Lighting and Electrical Issues

Lighting in the nave has been a topic of discussion for several years. Changing to LED fixtures would improve the church’s carbon footprint and, by extension, reduce its electricity bill. Following the renovation of the sanctuary and west transept (into a choir area) in 2012, there were requests for increased lighting in the west transept.

A temporary solution was found with the use of pole lamps, but we needed something better. After discussing the west transept lighting with experts, we decided to design something ourselves. Brent took time to proffer advice – replace the overhead fluorescent bulbs with LED tubes. That turned out to be the answer. Although the LED tubes throw light in only one direction, the fact that the west transept had a new coat of paint helped reflect the light up and around. Plus, we added two spotlight fixtures (two bulbs in each) to provide even more light. The choir was happy.

The above provided us an example to use for the rest of the nave. We subsequently contacted electrician Chad Fromiller to install LED tubes throughout the nave. Chad, however, was not comfortable without a plan that he could follow. We put everything on hold for two years. With the impetus to paint the nave, improve heating/insulation, resurrecting the lighting upgrade seemed logical and appropriate. At first we spoke to a recommended lighting outlet in S. Portland. The vendor’s rep recommended LED “tape lights” that were frightfully expensive. He then recommended “Greg Day Lighting” out of Bath. Chad had also recommended this firm. Greg Day developed a plan, but wanted several thousand dollars to sell it to us. Brent said such a proposal/expense was unreasonable. He recommended a tech from Wesco in Bangor, Jim Baines. Jim spent several hours at church. He took measurements in the nave and visited every office or space that had lighting. His goal was to recommend lighting needed throughout, and to provide an estimate of energy savings. One interesting aside was that we have too much lighting in most of the spaces. (This was a concern raised by Efficiency Maine about 15 years ago, prompting removal 1/3 of the fluorescent bulbs. LED lighting will further reduce the number of fixtures in the church.) Approximately one month later, we received “cut sheets” proposing fixtures for the various spaces, including the nave. Cost of the lights will be about $12,000 after rebates from Efficiency Maine. Electricity savings will be about $4500/yr. As mid-October, we are awaiting two sample fixtures for the nave. We will temporarily connect and hang them to determine which fixture we like.

We will use the occasion to improve some basic infrastructure in the church. We need more outlets in the sacristy to accommodate the battery chargers that support the sound system’s wireless microphone transmitters. Also, the west transept needs additional outlets for the Clavinova digital piano, fans, etc. used by the choir.