Why HID To LED Retrofit Matters (And It Isn't Just Energy Savings)

A LED retrofit could have kept the lights on during Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, preventing the blackout that halted play for more than a half-hour.

A LED retrofit could have kept the lights on during Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, preventing the blackout that halted play for more than a half-hour.

Why HID-LED Conversion Matters (And It Isn’t Just Energy Savings)

A LED retrofit could have kept the lights on during Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, preventing the blackout that halted play for more than a half-hour.

Why HID To LED Retrofit Matters (And It Isn't Just Energy Savings)

By Madhurima Basu-Sajdak
Super Bowl XLVII was one of the more memorable games in Super Bowl history — and it didn’t have much to do with the score. In the third quarter, with the Baltimore Ravens leading 28-6 over the San Francisco 49ers, something occurred in the New Orleans Mercedes Benz Superdome that’s never happened before: a blackout. The lights went out in front of 160+ million viewers worldwide, a reality that quickly overshadowed and earned the game the name the “Blackout Bowl.”

If you remember that game from February 3, 2013, you probably also remember that about 15-20 minutes into the blackout, the lights started coming back on. And then, we were all forced to wait for the lights to fully restrike. It wasn’t until 34 minutes after the lights first went out that play finally resumed.

LED retrofit
Power failure in the Superdome during Super Bowl XLVII

Looking back, it seems almost comical that we all found the notion of waiting for lights to come back on acceptable. But, that was, and still is, a dubious feature of HID lighting. If that Super Bowl had been equipped with LEDs, it is a certainty that the play could have resumed almost immediately since they are built to instantly restrike.

Energy cost savings are a very attractive and important part of the LED story. But as the technology continues to advance, LED also offers new applications for lighting, a true experiential change in lumen output and the way people view lighting altogether.

LEDs today don’t just cast light into a space. Thoughtfully constructed LEDs properly and adequately light up any given area. Meaning, the threshold is no longer just about adding a higher amount of light to an area, but rather adding the correct amount of light most suited for that particular space. The ability to customize color temperatures for different spaces — warmer LEDs for urban spaces as opposed to cooler temperatures for warehouses and airport terminals, for example — is a game changer.

Despite these advanced capabilities, the ease of installing LEDs is inversely proportionate. A simple LED retrofit whereby contractors can twist out old lamps and plug in the new ones greatly mitigates installation and labor costs. Add to the mix lumen depreciation curves that are but a fraction of those of HIDs (30% vs. 50%), decade plus replacement cycles that practically eliminate ongoing maintenance costs, and a guarantee of no passive failures — and there are the makings of an enticing investment that has a payback users can start to realize almost immediately.

Looking even further down the road, energy efficient LED lights are also better equipped for the IoT environments of the future. As low-voltage semiconductor devices, LEDs are well suited to connect with microchip microcontrollers, unlike older light sources, which are high voltage and analog. LEDs are more easily networked with the sensors and microprocessors that are required to create connected lighting systems, buildings, and cities.

To help lighting distributors navigate the versatility in colors, temperatures, and flexibility now available, there are additional resources at their disposal designed to make the process of finding the right light for the their space and application that much simpler.

So, next time you’re in the market for new or upgraded lighting for a retail establishment, park, plaza, gymnasium, convention center, or even a football stadium, keep the 2013 Super Bowl in mind. What started out as a massive lighting failure could have just as easily turned into a game day crisis of historic proportions. When play finally resumed, the Ravens had not only lost their momentum, but then almost lost the entire game. Luckily for the NFL, though, the Ravens were able to hold on tight and squeeze out a 34-31 victory, sparing everyone the pain of wondering what would have happened had the lights not gone out on that fateful day.

Basu-Sajdak is a product marketing manager of Professional LED Lamps at Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) responsible for managing the portfolio and marketing new product introductions primarily targeting retail & hospitality facility managers. She has prior senior leadership experience in B2C marketing, business and product development for Fisher Price and HSBC. She holds an MBA from the Cass Business School, City University of London, UK. Signify is a world leader in lighting with recognized expertise in the development, manufacture and sale of innovative, energy efficient lighting products, systems, and services. Signify was formerly Philips Lighting, which became a standalone company following its spin-off from Royal Philips in 2016.

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