Commercial Lighting Efficiency

- Jul 08, 2019-

When a business is looking to reduce costs in order to improve its bottom line, controlling overhead costs, including energy usage, will frequently result in genuine savings. Businesses cannot turn their lights off, however, which requires them to focus on making their lighting systems more efficient without sacrificing the quality of quantity of illumination in their locations.

Installing LED lights in new facilities or retrofitting LED’s into existing facilities can result in a rapid improvement in commercial lighting efficiency. In a warehouse, for example, a traditional 400 Watt metal halide light fixture can be replaced with a 120 Watt LED fixture that generates the same or better illumination with a 75% reduction in operating costs. Because LED lights do not generate as much radiant heat as traditional fixtures, LED’s will give an added indirect benefit of reducing trapped heat in those warehouses. Lower levels of trapped heat in some applications can reduce the load on commercial cooling systems by as much as 30%. LED’s will also last substantially longer than traditional fixtures, which reduces maintenance and repair costs and thus further improves overall lighting efficiency.

LED lighting control systems can add yet another efficiency benefit. Unlike traditional commercial lighting systems that require several minutes to come to full illumination, LED’s come to maximum illumination almost immediately after they are powered on. LED’s can be installed with motion sensing technology to turn on when people are present and to shut down at other times. LED’s can also be dimmed without loss of performance or operability, with dimmed lights drawing less energy. Photosensors can also measure all ambient light, including natural light, and tune the light output from LED systems to supplement natural light without creating excessive wasteful illumination. The versatility of LED control systems further allows a building operator to reconfigure lighting in all commercial areas from a single location or from remote locations.

Commercial lighting efficiency is best understood with reference to the vocabulary of commercial lighting. “Lumens” and “lumens per watt” are measurements of the total light that a fixture can generate with a specific energy input. “Lumen maintenance” refers to the ability of a light fixture to perform without degradation over a specific period of time. These measurements feed into “fixture efficiency”, which defines the amount of light that gets out of a fixture. A light with a fixture efficiency rating of 90 will generate twice as many lumens per the same wattage of input as a light that has a fixture efficiency rating of 45. Lighting engineers also refer to “foot candles” and “lighting power density” to indicate how much of a fixture’s illumination will fall into a defined area in a commercial facility.

Lastly, commercial LED lights provide an indirect efficiency benefit by improving employee productivity and well-being. LED’s can be tuned to optimize employees’ natural daytime rhythms and to avoid harsh lighting that reduces productivity. Health experts are also gaining a better understanding of how light can affect an individual’s physical and mental health. LED light systems are perceived to be the best option to reduce and eliminate adverse health effects associated with artificial commercial lighting. Healthier and more productive employees translate into less down time for a commercial operation.