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5 Reasons Your Business Needs Energy Efficient Lighting

Updated lighting systems have many benefits for the building owner, the building users, and the electric utility. The main benefits include: reduced electricity demand, energy savings, and lower operating costs. However, there are also less quantifiable benefits, such as: improved lighting quality, productivity boosts, and a lower carbon footprint, which may be even more important.

Five Reasons Your Business Needs Lighting Retrofits:

1)    Energy Savings: The most obvious and immediate benefit to retrofitting an outdated lighting system is to reduce lighting costs and related expenses. By upgrading lighting components to more efficient and advanced technologies, LED lighting retrofits can cut down on energy consumption, and lower energy bills, while maintaining light levels and quality. Upgraded lighting tech can also offer employees greater control over the lighting of their workspace, which may provide additional energy savings, and increase employee satisfaction.

2)    Lighting Quality: Lighting retrofits can improve lighting quality by targeting areas with pre-existing problems and using specific design considerations to overcome common lighting issues. Using newer technologies can potentially add increased reliability to your lighting system, causing fewer short-term lighting-quality issues. In addition to added reliability, newer tech often provides better lighting characteristics, such as greater light output, improved color, reduced flicker, less glare, etc.

3)    Maintenance and Labor CostsMost energy-efficient lighting retrofits also curtail maintenance costs. Improvements in lighting technology has led to the increased lifetimes of lighting components, which result in fewer failures, and lengthens the time between required maintenance. Moreover, lighting retrofit programs typically involve significant equipment replacements—often, many lighting systems are being replaced after 10 years or more of neglect—and offer an opportunity to begin new maintenance procedures which can also help to reduce maintenance costs in the long term, while providing a sense of renewal in the building’s appearance, and sense of brightness.

4)    Cleaner Air: A considerable amount of electricity is produced in generation plants via the combustion process, adding literal tons of pollutants to the atmosphere, which contribute to global warming, acid rain, and other environmental problems. By consuming less electricity, facilities can help reduce the demand and harmful emissions, such as CO2 and SO2, associated with “off-site” power generation.

5)    Improved Productivity: Modern day workers spend more time on the job than their predecessors; if they’re not working productively, they aren’t benefiting their employer. It can be difficult to document and assign a monetary value to the relationship between an energy-efficient lighting system and worker productivity; however, there is little doubt that workers would be more productive if the glare was removed from computer screens, the electric light provided better color rending, or if flicker were eliminated.

Significance of Lighting Retrofits

Investing in a lighting retrofit system makes good economic sense for any commercial building, as an increasing number of businesses are under constant pressure to increase productivity and reduce costs. By replacing aged lighting components with advanced energy-efficient components, a building’s lighting energy costs can be reduced by as much as 60%, while maintaining, or even enhancing the quality of the visual environment.

In fact, according to the Electric Power Research Institute’s Lighting Retrofit Manual, “most lighting retrofits pay for themselves through energy savings in less than seven years; in some cases, simple payback can occur in under three years.”

Lighting represents approximately 30-35% of electricity consumption in the commercial sector, but highly-efficient lighting retrofits can cost-effectively save anywhere from 30-60% of this energy. When worker productivity and occupant satisfaction are factored into the economic analysis, lighting improvements have shown to produce immediate benefits.

When a Lighting Upgrade Makes Sense

Upgrading the lighting system for your building makes sense any time lighting energy can be saved cost-effectively. One (or more) of the following conditions typically results in LED lighting retrofits:

  • Excessive Illuminance: a majority of spaces in the building are overlit. Buildings that are over—or under—lit are consistent candidates for LED lighting retrofits. Most buildings constructed before the 1980s are likely to have excessive illuminance.

  • Inefficient Technology: Over the past two decades, lighting technology and equipment has remarkably improved in terms of efficiency, product life, and lighting quality. However, older inefficient equipment is still commonly used, and its replacement is a primary strategy behind lighting retrofits.

  • Poor Maintenance: Dust and dirt can accumulate on lamps or fixtures with poor or infrequent maintenance, which can interfere with light delivery and reduce efficiency. Poor maintenance can also result in the use of lamps that are beyond their rated lives. According to the IES, “old lamps use the same power as new ones but produce significantly less light.”

  • Long Hours of Operation: When a lighting system is operated almost continuously, any small improvement in lighting efficiency can save a considerable amount of energy. The long hours of lighting operation typical of hospitals, police stations, correctional facilities, etc. make most upgraded lighting systems easy to justify.

  • High Electricity/Demand Charges: It can be easy to justify an investment in efficient lighting when energy rates are high. While the cost of installing an energy efficient lighting system remains constant, the energy cost savings over time are much greater, making lighting retrofits that would otherwise be marginal, much more-likely to be cost-effective.

  • Suboptimal Lighting Conditions (Deferred Capital Re-Investment): Although not on the topic of energy savings via lighting, it’s also important to focus on the connection between retrofits, a high-quality visual environment, and the increased well-being and productivity of the occupants. As a building’s lighting systems are renovated, lighting energy use may stay constant or even fall, as the use of efficient lighting technologies increases. Incentives or other benefits of a new lighting system may minimize deferred capital gains.

Smart Lighting—The Next Big Thing?

The most forward-thinking businesses around the planet are already optimizing their operations and cutting costs through lighting upgrade technologies.

You’ve likely already heard of the IoT (Internet of Things) movement—a system of interrelated computer devices, machines, objects, animals, or people that have the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction—but beyond the consumer IoT is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). According to Navigant Research, the global market revenue for IIoT lighting is expected to swell to $4.5 billion in 2026, thanks to the widespread implementation of intelligent lighting products in industrial and commercial facilities around the globe.

Energy Performance lighting stays educated on lighting, because lighting is all we do. Our technicians stay up-to-date and informed on the latest energy efficient technology and smart lighting products on the market. The family at EPL is always happy to work with you and help you with any questions you may have.

With lighting upgrades, and now the ‘Smart Building’ movement, poised for exponential growth in the next few years, when will you consider getting your building’s lighting upgraded?

Flicker: A Hazard of LED Lighting

LEDs (or light emitting diodes) have taken over the conventional lighting marketplace and rightfully so. LED lighting is energy efficient, LEDs offer better light quality, LED bulbs are more durable and offer longer lifespans than other types of lighting, and LEDs have lower maintenance requirements. In the United States, the greatest potential for widespread energy savings is the use of LED lighting – with projected savings of more than $30 billion (at current electricity prices) by 2027. As with every emerging technology, however, there are disadvantages to using LED lighting.

LEDs and Flicker

Flicker is exactly what it sounds like – light output from a given source changing repetitively over time – similar to flicking the light switch on and off except the light output is fluctuating on its own and at a much quicker pace. There are two types of flickering with lights: visible flicker and invisible flicker.

Visible flicker (considered anything below a frequency of 100Hz) is observable by the human eye and is typically undesirable except in special applications such as stroboscopic lighting. Invisible flicker is flickering that is present but not perceived by the naked eye. If left uncontrolled, lighting flicker can cause an abundance of biological and health issues that can ruin an otherwise well-designed space. Neurological problems (including epileptic seizures), dizziness, headaches, fatigue, increased autistic behavior (especially in children), eyestrain, impaired thought, and migraines are some potential flicker-induced impairments.

What Causes Flicker?

For LED lighting to perform optimality, it should be run on direct current (DC), since there is a constant stream of current through the circuit. But because electricity in the U.S. is delivered through alternating current (AC), voltage delivered to a source fluctuates between on and off as it bounces off the positive and negative poles of the sine wave (unless the current is maintained in some way). A source without quality electronic circuitry – such as a ballast, driver, or capacitor — will flicker.

Another cause for flicker is with dimming and control circuitry that uses a method called PWM (pulse width modulation). PWM cycles the LED from the maximum current to zero current, essentially switching the current on and off very fast, and repeats this process at a fixed rate. Dimming is controlled by the driver, so choosing the proper driver is crucial to getting the desired lighting effect. Drivers that use PWM at a low enough frequency have a high potential to introduce undesirable flicker.

How to Reduce LED Flicker

The key to reducing flicker lies in a well-designed driver. The right driver can eliminate the problem of flicker by providing the LED with a constant, non-oscillating current. The issue here is that manufacturers must weigh several factors—such as size, efficiency, cost, and reliability—when deciding which driver to include in their products.

Capacitors are typically used in LED drivers to smooth and reduce the ripple that comes from the power supply. Selecting a quality capacitor for an LED lighting system can help to avoid flicker, eliminate excessive heat, and ensure the longevity of the LED lights. Even lamps with capacitors may flicker; it is a matter of the quality of the lamps and their components. Lower cost lights/lamps have lower quality capacitors.

It is also important to verify that the LED lighting product is compatible with the dimmers or other control circuits used in the lighting system. A faulty photosensor or timer can cause flicker issues. Moreover, random flickering may be an indication of another problem in the lighting system, such as loose wiring and interconnections. The quality of the electrical supply can also result in problems with power fluctuations.

Energy Performance Lighting Gets Lighting Right

Energy Performance Lighting focuses on lighting because lighting is all we do. We can update your current lighting system to a quality lighting that works for your space. Our technicians are informed and inspect all products to ensure we are installing proper performance lighting products. We are happy to work with you, and provide information on lighting, to protect the health of your business and employees. Give us a call at 1-608-661-5555 or send us a message to find out how a properly-installed energy-efficient lighting system can benefit your business.

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