Rebate Maximization: Tips for LED Lighting Upgrades
Thursday, June 2, 2016
by: Alex Kamergorodsky, Bright Ideas Lighting Solutions

Section: Committee Announcements

The high cost of an LED lighting upgrade is quite the pain point for many and can only be eliminated by the energy efficiency rebates provided by the local utility company – SDG&E. The lighting rebate process is no simple task and is considered to be both an art and a science. As a building owner or property manager, the number one consideration comes down to identifying how to leverage and maximize existing rebates when performing an LED lighting upgrade. This guide will serve as a framework for making decisions and a summary of SDG&E’s lighting rebates as they relate to your projects.
First and foremost, in order to qualify for a rebate, the light bulbs and fixtures must be either be Energy Star or DLC Certified. As such, you must first ensure that your lighting vendor is using qualified products when promising rebates before proceeding with the upgrade. The best way to do that is by verifying the model number at the following website:
There are a total of 13 various product categories in the rebate catalog for LED lighting, but I will help alleviate the complexities associated with navigating through them. For simplicity purposes we will have two: interior and exterior. As a rule of thumb, replacing fixtures instead of bulbs will yield a significantly higher rebate. Additionally, most interior applications have a higher rebate than exterior applications due to operating at peak times when the electricity demand is significantly higher.
Rebate amounts vary even within each product category based on wattage ranges. For instance, if you are replacing an existing fluorescent 2x4 fixture with a 36 Watt LED troffer, you will only receive a rebate of $70/fixture. However, if you step it up to a 40 Watt LED troffer, you will qualify for a $100 rebate/fixture. Note: The referenced rebate can be found in the Interior LED Fixture product category in the rebate catalog.
As a result, the art of rebate maximization lays in one’s ability to select products with highest efficacy (light output per amount of energy consumed) that fits in wattage range to yield the greatest rebates. This must be done carefully however, because you do not want to replace a 150W High Pressure Sodium light with a 195W LED Fixture just to get the highest rebate. Your consumption would simply increase in this case.
One technique that has worked well for us is selecting a higher wattage fixture to qualify for a greater rebate, combined with the use of controls to run the fixture at a lower wattage to achieve maximum savings. A great example of this technique is an enclosed parking garage using a 4’ fluorescent fixture with two 32W tubes. Using a 40W fixture provides a $100/fixture rebate, and tuning it to run at 20W increases energy savings of 69%. This yields a higher rebate, extends the life of the product, and boosts savings all at once.
Below I outline the most common applications found in a number of buildings, most ideal wattage for a replacement, and associated rebate amounts.
  • Office Buildings usually feature fluorescent troffers and can lights.
    • Most ideal troffer replacement wattage for troffers and fluorescent fixtures is 40W which yields a rebate of $100/fixture. Suitable products include LED Panels, LED Troffers, and LED Retrofit Kits.
    • Most ideal can light replacement wattage depends on the brightness levels you can achieve and the efficacy the light products. I recommend anywhere between 10W-12W for ceiling being 8’ and 10’ high. Any downlight yields are rebate of $25/fixture.
  • Interior Parking Structures commonly feature a mixture of 4’ and 8’ fluorescent tube fixtures or metal halide canopy lights.
    • Most ideal replacement wattage is 40W which yields a rebate of $100/fixture. Suitable products included LED Garage Fixtures like Vapor Tights, LED Canopies, and LED Retrofit kit strips.
  • Parking Lots typically feature street and area lights like halide or sodium shoebox fixtures.
    • Most ideal replacement wattage is between 131W and 192W which yields a rebate of $125/fixture. Suitable products include shoebox lights, street lights, and area lights
  • Exterior Building Applications usually entail wallpacks and flood lights
    • Majority applications will require fixtures under 80W, qualifying for $50/fixture rebate. Wattage range between 81W and 110W yields a rebate of $80/fixture.
  • Industrial and Warehouse Building typically feature linear fluorescent, fluorescent troffer, and high bay applications.
    • Most ideal replacement wattage for troffers and linear fluorescent fixtures is 40W which yields a rebate of $100/fixture. Suitable products include LED Panels, LED Troffers, and LED Retrofit Kits.
    • When deciding on a high bay solution, you have to weigh the cost/benefit of higher wattage against the rebate. Most typical high bay applications require a replacement between 120W and 250W. As such, your primary driver in the decision will be efficacy and net cost. High bays below 131W yield a rebate of $100/fixture, 131W-160W yield $110/fixture, 160W-187W yield $125/fixture, 187W-220 yield $145/fixture, and 220W-262 yield $160.
A rule of thumb: As long as you pick a product with the lowest net cost while satisfying your illumination needs, you will be making the right choice.
For any questions or additional info reach out to Alex Kamergorodsky, Bright Ideas Lighting Solutions | 619-354-5337
SDG&E Rebate Catalog(s) and Resources -
CA Qualified LED Products List -
DLC Qualified Products List -

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