LEDs can be ideal lighting solutions for businesses and organisations as well as households.
Lighting is not an issue business can afford to take, well, lightly. Indeed, the quality of illumination on business premises can have a significant impact on the performance and productivity of workers who operate there, and there general feelings of wellbeing and morale. After all, who wants to work in a dark and dingy office all day, squinting at a PC screen?
Given that such a large proportion of our sensory input comes through the eyes, it makes sense to consider what represents optimum lighting. How can businesses create the most comfortable workplace for their people, without adding to overhead costs? Business premises need to be well lit, but also illuminated with the right type of light – ensuring employees are made to feel as comfortable as possible and ready for work.
Improving your business lighting
A variety of options existing for businesses when it comes to lighting, from halogens and other traditional bulb types through to innovative energy-efficient alternatives. As the cost of electricity continues to rise, an increasing number of companies are choosing to invest in LEDs. These provide a light source at a much lower cost than longer-established solutions, given their increased longevity and energy-efficiency.
But the question is, can LEDs provide the type of high quality lighting businesses need for their commercial premises? Employers are eager to ensure affordable lighting does not compromise on the quality of illumination within the workplace. Fortunately, there are few concerns in this regard. The fact that LEDs virtually emulate the light output of halogens means this is not an issue – companies can upgrade their bulbs without sacrificing brightness, ambience or comfort.
Choosing the right colour
So which LED bulbs are best-suited to an office, shop, warehouse or production facility? Many businesses choose to use daylight white LEDs, as opposed to the warm white bulbs typically used in the home. These bulbs are colder, brighter and almost bluish in nature – they are designed to almost replicate natural light. In environments such as an office, this can be beneficial as it helps employees remain alert and focused on their work.
The colour temperature of daylight white bulbs is around 6,000 to 6,500 Kelvins, whereas warm white bulbs – which give off a yellowish glow – operate at around 2,700 Kelvins. When buying LED bulbs, the colour temperature will be clearly marked on the packet, ensuring customers purchase the bulbs they are looking for.
Maintaining your lighting
As the Carbon Trust explains, LEDs have been developed for lighting in a number of ways. “Manufacturers have sought to produce both replacements for existing lamp forms and to develop completely new luminaires,” the organisation notes. “LED products have been designed to replace a wide range of display and directional lamps, especially tungsten halogen lamps. These retrofit solutions use the existing lamp holder and fixture.”
The Carbon Trust says these replacement lamps are, in effect, almost complete light fixtures. They combine a light source, power supply, optics and heat management components. The consequence of this is that they can last up to ten times as long as traditional incandescent bulbs, meaning businesses should not have to make anywhere near as many bulb replacements.
As well as the reduced costs, this offers other benefits, due to the practicalities of carrying out lighting maintenance. On many commercial premises, downlights are supported on high ceilings in locations where they cannot be easily accessed. It may be necessary to bring in a contractor – complete with ladders or even a cherry picker – to change bulbs over. Furniture and other equipment may need moving around in order to get to the fitting which needs a new bulb. And this work cannot take place if employees are operating in the space required, meaning there is a logistical challenge.
It is not practical to shut down business operations and clear working areas every time a light bulb needs replacing. As such, on some company premises, it can be an extended period of time before new bulbs are fitted. Using longer-lasting bulbs – such as GU10 LEDs help overcome this difficulty – since they simply keep going for years and years without the need for any maintenance work. Once they have been installed, you should not have to worry about them.
Working out the business case for LEDs
Even before you consider benefits such as bulb longevity and reduced maintenance work, there is a clear economic case for upgrading to LED light bulbs. They consume up to 90 per cent less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs, which over the course of a year can lead to significant energy savings for your business.
Companies may use a large number of bulbs on-site, and installing LEDs in place of older lighting technologies is one of the easiest ways to reduce expenditure. Quality of lighting will not be affected – employers can still create work environments which are primed for productive operations – but the amount spent on energy will fall noticeably.
Working out LED savings
The Carbon Trust explains that, in calculating the savings made by upgrading to LEDs, businesses need to consider the current lighting load – in Watts – the hours of use per year, the new LED lighting load and the rate paid per kWh of electricity.
“First multiply the existing lighting load by the hours of use. This will give the number of kWhs used each year,” the trust states. Next, business leaders need to multiply this figure by the unit rate and divide by 100, which will give the annual cost in pounds.
“Do the same calculation for the new lighting,” the Carbon Trust instructs. “Subtract the new lighting cost from the old and this gives the annual savings. This figure can then be compared to the investment and a payback calculated.”
Inevitably, as the cost of electricity continues to rise, the case for upgrading your business lights to LEDs will become increasingly compelling. Homeowners across the UK are recognising the potential of energy-efficient lighting, and British companies can benefit in the same way – ensuring they spend less of their budgets paying for overheads, and more on targeting growth in 2014.