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Smithsonian Recovers LED Costs in 16 Months

The Smithsonian American Art Museum recovered the higher initial cost of its LED retrofit project in 16 months of operation through energy savings, according to a final report evaluating the solid-state-lighting demonstration.

The US Department of Energy’s Gateway Solid-State Lighting Technology Demonstration Program replaced halogen and incandescent lighting at several galleries within the museum with LED PAR 30, PAR 38 and MR16 lamps. The DOE’s demonstration program aims to evaluate performance measures of high-performance SSL products including energy consumption, light output and distribution and installation and control issues.

There were performance issues and challenges affecting compatibility with museum’s track fixtures, the report said. However, electricity use dropped significantly and allowed the museum to recover its investment in LEDs faster than anticipated.

Power use in the Early Modernism Gallery, which was completely relamped with 82 LED lamps, decreased from 3.9 watts per square foot to 1.1 W/ft2. The LED lighting reduced electricity costs in this single 1,200-square-foot gallery from $2,984 to $816 a year. In a 10-year lifecycle cost analysis including maintenance savings, the total present value energy savings are $19,041 with a total PV life-cycle cost savings of $27,891.

Two areas of the Renwick Gallery showed similar energy savings, the report said. However, due to the gallery’s high ceilings, not all lighting was replaced with LEDs.

The lighting system used in the galleries at the Smithsonian has more than 7,000 late 20th-century track luminaries with four different kinds of track heads.

Lamp samples and performance data were collected for more than a year. Lamps were tested in the museum lighting workshop, then temporarily installed in one gallery for feedback from staff.

The DOE has completed two dozen solid-state lighting Gateway demonstration projects, including the installation of LEDs on a residential collector road in Portland, a retrofit of lamps at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, Calif., and comparison of LED luminaries from four different manufacturers installed on Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive in New York City.

An LED Manufacturing and Performance report released earlier this month by the DOE found LED lamps have a slight environmental edge over compact fluorescent lamps and a significantly lower impact than incandescent lighting over the lifetime of the products.

Photo from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

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One thought on “Smithsonian Recovers LED Costs in 16 Months

  1. The article fails to mention the lower color rendering capabilities of LED. Halogens offer a perfect CRI of 100 compared to suboptimal CRIs of LED. What is the point of investing millions preserving history and art when visitors are prevented from seeing the true image? There is a great tragedy haening while the public sits by and allows the government to justify its investment in LEDs and force them on a unsuspecting public.

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