LED Lighting for Commercial Construction|
Some of the greatest innovations in commercial and industrial lighting over the last ten years have been due to the heavy development of the LED or “Light Emitting Diode”. In applications where incandescent and HID lighting were once dominant, LEDs are now proving capable of matching or surpassing such forms of illumination in every aspect including , power, light quality, efficiency and operational life. Because of the LEDs’ highly efficient operation, long life, high durability, and small size, they offer a more versatile and cost effective alternative to the traditional types of work site lighting that were once the lighting systems of choice. As more operators discover the savings and improvements in productivity and safety that come with upgrades to LED lighting equipment, the trend towards solid state lighting promises to grow even larger.
In the construction industry, the tendency to shift operations towards evening and nighttime hours has increased in popularity. Particularly in road work operations, nighttime operations allow workers to avoid some of the more dangerous and challenging problems that come with the higher traffic volumes and increased public presence associated with daylight hours. Working at night allows companies to reduce their impact on the flow of traffic, reducing problems with congestion, and business affected by road projects experience less interference with their customer traffic. The workers exposed to busy traffic patterns in these work zones benefit from a reduction in accident potential as well since with lower traffic volumes comes a reduced potential for incidents.
Although these are substantial and beneficial reasons for shifting work site operations towards evening hours, construction work after sunset also presents some new challenges that must be met if such nighttime operations are to reach their full potential. Primary among the challenges facing the nighttime work site operator is providing effective illumination. Although there is a substantial field of lighting equipment to choose from, not all of this equipment is right for every nighttime work site. Additionally, such lighting equipment introduces additional operating costs that must be taken into consideration if such equipment is to be used in a cost effective manner. The cost of the equipment itself, its proper operation, and the costs of powering such equipment, and its suitability for particular applications are a few of the considerations that must be made if lighting equipment is to be effective.
LEDs have helped to make such considerations easier to manage. With their high lumen per watt output and strong leaning towards the higher ends of the light spectrum, white LEDS produce more and higher quality light while requiring less power. If you consider that a 50 watt halogen bulb produces approximately 15-25 lumens per watt, and an LED approximately 90 lumens per watt, it is easy to see how a 50 watt halogen producing 1,000 lumens could be replaced by a 15 watt LED, and a savings of almost ¾ realized while producing more light! This kind of efficiency is important, particularly for worksites when you consider that fuel powered generators are the primary power source for such projects and that fuel costs can easily tally into the thousands in short order. If you can reduce electrical consumption by a significant margin as is possible with LEDs, you have then reduced operating costs by a significant margin as well.
The efficiency and good color quality of LEDs are only a part of their cost effectiveness. The longevity and durability of the LED adds another aspect to cost considerations that should not be ignored. Typical halogen lamps have a lifespan of approximately 1500 hours, and HID lights can often last as long as 20,000 hours before requiring replacement. With LEDs, however, operational life is greatly extended, with 50,000 hours as a commonly agreed upon average, and newer LED types offering up to 75-100,000 hours. Thus, the number of replacement lamps needed over the course of several work operations is seriously reduced with the use of LEDs, further lowering operating costs. Additionally, the LED is a highly durable piece of solid state electronic equipment and not truly a “light bulb”. There is no glass, no gases, and no filaments used in the construction of the LED lamp. A single semi-conducting chip encased in clear epoxy or acrylic type materials all that makes up the basics of an LED, and thus there is little chance of breakage or damage. In abusive and demanding conditions like those found on commercial work sites, a highly durable light source that can stand up to dropping, impacts and vibrations without experiencing failure is ideal.
When considering the purchase of lighting equipment for the worksite, take a look at some of the LED equipped offerings now available commercially. Although slightly more expensive initially, the long life and reduced operating costs of LED equipment lights will likely make you very happy that you did.