Josh Kegley 2015-11-12 16:54:14
This might sound strange coming from a company that manufactures and installs industrial LED fixtures, but LEDs are not always the best cost-saving solution . . . at least not yet. As time wears on, LEDs will get cheaper, brighter, and more energy-efficient, but that does little good for facility managers who need a lighting upgrade now. Like most facility decisions, choosing new fixtures often boils down to budget, and wrangling over the numerous ancillary benefits of LEDs can’t change the fact that the fixtures currently cost about twice as much as other commonly used industrial lighting fixtures. Replacing every single fixture with LEDs can be too costly for many facilities to consider. However, upgrading to LEDs is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Installing LEDs in phases allows facilities managers to get a head start on site-wide LED lighting while still staying within yearly budget and energy goals. When deciding where to place various light fixtures, consulting a company with lighting engineers on staff who are familiar with different kinds of light sources can help ensure complete coverage with the least energy use. LEDs aren’t perfect for everything, but some applications nearly always benefit from LEDs’ energy efficiency or additional benefits, such as long-life, low maintenance, and durability. For industrial facilities installing LEDs in phases, here are five of the best places to start. Cold Storage Excessive heat degrades the semiconductors that power LED diodes. The hotter the space, the more rapid the lumen depreciation and the dimmer the diodes appear. Cold has the opposite effect, potentially extending the life of LEDs, which is why facility managers considering a relamping of refrigerators and freezers should consider LEDs first and foremost. Unlike any other traditional lighting source, LEDs don’t appear dimmer at or below freezing. Longer life and brighter light aren’t the only benefit. Many freezers are only occupied for a few minutes at a time—just long enough to grab a box or pallet—meaning the lights are either turned off and on rapidly, or left on while the freezer is unoccupied. Leaving the lights on not only wastes energy to power the bulb, but it also requires the cooling unit to work harder to compensate for the bulbs’ heat output. Unlike fluorescents, turning LEDs on and off rapidly does not shorten their life. Coupled with the fact they reach full brightness instantly, even in the cold, LEDs with occupancy sensors are a set-it-and-forget-it solution that could save loads of effort and energy over time. High-Volume Production Lines Replacing blown halides or fluorescent bulbs in a manufacturing space can cost far more than new bulbs and the staff time it takes to swap them. Replacing lights above assembly lines requires the lines to be stopped, and output loss equals money loss. Although the cost of new LED fixtures can be too prohibitive for entire facilities, the longevity of LEDs makes it worthwhile to install them over high-volume production and assembly areas in which an unplanned interruption in workflow can also be costly. The highest-quality LED fixtures have a rated life of 150,000 hours—about 17 years of 24-hour-a-day use. Comparatively, metal halide and fluorescent bulbs typically have a rated life of two to three years, although both are prone to premature failures. Warehouse Aisles Light from LEDs can be directed, unlike metal halide and fluorescent bulbs that distribute light in all directions. The latter send half their lumens to the ceiling. Typically, an LED beam is between 110 and 150°F. The narrower beams of LEDs are perfect for narrow aisles between high warehouse shelves. Much of the light cast by halides and fluorescents simply lights the tops of boxes and shelves, creating shadows that can make it harder to perform sight-sensitive tasks such as operating forklifts and reading labels or manifests. Occupancy sensors on LEDs also have the potential to save energy in this application as well, since warehouse aisles are often used infrequently. Cranes Durable LED fixtures rarely cost less than older-style metal halide and fluorescent fixtures. Overhead cranes are a common exception. Cranes often use proprietary fixtures that must be purchased directly from manufacturers, resulting in an artificial price hike. These light fixtures are attached to the bottom of overhead cranes to help employees see what they’re lifting. However, the constant vibration of the fixtures isn’t good for delicate glass bulbs, requiring frequent bulb changes. High-quality LED fixtures are more durable and shock-resistant, and their directional light output often results in better floor-level visibility beneath the crane. Many LED fixtures can be customized to fit any crane and cost less than proprietary metal halide or fluorescent fixtures. Any Facility with Metal Halides With rapid advancements in lighting technology, there is next to no reason to have metal halides in any type of facility. Metal halides are a type of high-intensity discharge lighting that work in much the same way as incandescent bulbs. An electric arc burns so hot that it creates light—as well as massive amounts of waste heat. Metal halide bulbs can reach temperatures of 300°F, compared to about 100°F for LEDs. Even with the relatively higher cost of LEDs, large facilities can see a return on investment within a few months to a couple years when replacing their metal halide fixtures. Generally speaking, LEDs use half the power of metal halides, or less, while delivering the same amount of lumens. Considering that 35 to 40% of any facility’s typical power cost goes to lighting, those savings add up quickly. Shop for Solutions, Not Fixtures LEDs are not a one-size-fits-all solution for industrial spaces. The ideal type of light, the number of fixtures needed and the location of each fixture varies by facility. Before installing fixtures, consult with a company that has lighting engineers on staff who are familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of each type of light, as well as government regulations and available rebates. Josh Kegley is a writer for Big Ass Solutions.
Published by Forester Media. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.businessenergy.net/article/GUEST+COMMENTARY%3A+Industrial+Phase+In%E2%80%94Thinking+about+installing+LEDs+in+phases%3F+Here%E2%80%99s+where+to+start.+/2322755/280658/article.html.