a reasonable manner, so we get use out of what we had already spent money on,” he said. “The savings in the electric bill will pay for the lights over time, so it is a win-win.”

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