Can a Fish Smile?

Author: Tyson Cremeens | Digital Marketing Manager | East Dubuque, IL

Adding LEDs and VFDs has given the Mississippi River Museum a bright and efficient outlook.

Over the last year, Crescent Electric has worked with the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium located in Dubuque, IA. After providing upgraded LED lighting and VFDs (Variable Frequency Drives), the museum has become more efficient than ever. 

When the River Museum Facilities Manager guided their Crescent Account Manager, Doug Manders, through the Smithsonian-Institution-affiliated museum, the goal was to update the lighting. Focusing on the main level of the Woodward Discovery Center, the gift shop, and the outdoor up-lighting, it was determined that LEDs were the route to go. They would provide substantial energy savings along with minimal maintenance requirements and improved light quality.

"It's incredible to see the drastic difference in light quality on our displays and in the aquariums," said John Oglesby, Facilities & Systems Manager. "Not only are we saving money with lights using 70% less energy, but I save time and effort with the 10 year lifespan of the lamp. It keeps me from having to drag a ladder around to change burnt out bulbs every few months."

Many of the lamp locations throughout the facility were out of ladder reach and would require substantial work to replace, thereby proving the need for long-lasting LED lighting. A perfect fit for GE Lighting's LED PAR38 using just 26 watts versus the 90-watt halogen lamps.

Lighting over the Main Channel tank. Four active LED fixtures among the 12 inactive old halogen fixtures.

Lighting over the Main Channel tank. Four active LED fixtures among the 12 inactive old halogen fixtures.

Gift shop shelf lighting.

Gift shop shelf lighting.

A prime example of one such benefit can be seen over the Main Channel exhibit (shown above). This tank was previously lit by 12 halogen fixtures using 3,000 watts. Not only did these fixtures use an incredible amount of energy, but they also gave off a lot of heat, and would yellow in color before burning out frequently. A burnt out bulb required the entire tank to be drained, and the fish moved allowing the maintenance team to replace the bulbs. However, the tank is now lit with only 4 LEDs using 75% less energy and requiring zero maintenance with their 10 year life expectancy. They also offer an increased benefit of a consistent well-lit color quality.

The gift shop was also revamped with completely new LED lamps. Each lamp used 50 watts before, now they only use 7 watts for clear, bright illumination on products from post cards to fluffy toy alligators.

The gift shop at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.

The gift shop at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.

Doug Manders, Account Manager, discussing the Eaton VFD with Facilities Manager John Oglesby.

Doug Manders, Account Manager, discussing the Eaton VFD with Facilities Manager John Oglesby.

While working on the lighting upgrade, Doug also noticed the pumps controlling the filtration equipment for the aquariums were controlled by across-the-line starters, requiring hard starts. To improve this, 12 Eaton VFDs (Variable Frequency Drives) were installed to allow soft startups and maintain a consistent energy need.

According to John, "These pumps run 24 hours a day to keep our animals healthy with fresh water. They purr like a kitten and we are definitely saving money with them. We have less repairs and this whole area is much quieter, eliminating our need for ear protection." 

So, can a fish really smile? Head down to the well-lit, fresh-water-pumped aquariums at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque. Basking in energy-efficient quality LED lighting, these fish are sure to be swimming in delight.

Ready to go through your own energy-saving project? Contact your local Crescent Electric branch today to kick off a successful upgrade.

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