LED Lighting for Commercial Buildings
Lighting performance is of the utmost importance in today’s highly competitive commercial environment. There are many factors that play into this, however the most important factors are energy efficiency, reduced maintenance, improved safety and higher lighting accuracy. All of these factors are related to improving the profitability and sustainability of businesses in the long term, which is a huge focus of business decision makers today.
Throughout the history of illumination, there have been key milestones in technological improvements, namely the invention of HID and fluorescent type fixtures. However there has never been as large of a leap forward in lighting technology as there has been in recent years with the widespread introduction and implementation of high output LED lighting. These lights have taken the market by storm and are steadily replacing traditional lighting fixtures and bulbs. They are excellent choices for commercial lighting use which, outside of the consumer market, continues to be the largest application for LED lighting technology.
Commercial Applications Lighting Requirements
As mentioned previously, commercial environments are exceptionally competitive and every opportunity to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs is welcomed by business operators and owners. One of the biggest challenges for commercial lighting has to do with harsh environments and long duty cycles that tax lighting fixtures beyond what would normally be seen in consumer applications. Also, for commercial lighting to be as efficient as possible, it is critical that the configuration is properly planned out and designed in order to select the appropriate type, wattage, location and number of fixtures for a particular application.
Many commercial environments have both indoor and outdoor needs. Warehouses are a great example of this, with most featuring shipping docks or outdoor loading areas which then lead into large indoor storage facilities. Another common example would be retail locations that have parking areas which then ferry customers into the store’s indoor shopping spaces.
Because of this, many commercial locations will require multiple configuration designs in order to fulfill all of their lighting requirements. This can include a combination of lights mounted high up, mounted on walls and even mounted on poles in outdoor areas. The end goal is to ensure that areas are properly and safely lit with no dark spots, while still maintaining efficiency and keeping overall investment and operating costs to a minimum.
As discussed at the beginning of this article, LEDs have taken the lighting industry by storm. They offer significant advantages over traditional lighting in all the key areas, with initial cost being the only discernible drawback. However in the long run LEDs are far less expensive than their traditional counterparts and have considerable performance improvements that are unmatched. Especially in commercial buildings and facilities, the advantages of LED lighting make it the only logical choice for upgrades, retrofits and new installations.
One of the first and most well known benefits of LED lighting is the significant reduction in energy consumption compared to traditional lighting such as fluorescents and HIDs. In most cases, the average LED upgrade saves users over 70% in energy costs, which in and of itself can cover the expense of choosing LED technology over other options. This is especially true in large operations requiring many lighting fixtures such as malls, warehouses, parking areas and sports arenas.
Another benefit of LED lighting for commercial use is the sharp reduction in maintenance costs. Traditional lighting systems require regular maintenance and often need components replaced on a scheduled basis. LED lighting fixtures by comparison are virtually maintenance free for their rated service life – most are sealed units that do not require replacement parts. This saves commercial users thousands of dollars in both labor and material throughout the lifespan of the fixture, which in most cases is a minimum of 50,000 hours.
Finally, these LED fixtures produce a better quality of light that not only makes for a more pleasurable environment but also helps to improve safety. LED lights have a high Color Rendering Index rating (CRI), which essentially measures the lights accuracy in replicating color and natural sunlight. The higher the CRI rating, the more accurate the light and the easier it is for the human eye to see. This creates less strain on the eye and also makes visibility much easier, helping workers avoid accidents and prevent workplace injuries. This is especially important in commercial facilities dealing with heavy or dangerous products and equipment such as warehouses.
Popular Lighting Fixtures
Canopy Lights – These square shaped fixtures are designed to mount on the underside of ceilings, awnings, covered entrances, driveways, etc. They are weather sealed from dirt and moisture and carry an IP65 rating.
Corn Lamps – Designed to work with fixtures using E26 and E39 bases, these lights produce a tremendous amount of light in a small package. They feature a 360° light pattern for wide illumination over any area they are installed.
Flood Lights – One of the most versatile fixtures on the market, flood lights are commonly used in parking structures, outdoor lots, sports arenas, parks and more. These lights are designed to mount high up on poles, walls or other structures and provide wide illumination over a large area.
High Bay Lights – Commonly used in warehouses, shipping centers, large retail operations and any other facility with tall ceilings and high lighting requirements. These lights are circular in shape and come in a variety of different wattages and lumen outputs to suit the needs of different building sizes, shapes and lighting requirements.
Tube Ready Fixtures – Similar in appearance to traditional fluorescent T8 tube fixtures, these fixtures are intended for 4’ LED T8 tube lamps available separately. Popular for those seeking a no-nonsense, cost effective lighting solution.