Lighting represents more than 60% of the average warehouse’s electricity end use. Much of that electricity goes to high-bay lighting, which is defined as indoor lighting in spaces with ceilings that are 25 feet tall or higher. Unfortunately, much of the electricity used to light those fixtures is wasted, primarily due to outdated technology.
Wasted electricity in warehouses comes in many forms, but the reliance on older lighting technologies, such as high-intensity discharge (HID) and linear fluorescents, is the most notable example. That is why many warehouse owners and managers are turning to light emitting diodes (LEDs) for their high-bay fixtures.
LED lighting makes inroads in warehouse lighting
In the first decade of the 21st century, LED adoption was relatively low in warehouses. Older versions of LEDs didn’t provide the same level of illumination as HIDs, which made them impractical. However, that has changed in recent years as LED technology caught up to the lighting needs of modern businesses, including warehouses.
In fact, the installed base of LED high-bay lighting more than quintupled between 2010 and 2012. As such, innovative warehouse owners and managers have an enormous opportunity to outpace their competitors by getting in on the ground floor of the LED market.
Practical benefits of LED high-bay fixtures for warehouse lighting
Recent LED lighting developments have made their application ideal in refrigerated warehouses and other storage and shipping facilities for many reasons. Not only do LEDs use less energy, they offer many other benefits that make them perfect for warehouse owners and managers who are intent on using innovation to maximize profits, create a safer work environment and streamline their overall operations. The following are four benefits that demonstrate the value LED high-bay fixtures can bring to warehouses.
1. Reduced heat output: LEDs have a much lower heat output than other light bulbs. This can be particularly helpful for refrigerated warehouses, where the heat given off by older bulbs makes it difficult to maintain optimum refrigeration temperatures and leads to higher energy costs.
2. Light quality and safety: With LEDs, warehouse lighting can make for a safer and more productive work environment. Employees can see more clearly, making movement throughout the facility much easier. For example, workers in a food processing facility can more accurately select the products they are seeking. Additionally, with correct lamp placement and well-designed LED units, forklift operators can move through loading areas better with improved visibility to see other employees and potential obstacles.
3. Reduced maintenance: Due to their height and the large number of bulbs required, high-bay fixtures are some of the most difficult to maintain. Getting to bulbs that need to be replaced requires special equipment. Older bulbs with shorter lifespans than LEDs need to be replaced frequently. LEDs last 2 to 5 times longer than HIDs,4 which means less time and resources being devoted to basic maintenance.
4. Dimming and lighting controls: LEDs also lend themselves easily to dimming and other lighting controls. They turn on and off immediately, whereas HIDs take much longer to reach full brightness. They can be connected to occupancy and other lighting sensors so that intermittently used spaces are not lit when they aren’t being used. LEDs work well with dimming controls, allowing you to add control to lighting environments and tailor lighting levels.
Financial benefits of LED high-bay fixtures
Since a commercial lighting retrofit for warehouse lighting can be more extensive than it is for other facilities, costs will always be a concern. However, when long-term savings are factored in, the financial benefits become readily apparent. Additionally, available programs such as PG&E’s On-Bill Financing (OBF) offer businesses benefits (based on eligibility) which include interest-free loans and funding on numerous technologies, such as lighting, HVAC, refrigeration and LED.
A recent study conducted by PG&E at a Rocklin, California-based distribution center found that LED fixtures, coupled with aggressive lighting controls, led to significant energy savings. In that study, which was done in a nearly 45,000-square-foot warehouse, the return on investment (ROI) was calculated at 3.6 years. Just as important, there was a 93% expected decrease in annual energy consumption as a result of the retrofit.
Gain the most out of a warehouse lighting retrofit
Pursuing a warehouse lighting retrofit is now easier and more affordable than ever. Thanks to rebates, incentives and financing from PG&E, the upfront costs have been greatly reduced. And with the latest LED technology making its application in high-bay fixtures an obvious upgrade over the competition, the long-term advantages are many.