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How DLC premium retrofit kits save more money than DLC standard

How DLC premium retrofit kits save more money than DLC standard

Oct 12, 2016: In any purchase, quality is almost always of utmost importance. This is especially true when we are talking about an upgrade of a commercial lighting system where the investment can get quiet pricey.

By choosing quality, you open yourself up to better rebates, higher efficiency, and that in turn allows for not only a quicker, but also a greater return on investment for your lighting investment.

In this article we will be discussing what DLC is (DesignLights Consortium), what standard qualified and premium qualified are, and how exactly premium will save you more money and produce a faster ROI.

What is DLC anyways?

DLC is just an abbreviation for DesignLights Consortium. The better question to ask is, what is DesignLights Consortium?

In short, it’s an organization that qualifies (or doesn’t) commercial lighting products based on their efficiency and quality. If you are looking to buy a commercial lighting fixture and it’s not listed here or with EnergyStar, then you probably want to stay far away. It means it’s not of quality, and hasn’t passed any testing whatsoever.

What qualifies a DLC standard product?

Qualifying a DLC standard and a premium has two different sets of standards. As you can imagine, the standard qualifications are a bit lower, but still better than none.

Here are the main requirements that you should remember when deciding between a product that is standard and premium:

  • Minimum Efficacy (lm/W): 65 to 105. The minimum is different for which type of fixture you are look at. While an interior directional minimum lumen per watt output is 65, a high bays minimum is 105.
  • Minimum Warranty: 5 years.
  • Color Rendering Index (CRI) Requirements 65+ for outdoor, 80+ for indoor.

What qualifies a DLC premium product?

Now you see what it takes to for a commercial luminaire or retrofit kit to become DLC standard, we are now going to cover the minimum requirements for a DLC premium qualified product. As you will be able to tell, premium is the obvious winner and a “no-brainer” when it comes to which qualification is better to go with when buying a commercial luminaire product.

Here are those requirements:

  • Minimum Efficacy (lm/W): 90 to 130. The minimum is different for which type of fixture you are look at. While an interior directional minimum lumen per watt output is 90, a high bays minimum is 130.
  • Minimum Warranty: 5 years. This is the same as DLC standard, but this is still a really good warranty length for any lighting product. Although some places offer more than 5 which is even better.
  • Color Rendering Index (CRI) Requirements: 65+ for outdoor, 80+ for indoor

From efficacy to CRI ratings, DLC premium is a clear winner. If you want more qualifications or a more in-depth view; review this page on the official DLC website for a graph along with more helpful information.

How DLC premium vs standard will save you more money?

It’s a fact that both standard and premium will save you money over those products that aren’t even qualified at all. But, when we talk about standard vs premium, what are the actual benefits of the premium over standard? Is there a big difference, and if so; which is better overall?

Let’s consider this highly practical and realistic example of what buyers of these products face all of the time when comparing lighting products:

Imagine you have two products, from two companies, and they are both retrofit kits. One of the retrofit kits run at 97 lumens per watt, let’s call this product one. The other kit runs at 155 lumens per watt, we will call this product two.

Assuming we need 15,000 of lumen output per fixture, product one will need around 154 watts to generate that 15,000 lumen output goal. While on the contrary, product two will only need around 98 watts to generate those some 15,000 lumens we need.

So to recap: product two needs around 58 watts less than it’s comparing product. Why is this? Because it is a DLC premium retrofit kit, rather than a standard one. This alone will allow your entire lighting system to use 30%+ less energy just by buying premium kits.

But won’t premium kits cost more initially?

Maybe, but consider the following. Firstly, some premium retrofit kits  you may find can sometimes even be cheaper, all depending on who you are getting them from. Secondly, premium kits often offer larger rebates through utility companies; helping offset the cost of your lighting investment. And thirdly, over the life of the product, the energy savings alone will save you $1000’s for each light in reduced energy consumption. And isn’t that the reason you’re converting to LED in the first place?


There you have the reasons behind why premium DLC over standard will save you more money than just settling with the lesser quality lights.

This should be taken into account when on the search for any lighting fixture for your office, warehouse, building, or even parking lot. Try avoiding standard when you have the option to get premium, there is only upside to it and it will only help your ROI goals.

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