Case Study: LED Retrofit

A popular local Bethesda sports bar has been a longterm Bethesda Systems client. The lighting throughout the bar was outdated and costly from a replacement and maintenance perspective. Management grew tired of changing light bulbs and their increasing energy bills.

The bulbs they used before the retrofi t constantly burned out. The bar went through 10–15 bulbs per week, and their lights were on for at least 14 hours per day. The owners grappled with the growing expenses and time devoted to constantly restock the bulbs, as well as continually climbing ladders throughout the entire bar several times per week in order to replace the lights.

On their older system, half of their lights would not dim due to overheating issues on the circuit. For example, over one of their bars, the dimmer switchers did not work properly, and bulbs would go off at random.

Bar Co-Owner said, “We’ve been told these bulbs last much longer. During the summer, this is huge for us because there is much less heat produced from the lighting. Bethesda Systems also added dimmers, making it simple for universal settings and usage all over the bar.”

The retrofit was an easy decision when we presented them with an upgrade yielding energy savings, reduced maintenance, better quality light and general information behind the benefits of going LED from incandescent or halogen bulbs. With not only an LED retrofi t completed, but an update to their automated control system for lights and HVAC, this sports bar became eligible for PEPCO utility rebates. Management now deals with less maintenance, a greener business, and lower energy costs.

Gary Hefner, Project Leader, Bethesda Systems said, “Some lights weren’t on due to circuit overload from excessive wattage. Bulbs were exploding, and the bar was paying a fortune to PEPCO. After the retrofi t, there was a major heating difference since no more halogen or incandescent bulbs were being used, allowing the bar to no longer run their air-conditioning as hard, thus allowing them to save additional energy.”

Lighting Retrofit Downloadable PDF

Major Change In Store For Lightbulbs As We Know It

by Jonathan Stovall

Thomas Edison

If you’ve been out shopping for light bulbs lately, you’ve probably noticed that your selection is growing.  What you may not know is that some of your staples, like the 100 watt traditional incandescent bulb, will no longer be available come the first of the year.  The standard, highly inefficient technology invented by Thomas Edison back in the Good Ol’ Days is seeing some phased regulation.


One lighting technology we are beginning to see on the store shelves next to the old faithfuls & the newer ugly squiggly ones (CFL) is the LED. LEDs are significantly more energy-efficient than either old-style incandescents or CFLs. LED uses 6 to 8 watts of electricity to produce light equivalent to that of a 60-watt incandescent. Compact fluorescents require 13 to 15 watts to produce similar results. Here are some additional benefits of the new LED lighting technology:

• Incandescents will need to be replaced up to 25 times in the same amount of time as one single LED bulb lasts.

• LEDs have the potential to last up to 22 years and save 75% or more in energy costs. According to ENERGY STAR, based on normal use, you can install a bulb in your newborn’s nursery and not have to change the light until he/she graduates from college!

• LEDs turn on instantly (no warm up time compared to CFL’s).

• LEDs emit almost no heat. In comparison, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat and CFLs release about 80% of their energy as heat. In warmer climates this reduces the need for air conditioning energy.

• LEDs have no breakable filaments or glass.

• LEDs don’t contain mercury (CFLs do in small amounts…eliminating storage and disposal concerns). Watch this Video!

• LED’s offer added convenience. The long bulb life of the LED is an added advantage for fixtures that are difficult to reach to change bulbs…like high ceilings, chandeliers, outdoor flood lights, etc.


Retrofit Bulbs
As we begin to convert our customers to LED our biggest challenge up to this point has been to ensure that the lighting quality of the energy-saving bulbs is at least as good (and hopefully better) quality than the traditional bulbs we replace. We know that the right lighting is crucial to how our customers live and work. Unfortunately a lot of the products we see on the local hardware store shelves don’t come close to the quality of the products we buy directly from our partner manufacturers. If you are going to start buying on your own you’ll need to consider a few things…here are just a few:

• Replacement lamps need to fit the fixture. For example, recessed cans require different bulbs than floor and table lamps.

• Color temperature ratings vary by lamp type and manufacturer. If you want a ‘yellower’ light output choose a lower color temperature.

• Outdoor LED requirements are different than indoor.

• Many packages say that their products are dimmable…but a lot of times the bulb is not fully dimmable or in some cases, won’t dim at all with a traditional dimmer.

• Most people are accustomed to buying bulbs based on watts, which refers to energy usage. The LED selection is based on actual brightness, which is measured in lumens. This brings a new level of confusion into the mix.

• Did you know your electrical utility may give you a rebate for your LED purchase?



The LED is one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies. LEDs last longer, are more durable, and offer better light quality than nearly any other type of lighting available. If you are in the DC metro area and are ready to make the switch, let us help you! We offer the following services:

• Our friendly sales staff is ready to consult with you inside your home or business.

• We offer free estimates with ROI (return on investment) projections based on current usage and utility rates.

• We use our own licensed electricians to do the work!

• Phased installation options available if you are on the fence about diving in head first.

• Guarantee on all LED products and performance we sell.

3D Television…Worth the Hype?

By Jonathan Stovall

In a word: Yes!

Well, almost Yes.  Please read on.

Listen up folks…this stuff is AWESOME!

Thursday was one of those days here at the shop where the heavens above opened up and dropped down upon us a new video blessing.  It doesn’t happen often. In fact the last time I felt this transformed was over a decade ago when I watched my first HD program.

It was extra special because not only was I watching a live television broadcast in 3D for the first time but the program happened to be first round coverage of The Masters golf tournament—always an annual favorite of mine.  The HD broadcast alone is some of the best video eye candy available in televised sports but the added depth of 3D raised my senses to a new level. I actually believed I was standing inside the ropes!  Seeing the slope of Augusta National was not possible in 2D, so now I have an even greater appreciation for the pro golfer because I can actually see exactly what their shot looks like.  Thank you Sony & Comcast for carrying selected parts of the back nine for two hours each day in 3D…commercial-free even!

The real hype began last year with the success of Avatar.  Even my mother loved it. I knew right then that 3D quality was finally good enough, but how long would it take to gain widespread acceptance?  I knew it wouldn’t come easy.  First, we would need 3D content, and much more than just movies and video games.  Then we would need to convince everyone that wearing glasses on the couch is cool!  And finally, how much more was this technology going to cost us?  The battery powered glasses alone average $200/pair.  And how much more would the cable bill be each month?  Yet another reason to jack the rates. Yikes!

Earlier this year during the International Consumer Electronics Show we were promised that 3D content was on its way…and soon. 3D Broadcasts & Blu Ray discs were mere ‘months away’.  25 World Cup Soccer matches and ESPN 3D this June!  All the major players showed up with their prototype panels, projectors & set top boxes and wowed us with their 3D demos.  But ultimately they confused us with varying types of display technologies and glasses, which reminded me all to well of the competition a few years ago between HD-DVD and Blu Ray. This ended up slowing down mass acceptance and scared off most consumers, still to this day, even though Blu Ray ‘won’ the format war.  I left Vegas with more 3D questions than I had answers and was worried (yet again) we were at the mercy of our friends in Asia to work it out.

So, where do things currently stand?  At the time of this writing, approximately one million 3D sets have been sold worldwide (that’s twice as many iPads by the way). There is only one 3D Blu Ray title available, DreamWorks Animation Monsters vs. Aliens. There are no additional 3D broadcasts scheduled for the immediate future besides The Masters (at least until ESPN 3D launches in 8 weeks).  Also in June, DirecTV  promises three separate 3D channels that will showcase a variety of programming similar to what HDNet did almost 9 years ago which helped spur more HDTV sales because the major networks weren’t as quick to change.  Got FiOS?…Verizon is promising 3D in time for Christmas.

In the meantime, yet again I’ve been spoiled.  A friend invited me over for a cookout this evening.  I told him sure, but it would have to wait until The Masters was over.  He told me that he’d have it on at his house. And I replied ‘yea…but not in 3D!’  Just as I had become an HD snob a decade ago…when I would watch NOTHING unless it was broadcast in HD. I find myself eventually heading down the same road with 3D.  I need serious help!