LED lighting is more an IT technology project than just a traditional lighting retrofit. Just like implementing any IT solution in your company, you need to plan, design and engineer the project to ensure you are getting a solution that meets your business needs.
With traditional lighting technology you use a fixture that has some version of a round lamp. Light emits from the lamp at 360 degrees. Manufacturers use reflectors in fixtures to bounce at least half of the light that is going up, in different directions. The issue with using reflectors is that every time you reflect light, the light source gets weaker. By the time the light hits the ground it could have lost over 75% of its initial output. That’s why traditional lighting fixtures use so much wattage in order to overcompensate for all of the lost light on the way to the ground.
In LED technology, light comes out of the LED diode at only 180 degrees. In order to direct the light, manufactures use optics. Optics are small lenses that are put on top of each LED Diode that bend, magnify and direct the light to illuminate the right area. Using optics, light can be directed in an endless number of patterns. For a warehouse aisle that is only 10 feet wide, we can engineer a LED fixture to send light in a rectangle pattern so that more light is thrown down the aisle versus across it. If we have a big open space that we need to fill up, we may direct the light in more of a square or round pattern to give us the most even coverage.
Most vendors and lighting companies try to sell you LED lights to simply replace your current fixtures. It is important to understand that just because you have 50 fixtures, the most efficient solution is not necessarily to replace them with 50 LED fixtures. As an example, a parking lot may currently be fitted with 4, 400 watt metal halide fixtures on multiple poles to adequately cover the entire lot. By using sophisticated lighting software, we can analyze the different optic configurations of an LED fixture and design a solution that provides increased light for the same coverage using only 2 or 3 LED fixtures while using a fraction of the energy.
Since we are using 60-85% less energy for the same amount of light with a new LED system, there may be opportunities to re-engineer the actual lighting circuits. We can reduce some of the electrical loads off of certain circuits and add loads to others. This creates a more balanced system that reduces overall stress resulting in lower energy costs and a longer life. This can only be achieved by having an engineer look at the total electrical infrastructure in relation to the new lighting system to determine the optimal configuration.
Every project should be looked at as an opportunity to redesign and re-engineer the lighting. If someone is just trying to sell you a fixture on a 1 for 1 basis, look elsewhere! You need to work with a company who has the technical knowledge and expertise to do this type of work.