Industrial LED Lighting Creates A Better, Greener Machine Shop Workspace While Saving Big On Electrical Costs
Not so long ago, businesses were encouraged to switch their industrial lighting from traditional incandescent lighting to modern fluorescent fixtures. At that time, fluorescent lighting was more energy efficient and economical to operate than incandescent, and the bulbs or tubes didn’t need to be replaced as often. Fluorescent lighting brought its own disadvantages to the industrial workplace, though: It flickers, and the illumination is harsh. Further, it contains mercury, which means that burnt-out bulbs and tubes are, in fact, toxic waste that requires special disposal. Worse, things get broken in shops, and broken fluorescent lights present a very real health and safety hazard to workers when they release dangerous mercury.
Clearly, fluorescent lighting is not the best solution from the perspective of shop employees spending several hours per day under it, relying on its flickery light to be adequate for accurate fabrication and assembly work. Fortunately, current government incentives to replace older fixtures with more pleasant, more energy efficient, and more environmentally friendly industrial LED lighting products are encouraging savvy business owners to upgrade their manufacturing and warehouse facilities, saving them money while creating a more effective workplace.
Compression Source of Valencia (http://www.compressionsource.com/) is a machine shop specializing in new and used compressors and power generation equipment. Their shop runs ten hours a day, five days a week, selling, servicing, and rebuilding compressors and other equipment. Their warehouse needs are not insignificant, given that they have the largest inventory on the West Coast for reciprocating compressors, cylinders, pumps, engines, electric motors and associated parts. Their old lighting, though, was inefficient and obsolete even by fluorescent standards: The fluorescent T12 tubes they were using went out of production in the US in 2012.
Compression Source approached Lighting Efficiency & Design (l.e.d.) for a new industrial LED lighting solution that would reduce operating costs while meeting their illumination needs, before their current lighting became completely unavailable. They wanted to replace 20 high-output T12 fluorescent fixtures, each with two 8′ tubes. Each tube drew 110 W, plus ballast, for a total draw of 232 W per fixture.
The challenge was to find an adequate, cost-effective lighting solution given their high, 12′ ceilings. Aside from the issue of installing lights at such a height and around equipment, the high-output fluorescent T12 tube was well suited for illuminating spaces with, coincidentally, 12′ ceilings. (The “12” in T12 refers only to the 12/8” diameter of the tube, not to a recommended height.) l.e.d. examined Compression Source’s requirements and presented them with a few energy-efficient lighting options, followed by a test installation on one fixture to validate the concept.
Compression Source was delighted with the quality of the new illumination and approved the remainder of the project. They had selected LED strip modules that could be inserted down the center of the existing fixtures that had held the fluorescent lighting, with one module replacing both of the fluorescent tubes in the fixture. The lumen output (that is, the total amount of light, or “brightness”) of one LED module is comparable to that of two fluorescent tubes. The new industrial LED lighting produces a color similar to that of daylight (5000 K) and they’re flicker-free. The LED modules, which have no ballasts, reduce the power demand per fixture by a whopping 73%, from 232 W to 62 W.
Compression Source took further advantage of the occasion by opting to buy new fixtures, rather than installing the new industrial LED lighting in the existing fixtures. This wasn’t required for the project, but the new fixtures made the installation easier: The 8′ LED strip modules could be installed into appropriate fixtures while on the floor instead of being retrofitted in situ, with upraised arms, 12′ in the air.
All told, the 73% power savings are expected to recoup the cost of the upgrades in only 32 months—under three years. This calculation includes the price and installation of the optional new fixtures, yet on the value side, it takes into account only the reduction in energy costs. The 32-month return-on-investment becomes even more attractive when the value of the additional building improvements is factored in.
In the end, however, what is priceless is the satisfaction of this client, whose expectations were pleasantly exceeded in several ways. Compression Source was very happy with both the results and the friendly and responsive service from l.e.d., from the choice of lighting replacement options, to the opportunity to evaluate a sample installation, to the thorough attention