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Zero maintenance LED lighting saves energy

01 October 2009

Switching to white LED lighting from conventional incandescent light bulbs, high intensity discharge or fluorescent lighting can bring big improvements in radically reduced maintenance and improved energy efficiency but LEDs deliver more practical and business benefits besides.

Nightime refinery shows LED lighting on the left compared to the orange glow of HPS lighting on the right
Nightime refinery shows LED lighting on the left compared to the orange glow of HPS lighting on the right

For many organisations lighting maintenance can be an expensive matter for several reasons. If you’ve got a warehouse or loading bay, maybe an aircraft hangar or vehicle garage or anything with a moving production line, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

First of all high ceilings and hard-to-access light fixtures mean that work can be disrupted while maintenance takes place, often involving external contractors. That means you most likely prefer to plan your maintenance schedule to avoid unexpected disruption, so you can’t afford to wait until the lights fail before replacing them.

Then there’s the lifespan issue. If you’ve got halogens, they’re going to last about 3,000 hours at most, some fluorescents will give you up to 15,000 hours and high pressure sodium up to 22,000 hours, but they’ll all fail at some point. For that reason a lot of organisations plan their replacement schedule based on half the expected life of the light fitting and of course the maintenance contractors are well pleased about that.

Solid state LED light fixtures can radically improve on these lifespan figures. Not only are they guaranteed for 50,000 hours, they’re actually more likely to last for 100,000 and even then they don’t fail, they just fade to about 70%. That means you can fit them and forget them for at least 5 years, so there’s zero maintenance cost and zero business disruption. Another benefit is the reduced exposure risk for maintenance workers associated with traditional lamp and ballast replacement.

On top of LEDs’ zero maintenance needs, organisations can also benefit from their lower energy needs. At Dialight our LED luminaires are warranted for 5 years and at 90W can replace a 150W HID light, saving 40% on energy. Being semiconductor-based they’re built for switching off and on, unlike HID and fluorescent lights, so you save even more power by avoiding the need for 24/7 lighting, being able to turn the LEDs off when there’s no one there. It makes them ideal for integrating with energy saving controls and also substantially extends their lifespan.

But that’s not all they deliver and many of these additional benefits become particularly significant if you’re operating in what can be classed as a hazardous environment. These include, for example, areas that handle fuel, utility plants, paint shops, dusty environments or processing plants.

We manufacture an LED luminaire called SafeSite specifically for such hazardous locations. As a solid state device with a very robust housing manufactured to UL Class I Division 2 standards, it’s virtually impervious to shock and vibration, making re-lamping costs a thing of the past in these demanding environments. Its lower voltage means it’s also safer to use in combustible atmospheres and produces less heat output for the air-conditioning to contend with. LEDs’ lower operating temperature even brings a further benefit for wet-wash environments where the impact of cold water would shatter a conventional light bulb.

Some low traffic areas like industrial cold stores can benefit greatly from LEDs’ ability to switch on and off. Cold stores are typically lit with fluorescent lighting, but the lights are left on 24/7 because their tube life is reduced with switching in temperatures of -25°C. Not only is our LEDPAK LED model more efficient in such low temperatures, it can be switched off or dimmed when there’s no one operating in the area, which is often 50-90% of the time, and brings a substantial energy saving.

As ‘smart’ lights LEDs have the further attraction of ‘instant-on’ ability, unlike HIDs which can take a while to warm up when switched on. This makes them very practical for use as safety lights in areas like walkways and car parks where they can be left off or dimmed and triggered to come on by proximity switches when someone enters.

As safety lights they also have the added benefit of superior colour rendition over sodium lights, which make everything look a muddy orange, so LEDs let you find your car easily at night in a crowded car park and produce better CCTV footage for security purposes. Their ability to focus the light rather than spraying it around like conventional light sources not only makes them more efficient, but it reduces light pollution into the sky or adjacent buildings.

When it’s finally time to replace them, LEDs are safe and easy to recycle, as they contain no mercury or other hazardous materials.

LEDs truly are a revolution in lighting technology. Compared to conventional lights, they’re like the iPod is to the gramophone.

The author
Roy Burton is CEO of LED lighting specialist Dialight

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