Author Archives: bgarrett

Thayer Goes Solar

Solar technology helps to produce clean energy, reduces energy costs and offers federal tax credits and other money saving incentives.  “Thayer believes in the promises of solar technology – we’ve even installed it on our own building!” 

Patti Thayer,

Thayer Lighting, Inc.

Clearly Lit Lots

“The new lighting looks wonderful!  Our lots are clearly lit with the brighter light which makes our inventory look great, and we are using 60% less energy!”

Jamie Grisanzio, General Manager,
Anderson Nissan Mazda

A Winning Combination

“You can see the big difference off the highway and it looks even better up close. Better lighting plus great savings is a winning combination!”

Ray Newton, General Manager,
Petro Travel Plaza, Rochelle

A Lighter Load – Financial Incentives for Solar and LED Installs

Though you get more from your money with every passing year, the cost of a solar panel install or a full conversion from conventional lighting to LED’s can be daunting. Fortunately, everyone from Congress to individual LED manufacturers are realizing the benefits of these technologies and helping to lighten the load. Let’s review some of the programs that can help you recoup your investment.

Solar Incentives and Rebates
With tax incentives, rebates, and other offsets, you can get back up to 70% of the cost of a solar panel installation. In Illinois, a number of incentives are available.

Federal Tax Credit
Currently, you’ll receive a federal tax incentive of 30% of the cost of your solar system. Even better, if your tax liability is less than that, you can roll the incentive over to future tax years. Now is a great time to take advantage of the credit, because unless Congress acts, the incentive will drop to 26% for the 2020 tax year, 22% for 2021 and just 10% after that.

The Adjustable Block Program
Approximately 30-40% of the cost of any solar installation will be earned back in Renewable Energy Credits under the Adjustable Block Program. This program, established by the Future Energy Jobs Act, pays solar users in Renewable Energy Credits via 15 year contracts. Best of all, if your system is 10 kilowatts or less, you’ll be paid all of your incentive upfront; if it’s between 10 and 2,000 kilowatts, you’ll receive 20% up front. At the current ComEd rate of 7.1 cents per kilowatt hour, this can end up being a sizable check.

100% Bonus Depreciation For Businesses Using Solar
As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, the federal government allows businesses to claim 100% bonus depreciation on certain “qualified property,” which includes new solar panel installs.

The one drawback to bonus depreciation is that the rules and compliance can be complex, so be sure to reach out to Thayer, your trusted partner for all energy efficiencies, in order to get the full advantage.

ComEd’s DG Rebate
ComEd offers business customers a Distributed Generation (DG) rebate to help businesses installing a 2,000 kilowatt or smaller system deal with installation costs. The system must contain a smart inverter, which is a wise choice anyway. The rebate provided is $250 per kilowatt of capacity, so, for example, a business putting a 10 kilowatt system in place would receive $2,500 in rebated funds.

LED Incentives and Rebates
LED lighting will save your business thousands of dollars through lower power use and lower replacement costs alone, but a number of programs will reduce your cost of using LED’s and other lighting-related technology even further.

ComEd DG Rebates
For LED installation, ComEd offers a simple rebate of 50 cents per watt reduction for each qualified fixture you change from conventional to LED. Ergo, a hi-bay fixture that uses 400 watts and is replaced with a 120 watt LED would qualify for a rebate of $140.00. Now multiply that by dozens or hundreds of fixtures in your facility and you’ll find it adds up quickly!

There are also rebates for installing occupancy sensors and other controls that reduce the use of lighting, and timers and photocells on exterior lighting. Typically, when you invest money to save power, ComEd will pick up part of the cost.

179D Commercial Building Deduction
If lighting, building materials, and/or HVAC and water systems that reduce a building’s energy use by 50% or more are installed, the building owner is eligible for up to $1.80 per square foot tax credit. Reductions of less than 50% may qualify for a 60 cent per square foot deduction.

Financing from IFA and PACE
While not technically an incentive, commercial projects that can demonstrate “their projects provide a significant public benefit for the citizens of Illinois” are eligible for assistance from the Illinois Finance Authority. Projects that are eligible include installing LED lighting or solar panels. PACE programs, help home and business owners pay for the upfront costs of green initiatives, such as solar panels, which the property owner then pays back by increasing property taxes by a set rate for an agreed-upon term ranging from 5–25 years. This allows property owners to begin saving on energy costs while they are paying for their solar panels. This usually means that property owners have net gains even with increased property tax.

Questions?
Clearly, there are a lot of options and programs to help make your decision to “Go Solar!” an easier one. But making sure you take advantage of every appropriate credit/rebate can be complex. Turn to Thayer, your trusted partner for all energy efficiencies, for help navigating the rules of these incentives and deciding what kind of equipment to install – we are glad to help. Get in touch today, and we’ll see how we can help you lighten your load and brighten your bottom line.

The Last of the List – Debunking a Few More LED Myths

In two previous posts, we went after common myths about LED’s. Let’s look at the last few items of “fake news” circulating about this lighting technology.

Myth: LED’s can’t handle cold weather
LED’s not only handle cold weather well, it doesn’t affect their durability or how long it takes them to light. In fact, cooler temperatures may help an LED last even longer, because there is even less heat buildup inside the bulb or fixture.

Myth: LED’s Are Harmful to the Eyes and Brain
Because LED’s are often used to provide light at the blue end of the white spectrum (as opposed to the yellowish light incandescents give off), they’ve been confused with dangers caused by other bluish light sources, namely electronic screens.

Overexposure to phone, tablet and computer screens has been shown to cause eyestrain and even contribute to macular degeneration, and the light from them is blue. Blue light has recently been shown to interfere with the brain’s release of melatonin, disrupt the circadian rhythm, and cause other sleep problems. Since natural daylight (and bulbs and fixtures designed to simulate it) has a bluish tint, the light from these screens was convincing the bodies of the users that it was daytime, interfering with their ability to fall asleep.

However, an LED bulb or fixture won’t cause these problems, for several reasons. First, the light from a computer screen is more intense and closer to the eyes than a fixture’s light. Second, eye strain is caused by focusing vision in a relatively tight area for long periods of time, and you hopefully won’t be staring at your light bulbs! Lastly, the sleep disruption caused by screen time came at a time when the users should have been in dim or dark conditions. Unless you have your LED lights on in your bedroom, they won’t interfere with your sleep because you’ll be exposed to their light when you’re supposed to be in bright conditions.

Myth: LED’s and CFL’s are essentially the same
While it’s true that LED’s and CFL’s are both much more efficient than incandescents and use a similar amount of energy, they’re quite different, and it’s clear LED is the superior technology.

LED’s are far more durable, having a plastic casing instead of glass. An LED bulb that is dropped will almost always function perfectly afterward; you’ll need to get out the broom and dustpan to handle the CFL. In fact, you’ll need to be careful when you do: Many CFL’s use mercury vapor, which means some amount of mercury residue will be present.

Myth: LED’s Last Forever
Unfortunately, you will have to replace LED bulbs, but far, far less often. The best incandescent bulbs will often last 1,200 hours, which is a little more than a year’s use on average. Meanwhile, a quality CFL will last approximately 8,000 hours and the equivalent LED will last at least 20,000.

More LED Myths Debunked

Previously, we debunked some of the most common myths regarding LED lighting. We found that LEDs save money, offer all the versatility of incandescent and fluorescent lights, including the ability to go on a dimmer switch. But like many technologies, LEDs are surrounded by more than a few misconceptions. Let’s debunk a few more:

Myth: LEDs don’t ever get hot
This is close to the truth, but not 100% accurate. LEDs do produce far less heat than incandescents. This makes sense, because incandescents heat a filament until it glows. LEDs will usually be cool to the touch and don’t produce infrared or UV light, unlike incandescents.

However, no energy transfer is perfect. When electric current encounters resistance, heat is created. The base of an LED bulb will experience minor heating as a result.

Myth: LEDs can’t handle vibration
When buying fixtures or bulbs, you’ll often encounter “rough service” incandescents. These use toughened filaments for environments where vibration is common, and may also have special coatings to make the exterior of the bulb more durable.

The idea that LEDs can’t handle vibration may have arisen partly from these incandescents being on the market. After all, buyers see an array of rough service bulbs in one technology, and none for LEDs. Adding to this is the fact some buyers who remain steadfastly loyal to traditional bulbs may be buying rough service bulbs (and paying more) because they are the only incandescents for sale in some wattages.

Fortunately, modern LEDs handle vibration extremely well, far better than a heated filament. In fact, if you replace a rough service incandescent with an ordinary LED bulb or fixture, it will not only far outlast the incandescent, it will survive all the way through to the end of its normal service life, tens of thousands of hours later.

Myth: LEDs contain hazardous substances
Possibly as a result of confusion with compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) bulbs, many consumers believe LED lights contain industrial poisons that can harm users and (after disposal) the environment.

CFL’s contain a small amount of mercury vapor, which is essential to their operation. It allows light to be generated in an area much smaller than a traditional fluorescent tube. Unfortunately, that means if a CFL bulb does break—and they are at least as fragile as a traditional incandescent bulb—the remains of the bulb will contain mercury and must be disposed of with extreme care. While the amount of mercury in each bulb is very small, mercury is extremely hazardous to humans over a long period of exposure and can cause a number of neurological problems. If contaminated debris is disposed of improperly, mercury can make its way from landfills into groundwater.

LEDs do not contain mercury and are no more problematic for users or the environment than any other electronic device. Plus, LEDs are extremely durable, and are very unlikely to break.

Conclusion

LEDs remain the best lighting option for most situations, combining low power use with versatility and durability. If you’re looking for a change in your workplace or residential lighting, get in touch with the experts at Thayer today and get started on savings with LED.

Well-worth the Cost

“Our lot has never looked brighter — the project was well-worth the cost. Then, factor in the energy savings, and the total ROI made the lighting project an absolute no-brainer!”

Rick Stout, General Manager,
Anderson Toyota Lexus of Rockford

Lighting Industry Changes and What They Mean For You

The pace of business change has become as fast as the pace of industrial change, with the process of “creative destruction” reshaping the business landscape on a daily basis. As you might expect, some of these changes have been in the lighting industry. Here are a few:

General Electric becomes less electric
If any company would be a rock that the stream of business change would flow around, you would think GE would be the one. After all, it’s more than 125 years old, was founded by Thomas Edison himself and was one of the original 12 Dow Jones companies.

But in a move few would have imagined even 20 years ago, GE is getting out of the lighting business. In an effort to restructure, GE leadership has closed their automotive lighting division and no longer sells any lighting product in Europe, Africa or the Middle East.

A GE division called Current uses LED lighting and advanced digital control systems to optimize energy efficiency for industrial and retail customers. Even though it was only founded in 2015, it’s being sold to the private equity firm American Industrial Partners. Other divisions and product lines, including consumer lighting, will be sold off as 2019 progresses.

Phillips makes a name change
Another 125 year old company is keeping its divisions, but altering their moniker. In a change that’s simple, but portends a very different approach, Phillips’ lighting division is now called Signify. Industry experts point to Philips’ interest in making their future home and business products part of the Internet of Things, but Phillips’ CEO said the rebrand is also about light being a language.

Osram says “Auf Wiedersehen” to more lighting segments
When you visit your local hardware store, you’ll find a variety of LED lighting products (mainly bulbs) labeled “Osram” or “Osram Sylvania.” The German company Osram is a household name in Europe, but these products are actually made by the North American division of the German company LEDVANCE, which was born when Osram left that portion of the market in 2016. Osram will soon cease making light fixtures, and no plans to sell the division were announced. This follows a year when they cut their earnings forecast twice.

Osram has been trying to solve its financial problems (which have been partly caused by a weakening of the dollar compared to the euro) by shedding less profitable product lines and divisions. Like Phillips, Osram has been looking ahead to lighting’s role in the Internet of Things, but has had a much rockier road integrating that vision. They’re also focusing more on semiconductor manufacturing and digital solutions, and by November had reorganized the company into Automotive, Digital and Opto Semiconductor divisions.

What hasn’t changed

At Thayer, our goal is to help you choose the best technology for your business, and keeping up with industry trends is part of that service. As the industry shifts and technology improves, we’ll keep an eye out for opportunities to save you money and improve your spaces. No matter what changes, you can count on us.

Myths About LED Lighting

Whenever new technologies come on the market, myth and rumor tends to gather around them. Ironically, these myths are often driven by underlying facts. Information that is completely accurate at one time continues to be passed on as fact long after it becomes obsolete.

In this article, we’d like to cover just a few of the myths surrounding LED lighting and debunk them.

Myth 1: LEDs are too expensive
This myth is reinforced whenever you step into a hardware store. Every LED fixture, bulb or tube costs more than their traditional equivalents.

But energy costs alone will eat up the “savings” you get on the front end by buying an incandescent. For example, a 100 watt-equivalent daylight bulb will cost around $6-7 as part of a two or four pack, several times the cost of an incandescent. But the LED bulb will cost less than $2 to operate each year. That’s because they use 16 watts of electricity to generate the same light as the 100-watt incandescent.

Meanwhile, a 100-watt incandescent bulb would use over $12 of power over the same year. In other words, the difference in energy use is about $10, which more than pays the entire cost of the LED bulb in the first year! Add to that the cost of replacing the incandescents when they burn out, which will happen every 750 or 1,000 hours of operation, or at least once a year. Many LED bulbs last for 13 years. Over that 13 years you would replace the incandescents at least 13 times and spend an extra $130 per bulb. All that adds up to far more than the most expensive LED.

Learn more about the cost of LED fixtures.

Myth 2: LEDs are one-size fits all
Once, LED bulbs came in a narrow range of white coloration and only a few wattages. LED fluorescent tubes were not yet available, so changing from fluorescents to LEDs required replacing all the fixtures.

But in recent years technology has advanced rapidly; there is now an LED equivalent for any type of incandescent and fluorescent light you can imagine. You’ll find a wide range of colors, wattage and styles, from outdoor floodlights to multicolored party bulbs, and even UV/black lights!

Myth 3: LEDs are not dimmable
This is an excellent example of a misconception that used to be true. When LEDs first reached the market, they only worked at one power setting. If you put them on a dimmer switch, they would either shut off or flash.

These days, dimmable LED fixtures and bulbs are common. They cost a bit more than other LEDs because of the need for special circuitry to control the dimming, but they still come out ahead of older technologies when you factor in energy and replacement costs.

Unfortunately, these aren’t all the myths out there about LED lighting, but the good news is that we have the right information and we’re ready to share. We’ll debunk some more myths in the next edition of the Bright Ideas blog.