Posted in projects on January 21, 2015 12:28 pm EST

Minnesota Church Combines Energy Rebate Program with an LED Retrofit to Save Big

An energy provider incentive allows Maranatha Assembly of God to get bang for the buck with Chroma-Q Inspire Mini LEDs.

Maranatha Assembly of God in Forest Lake, Minn. Images courtesy of AVE.











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TAGS: design, led, lighting, sustainability,


By Church Designer Staff

When staff at Maranatha Assembly of God in Forest Lake, Minn., learned that they could lower their energy bills through their energy provider Xcel Energy's "Smarter Lighting for Less" rebate program, they jumped at the opportunity. They focused the upgrade on the sanctuary house lights, comprised of 48 incandescent recessed fixtures whose bulbs were 500 watts each, a 24,000-watt system. Initially, the church considered a retrofit upgrade of the existing house lights with an off-the-shelf LED bulb and pot product. Yet, after a look at one retrofit LED setup in the space, they were instantly disappointed in the results.

"The [Chroma-Q Inspire Mini's] 65-degree beam angle allows for maximum overlap with all of the lights, to really minimize the shadows."

—Stefan Svard, Audio Visual & Lighting Director & Owner, AVE (Audio Video Electronics), Minneapolis, MN

"The incandescent lights that we had in there were pretty warm, and they put out a really warm glow,” reports Pastor Bob Headley, Maranatha’s director of worship and media arts. “It is hard to replicate that warmth with LEDs. The light that was coming from the LED that we tried initially was too much like a fluorescent—it was a whitish kind of light. The angle of the light as it came out of the bulb was also a problem because our incandescents were only 30 degrees. That’s why we needed to have 48 of them in this room. The light coming out of the LED was a 60-degree light, so it was really casting a strong presence on the wall. It was a real institutional, clinical kind of a look. ‘Like a hospital’ is the way some people described it. Not a very warm light."

Disappointed with how the single replacement LED lamp completely changed the look and feel of the room, they put the conversion project on the back burner.

Project revival

Then some members of the church staff spoke with Stefan Svard, a Minneapolis-based audio, visual and lighting integrator and owner of Audio Video Electronics (AVE) about the stalled conversion project, after attending Svard’s "Creating Layers in Worship" seminar. In the seminar, he described how lighting can impact the worship environment, and that resonated with the staff from Maranatha.

"AVE's mission is to help churches communicate with emotion and power by designing, delivering, and supporting audio, video, and lighting solutions that maximize value at every budget level," says Svard. "Maranatha recognized that simple, off-the-shelf LED retrofit bulbs would have presented an unwanted situation in their worship environment."

Church staff told Svard about the rebate program spearheaded by Xcel Energy. "Standard retrofit LED lights are bright and white, and when you dim them, they are just white; there is no color shift,” Svard describes. “These were not theatrical lights. Sure, it offered them the energy savings. The rebate program certainly helped from the financial standpoint of putting them in, but they really didn’t like the look of them."  continued >>