Boosted by BC Hydro incentives, industrial lighting upgrade cuts Langley company's energy, maintenance costs

Image of Mike Heppell
Mayne Coatings president Mike Heppell leaned on nearly $20,000 of BC Hydro product incentives to upgrade metal halide lighting at his Langley facility.

'Traditional' metal halide lighting was only seven years old, but was a problem

Keeping up with growth is the top challenge at Mayne Coatings, a producer of high-quality architectural paint finishes that's based in Langley. Ever since the company introduced a wood-grained aluminium building product called Longboard in 2010, sales have doubled each year.

President Mike Heppell says staying on top of demand "is like jumping off a pickup truck which is traveling a little bit faster than I can run."

So facing problems with lighting was a hassle the company didn't need.

Launched in 2005, Mayne Coatings moved into its own brand-new 45,000-square-foot building in 2008. The lighting was traditional high bay metal halide, common in industrial settings. But Heppell says it never worked well. Despite being new, the lights failed at a high rate.

"Those metal halides weren't energy efficient, and they generated a huge amount of heat," he says. "We got to a point where we were tired of replacing ballasts and bulbs and capacitors – each time you have to get a lift in there and work around equipment. It's a big deal."


Better option was metal halides with updated ballasts and occupancy sensors

Heppell says he considered high bay fluorescent, LED, and induction lighting, but wasn't satisfied that they suited the company's needs. Finally, he looked at energy-efficient "pulse-start" metal halides – an updated version of the older system that uses electronic ballasts.

Senior BC Hydro engineer Cristian Suvagau says pulse-start metal halides offer the following advantages:

  • Longer lamp life of up to 50% over traditional metal halide lamps
  • Increase in energy efficiency of 10-15%
  • Increase lumen maintenance by 20-30% (old-style metal halides lose brightness and colour over time)
  • Much shorter start-up time
  • Better cold starting capability; ability to start at temperatures as low as -40°C.

Another advantage of the metal halides chosen by Heppell is that each fixture is prewired with an occupancy sensor. When no one is working in an area, the lights drop to 30% output, saving energy while still allowing a view all around the production room.

Suvagau says pulse-start metal halides provide a high output of bright white light, while fluorescents and LEDs require more lamps to be "ganged" together to produce the same light. For Mayne Coatings, this helped reduce the project's cost: the company did its own lighting replacements, rather than hiring a contractor to reconfigure the entire system.

Suvagau says that new technologies such as LEDs offer some advantages over older systems. "But incumbent technologies such as fluorescent, high pressure sodium, and metal halide have been updated too, with some good results that can offer the right match in certain settings."

Incentive of more than 50% gave project a two-year payback period

The lighting project cost $32,526 and qualified for a BC Hydro incentive of $19,500. With energy savings projected at 107,000 kWh a year, Heppell says he expects a two-year payback period.

"I don't expect to see my power bill go down necessarily because we're growing at such a fast rate," he says. "We're running our equipment longer and longer, but at least we're spending our power producing product, and not just generating wasted heat in the top of our building out of inefficient lights."

Heppell credits support from business energy advisor Ida Keung and lighting supplier Chris Meehan of Integral Lighting with helping the project succeed. Meehan bundled the project with another industrial order, allowing savings on the equipment purchase price. Both Keung and Meehan know the incentive application process, keeping the project on track.

"Ida was absolutely excellent; she kept prodding me and encouraging me along," says Heppell. "And Chris understands the ropes. Sometimes incentive programs can be very bureaucratic and complicated, but this was clean and simple, even when we ran into a deadline issue. It was nothing less than fantastic support."

Every lighting solution has strengths and weaknesses. Your Power Smart Alliance vendor can work with you to find the right solution for your needs and your budget.