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Everything you need to know about retrofit kits

Lighting Basics
What is a retrofit? What is included in a retrofit kit? Where and when are retrofit kits generally used? Why should I consider a retrofit kit instead of a redesign? Why do I need to make any change at all? How difficult is it to install a retrofit kit?

What is a retrofit?

In general, a retrofit is the process of adding new technology or features to an existing system. Specifically, a fluorescent retrofit kit is a bundled set of hardware that is designed to increase the efficiency and performance of an existing fluorescent fixture.

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What is included in a retrofit kit?

Generally, a retrofit kit includes brackets, sockets, screws, and quarter-turn fasteners. Most kits also include a reflector, which is designed specifically for the kit in order to effectively direct light out of the fixture and “land” the light where it is needed. Ballasts and bulbs are generally sold separately.

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Where and when are retrofit kits generally used?

Retrofit kits are ideal for situations where the design and layout of the lighting system is satisfactory, but the efficiency of the system needs to be improved to reflect improvements in technology.

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Why should I consider a retrofit kit instead of a redesign?

If you are satisfied with the output and layout of your existing fixtures, retrofitting is much more cost effective than a full redesign, which involves replacing the fixtures as well as the bulbs and ballasts. Many customers who choose to retrofit realize a savings of 50-75% compared to the cost of a redesign. It is also much less disruptive to retrofit, most retrofit kits can be installed while the fixture remains in place.

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Why do I need to make any change at all?

T12 fluorescent technology is over 70 years old and is much less efficient than T8 or T5 systems. There are also many more options in terms of wattage, Color Temperature, and Color Rendering Index (CRI) when using a T8 or T5 system. In addition, mandates from the U.S. Department of Energy have already prohibited the manufacture of many T12 ballasts, and many manufacturers are reducing or ceasing production of T12 bulbs as a result.

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How difficult is it to install a retrofit kit?

Installing a retrofit kit is fairly simple. The process involves removing the existing lamps, ballast, sockets, and brackets and replacing them. All retrofit kits come with a comprehensive set of installation instructions. Minimal wiring alterations are required, but we do recommend bringing in a licensed electrician if you are not familiar with the safety requirements of electrical wiring.

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