A Pro’s Tips for a Great Lighting Audit

Frank Agraz | Jun 10, '24

A Pro's Tips for a Great Lighting Audit

Lighting audits are an essential first step in any lighting project. And in the retrofit market, the audit process differs significantly from the steps you’d take in a new-construction design.

Below, SnapCount customer Frank Agraz, Director of Engineering at Facility Solutions Group, walks you through highlights of his noteworthy presentation given at the recent LEDucation conference in New York, featuring best practices honed over his long career in LED retrofit lighting. These proven techniques combined with digitization via SnapCount, led to unprecedented efficiencies and growth.

The 3 Major Steps of a Lighting Audit

The retrofit lighting audit process includes three major steps:

  • Preparation: This includes gathering initial details and developing an audit plan.
  • Assessment: This includes the on-site interviews and data collection.
  • Output: This includes formatting and packaging audit data, maps, photos, and notes into a deliverable that allows others to develop an accurate cost and savings retrofit proposal.

The audit is arguably the most important part of the retrofit process. Its goal is to capture the current lighting systems and conditions accurately and efficiently in a space to help deliver a cost-effective lighting solution. The details you find in your audit can affect the specifications, pricing, savings, timing, and change orders associated with the project. Without it, you won’t know what you’re dealing with, or how to design, specify, and price the job.

Conducting the Lighting Retrofit Audit: A Step-by-Step Guide

Preparing for a Lighting Audit

Preparation is key to conducting effective lighting audits. The better you plan before stepping foot onto your audit site, the better the outcome.

Document essential project details, like the site list and facility point of contact, and make sure all logistical aspects of the audit — such as determining the audit team, the facility specifics, and the scope of the audit — are sorted beforehand.

To ensure your audit captures the necessary information, you need to have a solid plan. Before you start the audit, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much detail do we need? Is this a preliminary audit with allowances for time to gather more detail later, or do you need to conduct an investment-grade audit that captures the most detail? Before you step on site, know how much information is required before you leave the site.

  • What extra details should we know? Will this space require a redesign and photometry lighting layouts? Do you need to capture specific photos or document conditions relating to vertical illuminance, light trespass, or uniformity?

  • What’s our audit method? Are you using paper, a digital spreadsheet, or software to help gather and store your data?

  • What are the audit plan logistics? How many people are conducting the audit? How long will it take? How much will it cost? What type of facility is it? Also consider travel constraints, start date, and when the proposal is due.

Anatomy of a Successful Retrofit Lighting Audit

A thorough audit process can be broken down into five major steps:

Step 1: Map Review

Always request an interior evacuation floor plan or other facility map to ensure you understand the layout of all areas and all access points before stepping on-site. Although reflected ceiling plans may be available, existing conditions may have changed since the drawings were created. Always confirm details in person. For exterior audits, always use a recent satellite image for reference.

Step 2: Pre-Audit Meeting

Ideally, the sales team will gather preliminary information relating to the facility, utility provider, audit check-in, escort, and PPE requirements. Once the audit team is on-site, they should meet with their main contact to better understand site conditions, design considerations, and even installation logistics should the project move forward.

Step 3: Dime Tour

This is your initial walkthrough of the audit space. You’ll use it to confirm the accuracy of preliminary maps and identify key areas, like electrical panels and emergency exits. This is also where you can meet area supervisors to ask them if any areas require your special attention. Maybe they’ve noticed low light levels in the back hallways that make it hard to read the safety signs posted there. For certain audits, schedule an exit meeting for about the time you anticipate finishing the audit. After you’ve talked to employees, plan the best place to start your audit.

Step 4: Data Collection

This is the heart of the audit, where you’ll document all the existing conditions needed to develop a proposal. It’s also where all your planning comes in handy. You’ll know exactly how detailed you need to be, which data you need to collect, and how much time you’ll have to complete the audit. Although every audit will have potentially different parameters, every auditor should weigh the amount of time they have versus the accuracy required to complete the task.

Step 5: Exit Interview

If appropriate and with time permitting, ask your point of contact to review the data you’ve collected and discuss your preliminary findings to ensure nothing is overlooked. Don’t forget to address any areas of concern, existing LED areas, or areas that were inaccessible at the time of the audit. In addition to learning more about the facility, this face-to-face meeting offers another opportunity to impress the customer and differentiate yourself from the competition.

Tools of The Trade: Capturing Lighting Audit Data Effectively

Successful audits often require choosing the proper data-collection platform for the job. They can affect your speed and efficiency — and the wrong tools can cost you time and money.

These days, you have a lot of choices, ranging from legal pads to third-party digital solutions like SnapCount. Whatever platform you choose, it should:

  • Encourage consistency
  • Allow for flexibility
  • Capture all required details

Lighting auditors use the following data collection techniques:

Analog Platforms

In the old days, auditors relied exclusively on paper and a pen. Though they don’t have some of the advantages of more modern methods of data collection, auditors still use these traditional methods for the following reasons:

  • Easy to use in full sunlight
  • No batteries
  • Allowed in areas that ban electronics

However, using pen and paper to assess lighting retrofit projects carry disadvantages as well:

  • Wet or dirty conditions can make notetaking difficult
  • Inefficient, allowing little time for extra details
  • Prone to mistakes, or paperwork can be misplaced

Many companies then rely on these paper audits to complete their spreadsheets back at the office, creating duplicate work and occasional costly data-entry errors.

Digital Platforms

Digital data collection platforms have evolved greatly in the last 20 years:


Old-school digital tools include spreadsheets and built-in-house web-based programs. While these might have some advantages over a pen and paper, they also have some downsides:

  • Data is inconveniently stored in multiple places (email inboxes, spreadsheets, Word documents), so your team might have different figures for each project.
  • Platform upgrades are limited to what your own team creates and has time to improve.
  • Scalability and training new users quickly can be challenging.


Tablet-based data collection platforms, like SnapCount, share the same benefits as first-generation tools but take the convenience even further:

  • Built-in camera, video, and audio recording as well as integration to 360 cameras
  • Cloud-based data protection (sync to server)
  • Standardized platform for entire audit team, both internal employees and third-party consultants
  • Access to all tablet-based apps during audit to increase efficiency (e.g., auditor software, email, photos, OneDrive, web browser)
  • Periodic, free software updates that incorporate suggestions and improvements from ALL existing customers.

SnapCount can help you:

  • Reduce data collection and proposal turnaround times
  • Boost accuracy, efficiency, and revenues by 30%
  • Win 50% more projects

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Other Essential Lighting Auditing Tools

You’ll need more than just paper, pen, and tablet software to successfully document existing conditions. The following audit tools are essential components in any auditor’s tool bag:

  • Light meter
  • Ballast frequency checker
  • Camera with optical zoom
  • Retractable key card chain
  • Laser distance finder
  • Counter
  • Telescoping mirror
  • Folding ruler
  • Flashlight

Veteran Tips and Tricks for Better Lighting Audits

Every veteran auditor figures out a few smart strategies over time to make audits go even that much smoother. Here are some of our (sometimes hard-won) lessons:

Planning Audit Routes: Finalize your route within a facility before starting the audit. Review the layout of a facility, and identify the most logical place to start. On each floor, pick the same corner and proceed in the same direction every time. Your installation crew will thank you as they attempt to recreate your steps during construction.

Regular Check-ins: Conduct regular check-ins with your team during the audit. It will help ensure that everyone is on track and that no critical areas are overlooked.

Be Prepared for Anything: If there’s one consistency about audits, it’s that they never go exactly how you planned. Be prepared for surprises (like lack of access to certain spaces) and have a backup plan in place so you can roll with the punches and stay on track.

Streamline Your Process: We prefer digital platforms like SnapCount because they standardize output, maximize accuracy, and foster efficiency. Digital platforms also reduce errors associated with manual data entry and save time. Tagging photos and notes directly in the audit software, for example, can streamline the process and improve the quality of the final report.


To learn more about applying these techniques using SnapCount’s next-generation digital platform, click here to request a contact by a member of our team or book a call directly via the button below.


Frank Agraz

Written by Frank Agraz

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