Morrisville, NC

Case Study: Impressive Change at National Guard Hangar

Since installing the lights and fans, we’re saving 700 dollars a month, which is a savings of 30 percent. And the hangar is brighter and cooler on top of that. Matthew Dobson, Energy Manager

The Gist


A 25,000-sq-ft National Guard aircraft hangar struggled to stay cool in the Carolinas and suffered from inadequate lighting that kept technicians from working efficiently.


Big Ass Fans Factory-Certified Installers deployed 77 High Bay LED fixtures and four Powerfoil®X2.0 fans to illuminate and cool the hangar.


The improved lighting has reduced energy use and improved workmanship. Staff also work more efficiently now that the Big Ass Fans keep them from overheating during the Carolina summers.

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Powerfoil X Series

Relighting and Cooling the North Carolina National Guard

Located just beyond Raleigh’s borders at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the North Carolina National Guard’s facility in Morrisville, North Carolina, performs critical maintenance and repairs on the state’s fleet of military helicopters. But with metal-halide fixtures providing inadequate lighting and temperatures soaring into the 90s all summer long, North Carolina National Guard Energy Manager Matthew Dobson knew he had to upgrade the space.

Dim Lights and Hot Summers

Here’s a problem: what happens when you combine legendary Carolina summers, a heat island created by the airport’s tarmac, and a hangar with no air conditioning? A 25,000-sq- ft furnace. Small portable fans couldn’t make a dent in the heat, and technicians often roasted as they worked, slowing them down and decreasing productivity — sweaty workers means dropped tools, impaired focus and potential water damage to sensitive electronic systems. The cavernous hangar was also poorly lit with inefficient metal-halide fixtures. The outdated halides produced dim light, had a lengthy warm-up period, and wasted energy compared to the latest LED technology. Technicians used task lights to supplement the fixtures, creating a cluttered mess of cords that presented a trip hazard. “I wanted to increase light levels and decrease energy consumption,” said Dobson. “Our goal is to convert entirely to LED lighting in the North Carolina National Guard.”

Working with Big Ass

Dobson was familiar with Big Ass through trade shows, and reached out to us for a trial of our Big Ass Light High Bay LEDs. After seeing them side-by- side with the existing halide fixtures, Dobson knew he’d found the right lights for the job. “The Big Ass Lights were much brighter, and the light quality was better,” Dobson said, adding “they looked more robust and durable, too.” With technicians frequently looking up at aircraft from below, Dobson also noted the importance of Big Ass Lights’ not creating a glare. As a government entity, Dobson was required to solicit other bids for lights and fans, but he still found Big Ass Fans’ offer to be the most competitive. Once the bid had been accepted, Big Ass Fans designed a customized fan and light layout to maximize cooling power and light dispersion throughout the hangar.

Top-to-Bottom Impact

Dobson used Big Ass Factory Certified Installers for both the light fixtures and fans. He appreciated the minimal impact of the install crew. “It was seamless. We blocked off the area they were working for the day, and we kept working around them. They were able to accommodate us.” Now 62 High Bay LED fixtures illuminate the facility from above, each producing 26,000 lumens of clear, bright light. For an exterior walkway at the facility, 15 High Bay LEDs were wall-mounted, providing a softer light — 10,500 lumens each — for those traveling through the passage. The installers hung four Powerfoil X2.0 fans in the hangar to circulate air throughout the area. “The workers are happier and more comfortable, absolutely,” said Dobson, “and that’s tied into productivity.” Even during the peak of summer, the overhead Big Ass Fans provide enough cooling to obviate portable fans, keeping technicians cool and sweat-free as they work on Apaches, Chinooks and more.

Year-Round Improvements

The fans and lights have made a big impact on the hangar, improving working conditions and morale and creating a cooler, brighter, cleaner facility. Dobson has seen a 30% reduction in energy usage and lowered the hangar’s bills by $700 a month. In winter, Dobson plans to use the Powerfoil X fans to destratify the facility, whose 50-foot ceiling traps a significant amount of rising heat when heaters are turned on. In doing so, Dobson will see even more drastic energy savings during the colder months of the year.

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