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Our future’s looking brighter at Reliable Controls headquarters — January 2021 Newsletter

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Featured Project


Tri City Cycle

Design Partner

Building Owner


12,000 sq. ft.




Loveland, CO

Tri City Cycle hired Colorado Controls to retrofit interior and exterior lights for their dealership. Additionally, Tri City Cycle requested Colorado Controls to install multiple pole lights to provide additional security to a previously unlit area used for boat, jet ski, and trailer sales. Tri City’s primary goals for this project was to improve the aesthetics of the facility by creating a brighter and more welcoming environment for their customers, increasing visibility for their mechanics, and decreasing their utility bill.

In addition to the newly installed exterior pole lights, Colorado Controls replaced over 90 lights throughout the interior and exterior of their building with LED fixtures. Tri City Cycles is expected to save over 31,000 kWh per year and $3,600 annually in energy usage and expense. Colorado Controls worked with Efficiency Works to leverage rebates that paid for over 60% of the total project cost, reducing the out of pocket expense to Tri City Cycle. Additionally, Colorado Controls partnered with the City of Loveland, Gary Weeks Engineering, and John Garza concrete to complete this project successfully.

Partner With Colorado Controls

Call (970) 235-2337

Employee Profile:


Q: What is your title and how long have you worked at Colorado Controls?

A: Lighting Project Manager. I have been with Colorado Controls for two years.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your job?

A: The work environment is great; we have a great team. I love my job specifically because every day is different, some days I check out new buildings to propose lights to them some days I am trying to come up with solutions on how to make certain lights work in different applications, sometimes I help install and so much more. It’s nice not having to do the same thing every day.

Q: Before working at Colorado Controls, what was the most interesting job you’ve ever had?

A: Before I was at Colorado controls I was in the army. While in the army I was a tanker driver and the colonel’s driver. Both were exciting and fun at points.

Q: What are your favorite ways to spend your free time outside of work?

A: I love to go to the gym after work as much as possible, I hang out with friends and family on the weekend. Winter time I love to snowboard and Summer time I love camping even though I did not have a chance to go this Summer sadly.

Q: Three words to describe yourself?

A: Hard working, motivated.

Q: How long have you lived in Colorado and what do you love about it?

A: I was born and raised in Fort Collins, but I was gone for four years due to the army. I love Colorado for the mountains, the views, and because my family is here.

Q: Dream travel destination?

A: That’s a hard one, I love tropical and warm places so I would love to visit Bora Bora or Fiji.

While researching a reliable company to upgrade our lighting I came across Colorado Controls. We are very glad that Titus Hultgren was the Lighting Specialist to answer the call. Titus came to Tri City Cycle professionally prepared, and presented us with several options to best suit our needs. During the Covid pandemic, Titus was able to quickly meet our needs, as well as comply with all of the social distancing guidelines. Any issues were promptly resolved and a solution was found. We have expanded our original needs of a few interior lights, to a rather large parking lot job. Without hesitation or the need for a second bid, we knew we were in great hands because of the attentiveness and professionalism that Titus has displayed. We are very happy with the quality of the jobs, and look forward to a great working relationship in the future.

Steve Bell
Tri-City Cycle
Fleet and Commercial Services
Boat Manager

Content from The Resource

— Reliable Controls’ December 2020 Newsletter

Read Original Newsletter

Our Future’s Looking Brighter at Reliable Controls Headquarters

The terrible thing about the lighting business is it changes so rapidly. The past few decades have seen incandescent technologies replaced by fluorescent T12s, compact fluorescents, T8s, T5s, and now LEDs. The pace of technological development is so rapid, manufacturers and dealers aren’t interested in stocking replacement parts or offering upgrade kits for old fixtures. Reliable Controls facilities staff were recently dismayed to discover that when expensive exterior fixtures failed after just a few years, replacement parts were not available.

The wonderful thing about the lighting business is that it changes so rapidly. The technology is transmogrified every few years, with new features and energy savings so enticing, owners and consulting engineers happily sign up to retrofit lighting fixtures and controls that were installed just a few years earlier! Building codes change constantly, requiring new fixtures, new control components, and new control strategies. What a bonanza for dealers and contractors in the lighting business.

Reliable Controls dealers are aware that we design our controls to last many years, which means it will be the next generation who does the retrofit of those devices. How many times could you renovate the lighting fixtures and lighting controls in a building during that period? Sounds like good business, right?

Recently, the good guys in our Facilities department joined the madness. Would you believe we just upgraded most of the lighting fixtures and controls in the south annex of our headquarters building—less than 8 years after construction? Here’s why:

  • The original installation used T5 fluorescent tubes and ballasts. Upgrading to LEDs provides significant energy savings.
  • original dimming fluorescent ballasts were failing, which required an electrician and an expensive replacement part for each individual failure. It should be noted we never lost a single T5 tube in the 8-year period; that part of the technology was flawless.
  • The original EnOcean transceivers that came with the light fixtures proved to have firmware problems, and the hardware was failing at an unacceptable rate.
  • The original SMART-Sensor EnOcean Accesspoint devices and fixture transceivers used 315 MHz radios, which were superseded by 902 MHz devices a few years ago. For that reason, adding more EnOcean devices, like plug-load controls, to our existing 315 MHz system became problematic.

Fluorescent Fixtures

Well, our motivation was compelling, but the task of replacing or upgrading our beautiful, expensive fluorescent fixtures was daunting. So we hired an electrical consultant to do a study.

The consultant did a nice spreadsheet of the types of fixtures installed and recommended a suitable LED fixture replacement for each but did not include energy savings estimates. The total cost was unacceptable, so we got discouraged and shelved the idea for a few months while continuing to replace ballasts and EnOcean transceivers.

Eventually, we started looking for a way to upgrade the existing fixtures without replacing them. We learned that three types of LED tubes are available for installation in existing fluorescent fixtures.

Type A

Type A LED tubes are drop-in replacements for T5 or T8 fluorescent tubes. The LED driver is buried in the tube, and they are designed to operate with the old fluorescent ballast in place. Super easy to install, not that expensive, but…

  • The old ballast uses energy, even when the light is off (5–7 watts each).
  • If the old ballast fails, it has to be replaced to keep using the Type A LED.
  • The location of the driver in the bulb is sensitive to heat. If the driver heats up, it can significantly reduce the life of the bulb.

Type B

Type B LED tubes also have the LED driver mounted inside the tube, but they are designed to operate from main power directly. To use these bulbs, each fixture must be rewired to exclude the old ballast. That work requires a UL kit and an electrician, making this option much more expensive, but at least it does not reuse the nasty old ballast. On the down side, warning labels must be installed on the fixture, because main power is exposed at the tombstones holding the tube. Maintenance personnel need to be cautious when they replace tubes.

Type C

Type C tubes do not have an internal LED driver, which means a separate LED driver has to be installed in the fixture. Again, a UL kit and electrician are required, but the result is basically an LED fixture with the lowest cost for replacement tubes.

For our project, Type A was out of the question, because it would not solve the problem of constant expensive ballast failures.

Then we learned the manufacturer of our beautiful, expensive fixtures does not offer a kit for Type B or Type C LED retrofits.

We also learned that most lighting manufacturers don’t make the job of selecting retrofit LED driver/ LED tubes easy. Not to mention, these two components must be electrically compatible for the warranty and specified operating hours to be valid. And we discovered that many available drivers would not physically fit into our streamlined fixtures.

Eventually, we found some driver/tube pairs from Keystone Technologies, based in Pennsylvania. The drivers were small enough to fit in our fixtures, the price was good, the company has been in business for over 75 years, and the documentation is readily understandable. Aside from choosing the color temperature (we went with 3500 K), the only option to decide on was high efficiency (HE) or high output (HO). We ordered two ballasts and four tubes of each type to compare. We subsequently installed the two sets of gear in the fluor escent fixtures of two adjacent offices in the south annex.

To justify the overall project, we needed some data on the performance of the retrofitted fixtures. We hooked up a power meter to the power input of each fixture, which yielded the results in Table 1.

Wow! The efficacy, in lux per watt, of the fixture retrofitted with the HE components was typically three times that of the old fluorescent tube. At 100 percent command, it produced 40 percent more light while consuming 55 percent less power. We found that the HO components produce much more light than necessary for our applications.

Inspired by these results, we went on to discover that since all the lighting components are UL certified, we could hire a local UL inspector to approve the converted fixtures. Game on.

In the end, the retrofit consisted of the following components, including spares (Table 2):

We were aware that with our typically low operating hours and high rate of dimming, the energy savings of the overall retrofit would not be high. We estimated a 3 percent drop in the electrical energy consumed in the south annex, or about $672 per year. Nevertheless, the other considerations carried the day, and management approved the project.

A Reliable Controls dealer performed the electrical installation in August, which created very little disruption to staff, who had been chased out of the building by COVID-19. The other benefit of an empty building is we can honestly say we’ve had very few complaints. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to differentiate the actual energy savings due to the lighting retrofit, because about 60 percent of the lights have been off continuously since March.

Nevertheless, with new LED bulbs, a LEED Platinum–certified heritage, and energy use about 14 percent below design intent, the Reliable Controls south annex continues to be a shining example of the ART of Building Sustainability.

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