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7 Things Facility Managers Should Know About Commercial Lighting




As a facility manager or building owner, it is nearly impossible to know everything about everything in your building. But it is vital to know something about everything, and that goes for your facilities lighting system too. Whether you manage a warehouse, factory, or other industrial sized building or space, the lighting is a huge factor of many things including safety, productivity, and consistency in the work in your facility. So while you don't need to know every technical aspect of lighting, you should know the basics to at least have some clue of what to look for in a good lighting system.  



Here are 7 things that all facility managers and building owners should know about there lighting system and how lighting can make all the difference in various amounts of ways.  

1. Not all lights are created equal.

This is an obvious one, not all lighting technologies are created the same and all output at different levels. Firstly you have lighting technologies that are less efficient than others. Such as metal halide and HPS which are 2-3 times less efficient than LED technology is. Then you also have efficiency based on a "product to product" basis. For example; while LED is the clear winner in efficiency over metal halide (and really any other lighting technology), one LED product from one company isn't going to be the same as the next company's LED product. This is where you really need to dig deep and find the company that offers the most efficient lighting products over all other companies.   Key takeaway? First, understand that LED is the most efficient in a general sense, but also understand that each company and product varies on its own personal efficiency and you should always do your homework before going with one LED product over another!  


2. New lighting system upgrade costs can be reduced with rebates.

This is only a true statement when you are buying commercially qualified lighting products that are DesignLights Consortium qualified. The "DLC" as we typically call it is an organization that qualifies commercial lighting products based on there efficiency and overall quality. By buying a lighting product that is DLC qualified you open yourself up to rebates through your facilities utility company. This in turn allows you to reduce initial investment costs associated with upgrading your lighting system.  


3. Efficient lighting fixtures will produce an ROI.

Buildings that have inefficient lighting fixtures are paying much more in the long run than those who invest in a LED system. By switching over to LED away from metal halide, HPS, and other outdated lighting technologies; you will realize an energy consumption decrease by 2, 3, or even 4 times. This will allow you to realize a return on investment overtime by decreased energy costs associated with running your lights. Obviously this ROI period will vary depending on how long you run your lights per day on average, but especially in big facilities they almost always are used often and thus, provide a good and even quick payback period.  


4. Create safer environments with a proper lighting system.

With low quality light output, you create an unsafe environment that can cause various issues. Lighting fixtures that aren't outputting the proper amount of light after a few years into there life is all caused by lumen depreciation. This is the process in which a light source slowly outputs less and less lumens. This causes under lit areas from less light being produced than when they were first installed. This under lit scenario is especially prevalent when a lighting system design is done improperly and doesn't account for this accordingly. With LED technology, you will depreciate overall much less and at a much slower rate than other technologies. This allows for proper lumen output throughout it's life and will less-likely run into under lit issues. On top of this issue of lumen depreciation also brings another issue; flickering and buzzing lights. While products like metal halide and HPS are susceptible to flicker, buzz, or both during there lifespan; LED products will never do either of these things. By having fixtures that buzz or flicker, you take away from concentration of tasks at hand, which again can prove to be dangerous in some situations. It also reduces productivity which indirectly effects your overall bottom line!  


5. Retrofit and save.

If you are considering new lighting technology (such as LED) to be installed in your facility, you can greatly reduce your costs by retrofitting over a full replacement. The difference is simple: retrofitting is like replacing only the light source while a full replacement is replacing not only the light source but also the shell that the light goes in. For obvious reasons, retrofitting is cheaper. It's not only cheaper to buy a retrofit kit over an entirely new fixture, but it's also cheaper to pay someone to retrofit a fixture rather than fully replace it. Both of thee reasons allow for a proper reasoning to retrofit over fully replace.  


6. Don't look at watts, look at lumens per watt.

Most people ask questions like, "how many watts do I need to replace my 1000w fixtures" and similar, but that is completely the wrong question to be asking. Instead, you need to discover how many lumens per fixture you need (e.g 15,000 lumens / fixture) and then inquire about a replacement light that outputs at (e.g) 15,000 lumens. From there, particularly when you switch over to LED, you will be able to see that you will need less watts to produce that same amount of light (lumens). This basically means that more efficient lights produce at higher lumen per watt than less efficient lights, and the more lumens per watt you have, the more efficient it is. Tip: Buy on lumens per watt, not watts!  

7. It's true, inefficient lights are cheaper initially.

The statement that inefficient commercial lighting technologies such as metal halide are indeed initially cheaper to purchase. Keyword there is initially. But, first of all this is slowly becoming false as LED competition rises which causes LED prices to decrease. Another factor you need to remember is that LEDs use up less energy, more often than not is eligible for rebates, and are just an overall better lighting option than other outdated lights are. So while yes purchasing a metal halide fixture over an LED fixture may seem cheaper on the day of purchase, if you look back on it in a years time you will see that it is going to cost you more than it would have to have gone with a LED fixture. This is especially true when it comes to lifespan, as LEDs life is, on average, 2-3 times longer than that of metal halide and HPS lights. 

Conclusion
There you have 7 things facility managers, building owners, and other related roles in a company should know about there lighting system that is in place. Have any questions or additions to this post? Comment them down below, we'll reply to everyone!  




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