How to Effectively Manage the Ban on Incandescent Bulbs

How to Effectively Manage the Ban on Incandescent Bulbs

In 2007, a bipartisan effort was made to pass new lighting rules aimed at improving energy efficiency across the board. Named the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), the regulations were set to go into effect by 2020 but were tabled by the administration of that time.

The current administration announced in April 2022 that the rules were back in force, scheduled to go in effect on August 1, 2023.

The new efficiency standards essentially ban incandescent bulbs from manufacture or sale, meaning the incandescent lightbulb’s century-long reign as lighting king is coming to an end.

Here, we’ll address what the new rules include and how consumers can seamlessly make the switch from incandescent lighting technology.

What is Banned Under the New Lighting Efficiency Rules?

The new regulations establish two new rules. One is an updated definition of general service lamps – a catch-all term for lights with a screw-in base and those that operate with certain voltages. This includes almost all residential lights and many commercial lamps. The other rule establishes efficiency standards for lighting products. Specifically, new bulbs must output a minimum of 45 lumens per watt.

Incandescent lights only produce about 15 lumens per watt, on average. That means incandescent bulbs can no longer be produced or sold. Consumers are not required to throw their incandescent bulbs out and may continue to use them as long as they work.

Using the updated rule for general service lamps, the following lamps are not included in the ban:

  • Colored lamps (Christmas lights)
  • Infrared lamps
  • Plant and grow lights
  • Flood lights
  • Reflector lights
  • Black lights
  • Bug lamps
  • Appliance lights
  • Traffic signals

There are a few more exceptions for exotic fixtures, but for homeowners and facility managers, the important point is that most residential and commercial incandescent bulbs are now off the market.

Why are Incandescent Lightbulbs Now Banned?

The Department of Energy (DOE) is spearheading the regulatory rollout, and its justification for the ban is two-fold:

  • Reducing consumer utility costs – The DOE estimates that the switch from incandescent lighting to energy efficient lighting (LED bulbs) will cut consumer utility bills to a massive degree. The department’s estimate is approximately $3 billion every year – savings that home and business owners can both capture.
  • Reducing carbon emissions – The second reason is environmental. By transitioning to energy efficient lighting, the DOE expects to remove close to 222 million metric tons of carbon from the air over the next 30 years.

Will Future Regulations Ban Other Types of Lighting?

Resurrecting EISA is likely just the first step in a march toward tighter lighting efficiency standards. In fact, there’s a tougher efficiency standard set to take effect at the end of 2024. This standard will raise the lumen-to-watt ratio required from 45 to 120. In other words, any lights manufactured following 2024 will need to be almost three times as energy efficient, at the minimum.

That means CFL bulbs will be phased out starting then. If your building runs on CFLs, it’s time to start planning a transition. Other fluorescent fixtures – T12 tubes, for example – are also being phased out by the DOE, so any fluorescent-heavy system will need an alternative fairly soon.

LED Lightbulbs Are the Energy Efficient Alternative to Incandescent Bulbs

Whether replacing incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, LEDs are the frontline replacement in most applications. In fact, LED lighting solutions are found in more commercial buildings than any other lighting technology – a trend that continues to grow.

Here is why LEDs represent the future of residential and commercial lighting:

  • Compatibility with toughening efficiency standards – LED lights are the most energy efficient on the market, which means they are the most compatible with emerging efficiency regulations. Some current-generation LED lights can output 120 lumens or more per watt, and these ultra-high-efficiency bulbs are not just compatible with EISA, they are efficient enough for the next round of standards coming in 2024. In short, LEDs are as future proof as lighting gets these days.
  • Unmatched operating costs – LED’s superior energy efficiency can be a source of huge cost savings. Compared to incandescent lights, LEDs require about 20 percent of the energy to produce the same amount of illumination.

    Further, LEDs last much longer than all other lighting options. An incandescent bulb, for example, provides about 1,000 hours of light before it needs to be replaced. A fluorescent lamp performs for about 20,000 hours before it reaches the end of its useful life.

    An LED bulb will last for 50,000 hours or more before failure is a concern. That means fewer replacements, reduced replacement costs, and lower maintenance overhead. Combine this with better energy efficiency and LEDs are the cost-effective choice.

  • High-quality, high-performance lighting – The concern with early LEDs was that they could not match incandescent, halogen or metal halides in terms of brightness and lighting quality. That was then, this is now, and LEDs now offer comparable – or superior – illumination quality compared to other options.

    LEDs are available in a range of color temperatures, including incandescent-like warm hues. They are also available in high lumen builds perfect for commercial or exterior applications. And LED light is characterized by its even metering and excellent color rendering.

    Its flawless lighting quality means LEDs can be trusted in any application, including industrial or exterior applications where long-distance visibility and safety are paramount.

  • Better versatility – LEDs have been adapted for almost every lighting application out there, and this is only the beginning for the technology. Right now, engineers are working on never-seen-before fixture options that only LEDs can be used with. For example, there’s a near future where LED lights are integrated into clothing and household surfaces, which gives designers a whole new repertoire of lighting tools.
  • Lower environmental impact – LEDs possess a lower environmental footprint compared to older lighting technologies. Their energy efficiency is the primary reason why, but it’s not the only reason. LED fixtures are safe and nontoxic enough that they can be disposed of in a general waste stream, without fear of environmental contamination. That is not the case with fluorescents, for instance, which contain enough mercury to pose a health hazard to people and other living things.

Even if incandescent and fluorescent bulbs were not being targeted by regulators, there would still be several compelling reasons to adopt LED lighting. Now that older lighting technologies are being phased out, though, there’s additional pressure for late adopters to make the switch.

Stay Ahead of the Regulatory Curve with LED Lights

The reinstatement of EISA and the incoming 2024 efficiency standards make one thing clear – lighting standards are only going to get tougher. In response to this, many businesses have already integrated LED lighting into their facilities. For those lagging behind, time is running out.

Fortunately, switching to LED lighting is easier than it used to be, as LED retrofit solutions are widely available and can be used in nearly any application.

If your facilities are in need of an LED upgrade, but your organization cannot invest in a from-scratch lighting solution, LED retrofits are a cost-effective alternative that offer all the benefits of LED – including compliance with efficiency standards – at a budget-friendly entry point. A trusted lighting expert can walk their clients through the retrofit process, survey the facility’s existing lighting infrastructure, and recommend the most effective options.

Effective Applications for LED Lighting

Effective Applications for LED Lighting

Efficient Applications of LED Lighting

The age of LED lighting is upon us, with LED lights found in just about every application possible – from residential settings to sprawling industrial complexes. In just a couple of decades, LED lighting manufacturers have adapted the technology for a multitude of roles, to the point where there is an LED for nearly all lighting applications.

Let’s look at some of those applications and how LEDs are improving lighting technology in an array of commercial and industrial settings.

1) LED Lighting in Office Buildings Boosts Productivity

Office buildings have long been illuminated by fluorescent fixtures, but the age of fluorescent tubes is coming to an end. Already, T12 fluorescent tubes have been phased out, and T8 and T5 tubes are right behind them with the increased focus on phasing out lights that aren’t energy efficient, and those with hazardous contents (such as mercury).

LED tubes are a ready replacement, and many of them retrofittable and compatible with existing lighting systems.

In office applications, LED lighting solutions offer superior energy efficiency and lighting quality, compared to fluorescent bulbs. In this context, “quality” refers to LED’s even, no-flicker emission range and its natural sunlight-like emission spectrum.

Although difficult to see with the naked eye, every bulb emits light in a specific set of color bands, or wavelengths. Some lights, like fluorescents, emit most of their illumination in a few tight color bands – green and yellow among them. That’s why objects under a fluorescent light tend to take on a greenish cast.

LEDs emit in a spectrum much more similar to natural sunlight, with a smooth output gradient from warm to cool. People adjust better to this type of illumination, and early research shows that it can boost productivity among office workers. The improved productivity effect can add up quickly in offices filled with employees.

2) LEDs Provide Better Visibility for Parking Lots and Street Lights

The days of flickering, dim, low CRI streetlights are coming to an end. High pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide lamps have dominated outdoor lighting applications for decades – mostly in the form of streetlights and parking lot lighting.

However, LEDs have proven to be a viable option in replacing or retrofitting these nearly obsolete lighting forms. In 2016, 30 percent of all outdoor fixtures were estimated to house LED lamps, and with time, more cities and municipalities are realizing the benefits of switching to LED lighting.

LEDs are now the standard for outdoor applications for many reasons, but excellent color rendering and minimal light pollution are two stand out advantages.

Previous outdoor lighting technologies – HPS in particular – have been characterized by poor color rendering. They do not accurately represent color, in other words. LEDs, however, are available in high-CRI designs that ensure color vividness at night. This can help people see further and with greater precision at night, improving safety.

Current generation LED fixtures are also available with baffles or shielding to minimize lighting pollution. A growing concern for many cities is light pollution, which disrupts our circadian rhythms, interferes with wildlife behavior, and disrupts the darkness of the night sky. LED streetlights and parking lot lights can be built with shields to minimize uplighting and glare – an approach made possible by LED’s directionality. Since LED lights can be aimed (they do not emit omnidirectionally), they are unmatched in precision. That’s good for humans and good for the environment.

3) Warehouse and Industrial LED Lighting Improves Safety and Efficiency

LED fixtures have also been adapted for warehouses, large industrial facilities, and expansive commercial spaces like department and big box stores. Bay lights are usually the choice here, and LED lighting products now include high and low bay options.

LED bay lights are available in linear and UFO (circular) models, so they can support any facility layout. They are also compatible with smart lighting controls that can dim or power lights on/off depending on various conditions (time, occupancy, environmental light, etc.). That can be a major power and money saver for facility owners. Those cost savings add up quickly in commercial or industrial settings where hundreds of fixtures may be required.

Warehouse and industrial workers also enjoy the productivity and safety-enhancing benefits of better lighting.

4) Sports Arena LED Lighting is Reliable and Low Maintenance

An early disadvantage for LED lighting technology was output strength. The first generation of LEDs lagged behind several competing technologies in raw output and brightness, but this is no longer the case. Some LED sportslighters can throw more than 100,000 lumens while using 60 percent less energy than HID lights.

That, combined with LED’s excellent color rendering (essential for tracking a small, fast-moving object), near-zero maintenance and extended lifespan, has LED technology positioned to take over sports arena applications. More than half of MLB stadiums have LED lights in place already, along with several NFL stadiums and a smattering of collegiate arenas. Like with other LED lighting applications, adoption rates are growing here, too, so expect to see the technology in everything from neighborhood tennis courts to 100,000 seat stadiums as time goes on.

5) Landscape LED Lighting Offers Improved Safety and Aesthetic Appeal

LEDs are also in widespread use on residential properties – both inside and out. This is due, in part, to their versatility. LED lamps can be incorporated into a variety of landscape fixture designs, including spots, floods, bollards, washes, step lights and garden lights.

Safety is a driving reason behind LED’s growing popularity in landscape applications. They are available in low voltage designs, emit extremely low amounts of heat, and do not contain significant amounts of toxic materials (as long as they are purchased from a reputable manufacturer). As such, LED lights are a safe option for use around people, pets, plants and animals.

Work with a Lighting Expert to Maximize LED Lighting Applications

LEDs have been around for about 60 years, but as a form of residential, commercial and industrial lighting – they are much younger. LEDs that could outcompete existing technologies have only been available for a couple of decades. In more recent years, the engineering and manufacturing behind LED lighting has taken off.

It’s likely that LED lighting has reached critical mass and that there is no going back to older technology. In fact, the range of LED lighting applications will continue to expand in the near future. Those applications may include smart streetlight networks, massive video walls that can be shaped and curved, and even LEDs that can be integrated into clothing.

LEDs are already the first choice in most lighting applications, and the technology behind them is set to redefine what we think of lighting in the coming years.

How to Light a Neighborhood Pickleball Court

How to Light a Neighborhood Pickleball Court

Lighting Up Your Neighborhood Pickleball Court: A Tutorial

Pickleball is the country’s fastest growing sport, and more people are wanting to learn to play every day. As such, pickleball courts are being added to more neighborhood parks, recreation centers and municipalities.

Pickleball is regularly compared to tennis, as the two sports share many similarities. One is the playing area, which consists of a hard court and net, both fenced in to contain the action. However, pickleball courts are smaller, and the action tends to be slower than a tennis match, so these courts require a unique approach to lighting. Sports lighting experts can model a new system (using photometric analysis) and ensure lighting levels are adequate for safe play, regardless of the time of day.

But when setting up a neighborhood pickleball court, there’s an important consideration – how the lights impact people living nearby.

Homeowner’s associations (HOAs) and municipal parks departments are facing a wave of pickleball projects and related lighting concerns. Specifically, how can neighborhood parks feature America’s hottest sport without frustrating people with excessive court lighting?

The answer is an LED lighting system, built with lighting fixtures designed to be minimally disruptive to communities and wildlife.

Recommended Pickleball Court Lighting Standards

Pickleball courts look like a shrunk-down tennis court or an oversized ping pong table, depending on your perspective. The court itself measures 44 feet long and 20 feet wide, though the fenced-in perimeter is considerably larger, at 61 feet long and 34 feet wide. Because they are smaller than tennis courts, it’s easier to fit more pickleball playing areas in any given space.

For lighting professionals, the best approach to illuminating one or more pickleball courts is with a set of pole-mounted LED fixtures. For recreational play, the minimum level of light for safe play is 30 footcandles at ground level – that’s 30 lumens (a measure of lighting output) per square foot. Higher lighting levels are required for higher levels of play, where the ball (and players) tend to move faster. However, for neighborhood parks, the 30 footcandle standard is sufficient.

Another lighting consideration is uniformity. If some parts of the court are too bright or too dark, it will pose unsafe playing conditions, as the player’s eyesight will not be able to adjust quickly enough to react. This is measured using lighting uniformity ratio, which takes the brightest level of light and divides it by the dimmest. An ideal uniformity ratio for pickleball is 2.0 or better – meaning the brightest area on the court cannot be more than twice as bright as the dimmest. This is a tight ratio for sports courts and reinforces the notion that pickleball lighting systems require professional precision.

What an LED Pickleball Lighting Solution Includes

While those are the official pickleball lighting standards, any local lighting requirements will obviously supersede them. In some areas, these ordinances are stringent, demanding near-zero lighting pollution, glare and light trespass. There may be additional requirements for when the lights are allowed to operate, and how efficient the system must be. There may be standards for pole height and wind safety as well. In short, there are many factors to consider, so pickleball court lighting is often designed on a case-by-case basis.

In most cases, though, LED lights offer an unbeatable combination of lighting quality and minimal disruption.

An LED pickleball court lighting system consists of several lighting poles and mounted LED fixtures. Each fixture houses an LED luminaire, and each luminaire houses numerous diodes emitting illumination in tandem.

The number of lighting poles and their height depends on the project, though a widely accepted standard is 20-foot poles. For most installation projects, more than one pickleball court will be placed. In many cases, there are a dozen or more courts in a single park – so lighting poles can be arranged between courts and used to illuminate more than one court. In general, expect to see two or four poles for a single court, and the number will scale up from there for more courts.

How LED Lighting Technology Ensures Compliance with Local Ordinances

As a modern lighting technology, LED fixtures can be readily adapted to meet toughening lighting ordinances. This typically includes restrictions on the amount of light trespass (the amount of light allowed to emit from the property), but there are several standards to account for, including dark sky, pole height, wind rating, and efficiency standards. Here is how current-generation LED fixtures are designed to exceed those standards:

  • Lighting trespass and pollution restrictions – LED lights are directional by their engineering, meaning their output can be precisely aimed without the use of reflectors or other special optical features. This directionality means LED fixtures can be installed so that their output is shaped to fit the pickleball court.

    LED lights are available in several output distribution patterns, including options that direct almost all the illumination forward and prevent significant backlight and trespass.

    Fixtures can also be fitted with a baffle attached to the back of the luminaire, which blocks out any backlight and ensures the illumination only goes where it is intended.

    Finally, putting together a photometric analysis prior to construction will show, down to the lumen, where the system’s output is going. Lighting experts can make numerous fine adjustments to their analysis to achieve excellent court visibility while minimizing lighting pollution.

  • Dark sky (uplighting) restrictions – Related to the previous point, many municipalities are introducing dark sky restrictions. These restrictions are aimed at promoting a clearer night sky, reducing the negative impact of lighting on human sleep/wake cycles, and reducing the impact on area wildlife.

    In general, these restrictions are designed to cut down on uplighting, which is illumination that is cast into the sky instead of on the ground. Uplighting has no benefit to people and is therefore a nuisance.

    But LED fixtures, again because of their directionality, can be configured to emit near-zero uplight. This is typically done by shielding the fixture, which “funnels” output into a tight cone of desired lighting angles. Any light that is aimed upward or at angles that could cause glare are shielded out.

  • Pole height standards – Some HOAs and municipalities also place limits on the height of light poles. Ideally, pickleball court fixtures are mounted to poles at least 20 feet high, but in areas where this is prohibited, an experienced lighting expert can make the project work with 15-foot poles. LED lighting and its highly customizable distribution patterns make this possible.

    If pole height restrictions are present, it’s critical to put together a photometric analysis beforehand. This will ensure adequate lighting levels are possible and ensure the HOA or city knows what the system will look like prior to installation.

  • Wind rating standards – In some areas – particularly those along the coast – wind can be a threat to lighting fixtures and poles. As such, it is common to see wind ratings incorporated into lighting standards. These ratings describe the maximum wind speeds the fixture is capable of withstanding before the risk of failure becomes too great.

    LED technology also helps with compliance in this regard. LED fixtures are lighter and more compact than older lighting options. They also do not require bulky reflectors (that’s LED’s directionality again), which add more weight and surface area to the light. It is therefore easier for lighting installers to adhere to critical wind ratings when using LED lights.

LED lighting technology is also the most energy efficient available, requires minimal (if any) maintenance, is rated for more than 50,000 hours of excellent performance, and can be used with an array of modern lighting controls. Add it all up and LED lighting solutions are not only compliance-friendly, but they are also the most cost effective for HOAs and municipalities to operate on an ongoing basis.

LED Solutions Keep the Light on the Pickleball Court

As pickleball continues to grow in popularity, more HOAs, parks departments and community centers are preparing to install courts for a growing body of players.

And luckily for pickleball players, and the decision makers responsible for approving court construction, LED lighting has evolved to the point where it is a perfect fit for neighborhood parks and sport courts. LED lighting’s unmatched precision, compatibility with shields and baffles, lightweight build, excellent efficiency and excellent durability makes LED pickleball lighting the ideal option.

Debunking Four LED Lighting Myths

Debunking Four LED Lighting Myths

Disproving Four Common Myths About LED Lighting

LED technology is taking over the lighting industry, and for good reason. LED bulbs offer excellent energy savings, an extended lifespan, instant startup, and many other benefits. But even as LED lighting makes progress, myths about the technology are still widespread.

Let’s address four of the most stubborn myths surrounding LED bulbs and shed some light on the truth of the technology.

Myth #1: LED Lighting is Too Expensive

This is perhaps the most persistent myth regarding LED lighting, causing many companies to avoid installing LED lights for fear of their perceived cost.

LED lights cost more than older types of light bulbs, but this fact only speaks to the upfront cost. There is also ongoing operating costs that need to be considered. This includes:

  • The cost of energy consumption
  • The cost of lamp replacement
  • The cost of lost productivity (due to poor lighting quality)

LED lamps have the advantage in all three areas over all other forms of lighting. LED fixtures are the most energy efficient available, with significant advantages over fluorescent tubes, metal halides, halogen, and other technologies. Part of this advantage is derived from the lamp itself, which uses a sophisticated semiconductor chip instead of filaments or pressurized gas. An additional advantage is due to LED’s directional nature. LED bulbs cast illumination directionally instead of omnidirectionally (like fluorescents and metal halides) – meaning they can be aimed with precision. As a result, less power is needed to get enough light to the target.

As for maintenance and lamp replacement – a high quality LED bulb will last for at least 50,000 hours, which adds up to about 12 years of 12-hours-a-day illumination before replacement is needed. Compare this to fluorescent tubes (about 20,000 hours) and metal halides (10,000 hours at most), and the replacement cost advantage is rather clear.

Modern LEDs also produce high quality illumination that can facilitate greater productivity. Their brilliant output is similar to sunlight in emission range, so it’s the next best thing to natural sunlight. For many workers, this is a welcome change from the green pallor (and headaches) that fluorescent tubes are known for. Research shows that retrofitting LED lighting comes with a modest per-worker productivity boost. For large facilities that rely on hundreds or thousands of workers, this added productivity can offset overhead costs.

Add it all up and LED’s operational cost advantage means a return on investment in as short as a couple of years.

Myth #2: LED Lights Are Not as Bright as Older Lighting Technologies

LED lights were not immediately embraced by the industry as first-generation LEDs could not compete in lighting output or quality.

That is to be expected with any new technology, but LED lighting has definitely made up the gap. High quality LEDs now generate more lumens per watt than all other lighting options. That means more light per unit of energy spent.

LED fixtures and lamps can also be scaled up to any degree, including massive stadium sportslighters that can throw 50,000 or more lumens. And again, because LEDs are directional, more of that light reaches its intended target.

LED lights are also available in neutral and cooler color temperatures that are usually perceived as brighter, compared to warmer lamps. With these facts in mind, it is no surprise that LEDs are also replacing older street lighting technologies, like high pressure sodium lamps, as they support better night-time visibility.

Myth #3: LED Lighting Produces Zero Heat

Another benefit of LED’s energy efficiency is its low heat output. Since the technology wastes very little energy on thermal waste, it outputs a fraction of the heat that other lights put out. As such, LED lights tend to be a safer option and less burdensome on a facility’s HVAC systems.

However, no lighting system can be 100 percent efficient, and the same is true of LED lighting technology. A tiny amount of heat is generated as part of the lighting process, and this heat needs to be controlled to preserve the lamp’s reliability. Poor internal heat regulation will lead to early LED failure.

That is why LED lighting manufacturers include heat sinks with every lamp. Onboard heat sinks are responsible for capturing and dispersing thermal energy, ensuring it does notcollect around the light and affect its performance. So, while LEDs are not exactly heat-free, they do manage thermal waste in a much more efficient and controlled way.

Myth #4: LED Lights Emit Unsafe Levels of Blue Light

Blue light may be an emerging health concern among medical researchers, as this energizing light can disrupt circadian rhythms and therefore affect sleep quality. LEDs have been blamed for outputting blue light, perhaps owing to LED’s reputation as a cooler light.

However, multiple lighting agencies have reported that the blue light emitted by LEDs is no more concerning than the blue light emitted by other lighting products. When controlling for color temperature (cooler lights do emit more blue illumination than warm lights), the amount of blue light emitted by LED lighting is no different than other sources.

Fact: LEDs Are the Present and Future of Lighting Technology

The truth is that LED lighting is quickly replacing older lights in a wide array of applications. In 2018, almost half of all commercial buildings were utilizing LED lighting to some degree. That number is significantly higher now.

No technology is perfect, of course, but LED lighting is in the best position, among all lighting options, to get as close to perfect as possible. Since its introduction decades ago, LED lights have improved in quality and reliability, while dropping in costs. Since LED lighting is a relatively new technology compared to other lighting options there is still plenty of room to improve LED engineering and optimize lighting products further. Contact your lighting expert today to start your journey into creating a brighter future.

Why LEDs are Poised to Light the Future

Why LEDs are Poised to Light the Future

The LED lighting revolution is well underway, yet in many ways it is really just getting started. It’s been more than half a century since LED lights were invented, but even the geniuses behind the engineering could not have guessed that the future belonged to LED technology.

Today, LEDs are rapidly replacing all other bulbs in every application imaginable, but replacing older lights is only the beginning. LED fixtures are poised to rework how we think about lighting, from an efficiency, appearance, and even health standpoint.

How LEDs Helped Phase Out Incandescent and Fluorescent Lighting

For more than a century, Edison’s most impactful invention – the incandescent bulb – has provided the world with warm illumination, and fluorescents have provided larger commercial spaces with reliable (albeit unattractive) illumination.

But time is up for these outdated lighting options, which pale in comparison to LEDs in several ways. Here is some insight on how LED technology made its way to becoming a frontline lighting option:

  • LEDs have an unbeatable efficiency advantage – The topline benefit for LED lighting has always been its energy efficiency. Early on, it was clear that LED lamps could improve facility efficiency, but this advantage has become more pronounced with time. Today’s LED lighting products can achieve luminous effectiveness ratings of 170 lumens per watt, and manufacturers believe LEDs with 200 watt-to-lumen ratios will be available soon.In fact, some experts believe that LED lights could eventually achieve luminous effectiveness ratings in excess of 400 lumens per watt, but it’s not clear just yet on whether there will be a market for those.

    The point is, LED bulbs are so efficient because of their underlying engineering, which uses semiconductor technology to transform electricity to illumination at the atomic level. While other lighting technologies rely on metal filaments or pressurized gasses to emit light, LED fixtures represent the power of modern engineering.

    For property owners, this overwhelming efficiency advantage promises a rapid return on investment and compliance with toughening efficiency regulations.

  • LEDs minimize operating costs for facility owners – LED’s other primary cost-saving mechanism is its minimal maintenance design. The typical LED light lasts for 50,000 hours before it’s time to consider replacement. With improving energy efficiency metrics, LED fixtures are improving in lifespan as well. It’s not difficult to see a future where LED lights regularly provide 100,000 hours or more of reliable illumination. And during their lifespan, LED bulbs need almost no attention from maintenance crews, providing the ultimate install-and-forget lighting option.With fewer replacements and less maintenance to budget for, facility owners can recoup their investment faster.
  • LEDs can be adapted for a much larger range of applications – An impressive, but often overlooked advantage of diode engineering is its scalability. LEDs can be manufactured in a huge array of form factors, including microscopic diodes that can be integrated into clothing.LEDs are unlocking designer and installer creativity in ways that would have been unexpected just five years ago. They can already be integrated into a range of surfaces and materials, with no visible bulb, fixture, or wiring interfering with the final look.

    For businesses, LED’s versatility means an expanded range of applications that can reduce costs and boost visual impact.

  • LEDs offer precision controllability – LEDs are far more compatible with modern lighting controls than older technologies. The implications here are vast, but for facility managers, the immediate result is better energy efficiency, security, and productivity.Dimmers, timers, photocells, and occupancy controls can all be easily attached to LED fixtures, and this is only the start, as we’ll address in a bit.

Why LED Lighting is Taking Over Commercial Spaces

No matter the application, LEDs provide better efficiency, versatility, and controllability. Commercial properties obviously benefit from these factors, but there are additional reasons why LED lighting is taking over commercial spaces.

Survey data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) drives this point home. In 2012, only 9 percent of commercial buildings were fitted with LED lighting equipment. In 2018, that number had jumped to 44 percent, with only fluorescent lighting still ahead of LEDs (though fluorescent lighting did drop in popularity during the same timespan from 84 percent to 68 percent).

When the EIA’s newest survey data is available within a couple of years, it will likely show what lighting experts already know – that LED lighting is now the undisputed lighting leader.

In addition to LED’s impressive efficiency, reliability, and performance, there are a few reasons why LED lighting technology is dominating commercial settings. They include:

  • Government incentives and regulations – Energy efficiency means businesses pay less for their lighting. It wasn’t too long ago that companies were dedicating up to 40 percent of their utility costs to lighting. This number is quickly trending down and it’s likely that lighting costs will represent less than 10 percent of a commercial building’s utility expenditures year-over-year.That energy efficiency is also relevant for regulatory reasons. Incandescent bulbs are already becoming difficult to find among lighting suppliers, and most T12 fluorescent tubes are following suit. The reasoning behind these regulatory waves is to improve overall lighting efficiency among commercial facilities, and it’s a pattern that companies should anticipate going forward.
  • Access to less expensive LED retrofit products – The upfront cost of a new LED lighting solution has been a hurdle in the past, but numerous retrofit options are now available to commercial facilities. These retrofit LEDs are available in a comprehensive range of fixture designs (tubes, panels, etc.) and can be used with existing lighting infrastructure. With retrofit fixture options available, companies can enter the LED lighting market without committing as much upfront.
  • A boost to worker productivity and safety – LED lighting emits in a full spectral range, akin to natural sunlight. Our bodies seem to adjust best to this type of light, as LED lighting solutions are often accompanied by a worker productivity boost. That is what recent research shows, and though the boost was minor, it was cumulative among workers, so companies with larger facilities can reap significant productivity bonuses from LEDs.Along that line, workers tend to be more alert and comfortable in the presence of LED light. This can improve worker attention and focus while on the job, which correlates with increased safety.

Three Ways LED Technology Will Transform Urban Lighting Solutions

LED lighting’s victory isn’t limited to buildings. It’s also poised to transform how cities and municipalities deploy their lighting resources. We’re still in the early stages, but there are exciting LED lighting concepts on the near horizon – concepts that we may see deployed in the next several years. Three of them include:

  • Smart LED lighting controls and sensor networks – LED’s extensive controllability is yet to be fully leveraged, but cities are getting closer. Smart controls, for example, can be integrated into street lighting and used to dim an attached LED streetlight, power it on or off, change its color, tell it to strobe, amongst other interesting things.With these controls in place, streetlights can respond to people or vehicles in the vicinity and only output at full intensity as needed – further improving efficiency. These features can also be used to point out alternative traffic routes and direct first responders to emergencies.
  • Networked monitoring and remote configuration – LED street lighting systems can also be remotely monitored and managed from a central location, giving utilities granular control over their resources.For instance, a networked lighting solution can send an alert back to home base when a fixture’s output dips below a certain level. Maintenance crews can respond before failure and ensure no interruption in lighting.

    LED lighting systems can remain modern with regular updates to fixture firmware. These updates will be remotely pushed over from a central location, ensuring the entire system remains up to date.

  • Minimal (or zero) glare fixtures – Light pollution is an emerging concern, for humans and the environment. Our ever-expanding cities are pumping out so much illumination that it’s interfering with wake/sleep patterns, migration patterns, and blotting out the night skies.Older lighting technologies had to answer for these issues, but modern LED fixtures are directional to the point where they can be precision-aimed and shielded to minimize uplighting. This same approach can be used to minimize glare and ensure lighting solutions only illuminate what should be illuminated.

From Novelty to Gold Standard, LED Technology is Lighting the Way to a Better Future

LED lighting has captured headlines for decades, so the ongoing lighting revolution may not be getting the attention it deserves. What is clear, though, is that LED technology is changing the way lighting professionals design, manufacture and implement lighting solutions.

That means LED lights are not just poised to light the future – They’re bringing the future of lighting to people, businesses, and cities everywhere.

The Positive Impacts of Switching to LED Lighting

The Positive Impacts of Switching to LED Lighting

LED lights are becoming the frontline choice in an array of residential, commercial, and industrial lighting applications. LED’s march towards lighting domination has been ongoing for a couple of decades, but the benefits are now impossible for most companies to ignore. Better energy efficiency, reduced maintenance, greater productivity, excellent controllability, and better safety are all advantages associated with LEDs. We’ll take a closer look at each and how they add up to major impact.

Energy Efficiency: LED Lighting Offers Unmatched Energy Savings

LED bulbs make much better use of input electricity, with about 95 percent of received energy converted to light. That’s a massive jump from older lighting technologies, which generate considerable waste in the form of heat.

Each LED bulb is powered by a sophisticated semiconductor die that converts electricity to light at the atomic level. This is a far more precise way of turning energy into light, and the results are impressive.

Compared to fluorescent tubes, LED lights are up to 80 percent more efficient. LED technology has a similar advantage over metal halide lamps. The same is true of halogen, incandescent, compact fluorescent, high pressure sodium, and any other lighting option.

LED’s efficiency (along with its low maintenance nature) allows companies to quickly recoup their investment through reduced operating costs. That’s one advantage of LED. Another efficiency-related advantage is LED’s compliance with efficiency regulations – which are getting tougher all the time. These efficiency regulations have essentially removed incandescent and some fluorescent fixtures from the market, and the process will likely continue.

Though the future of lighting is always in development, it’s likely that LEDs will be the last light standing once federal and state governments are done passing efficiency regulations. For organizations that must be future-minded, this trend is an important one to pay attention to.

Longevity: LED Technology Lasts Longer Than Other Lights

LED lighting boasts the longest lifespan among all lighting products. On average, an LED fixture will provide around 50,000 hours of reliable performance – the longest life available among lighting options. That mark is around the baseline, too, as LED’s lifespan can range up to 100,000 hours in some cases.

It depends on the LED’s quality, which is why it’s important for companies to work with a reputable lighting supplier.

This extended lifespan greatly improves the technology’s ROI, as fewer replacement bulbs are needed to keep the system up and running. Even better, LED fixtures require minimal maintenance throughout their life, so businesses get the best of both worlds – longer life and less maintenance. With LEDs, companies can reduce their maintenance costs and minimize any maintenance-related disruption to their facilities.

Productivity: LED Lighting Provides Excellent Illumination Quality

When companies measure employee productivity, the facility’s lighting is often left out of the equation, but it shouldn’t be. Quality illumination is correlated with better visibility and, by extension, better productivity.

This is true in most common work settings. In warehouses, for example, adequate visibility is necessary for workers to quickly locate the right aisles and products. In manufacturing facilities, adequate visibility is necessary for quality control purposes. In office buildings, high quality lighting helps employees stay on task for longer without losing focus.

It’s a well-known fact that fluorescent lights, for instance, generate a greenish cast that people find undesirable. Worse, fluorescent tubes can trigger headaches – therefore sapping an employee’s productivity.

LED lighting, by contrast, emits full-spectrum illumination that mimics the color output of natural sunlight. Research is limited in this area, but early studies show that people respond well to spaces fitted with LED illumination. The result, on average, is a modest productivity boost that can add up in a big way if there are hundreds of employees inside the building. This is yet another way that LED technology can help organizations save money and quickly realize a return on their lighting investment.

Controllability: LED Lighting Can Be Paired with a Variety of Lighting Controls

As the modern lighting solution, LED lights are compatible with almost all modern lighting controls. And with smart use of lighting controls, businesses can ramp up their system’s efficiency and reliability further.

Timers, photocells, and occupancy sensors are all examples of this concept at work. Each one is designed to switch off lights when they are not in use, and to ensure they are on and running when they’re most needed – when workers are in the building. By strategically powering the lights on and off, facility owners can wring a bit more efficiency and longevity out of their LEDs.

It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach, either. Dimmers, for example, allow for precise control over each lamp’s brightness, so when there is ample natural light or when workers aren’t in the area, dimmers can reduce output. When workers are in the space, the lights can be brought back up in intensity. In all, LED’s compatibility with lighting controls adds up to longer lasting, more reliable fixtures.

Safety: LED Lighting Emits Less Heat and Contains No Toxic Mercury

LED lighting emits little heat and therefore isn’t a burn risk to anyone coming in contact with the fixture. LED’s low-heat design also places less of a burden on HVAC systems and makes for a more comfortable work environment.

LEDs also contain zero mercury, so if they rupture or just need to be replaced, there’s no need to separate LED lights into a specialized waste stream. Expired LEDs can be safely sent out through the company’s general waste stream – a hassle and money saver.

That’s not the case with fluorescent tubes, which contain mercury and therefore represent a health hazard if they need to be disposed of. By transitioning from fluorescent to LED lighting, companies can streamline their disposal methods and protect worker health.

The Positive Impacts of LED Lighting are Compelling

Ultimately, businesses keep an eye on their bottom line when considering upgrades or changes to their facilities. That includes lighting upgrades, and LED lighting makes a compelling case for itself. With superior energy efficiency, reliability, quality, controllability and safety, there’s a long list of reasons why businesses have decided on what lighting experts already know – that LED technology is the most promising lighting solution going forward.

Best LED Lighting for a Warehouse

Best LED Lighting for a Warehouse

Warehouses can be challenging spaces to light thoroughly because there are multiple factors to consider. An optimized lighting system is only possible if the following are considered:

  • The building’s size and layout
  • The number of workers and level of activity in the warehouse
  • The presence of machinery or hazardous materials
  • The building’s energy usage
  • Compliance with long-term lighting goals and regulations

Though extensive planning should go into any commercial or industrial lighting project, no matter the scale, it’s especially important for a large space like a warehouse.

Four Things to Consider When Setting Up Warehouse Lighting

Expanding on the above factors further – here’s what to consider and plan around when designing a warehouse lighting system:

  • The warehouse’s size and ceiling height – Warehouse fixtures are available in a variety of distribution options, so designers can shape the system to fit a particular facility. And when it comes to picking the right distribution pattern, the building’s size and ceiling height are the biggest considerations. For example, bay lights are designed to either work with low or high ceilings, as they’re designed with different optics.
  • Worker safety – Within reason, the brighter the fixtures, the safer the warehouse. Brighter lighting improves visibility at a distance, allowing workers to anticipate potential safety risks before they become a threat. Forklift operators will notice pedestrian traffic sooner and will be more likely to detect people around corners. Lights that provide excellent color rendering are also better at improving visibility over longer distances.
  • The facility’s energy efficiency needs – Warehouses rely on high lumen counts to ensure adequate brightness throughout the building. This high-powered setup can drive up energy costs if the warehouse relies on inefficient lighting products.
  • Whether the new lighting system is future-proof – Power usage isn’t just an operational cost concern. Commercial facilities are facing an increasing wave of lighting regulations, many of them targeted at energy efficiency. When considering warehouse lighting options, it’s a good idea to consider the track of lighting regulations. It’s likely that power efficiency will continue to be a pressure point for lighting solutions.

Bays, Linear Lights and Troffers – the Go-To Fixture Options for Warehouses

With the above considerations in mind, the most common warehouse fixtures are bays (low and high), linear fixtures and troffers. Here’s how each can serve in a warehouse setting:

  • High and low bays – Bay lights are purpose-built for illuminating large spaces like warehouses, department stores, and other massive commercial buildings. Bays can be mounted directly to the ceiling or suspended from chains or cables. The primary differences between low and high bays are their lumen output and optics. Low bays are built for lower ceilings (between 12 and 20 feet high), while high bays are built for higher ceilings (between 20 and 45 feet high).
  • Linear and UFO bays – Bays are also available in a couple of fixture designs, including linear and UFO bays. The name indicates the shape and intended applications. Linear bays are better for illuminating aisles, while UFOs distribute their light over a larger area, which is better for open locations.
  • Troffers – Troffers are an alternative warehouse lighting choice and can also be mounted or suspended from the ceiling. If mounted, troffers are recessed into the ceiling and provide even, diffused illumination that minimizes glare. In the past, fluorescent tubes were the primary option for troffer fixtures, but LED linear tubes are now available as an alternative.

Whether it’s a bay, linear or troffer fixture, focus your search on fixtures built with a modular design. Modular fixtures are designed for simple maintenance and lamp replacement, as the fixture’s components are interchangeable. Given the inherent difficulty involved in replacing warehouse lights, simplifying lamp replacement can be a cost-saver and risk-reducer.

LED vs. HID vs. Fluorescent Lighting – Which Works Best in Warehouses?

We’ve addressed the fixture part of the lighting equation, but what about the lamp? Until recently, warehouses were almost always lit with HID or fluorescent lamps. Today, LED lighting technology is replacing both in most applications, including warehouse lighting.

Here’s how the three stack up:

  • Energy efficiency – LED lighting is the most energy efficient lighting technology on the market, with significant efficiency advantages over HID and fluorescent fixtures. This efficiency advantage is realized at both the lamp and system level, as LED bulbs are better at converting power to light, and better at distributing that light where it’s needed most – at ground level.
  • Ease of maintenance – LED fixtures require practically zero maintenance once installed, as long as installation is handled properly. It’s common for LED lights to provide several years of reliable illumination before lamp replacements are necessary. Contrast this with HID and fluorescent lamps, which both need to be replaced several times during a single LED lifecycle.
  • Lighting performance – LEDs emit high-brightness, high-CRI (color rendering) illumination that’s easier to distribute than fluorescent or HID lighting. As such, LED lighting solutions are characterized by their excellent illumination quality. Further, LEDs emit light across the entire visible light spectrum, giving them a natural sunlight-like quality that people respond to better.
  • Reliability – LED lighting is also characterized by its reliability. LEDs last for years, can be operated continuously with little concern, emit minimal heat, are unaffected by rapid on/off cycling, and fail gradually instead of suddenly. On top of that, LED lighting is also the most controllable on the market and can be used with dimmers, timers, photocells, and motion sensors to improve its reliability further.

It’s no surprise that LED has the advantage in almost every respect. LEDs are far more sophisticated than the filaments and pressurized gas chambers of yesteryear. Built on semiconductor and solid-state technology, LEDs are designed to make the most of every watt – and do it reliably.

Optimize Lighting Efficiency and Performance with a Photometric Analysis

LED lighting is the pinnacle of the industry, but LED systems perform even better when they’re backed by photometric analysis.

Lighting professionals can provide this analysis, which is used to model the pattern and intensity of lighting systems. Photometric software includes a deep library of luminaire data that designers use to visually and mathematically model lighting projects. While modeling the system, the lighting designer can experiment with different fixtures and different placement options, with the goal being to meet both efficiency and performance thresholds. In other words, get the most light possible at the lowest operating cost possible. This is possible because photometric analysis calculates the amount of illumination at each square foot, so there’s no guesswork or eyeballing involved.

Lighting is an Essential Part of Warehouse Operations – Make Sure Your Facility Has the Right Solution in Place

Warehouse lighting must meet several specifications. It must be bright enough, render color well, remain unobtrusive to workers, operate efficiently, and perform as a reliable, long-term solution.

LED lighting technology is built to provide all of the above, along with the future-proofing that building owners are looking for in today’s lighting solutions. Considering a switch to LED lighting or developing a new lighting solution from scratch? An experienced lighting company can provide a photometric analysis, along with the ideal fixtures and LED lights for the job.

How Business Owners Can Benefit from Switching to LED Lighting

How Business Owners Can Benefit from Switching to LED Lighting

LEDs have long been touted as the lighting technology of the future, but if the data is anything to go by, it’s also the present. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), almost half of commercial buildings in 2018 had LED lights installed. And that trend is likely accelerating, as fluorescent tubes are quickly being phased out for LEDs.

The case for LED lighting is strengthening, and for business owners, the time has never been better to make the switch.

Here are six compelling reasons why it’s time to transition to LED lighting technology.

1) The Benefits of LED Lighting are Instantly Available with a Retrofit

For many businesses, the initial cost and lead times associated with LED lighting have been limiting factors. The emergence of LED retrofit solutions, though, has minimized these factors.

Through retrofitting, companies can instantly access LED lighting without ripping out and overhauling the existing lighting infrastructure. In most cases, only the bulbs need to be replaced. A lighting expert can help confirm this and provide insight into what a retrofit project will include, so business owners know what to expect budget and timeline-wise. In general, though, an LED retrofit costs less and takes less time than installing a new system.

LED lighting is now as accessible as it’s ever been with retrofit options hitting the market. And unsurprisingly, many businesses are using them to make the switch to LEDs.

2) LED Lights Have an Unbeatable Energy Efficiency Advantage

Lighting represents 15-20 percent of a commercial property’s energy consumption, making it the biggest power draw for many facilities. That means the biggest efficiency gains often involve lighting upgrades. Specifically, upgrading to LED bulbs.

LEDs offer serious energy savings compared to other lighting technologies. The advantage over incandescent and halogen is enormous, but in a commercial context, the comparison is usually made with fluorescents or metal halides.

Compared to fluorescent tubes, LED lighting is about 20 percent more efficient, according to the EIA. Compared to metal halides, LED’s system-level advantage is even more impressive and up to 50 percent more efficient than metal halides.

LED lighting’s efficiency advantage is two-fold. One, LED bulbs generate minimal heat. With a metal halide, about 75 percent of the input energy is wasted in thermal emissions. LEDs also emit heat, but at a much smaller scale than other forms of lighting, meaning more of that precious power is converted into light.

Two, LED lights are directional. They can be aimed, in other words. And because they can be aimed, more illumination reaches the ground, where it’s needed.

Fluorescent, HID lamps, and most other forms of lighting are omnidirectional – as in, they emit illumination in every direction. Bulky, inefficient reflectors are needed to capture and redirect this light. The result is lower system efficiency.

3) LEDs Last Much Longer Than Other Lighting Options

LED’s energy efficiency advantage can instantly reduce operating expenses, but there’s another way LEDs help in this area. Maintenance and lamp replacement costs add up quickly with outdated lighting systems. A fluorescent tube, for example, will fail around the 20,000-hour mark. The situation is worse with metal halides, which reach this point around 10,000 hours. In fact, a metal halide lamp may lose up to 10 percent of its initial output within the first 1,000 hours. With this rapid rate of decline, businesses spend a lot of money on replacement lamps.

With LED lighting, companies can claw back most of those maintenance and replacement expenses. The typical LED bulb will provide upwards of 50,000 hours of solid performance, and many last until the 100,000-hour mark. Even better, LEDs last that long with minimal maintenance. It’s a double bonus from an operating cost standpoint.

4) LED Bulbs Can Unlock Additional Productivity from Employees

LEDs produce a high-quality light that mimics the emission spectrum and brilliance of natural sunlight. People respond well to this natural-feeling and natural-looking illumination, which often encourages higher levels of productivity.

While more research is needed, early studies show that installing LED lighting comes with a slight productivity boost among workers. The boost is modest (a few percentage points), but multiply it among hundreds or thousands of employees, and that modest jump in productivity can shorten the system’s ROI by several years.

5) Tax Incentives and Rebates are Available with LED Lighting Solutions

There are a few tax write offs and incentives that can sweeten the pot when switching to LED lighting. Made permanent in 2021, Section 179D of the Internal Revenue Code allows qualified building owners (including commercial building owners) to deduct up to $0.60 per square foot when upgrading interior or exterior lighting solutions. To qualify, the improvements must reduce energy consumption by 25 percent or more.

Rebates are another option and are available in most parts of the country. Utility companies offer rebates because they have their own energy savings goals to hit, and one way to do that is to incentivize facility owners.

Thousands of products qualify for rebates where applicable, so consulting with a lighting professional is recommended. A lighting expert can point out which LED lighting products qualify for a rebate and how much a company can expect to save on its new technology.

6) LED Bulbs Can Be Easily and Safely Disposed Of

LED lighting is considered safe and non-toxic enough that it can be disposed of in the company’s general waste stream. That’s not the case with fluorescent tubes, which contain enough toxic mercury to be hazardous to the environment. Many municipalities require specialized disposal methods to deal with fluorescent tubes – an additional use of resources that isn’t necessary with LED lighting.

LED Lighting Offers Better Efficiency, Longevity and Performance for Business Owners

Older lighting technologies are entering their twilight, so to speak. Incandescent bulbs are practically history, T12 fluorescent tubes are phasing out, and it’s clear that the U.S. is moving toward LEDs as its next large-scale illumination solution.

It’s a switch that many business owners have already embraced because of what LED lighting offers. With superior energy efficiency, lifespan, performance and durability, commercial facilities are better with LED lights.

The Incandescent Bulb Ban: Details and Alternative Lighting Options

The Incandescent Bulb Ban: Details and Alternative Lighting Options

On August 1, 2023, an impactful piece of lighting regulation went into effect. The Energy Independence and Security Act, more than 15 years in the making, finally became official at the start of the month and has put new efficiency standards in place.

The most notable is the minimum required lumen-to-watt ratio for newly manufactured lights. All new bulbs must output at least 45 lumens per watt, a threshold that incandescent bulbs cannot meet. The result is a de facto ban that will take most, but not all, incandescent bulbs off the market.

Let’s address the ban’s details and what consumers can do to adapt in response.

How Will the Incandescent Ban Affect Consumers and Manufacturers?

Multiple lighting regulations have been passed in recent years, and they follow the same pattern as the incandescent ban. Technically, it’s not a ban, because consumers are permitted to use their existing incandescent bulbs (and any they can find to purchase) until they no longer work.

The ban’s teeth are really felt on the manufacturing side because new incandescent bulbs cannot be made as none are capable of meeting the 45-lumen minimum.

Manufacturers have steadily been pulling their incandescent products, but this trend will likely accelerate until they are impossible to buy anywhere. At that point, alternative lighting solutions will be needed.

Which Incandescent Light Bulbs are Getting Banned?

Although most incandescent lights are included in the manufacturer ban, there are a handful of exceptions. They include:

  • Appliance lamps, such as oven lights
  • Black lights
  • Bug lamps
  • Colored lamps
  • Infrared lamps
  • Left-handed thread lamps
  • Plant lights
  • Flood lights
  • Reflector lamps
  • Showcase lamps
  • Traffic signals
  • A small number of other specialty lamps, like marine lights

These lights do not need to meet a minimum lumen requirement to be manufactured, sold, or utilized.

What is the Reasoning Behind the Incandescent Bulb Ban?

The Energy Independence and Security Act was originally conceived as a bipartisan piece of legislation, proposed by the Bush administration. Then, like now, the act was intended to improve energy efficiency among U.S.-based lighting solutions. The hope is that improved energy efficiency will save consumers $3 billion or more in utility bills. Also, the hope is that the new regulations will reduce carbon emissions by hundreds of metric tons every year.

Incandescent bulbs are being targeted because they are the least energy efficient lighting technology on the market. As a piece of early 19th-century engineering, that’s not a surprise. The problem is the metal filament, which is heated to more than 2,000 degrees Celsius to produce light. About 90 percent of the energy injected into an incandescent bulb is wasted on heat, so only a small portion is used to produce illumination – the definition of inefficient lighting.

LED Lights are an Effective Alternative to Incandescent Bulbs

With the ban in place, it’s likely that consumers will gravitate to high-efficiency options in order to stay ahead of future regulations.

LED bulbs are poised to be that high-efficiency option for the vast majority of applications. LED light bulbs output close to 100 lumens per watt, so they exceed the required minimum with plenty of room to spare.

Of course, LED lighting isn’t a new technology for most people. It’s already in use in residential and commercial properties throughout the country. In fact, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that about half of commercial buildings were already running LED lighting back in 2018. That number is likely much higher today.

LED Retrofits Make Switching from Incandescent Bulbs Easy

LED lighting has improved greatly in recent decades. Some of the initial pushback against LED lighting technology was based on perceived quality issues like undesirable color temperatures and flickering. Those issues were always minor and fixable, and now they have been addressed. Today’s LED bulbs can generate a wide spectrum of color temperatures, including warmer tones that incandescent lamps are known for. Further, LED lights generate illumination that’s superior in brilliance, quality, and spectral range to other mainstream lighting options, like HIDs and fluorescents. LED systems are more efficient than all other major lighting technologies.

The only remaining issue for many businesses is the initial costs associated with purchasing LED lighting, but the cost of LED lighting has declined rapidly, especially when tax incentives, rebates, and retrofit solutions are factored in.

LED retrofits are an emerging solution for companies that need to boost their lighting efficiency but don’t have the capital to invest in an entirely new system.

During an LED retrofit, the existing lighting fixtures are preserved, along with most of the underlying electrical infrastructure. In some cases, ballasts may need to be replaced with LED drivers, but there are some retrofit LED lamps that can also function with traditional ballasts.

Because only the bare minimum is replaced – often just the bulbs – companies can easily minimize their upfront costs while still attaining the energy efficiency, longevity and performance advantages associated with LED lighting technology.

Work With an Experienced LED Lighting Expert for Solutions to the Incandescent Bulb Ban

While many companies have already moved on from incandescent bulbs, nearly 20 percent of commercial facilities still relied on this outdated form of illumination in 2018. If your facility is among them, it’s time to formulate a lighting transition plan. Incandescent lighting supplies will continue to become more scarce over time. Again, this is a pattern seen with other lights that have come under recent regulatory scrutiny – such as T-12 fluorescents.

However, this is a switch that many businesses are eagerly welcoming. That’s because LEDs aren’t just future-proofed against future regulations – they’re also inexpensive to operate and maintain, while providing excellent lighting performance.

The Benefits of LED Retrofitting

The Benefits of LED Retrofitting

In 2018, almost half of U.S. commercial buildings were fitted with LED lighting. Five years later, LED is now the nation’s leading lighting technology. No matter the industry or the facility, LED lighting offers several benefits, and it’s as accessible as ever with so many retrofitting options.

It wasn’t too long ago that facility managers were caught in a tough dilemma: Keep relying on an inefficient, outdated lighting system, or invest in a new solution.

As LED lighting engineering scales up – and LED products become less expensive – new solutions are offering better and better ROIs. Investing in such a solution makes sense for new construction.

But for existing facilities with existing lighting solutions? There’s a cost effective third option – retrofitting. It’s a term you may have encountered while researching commercial lighting options, but what does it include and why is it a popular alternative to a new LED lighting system? Read on.

What Does an LED Lighting Retrofit Include?

A from-scratch system may include building out a frame for the lights, installing canopies, installing electrical components like junction boxes, placing fixtures, and matching the right LEDs to those fixtures. That’s a lot of material and labor, which drives up the project’s cost.

During an LED lighting retrofit, though, the existing frame and canopies (and perhaps some of the electrical components) can remain in place. The only part of the system that is replaced is the lamps. In many instances, it’s also beneficial to replace existing ballasts with LED drivers, as these are purpose-built to regulate electrical flow into LED lights. That usually means better efficiency, performance, and controllability.

The LED lighting industry has exploded with product offerings, to the point where there is now an LED lighting alternative for nearly every popular lighting application or fixture design. Residential, commercial, industrial – LED lighting technology has been adapted for each setting.

Here are some examples of LED retrofit options:

  • LED panels and troffers
  • LED linear tubes and panels
  • LED downlights, including recessed downlights
  • LED high and low bays
  • LED stadium and sports lighting
  • LED parking lot lighting
  • LED street lighting
  • LED cove and cabinet lighting

It’s rare for any technology to be adapted for so many applications so quickly. What’s driving this march toward LED dominance? Building owners have several compelling incentives to switch to LED lighting, and that drives demand.

Five Reasons to Consider an LED Lighting Retrofit

What, exactly, is pushing the LED retrofit revolution? LED lighting offers several notable advantages to any facility, including:

  • Superior energy efficiency – LED’s energy consumption advantage is a well-worn topic. The first, most heavily advertised benefit of LED lighting was its excellent energy savings, and that benefit remains true.LED bulbs have a huge advantage over incandescent lights, but it’s rare for a commercial facility to rely on those. What’s more common is fluorescent lighting, which was still in use in 68 percent of buildings back in 2018. That’s according to the Department of Energy. That number has surely dropped since, and part of the reason is because an LED light is simply more efficient.

    Compared to fluorescent lamps, an LED light requires about 20 percent less power to produce the same amount of light. That’s a per-lamp energy savings, so the more fixtures being retrofit, the greater the return on investment.

  • Minimal replacement and maintenance costs – Energy efficiency is LED’s primary calling card, but a close second is its extended lifespan and low-maintenance design. Built on solid state technology (and not wire filaments or gas chambers), there are few failure points in LED lighting engineering. And fewer failure points mean fewer failures.Add it up, and LEDs last much longer than other lighting technologies. Again, compare LEDs and fluorescent, and there’s a clear winner. LED lamps, on average, provide 50,000 hours of high-quality illumination, and often much more. Fluorescent bulbs, though, tend to fail around the 10,000-hour mark. Fluorescent tubes may be cheaper upfront, but that cost advantage is quickly washed out by repeated replacements and reduced lighting performance.

    Since LEDs last much longer, facilities can reallocate much of their lighting material and labor costs.

  • Improved lighting performance – LED retrofit lighting offers full-spectrum, high-CRI options that emit brilliant, flawless illumination.This is especially important in exterior settings, such as parking lot lighting, street lighting, and security lighting applications.

    LED lighting is directional lighting. In other words, it can be aimed without relying on heavy, expensive reflectors. And because it can be aimed, it’s easier to distribute the light and easier to ensure more of that lighting reaches ground level. Older lighting technologies, such as metal halides, emit omnidirectionally and don’t enjoy this advantage.

    In practice, this improved system efficiency means LED lighting systems are brighter and emit more evenly. That enhances long-range visibility for people on the ground and helps light up areas at night.

  • Improved employee performance – Office buildings running fluorescent lighting expose employees to low-quality illumination for hours at a time. This can cause issues like fatigue and headaches, both of which employees are more likely to report when working under fluorescent light.LED illumination, by contrast, is similar to natural sunlight in spectral emission (the exact wavelength pattern that a source emits). Unsurprisingly, facilities with LED retrofits tend to report modest improvements in productivity among their staff. And while the effect may be modest per worker, the effect scales up like it does with LED’s energy efficiency per fixture.
  • Cost-reducing tax incentives – There are also a few tax incentives on the books to speed up a project’s ROI.For example, under Sec. 179D, facility owners may qualify for a deduction up to $0.60 per square foot by improving the building’s energy efficiency. Specifically, the building’s power consumption must be cut by at least 25 percent to qualify. But, as lighting tends to be one of the largest sources of commercial energy consumption, an LED lighting retrofit can get buildings most of the way there.

    This is just one example, too. There are additional tax-saving tools, such as creative ways to carry losses forward or to factor in depreciation. Together, these can significantly reduce ROI times.

LED lighting also minimizes a facility’s energy footprint and ensures compliance with future lighting regulations – many of which are already having an impact on fluorescent lighting supplies. The future appears headed toward an LED-only future, and retrofitting now ensures those facilities are ready.

Ready to Retrofit? Talk to an LED Lighting Expert to Make the Upgrade

LED lighting retrofits can be quick and relatively simple to pull off, but most commercial projects should be closely overseen by a certified electrician and lighting expert. Depending on the facility’s age and the condition of its existing lighting system, significant electrical work (including rewiring) may be necessary to safely retrofit LED lighting.

For this reason, the strong recommendation is for commercial property owners to speak with a trusted lighting team before choosing any fixtures or system components. Not only will this ensure best safety practices are observed during installation, a lighting expert will also speed up the fixture/lamp selection and acquisition process, which can reduce lead times and optimize the return on investment.