Since most warehouse environments tend to leave their lights on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s not surprising that the industry has been faster to adopt the latest lighting advancements. When energy use is much higher, the range of solutions tend to make a bigger impact. In some instances, simply replacing inefficient lighting and installing lighting controls can offer companies energy savings of more than 90 percent.
While companies like SmartWatt, Digital Lumens, GE Lighting and Dialight offer a range of energy saving solutions for lighting, most of them are seeing the most interest from companies looking to upgrade to advanced Intelligent LED systems.
“While lighting has always been high on the list for companies to perform energy efficient upgrades, LEDs are gaining serious momentum right now because they are now offering far better results than any other alternative,” says Digital Lumens’ Parker. “For future needs and flexibility, especially in new warehouse construction, builders and facility owners are seeing the value of investing in LED technology to future-proof their energy costs.”
The energy savings gained by switching from fluorescent (or older) systems to an LED one are obvious, and huge, which in some cases can save companies over half a million dollars annually. But the lower wattage LED systems also reduce operation and maintenance costs, while producing less pollution and carbon dioxide output to drastically lower a company’s carbon footprint. Sometimes the reduction in CO2 alone is worth the equivalent of planting 200 acres of trees or removing over 100 cars off the road.
LED systems are also becoming very popular as replacements in retail freezer display cases as well as cold storage facilities and warehouses because they radiate less heat and use fewer compressor cycles than current and traditional lighting. New LED systems can be dimmed, cycled down or turned on and off in a cold temperature setting and it will not degrade or impact the longevity of the fixture.
This allows warehouses to go “lights out” when space in the warehouse is unoccupied, even in settings where temperatures reach -40 Fahrenheit, something traditional lighting fixtures cannot handle without influencing their lifecycle. In bigger warehouses where some areas of the facility only get 30 percent the amount of traffic as other areas, this benefit alone can offer dramatic savings.
“For as long as I can remember, facility lighting has been one of the cold storage industry’s most significant challenges,” says John Fershtand, Director of Fleet Operations and Energy at Ben E. Keith Foods, which recently renovated their Houston-area distribution center with a new Digital Lumens LED system. “So the fact that we can now program our lighting to automatically turn on, off or dim depending on what’s going on—without shortening the life of the bulb or fixture—that is contrary to everything we’ve known.”
Perhaps the most often overlooked benefit that new LED systems are offering is simply better lighting quality. LED lighting offers even, crisp, clear white light that is noticeably different in cold storage settings where the cold temperatures actually allow LED fixtures to exceed lumen output because of the ambient cold temperatures.
“In some areas the light output is nearly five times of what the typical metal halide or high-pressure fitting can provide,” according to Adrian Corthine of Elite Renewables, an authorized distributor of Dialight LED products. “The improvement in on-the-ground lux level is truly impressive.”
The light quality is easy to see in non-cold storage facilities, too. Kuehne+Nagel recently upgraded over 20,000 square meters in one of their warehouses using Dialight LED because workers were having trouble reading labels, explained Greene. “Not only does LED remove the maintenance and hazardous disposal problems, but it’s also a very workable light and the light clarity experience is brilliant,” he said.
Integrated control a key benefit
Beyond the wattage reductions and savings provided by an LED system, one of the other major benefits that is also gaining in popularity is the ability to manage every fixture in the entire building with one warehouse-wide “intelligent” system. These systems are programmed and precise and allow companies to instantly adjust to take advantage of ambient daylight, occupancy-driven lighting and dimming and other programmed settings to further reduce energy consumption.