Five LED Lighting Myths Debunked
In an effort to run greener and leaner, many companies have considered making the switch to LED lighting in their industrial and hazardous facilities. In fact, interest in and adoption rate of LED for both new construction and retrofit has been growing rapidly in many applications, including light industrial, such as warehousing, packaging, shipping, and logistics centers, manufacturing facilities, and factories.
Some recognize LED lighting as a fast and easy change that can deliver a near-instant boost in both sustainability and profitability. But for others, lighting is rarely given a second thought —until it fails. Then, the nuisance and cost burden of changing bulbs are the primary concerns. When presented with LED as a lighting alternative, many facility managers are quick to acknowledge the potential savings, but balk at the cost. While there’s no denying that LED fixtures carry a higher up-front price tag, LED technology delivers an undeniable positive return on investment.
Here are the top five most common myths and misconceptions about LED lighting, along with straight answers to help you decide if LED is right for your facility.
- LEDs are too expensive. The up-front cost of an LED upgrade will likely be about twice that of conventional fixtures, but LEDs offer a lower total cost of ownership. Companies that make the switch often see a payback on their investment in just one year. Additionally, LEDs can virtually eliminate the cost of lighting maintenance for up to 10 years – including bulb, ballast, fixture, and labor costs – allowing companies to eliminate outside contractors that maintain lighting, or free up internal skilled workers to focus on projects that drive efficiency and production.
Also, LED fixtures consume up to 70 percent less wattage than conventional fixtures, allowing some companies to cut their energy bill by tens of thousands of dollars per year. And because LEDs produce less heat than conventional fixtures, they can also help reduce the load on AC and refrigeration systems. The reduction in energy usage has prompted many utility providers in the United States to offer rebates to companies that switch to LED.
- LEDs function basically the same way as conventional lighting. Not only is the technology inside an LED fixture completely different from a conventional bulb, but the way in which you decide what fixture is best is also dramatically different. With conventional lighting, wattage and lumen output drive the decision. But with LEDs, it’s critical to first determine how much light is required at the work plane and choose fixtures appropriately. Because LEDs deliver light much more efficiently, in some cases fewer LEDs can be used to light the same area.
To get the best bang for your buck, work with an LED supplier that can first help you determine the light required and then propose solutions based on those specific requirements. Examine the LM-79 reports and IES files that credible manufacturers should provide for each fixture, which outline the light efficacy, wattage performance, angle of light delivery, lighting “footprint,” and zonal lumens of each specific fixture model to help you make the right choice.
- LEDs aren’t bright enough for my application. Most of us are familiar with evaluating light based on the wattage of the bulb, so it can be difficult to retrain ourselves to think more in terms of lumen output and lighting efficacy. Many facility managers think they need a 1,000-watt bulb to get the light levels they desire. That’s not the case with LEDs. LEDs deliver foot-candles more effectively, and do not degrade over time. With conventional lighting, the lumen output drops off, sometimes very quickly. To compensate, facilities often over-light with high-wattage bulbs. LEDs, on the other hand, lose very little lumen output over the course of a 10-year life span, which means you get brighter, more efficient light over a longer time.
- The environmental benefit of LEDs doesn’t justify the cost. The majority of companies and facilities don’t make decisions based purely on sustainability, despite any desire to reduce their environmental impact. A strong sustainability program still has to make smart financial sense. Not only do the energy and maintenance savings make for a substantial positive return on investment, but the reduction in CO2 emissions from lower electricity consumption is a major environmental advantage. Some companies reduce greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of tons per year. LEDs are also highly compatible with alternative energy sources, including solar and wind power.
Also, unlike standard bulbs, LEDs contain no hazardous materials, so there are zero disposal costs and no risks to humans—added peace of mind that makes the cost savings even more satisfying.
- There’s not much I can do to enhance the performance of LEDs. With their 10-year warranties and durability in harsh conditions, LED fixtures are mostly a “set it and forget it” lighting solution. However, their performance can be enhanced with a variety of control and monitoring tools to optimize usage, minimize energy consumption, and further reduce operating costs. For example, because LEDs have instant-on capability, LEDs can be paired with timers and occupancy sensors that turn the lights on only when needed, whereas standard fixtures are often left on all the time just to avoid the warm-up.
In addition, LEDs can be networked via remote monitoring technologies, allowing for centralized monitoring and management of fixtures at virtually any location via a web-based interface. A single lighting maintenance manager could instantly see the remaining life span, adjust automatic timing and motion sensors, or plan any required maintenance without leaving his or her desk.
It’s No Mystery
LED lighting makes smart financial and environmental sense for industrial applications. For any size company, facility or entrepreneur looking to make every penny count, LED lighting is one way to reduce total operating costs and optimize sustainability. With the growing range of add-on technologies like smart controls and monitoring, and the broad variety of applications and fixtures—for outdoor, indoor, hazardous sites and more—the benefits of LED lighting are no longer a myth.