LEDs in Industry: Energy Conservation = Financial Savings|
Improving productivity and safety are commonly two of the top concerns in most industries. Running a close third is reducing the costs associated with operations. Rarely are there solutions that hold the potential to produce improvements across more than one or two categories simultaneously, let alone across the board. Normal business and operation management procedures usually involve locating and identifying potential sources of loss or decline, then devising a solution that will provide the needed improvement. Although effective, it is often a time consuming and expensive practice in and of itself so any solution that offers to cure more than one ill is valuable indeed. In today’s modern, world thanks to the constraints and expenses incurred by the needs for energy, it seems we are constantly on the lookout for solutions to a problem that persists and grows in acuity every year. Conservation of energy has gone from being a buzzword, a rallying mantra for the ecologically sensitive, to being a very real and important part of normal business practices. Energy conservation is no longer the sole domain of the eccentric environmentalist. It has grown to include the industrial world and rightly so.
In the world of industrial and commercial operations, energy is one of the biggest expenses encountered. It is a fact of business that the larger the operation, the greater the need for energy, which is of course followed by an even bigger cost for that energy which must be addressed. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, industry accounts for fifty percent of global energy consumption. Projections for this consumption predict a steady rise as more nations continue to develop and increase industrial operations in response to rising demands for goods and services. All of this energy, as well as representing a decline in non renewable energy sources, also represents increasing costs in industrial operations. As a result, those directly involved with industry are understandably interested in how to reduce their energy consumption, and thus their costs. It is here that energy conservation goes from being an ideal, to a practical reality.
In recognizing the potential savings that come with embracing energy conscious practices industry has in fact become one of the leaders in promoting the development of energy efficient means of utilizing electrical power. The results are all around us in energy conservation compliant appliances, machinery, and smart technology and new methods of harnessing electrical power. Nowhere is the potential for savings as great as in the lighting industry, however, and advancements in this sector have become nothing short of amazing. Considering that producing illumination accounts for fully one third or more of the total 50% in global energy that industry consumes, and that lighting has been one of the least addressed areas of improvement for almost 100 years, it makes sense that illumination would be the next stage in development of energy efficient technologies. Now these technologies are not only appearing and bearing fruit, but being embraced at unprecedented levels. Perhaps the most promising of all energy efficient lighting technologies to rise to prominence in the last decade is the LED or Light Emitting Diode.
Light emitting diodes have been around for nearly 50 years in practical but limited low power applications. Little real attention was given to their development because their potential had yet to be fully appreciated until serious studies began taking a closer look at their ability to produce light several times more efficiently than any other current methods. It didn’t take long, perhaps 15 years after the first real attempts at applying LEDs in uses competitive with standard lighting that LED technology really began to take off. In the last 10 years LEDs have finally come to realize much of their true potential. LEDs now rival or surpass almost every other form of lighting in efficiency. They can match most forms of lighting in output and intensity with few notable exceptions, such as high intensity discharge lamps. Their lifespan is many times that of all other forms of lighting and they have an inherent durability that is unmatched. Add all of these traits together and you have the potential to reduce by extreme margins the costs of energy usage in large scale applications like those found in the industrial and commercial sectors.
Consider for example that in 2007 the city of Raleigh, North Carolina began an initiative to begin switching their normal city lighting to LEDs on a limited trial basis. Now in its third year, with only a small portion of the city’s lighting upgraded to LEDs, the city is reporting that this initiative has resulted in a conservative savings estimate of $214,785 annually. This is not including the savings also found in reduced maintenance costs and reduced lamp replacement costs. Cities in California, Texas and Alaska are reporting expected reductions in energy consumption of up to 80% because of large scale upgrading to LED lighting technology. Retailers and commercial stores across the U.S. are already in the process of evaluating LED lighting and reporting similar results.
One of the simplest and most cost effective ways these upgrades are performed is by simply switching out old lighting fixtures with entirely new LED units. Much of the old lighting systems currently in use rely on ballast and resistor apparatus that further add to the lamps inefficiency. A good example of this would be the explosion proof fluorescent lighting fixtures widely used in industrial operations. Switching an entire facility’s explosion proof fluorescent fixtures with an explosion proof LED fixture like Larson Electronicss’ EPL-48-4L-LED Explosion Proof LEDs can theoretically result in a reduction in lighting costs of over ¼ or more with further savings realized over the long term in longer lamp life and reduced maintenance costs. For a large facility that spends over $3-400,000 annually on lighting, the savings from switching to LED fixtures can amount to nearly $100,000 every year.
With this kind of performance and potential it is no wonder that energy conservation is becoming popular in the industrial sector. These are not only theoretical results, but figures backed up by real world applications that every year add to the list of LED upgrade success stories across the U.S. and around the world. For industrial operations, this kind of performance is an across the board win.