In the Driver’s Seat


A lighting retrofit at Thunder Mountain Harley-Davidson increased lighting levels and reduced maintenance needs.

Thunder Mountain Harley-Davidson, in Loveland, Colo., has reduced its annual energy bills 25% by making changes in its lighting. The new lighting also enhances the store environment, providing customers with a better, crisper view of the motorcycles on display.

“Our salespeople used to take bikes outside to give potential viewers a better view of the bike and its paint job in the sunlight. With our new lighting, the bikes shine and sparkle right here in the showroom,” said Shelley Erdmann. She and her husband Todd are the owners of Thunder Mountain, which boasts a ski-lodge-like interior and an outdoor amphitheater for bike rallies and concerts.

The store’s original lighting system included 64 175-watt metal-halide fixtures. Each fixture had one ballast and lamp. The system was expensive to maintain. Each time a lamp would burn out, it would leave a dark area on the showroom floor until maintenance replaced it—at a cost of $175 per lamp, plus the cost of renting a lift.

Thunder Mountain charged its building operations manager, Scott Milewski, with finding a lighting solution that would reduce its energy and maintenance costs. After some review, he selected fixtures (LX8 42-watt Starliter High Bay from Sportlite, a Philips group) that utilize high-lumen-output compact fluorescent lamps and ballasts (from Philips). The lamps are designed to replace metal-halide, mercury-vapor and high-pressure sodium fixtures.

“We chose Sportline because their fixtures provide high-quality light color and give the right look and feel to Thunder Mountain,” Milewski said.

The 64 metal-halide fixtures throughout Thunder Mountain were replaced with 32 Sportlite fixtures. The entire retrofit was completed in three days. Even with the 50% reduction in fixtures, Thunder Mountain is seeing 90% more light delivered on the floor, all while consuming less energy than with its old lighting, according to Cleantech Solutions, Boulder, Colo., which assisted Thunder Mountain with the retrofit. Cleantech noted that the new lamps last longer and maintain their brightness better than metal-halide lamps.

“The reduction in the number of fixtures also created extra space to hang banners and signs,” Milewski added.

Maintenance requirements for the system are less than with the old one. Plus, the design of the new fixtures—each has eight lamps—ensures that the sales floor remains lit even when one of the lamps burns out. The design also eliminates shadows and provides nearly equal vertical and horizontal illumination.

“We’re extremely pleased with the results,” said Milewski. “It’s really made the store look cleaner and brighter.”

In addition, Thunder Mountain installed a control system (Sportlite’s PulseBloc Digital Light Control System), which integrates with the lamps and allows for full control from a single wall panel. It enables the store to make full use of the energy-saving potential of the lighting system by turning off certain lamps during slow times.

The system is programmed to automatically run 25% brighter on the busiest days of the dealership—Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays—and to run at 50% output on most other days. Thunder Mountain has also programmed the lights to turn on and off automatically 15 minutes before and after the store closes.

“PulseBloc gives us full control,” Milewski added.

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