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LED Lighting For Churches

The 5+ year warranty-backed LED church lighting solutions from MyLEDLightingGuide work great in parking lots, hallways, and more; and reduce energy usage by 75%.

We have helped many churches upgrade their exterior lighting to LED church lighting solutions. Reduce your energy, reduce your maintenance costs and create a brighter safer environment for your congregation. 

LED Lighting for Churches

Churches in the 1800s were equipped with state-of-the-art kerosene lamps, with tall chimneys and brass fonts that housed the oil. They had beautiful etched glass shades to diffuse their light and minimize glare as well. The lamps were raised and lowered for cleaning and refueling through spring systems.

With time, electric lighting took over, but some churches maintained their original glass fixtures, adapting them for electrical use. Today, some still utilize some of the old hooks used for the kerosene lamps.

With the rising costs of energy, churches all over the U.S. are faced with a lighting challenge very unique to them. Should they replace their cherished antique fixtures with newer, energy efficient, and higher-quality lighting technology?

Church lighting and its need for an upgrade is a multifaceted problem - needs that go beyond ordinary building lighting needs.

Church Lighting

Challenges of Church Lighting

A church has unique architectural difficulties to it, which include large open rooms with high ceilings. The lighting needs of these buildings are often very artistic in form, from the bulb, fixture shape, light distribution, and the height of the lights. These aspects significantly impact the amount of light availed, and this is why most sanctuaries often appear under-lit.

The other issue is technical. Most church buildings are old by today's standards, designed in an era before electrical wiring was a crucial consideration in building design. Their electrical wiring can hardly cope with increased wattage, let alone additional bulbs.

With traditional bulbs, the solution to adequate church lighting is often increasing the wattage of the lamps or doubling their quantity. This not only causes skyrocketing energy bills but overloads the buildings’ electrical system, leading to electrical instability that could cause various hazards.

Sanctuaries require lights that create captivating scenes, changing the entire ambiance of the space. The light required is not purely for lighting purposes but for mood setting and to change the atmosphere. The lighting in a church should not only provide dimension but depth and also create feelings of confidence and comfort.

The Solutions
  • A lighting solution that brightens the sanctuary
  • New light fixtures or retrofits that complement or match the décor in the church
  • Modern lighting solutions that are energy efficient and easy to maintain.

Factors to Consider When Picking Church Lighting Solutions

Illuminance of Tasks

When a lighting fixture is installed in a place, it is because there is a task area that requires illumination. Places of worship are no different, and the illuminance of their task areas should be the main criteria used when installing lighting. The light levels of the area should allow for the accomplishment of tasks done in them safely and efficiently. Proper light levels also reduce eyestrain, enabling comfort during long hours of use.

Illuminance, measured in lux or foot candles (FC) is the amount of light falling on a given surface. One footcandle is the total amount of light that hits a 1-square-foot surface when light is shined on it from a foot away. 1 FC equals 10.8 lux.

Building standards and regulations use illuminance to ensure that the minimum light levels are availed for specific environments and tasks. These regulations ensure that workspaces do not have the typical shortcomings of too much or too little lighting.

The sun's illuminance on a clear day is about 10000 lux. Indoors, areas closest to windows, which receive natural light, can hit 1000 lux. It is typical to find low levels of light in the middle of larger buildings, necessitating the use of additional artificial lighting.

In church buildings, 20-30 foot candles of light are recommended for ease of reading. The light fixtures should also be evenly distributed to eliminate shadows and bright spots.

Plane of Task

The lights installed in a church, synagogue, chapel, mosque, or temple should offer adequate illuminance on the vertical and horizontal plane. Horizontal illuminance is the total amount of light that lands on the building's horizontal surfaces, such as the pews. The vertical illuminance is the amount of light that falls on vertical surfaces, such as the sanctuary's walls.

Vertical and horizontal illuminance is also measured in foot-candles or lux. The right illuminance on all planes prevents shadow formation. In churches, it is quite common for tasks to occur on both vertical and horizontal planes. Most churches tend to provide very low illuminance on the vertical plane thanks to the narrow distribution of luminaires or an insufficient number.

Buildings with high ceilings have very sensitive lighting requirements. The horizontal plane's illumination levels may meet the required recommendations while the vertical plane's levels are non-uniform and reduced.

The use of broad light distribution luminaires can help solve this problem but the spacing of the light fixtures may have to be reduced. When using traditional bulbs, reflectors are used to mitigate the imbalance of light. LED church lights, on the other hand, have unidirectional light that moves in a single direction. Conventional bulbs are multidirectional, dispersing their light in all angles, therefore wasting much of it.

With LEDs, the light directed to a task area will be delivered to the area. But with multi-directional bulbs, much of that light hardly reaches the task area, which is why they are often coupled with reflectors. Reflectors are still a crude way of redirecting light and do not perform optimally, which means they may have to be coupled with higher wattage bulbs, resulting in increased energy usage.

Glare

Glare is a sensation of the eyes brought on by a light source's uncontrolled brightness. Glare can be very uncomfortable and disabling in higher quantities. There are two types of glare:

Disability Glare
It occurs when intense light sources are in a field of view. Disability glare is likely to happen in church buildings with low-level spotlights affixed on high ceilings to highlight the pulpit or altar. It can also occur when eyes are turned up towards intense luminaires that have poor light control. To reduce disability glare, both the selection and placement of light fixtures must be done with care.

Discomfort Glare
It happens when the brightness from a light source is higher than the eyes can adapt to. It makes it very difficult to perform tasks.

LED Optics Image

How to Reduce Glare

Glare can be reduced by the use of light diffusers for intense LED lights. These are features that cover the lens of the light fixtures to give off a softer beam of light without glare. Luminaires can also be installed in a way that they discharge some of their light upwards to diffuse it, and where possible, relocated to reduce glare and maintain proper light output.

Color Temperature

Color significantly affects how human beings feel or think, bringing on feelings of relaxation and calmness in a worship atmosphere when used right. The color temperature of a white light indicates its tint. But when it comes to light, there are many shades of white.

LED Temperature Bulbs Image

Warm white, for example, has a yellowish tint to it while cool white is a bluish kind of white. Daylight white, on the other hand, lies in between both whites and is the whitest white light there is, comparable to the sun's light at midday.

The system used to indicate the tints of light is known as the correlated color temperature (CCT). Light does not have temperatures, but the system is designed to compare light colors to the colors of a metallic item, for example iron, has when heated up.

As iron heats up, it turns from red, to orange, to the hottest white, then cool white after melting. At a temperature of 2,700º Kelvin, the metal will glow a yellowish color, which is also known as warm white.

It is known as warm because over the years, artists have referred to yellows as warm, and blues as cool. Inversely, when it comes to color temperatures, the highest color temperatures are blue. In the system, a high CCT refers to a cool color rather than a warm color!

Warm light colors invoke feelings of coziness and comfort and are very common in the home environment and the hospitality business. Cool blue lighting is more common in industrial settings with high bay lights having color temperatures ranging between 4500-5000K. Higher color temperatures of above 6500K are often used in specialty applications like jewelry display.

In the church interiors, warm light that goes well with the worship environment is more preferred. Fluorescent lighting, for example, has cold lighting (luminescence) that evokes feelings of gloom and lack of comfort.

Church buildings in cold areas also benefit from warm color lighting because they may be difficult to heat in cold weather. When they are illuminated by warm light sources (with a color temperature between 2700K-3000K), they look more cordial to the users. Lights with differing color temperatures can also be used to highlight specific areas within the church.

LED lights have a wide range of CCTs, from 1800K which is a candlelight type of light to 7000K (white light that mimics harsh daylight). Older HID and fluorescent lights, on the other hand, have CCTs between 3000K-5000K. The ability of LED luminaires to deliver a wide range of color temperatures has brought them much acclaim in different applications.

LED church lighting is also tunable, meaning that the color temperatures are adjustable in real time. Users can modify the CCT and the light's intensity with a feature such as intelligent lighting management or slider control. The available color temperatures range from a low of 1600K to a high of 6500K in one light fixture!

LED tunable white light is a remarkable feat if you compare it to the capabilities of conventional bulbs. High-pressure sodium lamps, for example, remain stuck at the bottom of the CCT scale while fluorescents are stuck in between.

Solid state LED lights offer a high degree of finesse with light output. Not only do they have a perfect color rendering index (CRI), but their color temperature can be changed when required. The mix of sophisticated software and mixable LED modules is what makes tunable LED lights so beneficial to the church.

Different Types of Light Control Systems

Drastically reduce a church's energy use

Lighting control systems can drastically reduce a church's energy usage. These systems range from wall switches to dimming systems complexly networked. Lighting needs always vary and are dependent on the particular space, the size of the rooms, the availability of natural light, the ceiling height, and the tasks carried out in the space. Energy.gov reports that some types of light control systems can help reduce as much as 30% on an electric bill.

On/Off Switches

These basic light controls require someone to turn them off and on manually when they enter or exit a room. LEDs can help save more energy in churches that only have these basic controls because they use less energy to produce light.

If these switches are paired with HIDs, there may be a lighting challenge. Metal halide lamps, for example, have long restrike and warm-up times. It is essential to take this into consideration when installing bulbs with such characteristics as simple on and off switches are not efficient and may lead to the degradation of the lamps.

If metal halides, for example, are turned off, they need at least 15 minutes to warm up and produce sufficient levels of light. It is often advisable to have an "always on" button for such lamps to reduce restrike time. If the luminaires in use are LED, you have no need to worry about restrike times, because they produce bright light instantly.

Dimmer Switches

With dimming switches, it is essential to consider the length of time required to take a lamp from its floor dimming levels to an 80% light output. Fluorescents, for example, have an adequate floor dimming level of 20%. Metal halide lamps, on the contrary, cannot be dimmed below 50% because below that level they will need to be re-struck.

The light output of LED church lights can be dimmed up to 10%, enabling lots of energy savings. Outdoor lights’ dimming that is based on ambient lighting will work better with a time delay mechanism on the dim-down to reduce nuisance dimming, which may be caused by adjacent traffic.

LED Dimmer Control Image

Manual Light Controls

These include switches and dimmers that are operated by rotary knobs, toggles, remote controls, or push buttons. They are cost-effective in small church buildings, but they lose their cost-effectiveness if the lighting system in place grows.

Motion Sensors

Motion sensors are perfect for outdoor lighting as they ensure that the security lights turn on when there is vehicular or pedestrian traffic nearby. The lights typically switch off after some minutes pass without any detected motion. LEDs integrate well with motion sensors because they light instantly, unlike HID outdoor lights that have restrike periods.

Occupancy Control

Occupancy sensors turn on lights when they detect motion and switch them off when the space is unoccupied for a stated time. When utilized well, they can improve not only the light efficiency but also the security and usability of the area. The controls can help save energy costs by up to 45%. They are perfect for conference rooms, bathrooms, and break or recreational rooms.

Scheduled Light Controls

Some churches have predictable occupancy patterns, and scheduled lighting controls work best for such circumstances. Manual overrides can be added for occasions when the light is required outside the scheduled lighting hours.

LED Photocell Image

Obstruction

Conventional religious architecture can cause a lot of interior obstruction to the distribution of light. There are often wooden cross beams, heaters, vertical stone pillars, and banners that impede the uniform distribution of light, causing shadows.

To reduce obstruction by overhead beams or stone pillars, the light fixtures should be positioned below the obstruction level. Where there are large obstructions in the sanctuary, all parts of the space should be lit by a minimum of two luminaires that can be roof mounted or mounted on the obstructing pillars or walls.

The spacing between light fixtures should be reduced to eliminate shadows. LED lights are compact and are easy to install in small or tight spots because they lack the common impediment namely bulbs. They replace metal halide and halogen lamps and produce bright, focused light that eliminates dark spots and shadows in areas where there are obstructions.

Environmental Conditions

Most church buildings require heating, but on occasions where they are in use for many hours each day, heating the spaces becomes very pricey. What’s more, in winter months, conventional light fixtures that are adversely affected by cold conditions may refuse to power up.

LED church lights are ideal even for churches that are not heated all winter because they operate most efficiently under cold conditions.

The Problem with Older Lighting Technologies

The types of lights installed in a church will affect the quality of light both outdoors and in the interior. The light fixtures will also have a huge impact on the energy and maintenance costs and dictate whether light control systems will be used.

Let’s talk about two older lighting technologies used in churches.

Fluorescent Lighting

LED Fluorescent Tubes Image

Fluorescents have been commonly used in church buildings, but they are quickly getting replaced by LED lights due to their many disadvantages. They usually consist of a glass tube filled with argon gas or argon-krypton and some mercury.

The tubes are coated with phosphor and feature electrodes on both ends. They generate light when an electrical charge is passed through the electrodes, and they emit UV radiation which is transformed into light by the tube's phosphor coating. Fluorescents require ballasts to provide their starting voltage as well as regulate their operating current.

The lamp's ballast, efficacy, and light output are sensitive to changes in the ambient temperature. When the temperatures are too high or too low, its operation and efficiency tends to degrade. Fluorescent tubes are also very brittle since they are made of glass. They also contain hazardous mercury.

These tubes can offer 3-5 years of operation, but their life expectancy is greatly influenced by their ballasts. If the ballast fails, then the tube will not operate. The lamps also produce visible flickering light which may be very uncomfortable to the congregation, causing eye strain, headaches, and aggravating symptoms of photosensitive epilepsy.

Fluorescents have a lower luminous efficacy because they waste some of the energy they produce as heat. LEDs stay cool since they do not have an oxidative process, so most of the power they draw is converted into light rather than heat. A LED lamp, for example, may produce 200 lumens of light from 1 watt of electric power. That is close to 75 lumens for each watt.

In addition, fluorescent bulbs generate light that is not flattering, especially in the church environment. These lamps have poor color rendering abilities because their color wavelengths mostly spike at blue, red, and green. LEDs have very high CRI levels, and their light has an attractive, daylight-quality to it.

HID Lamps

High-intensity discharge lamps have two electrodes, similar to fluorescent bulbs, generating a shorter arc. They create more heat, pressure, and light and require time to warm up before producing sufficient light.

They also have a restrike time, meaning that they cannot be switched on and off on demand. If there’s a momentary drop in voltage, they will leave the users in the dark for a while since their gases have to cool and pressure needs to drop before their arc restrikes. Restrike times can range from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the type of HID lamp. This specific feature makes HIDs very unsuitable for use with dimming controls and other intelligent light systems.

HID Bulbs Image

Mercury vapor lamps have a poor color rendering index and a very rapid lumen depreciation rate. Metal halides have a high CRI but the shortest rated life of all HIDs and last between 7,500 and 15,000 hours, depending on wattage. Their colors also tend to shift with use, turning to pinkish as they near their life’s end.

Just like fluorescents, HIDs require ballasts to start and to stay functional. The ballasts of these lamps also pull power – up to 30% of the lamp's wattage. The lamps also produce a lot of heat, meaning that they are very inefficient.

LED Church Lights

LED replacement bulbs are 70% more energy efficient than traditional bulbs because they not only use less wattage but produce less heat energy. They are also directional light sources, unlike HID or fluorescent lights that emit light in a 360-degree pattern.

LED Diodes Image

This means that only 30% of the light given off by fluorescents and HIDs will actually light the predetermined task area – if reflectors are not used. Many church buildings are forced to install extra light fixtures, which not only skyrocket the energy bills but might short circuit older electrical wiring systems that cannot handle higher loads.

LEDs have very long lamp lives, above 50,000 hours, and will give 70% of their light till it is time to replace them. Fluorescents die at the end of their life, and a T8 bulb, for example, is considered to be at the end of its lamp life when it starts to give 60% of its light output. This often occurs at only 14,400 hours of use. A T8 bulb has to be replaced 3.5 times to keep up with the long life of the LED light.

LEDs have no mercury content in them, unlike conventional lighting systems. The state of Washington disposes of at least 10 million lamps in landfills annually. These ten million lamps hold approximately 400lbs of mercury. It is only a measly 2 out of 10 bulbs that get effectively recycled.

LEDs do not emit UV light that can damage fabric and signage colors and cause eye fatigue and eyestrain. The lights not only produce radiant, high-quality light but also cause the air conditioning of the church to work less. They generate very little heat so the air conditioning will not work extra hard to cool the building during long hours of use.

Benefits of LED Church Lighting

Low Energy Consumption

LEDs use minimal amounts of power compared to conventional bulbs. They produce a high quantity of lumens with a minimum amount of power. So, where a 20 amp circuit of power can only hold a maximum of four 500-watt light fixtures, it can hold 15 to 40 LED fixtures!

Color Effects

LEDs have an extensive color temperature capability and help create the required ambiance in different spaces. They make spaces look just as bright as they would be during the day.

Consistency in Lighting

LEDs discharge light unidirectionally and their light is better distributed than the light produced by conventional bulbs.

Long Life

With tens of thousands of hours of use, it is easy to see why LEDs are perfect for church buildings. You will have fewer maintenance costs which can be prohibitive and very inconveniencing in church buildings with high walls and even higher ceilings.

Low Heat Production

A church can heat up pretty fast under the infrared heating produced by conventional bulbs. LEDs are perfect for stage lighting. They maintain a cool temperature and ensure that churchgoers do not get burnt if they accidentally touch the light fixtures.

Very Lightweight

Most LED church lights are compact and highly portable and can be installed in tight spaces. They are also lightweight, allowing for easy installation and maintenance.

Better Church Experience

Churches can provide a better worship experience and appeal when illuminated properly & efficiently. Create a better experience with LED church lighting. We will work directly with you to create a perfect church lighting design that is professional, sustainable, and enjoyable for all church visitors.

Safer and Brighter Church Parking Lots

LEDs ability to output quality illumination enables visitors to feel safer. Dark parking lots are easy for crime to occur in, by getting rid of under-lit areas & lighting fixtures that flicker or buzz (which is common with other lighting technologies such as HID, Metal Halide, HPS), you enable your churches property & visitors to remain safe.

Outdoor Church Lighting

Types of Outdoor LED Church Lights

LED Cobra Head Light Fixtures

LED cobra heads are the perfect light fixtures for parking lots. They are available for mounting on poles or as retrofits for your existing HID lights fixtures. To retrofit, all that is required is replacing the older bulbs and their ballasts with LED heads and drivers. Your church will start to enjoy not only excellent interior and exterior LED lighting but also reduced energy costs.

Advantages of LED Cobra Head Lights

  • They will lower your outdoor utility bill by up to 80% compared to HID parking lights
  • They have lower maintenance costs because they operate for at least 10 years
  • They are perfect for extreme weather conditions. Some are UV coated to withstand the harsh sun and have more resistance in severe weather

There are five different ways cobra head light fixtures distribute light. Type one caters to bike paths and narrow walkways while type two caters to wide bike paths, sidewalks, streets, and roadway entrances to the church. Type three caters best to parking area perimeter lighting while four is perfect for general parking lot areas and broad streets. The last light distribution pattern is more suited for outdoor parking areas.

Shoebox Lights

Poorly light and dark parking lots are not only a source of discomfort to the users but can also encourage criminal activities. Hooligans will find it easier to carry out criminal activities, break into cars, or damage the church property in bad lighting conditions.

LED shoebox-lights are sturdy light fixtures that offer uniform light coverage of the parking lot area and also provide energy savings. It is quite easy to convert your existing HID light fixtures to energy efficient – and brightly lit – LED fixtures and still maintain your original fixtures.

LED shoebox-lights come in a wide range of wattages, from lows of 50 watts to highs of 600 watts. These lights can produce up to 100,000 lumens and perfectly replace up to 2000-watt HPS and metal halide lamps. This is because they use less electricity to produce more light.

Shoebox-lights get their name from their rectangular shoebox design. These days, there are newer models of LED shoebox-lights producing up to 200 lumens per watt. And with 0 to 10v dimming, they integrate perfectly with light control systems.

Wall Packs

Wall-pack lights are commonly mounted on a church's exterior walls. They are designed to provide light to areas frequented by pedestrians and vehicle traffic. They can also be used as an added security light measure for walkways and the church building.

Wall-packs have for ages utilized HID lamps that provide poor color interpretation for security purposes. HPS lights, for example, have a deep yellow hue that renders color very poorly. Mercury vapor wall-pack lights have been used in building interiors but they generate low-quality light and are energy inefficient.

LED wall-packs come as full replacement kits or newly constructed fixtures with varied lens types that include high impact polycarbonate, acrylic, or prismatic glass. They also have different attractive finishes like white, bronze, or black to blend in better with the design of the church building.

If you have older HID wall-packs in your church, you can retrofit the fixtures with LED wall-pack retrofits. These wall-packs are specially designed to point their light directly to the walkway or street to cut down on light pollution.

Pole Top Lights

Pole-top lights, as their name indicates, are usually mounted on poles. They are normally installed in pathways, roadways, and in parking lots. They are used to provide safety to vehicles and pedestrians and are usually mounted on poles 7-20 feet high. Sometimes multiple light fixtures are installed on one pole to provide brighter light.

HID pole-top light fixtures range from 100W to 250W, and they consume a lot of electricity. They also have a shorter lamp life than LEDs and can cause high maintenance bills. And to replace pole-top lights, you may require the use of lifts or a bucket truck hire.

Metal halide pole-top lights have a very fast light degradation curve and start giving off pinkish light within a short period. High-pressure sodium pole-top lights, on the other hand, produce an orange glow that renders color poorly. When it comes to lighting performance, LED church lighting offers very many advantages including better performance during harsh weather conditions and extreme temperatures.

Types of Indoor LED Church Lights

  • LED Recessed Downlights

Light fixtures that are recessed into the ceiling to shine down light on a room are known as downlights. They are also termed as pot or can lights. Retrofit units can be installed in older fixtures by removing the older bulbs and ballasts. In a church building with a massive number of recessed downlights, LEDs will lower the air conditioning costs of the building since they produce less heat than older bulb types.

  • LED Retrofit

Many church managers are not aware that it is very possible to upgrade their existing church lighting systems – like halogen and metal halide lamps – to energy efficient LED lights. The older light fixtures can be retrofitted with newer LED units where possible. LED lights not only offer high-quality light but work well with light control systems, lowering energy consumption even further. They can also be tuned to the required CCT for church sermons and worship sessions.

Retrofit units use kits or screw-in features that fit into the church's older lighting equipment. The church can also opt for new, tastefully designed lighting fixtures that fit perfectly with the interior décor.

Retrofits are without a doubt very cost effective and will help a church to recoup the money it invested in a short period of time. Newer LED fixtures cost more to install and more money will be spent on labor, because electricians will spend more time on installation. Their advantage is that since new LED fixtures will be used, they will change the look and feel of the space. Retrofit plug and play LEDs are also easy to install, but other retrofit units that need to be tailored to the existing light fixtures are more complicated when it comes to installation.

Benefits of LED Lights

  • LED wall-packs, unlike HID wall-packs, do not lose their light to the environment 
  • LEDs last a long time meaning that you will have fewer costs to deal with when it comes to maintenance 
  • They offer higher light quality because LEDs have a color rendering index of over 80.

LED Parking Lot Lights in Church Setting

Switch to LED Church Lighting Today

LED Church Lighting

Reducing costs by up to 75% in church buildings is possible.

Converting to energy efficient LED church lights allow energy savings by up to 75% in many instances. This is achieved with LED technology, which is by far the most efficient lighting technology available today.

We work with many churches to convert their existing lights, mainly outside in their parking fixtures, wall lights, pathway lights, or other commercial area lighting products. These types of fixtures outdoors often require a lot of light output, which in turn, requires more energy usage.

By converting these lights to LED at a church, they are able to actually produce a positive ROI as they consume the most energy above all other light fixtures commonly found at churches. Along with energy savings, church LED lighting options also offer many other benefits.

These benefits include things like increased lifespan up to 2 to 3 times longer, decreased maintenance costs, improved quality of light, and better security for your visitors and property.

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