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02/27/13 New Lighting Standards Provide Opportunity for Savings

Article- February 2013 By Larson

150 Watt High Bay LED Light Fixture

Larson Electronics 150 Watt High Bay LED Light Fixture

No matter how you look at it, how we illuminate our homes and businesses is going to change, and in many cases has already. Since as early as 2000, governments around the world have been seeking ways to improve energy efficiency on a national and even global level. The result has been the enactment of new regulations, funding of technological development, and more notably, the targeting of outdated lighting systems deemed as inefficient. The effect has been a significant shift within the lighting industries towards new technologies and a growing impact on end consumers that until now remained somewhat muted due to the gradual phasing in of new regulations. In essence, while certain types of luminaries have not been banned outright, new regulation dictates that lighting technologies comply with standards which become increasingly stringent each year, standards which older forms of lighting simply cannot meet.

Due to the slow enactment of new standards, most end consumers up until this year probably did not notice much difference in their choice of lighting. While LEDs and CFL’s have certainly begun to appear in growing numbers on store shelves, consumers have been able to continue to purchase the typical incandescent light bulb with little problem. This is due in part to the slow and gradual phasing in of new standards, and due to the already present stocks of incandescent bulbs manufactured before the standards were enacted. Until these stocks begin to deplete, consumers will still be able to purchase their old standby 60 and 100 watt incandescent bulbs. However, consumers can expect to see the price for these soon to be obsolete bulbs rise as they will no longer be manufactured past a certain date, if manufacturers haven’t ceased their production already.

Starting in January of 2011, the 100 watt incandescent would no longer be in production. In January of 2013 the 75 watt light bulb followed suit. 2014 will see the demise of the 40 and 60 watt incandescent bulbs as well. In addition, the incandescent bulb is not the only lighting technology subject to new standards. In July of 2012, four foot T-12 fluorescent bulbs were no longer in production, the older style magnetic ballasts these lamps required were already discontinued, and now electronic ballasts for these fixtures will also no longer be available. The T-12 was expected to be replaced by more efficient T-8 lamps, and to date such a shift has occurred to the newer style fluorescents with little issue. Although there are some exceptions and some types of incandescent bulbs will remain in production, for the most part, incandescent and older style fluorescent lamps intended for general illumination use will no longer be available.

While all of this might sound ominous and troubling for some, the reality is that this phase out represents an eventual benefit to consumers both industrial/commercial and residential. While the overriding concern for governments is the lowering of fossil fuel dependency and reduced carbon and pollutant emissions, the improved lighting technologies expected to replace less efficient technologies will also reduce costs for the end consumer. While it is true that initially some of these new lighting technologies, most notably LEDs, will cost more, there are a variety of factors that will not only compensate for these higher initial costs, but produce a net savings over the long term.
Particularly in the industrial/commercial sectors, the savings to be had from upgrading to energy efficient lighting technologies has the potential to be substantial enough to be considered nothing short of amazing.

For example, a typical warehousing complex utilizing outdated metal halide or fluorescent fixtures could experience electrical costs related to lighting in excess of $160,000 annually. By switching to higher efficiency LED fixture or new high efficiency fluorescent T8 fixtures, that annual costs can potentially be cut in half, resulting in a 50% reduction in energy costs, or a savings of $80,000 annually. This means that even if an entire upgrade costs in excess of $100,000, owners can realize a positive ROI and eventual savings in less than two years, which in turn results in an improved bottom line.

Although reduced electrical costs are a great benefit on their own, further savings can also be realized from the reduced maintenance and replacement costs provided by these longer lived lighting technologies as well.

Part of lighting costs which must be taken into account when comprehensively evaluating a lighting system include servicing and maintenance costs. Particularly in large scale industrial and warehousing operations, servicing normally requires a regular schedule of inspection, cleaning and servicing which also includes lamp and ballast replacements as needed. Since this is not a service which can normally be readily performed by average site workers, a dedicated service must be employed, which bases costs on an average built on frequency of visits, time spent,  and potential parts consumed during the servicing procedures. With longer lived lighting technologies such as LED and high efficiency fluorescent, the intervals between servicing can be reduced. Additionally, with technologies such as LED, no ballasts are required, and lamp longevity can be more than doubled, significantly reducing the required number of servicing visits and replacement parts needed, and thus costs.

Even for the average homeowner, significant savings will result from upgrading to LED lighting or high efficiency fluorescent systems. The average home uses up to 25% of its electricity in lighting. To simplify things, consider that a standard incandescent bulb used in the home costs about $4.50. Now consider that an LED with comparable light output will currently cost about $29.00 at the high end.  The LED costs much more right? Not really. When we next consider that the incandescent lasts an average of 2500 hours, and the LED 30,000 t0 50,000, we then see that in order to match the operational life of the LED, we would have to replace the incandescent bulb at least 12 times. This would bring the total cost of the incandescent to an actual $54.00 in order to provide the same amount of operating time as the single LED. Clearly, the incandescent light is now more expensive. Now consider that 10 typical 50 watt incandescent bulbs will cost about $18.00 per month to operate, while 10 of the far more efficient LEDs will cost approximately $2.10 monthly, then consider that the average home has around 45 incandescent bulbs, we see an even greater cost disparity on the order of around $75.00 per month for incandescent and $11.00 for the LEDs.

The current and continuing changes in lighting efficiency standards represent a serious issue that just about everyone from the everyday consumer to the large scale business owner is eventually going to have to address. Fortunately, although the changes necessary to meet these new standards may seem costly and impractical upon first look, these higher standards mean an eventual savings for everyone from the residential homeowner to the industrial business owner.

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