Work Site Lighting: Some Basic Considerations for Effective Operation|
Illuminating industrial or commercial worksites can be an oftentimes difficult and frustrating job in and of itself. The size of the work area, the type of equipment being run, the nature of the work, and the hours of operation vary widely from worksite to worksite, which means the lighting requirements usually vary just as widely as well. Will the lights need to be repositioned frequently? Are there practical sources of electrical power nearby? Is the illumination for a large area, or does a small area need to be brightly lit? Are workers digging holes, or are they routing telephone cables? These are just a few of the types of questions that arise when planning to illuminate the work site, and they type of lighting chosen can have a great impact on how effectively and efficiently the work is done.
For general lighting of large areas, such as when illumination a large section of road work at night, large generator powered lighting systems are usually preferred. These systems consist of a generator, 2 to 6 light fixtures, and a telescoping mast system to provide better coverage of large areas as well as reduce glare that may interfere with traffic. The lamp types in these systems are usually metal halide units due to their ability to efficiently produce extremely high light output that has a good color rendering index. LEDs are beginning to make an appearance with these portable systems as well since they are even more efficient and durable than HID lamps, and can produce light of good color quality as well.
For close work such as working with wiring or assembling piping or underground lines, smaller, more well focused light sources are preferred. These are often small portable lighting towers or rechargeable work that can be easily positioned in hard to maneuver spaces. Rechargeable battery packs and/or wiring connectors that allow operators to utilize equipment or vehicle electrical systems provide power and let users move and position the lights easily. Halogen lamps have been preferred for these types of luminaries for some time, but HID and LED equipped units are fast gaining in popularity due to their extended run times with limited power sources and their better color rendering.
Regardless of the type of work, lighting must be durable and able to run for extended periods with little attention. HID lamps are a good choice for applications where the highest power and good efficiency is needed. Far more efficient than incandescent or halogen lamps, HID lamps produce large amounts of light with the least amount of power, and can last for up to 25,000 hours before replacement is needed. They have no filaments and so can withstand higher levels of vibration and minor impacts as compared to incandescent lamps. However, HID lamps rely on ballasts, which increase the costs of HID equipped units and introduce an added parts failure potential, and have glass bulbs that can be easily broken if dropped or exposed to overly rough handling.
LEDs are a newer lighting technology that is fast gaining in acceptance and popularity. Solid state in construction, LEDs have no filament, no glass parts, and require no ballast. This solid state design makes them very rugged and ideal for rough conditions and environments where lamp durability may be an issue. Additionally, LEDs are highly efficient and are surpassed for sheer power only by HID lamps. Battery powered LED lighting equipment can have runtimes 10 times longer than other lamps, and LED units connected to external power sources require only a ¼ to 1/3rd as much power to produce the same amount of light as incandescent lamps.
Whatever type of lighting is decided upon, all lighting used on work sites should have good color rendering and be able to render details sharply and clearly. Poor quality light, even large amounts of if, can increase worker fatigue and the incidence of errors due to poorly color and detail rendering forcing workers to focus more intensely than needed for long periods. As can be imagined, choosing a good work site light requires more than just settling for the brightest lamp you can find. Durability, efficiency, and light quality all play important roles in the effective execution of work site activities and have a direct affect on the overall cost effectiveness of the job as a whole.