LED lighting is the current darling of the lighting world, not least because of its’ green credentials: low energy use, long life and flexibility – you can do things with LED lighting that weren’t possible with the poor old incandescent bulb. But with all the hype, how do you choose the best lighting for your industrial or commercial space?
1. Find the Right Supplier
The whole LED lights marketplace is evolving rapidly with an exponential growth in suppliers. There’s quite a bit of confusion about the performance of LED lighting, and some quite outlandish claims. YouTube has many a video showing cheap imported LEDs to not only be inefficient, but in some cases downright dangerous. So, if you are planning an upgrade to LED lighting make sure you check out the quality of the LED lights supplier as well as validating the claims being made.
When doing the budget, also think about whether you really will leave the same lighting scheme in place for over ten years. This length of time is sometimes used to ‘earn out’ the expenditure needed for the more expensive LED lighting schemes and demonstrate the economic efficiency. Think about whether, in fact, you’ll want to swap them out sooner as ever more efficient and effective lighting solutions come onto the market. The whole area of lighting technology is improving in leaps and bounds, so do bear that in mind.
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2. Check your required lighting levels
LED lighting is still a fairly new innovation, so it’s important to make sure that it does actually give you what you’re looking for – i.e. the right level of illumination for the job in hand. In industrial spaces such as warehouses, this means checking that once the light is fitted (in a luminaire), that you really are getting the right level of glare-free light at ground level.
Check the figures related to light bulb output and make sure that light losses caused by the light fittings are taken into account. This is important because it’s highly likely that the published light output for the bulb will not be the same once the light bulb is encased in a luminaire.
It’s easy to be caught up in the energy-saving/lower costs hype – so do check that the light bulb you are getting is fit-for-purpose.
3. Get the right colour for the job
We all know that lighting can affect the way we see colours, and this is particularly important for warehouses, where staff are reading labels picking products for dispatch. The clarity of illumination and natural-looking colours are very important as is the warmth of the light. Studies show that the warmth or coolness of the light can affect staff productivity and morale so it really is important to choose the right light bulb.
Make sure you understand the colour ‘warmth’ measure – Kelvin (or K). The best level, and most popular is within the range of 3500-4000K which gives a warm-white comfortable ambience. LEDs come in a whole range, and it may be appropriate to use harsher, colder light in certain areas – but be sure to have thought about which areas get the most staff activity – and stay with warmer colours for those areas.
It’s also important to think about the light bulb’s CRI (Colour Rendering Index). This is a measure of how well the light ‘renders’ the colours in relation to natural daylight. This impacts the colour of your surroundings and cheaper LEDs can distort colours quite significantly. This can have a long-term impact on staff, so remember to make sure that the CRI (which is measured in units from 1-100) is at least 85 in areas where people will be working for long periods of time.
4. Don’t get bedazzled
LED lighting (much like the hype surrounding it) can be dazzling! LED lighting, by its’ very design, gives of a laser-like beam and this can cause high-intensity glare. In some situations this is what is needed, but in industrial and commercial spaces it needs to be very carefully managed as it can have serious health and safety implications.
In an area like a warehouse, glare reduction for people looking up (e.g. using a forklift truck to move goods stacked on high shelves) is essential. A quick glance into a high-intensity light can cause a driver to be dazzled and even in that split second, accidents can occur. So when planning your lighting design, make sure that enough attention has been paid to reducing the dazzle. There are lots of new high-bay lighting fittings on the market that are specifically designed to diffuse the intense glare of LEDs making good use of deflectors. Be sure to ask your lighting contractor about this, and if possible do a test of their proposed lighting scheme. It will be too late once the whole lighting scheme has been installed.
5. Consider all the energy-saving options
It’s not just about the light bulbs. Also make sure you look at controls as these can seriously increase energy savings.
Think about using LEDs that have control options e.g. using sensors to monitor when an area is unoccupied and dimming or switching off the lights in that area. There are also control solutions that can monitor the amount of naturally occurring daylight and adjust the artificial light accordingly. This will help save a great deal of energy, particularly in summer months.
There are also other types of lighting coming on to the market with much enhanced energy-saving. The new generation fluorescent lighting can often provide a better level of lighting with the same energy-saving potential as LEDs. As noted in point 1 above, the market in energy-efficient lighting is changing rapidly as new technology and products are developed.