Lighting is the second biggest consumer of energy in any building. In a world concerned about energy efficiency, we are all under increasing pressure to choose products which are both energy efficient and cost effective. But with so much technology on the market, how do facilities managers decide on what is the right solution for their business? MD of MHA Lighting, Tom Harrison, guides managers through the latest LED lighting options available and discusses the increasing popularity of LEDs – their benefits and also their challenges.
THE Carbon Trust reports that energy efficient lighting such as LED can save UK businesses £700m a year and cut more than 10 million tonnes of carbon emissions. Other research puts the savings closer to £1.4 billion.
There is no doubt that the switch to energy efficient lighting such as LEDs can really pay off. But when as a facilities manager do you jump on the LED bandwagon when the lighting market is moving so fast?
And when you do eventually make the switch how do you avoid the pitfalls that have unfortunately been associated with the LED lighting market?
The benefits of LEDs are now well documented.
- Efficiency: Energy Savings of up to 80% with intelligent controls
- Lifetime: A minimum useful Lifetime of 66,000 hours
- Zero Maintenance: Reducing routine maintenance costs and disruption
- Cool Light: Radiates very little heat
- Shock Resistance: Robust design making it difficult to damage
- Toxicity: Contains no mercury, eliminating disposal costs (RoHS complaint)
But then so are the challenges.
Professional LED manufacturers have been working hard to ensure their products are able to achieve the photometric performance of Fluorescents and Halogens, and to develop luminaires that are as pleasant to look at as Fluorescent. They have also been working hard to publicise how far the industry has come and put distance between themselves and the “sell it cheap / pile it high” overseas manufacturers who seem to care little for the quality or longevity of their fittings.
LED lighting solutions have now been developed that have long term reliability built in to their design to overcome previous issues of LED lifetime. For example MHA Lighting’s LED light fittings provide 66,000 hours of useful lifetime which equates to seven and a half years at 24 hours a day seven days a week usage. With a driver upgrade at 66,000 hours, MHA’s luminaires will actually provide a minimum 109,000 hour lifetime.
But for all facilities managers the first consideration before choosing new lighting has to be the required quality of the lighting solution to be implemented – key considerations being light levels, colour rendering and uniformity.
For example, the traditional high pressure Sodiums/Halides can no longer compete with any of the above lighting requirements against LED solutions which provide 65 CRI and 5500 Kelvin.
The same rules would apply to internal applications too, as there is no need to compromise on light quality to take advantage of energy efficient lighting.
The next consideration would typically be whether to go the whole hog to LED or the smaller perceived safer switch to T5 technology which involves a much lower investment – but a fraction of the energy saving.
A key factor in choosing between these two will be the operating hours involved in the application.
LEDs involve a greater upfront expenditure and whilst offering much more significant savings this only translates into the better business case if the lights are being burnt for at least 11 hours a day such that return on investment can be achieved in a justifiable timeframe.
If selecting LED technology care also needs to be taken to ensure high reliability products are installed.
The LED lighting industry is young and immature and there are horror stories aplenty regarding quality failures.
For my own part I have been shocked to have been shown LED light fittings powered by laptop power supplies – and made a mental note to return to the premises in six months to offer a replacement.
In fact all the benefits of LED technology are completely dependent upon longevity in the fitting. And longevity in a LED light engine is completely dependent upon three crucial factors:
- The LED itself
- Thermal management of the junction temperature
- The driver
Facilities Managers are totally entitled to ask the LED manufacturers/suppliers to provide thorough documented evidence and certification for each of those three elements.
Responsible LED lighting suppliers will have independent test data for each of those factors as well as photometric data, CE marking and IP rating certification, TM 21 reports and LM 80 reliability data. They will also be happy to share case studies with you and should provide reference sites for you to visit.
LEDs can also be highly directional which is why the majority of LED fittings tend to be downlights, spotlights or very high bay.
But today there are certain LED lights which will replace standard traditional lamps and provide equivalent uniformity. For example MHA Lighting’s technology is waveguide technology which we utilise to create the same uniformity of light distribution as traditional lamps do.
Facilities Managers need to ask for the photometric data as evidence of the light distribution of any fitting that they may be considering to install. Care should also be taken to ensure that for internal applications LEDs with 80 CRI – or external application 65CRI – should be specified.
Some LED manufacturers provide much cooler temperatures as these give the appearance of the light actually being brighter than it truly is. In our experience cooler temperatures of around 4000 Kelvin are best suited to most internal applications which may involve precision working and external temperatures of 5500 kelvin and a 65CRI will deliver the ideal light colour.
Also with respect to colour creation, LED lights can be quite inconsistent with a tolerance range of up to 500 kelvin so Facilities Managers should take care to specify a tolerance of say + /- 100 Kelvin and insist that the manufacturer demonstrates how this will be achieved.
Finally the manufacturers should be questioned as to how the internal LEDs are protected so that things like surges in power supply will not result in catastrophic failure of the light engine.
Personally as a manufacturer of lighting products that use LEDs as the light source I hope Facilities Managers are not deterred from making the switch to LED. The technology is here and the ever growing number of professional LED lighting manufacturers and suppliers are constantly innovating to create ever-improving solutions.
MHA Lighting’s strapline – The future of lighting is here – is intentional. The technology really is here right now and the take up will be no less than phenomenal.
For example, presently only around 10-15% of the general lighting market is occupied by LED. This is set to increase to 64% by 2020, resulting in a market value of $75.6billion.
Meanwhile MHA Lighting continues to work with some of the UK’s biggest and best known Blue Chip organisations, Local Authorities and NHS Trusts. To date they have been delighted with major energy savings of between 70-80% and equivalent Co2 reductions. They have been further impressed by light quality and other associated benefits of LED lighting ranging from zero maintenance to the long life and cleanliness of fittings.
MHA Lighting is an award-winning lighting manufacturer based in Greater Manchester that has an extensive range of LED solutions for most internal and external applications.
The team at MHA believe that everyone should have the best lit environment achievable – whether that is at work, in public places or on the streets. We don’t sell lights – what we do is much more important than that. We help every one of our clients achieve the best lit environment possible and typically save them 80% on their energy bills along the way.
We have an award-winning technical team who are passionate about creating meaningful innovations that provide the RIGHT lighting solution for each individual’s requirements first time.
We are the only lighting manufacturer to shine light sideways into encapsulation avoiding direct contact with the eye and providing a safe, efficient light output. We also use acrylic rods to amplify and control the light output, reducing the number of LEDs required. This means we can use high power LEDs, draw less current and have no need to diffuse the output.
Case Studies of our work include: The Trafford Centre, GlaxoSmithKline, Scott Safety, the NHS, Birmingham NEC, Greater Manchester Police, Manchester Airport Group, Reckitt Benckiser and Chevron-Texaco.
For more information:
Call: 01942 887400