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Holy Spirit Catholic School

Retrofit Kit slashes lighting costs for school library

An aging fluorescent lighting system installed during the 1960s in the library of Holy Spirit Catholic School, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was not only expensive to operate, but did not provide the quality of illumination needed.

Lighted with eight-foot fluorescent fixtures using T-12 lamps and metal baffle diffusers, the 40' x 31' facility measured illumination levels of 46 horizontal footcandles maintained, with 26 vertical footcandles at 33 inches, and 31 footcandles at 60 inches.

"Light levels were insufficient for reading and studying. The facility is equipped with dark, heavy drapes that are often drawn and make the room even darker," explained Phil Onstott, owner of ProElectric, based in Tuscaloosa. Onstott is the parent of two students at the school and volunteered his time to lead the lighting project.

To upgrade the existing system, the 7100 Fluorescent Retrofit Kit from Holophane Lighting, Inc., was installed. The retrofit kit uses the efficient T-8 lamps and electronic ballasts and involves removing the louver, lamps and socket from the existing units and deactivating the old ballast.

A total of 15 4-foot fixtures with three T-8 lamps each and electronic ballasts replaced 12 8-foot units using two T-12 lamps each and magnetic ballasts. The fixtures are installed in three rows of five, with channel covers employed to fill in the areas between units. Mounting height is nine feet, with 10'4" between rows and three feet between fixtures.

"The alternative to using the 7100 Retrofit Kit was to install new luminaires, which would have required the installation of a new 2' x 4' lay-in ceiling. Not only would this have been expensive, but we would have had to re-wire the entire room. No wiring was required with the retrofit kit," Onstott said.

Other advantages of the retrofit units include increased light levels, reduced energy and maintenance costs. The existing system required 1.92 kilowatts, compared to 1.3 kilowatts after the retrofit. Lamp life for the T-8 lamps is 20,000 hours, compared to 12,000 hours for the T-12 lamps. With the existing system, ballast temperature was 180 degrees. Since the retrofit, ballast temperature is 85 degrees.

"The system previously used generated a lot of heat on the ceiling, which escalated air conditioning costs," Onstott described. "A lot less cooling is needed now."

Horizontal illumination levels increased 34 percent to 62 footcandles maintained, with 35 vertical footcandles at 33 inches, and 43 footcandles at 60 inches.

"The retrofit kit includes a wrap-around lens that provides better vertical illumination. The previous fixtures had metal on the side, which hampered light disbursement," Onstott said.

He added that the retrofit kit was easy to install, with approximately 12 hours needed to change out the entire room.
"We have received many compliments on the lighting system. It's much easier to study in the room, and because vertical surfaces are better lighted, students can read the titles on the book spines, even on the lower shelves," said Onstott.

The fluorescent fixtures are lighted about 50 hours per week, controlled by a motion sensor. Besides the library project, 400 watt Holophane Prismalume¬ fixtures were installed in the school's gym, replacing an aged incandescent system. Twenty metal halide units were used in the facility, which includes bleachers and a stage.


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