When it comes to lighting, the most efficient light is the one that converts the most electrons into photons – less power (and dollars), more light. The other strategy for lighting energy reduction is not using any power at all – being off when not needed. That’s very green – both environmentally and financially.
When it comes to industrial lighting, facility managers can now control lighting to maximize energy savings – an option that was limited, at best, with traditional lighting sources. After-market controls are available for HID or HIF lighting to save energy – providing the ability to set timeouts, dimming, scheduling and daylighting to maximize “off time” or “dim time”, but often not in combination with one another. Further, the shortcomings of the underlying light sources – an inability to rapidly cycle on/off without compromising lamp lifetime and, when integrated with even simple controls, the inability to reach necessary light levels quickly enough to insure operator safety – make them less-than-ideal. Not to mention that the energy reductions are incremental, at best.
There are after-market controls available for HID or HIF lighting that have some nice features and can save some energy, but without them being well integrated with the fixtures, you lose the ability to use all of these features at once and make changes quickly and easily. Only an integrated solution, with embedded intelligence and an easy-to-use management system, can offer the ability to set timeouts, dimming, scheduling, and daylighting to maximize “off time” or “dim time.” Furthermore, conventional lighting has several shortcomings – an inability to rapidly cycle on/off without compromising lamp lifetime and, when integrated with even simple controls, an inability to reach necessary light levels quickly enough to ensure operator safety. And, without the ability to turn the lights on and off quickly, energy savings are incremental, at best.
Highly controllable light sources – LEDs – are the new industrial reality; and integrated, intelligent controls makes possible new levels of energy efficiency. These lights use much less power to generate excellent light levels, while leveraging controls that light the space only when occupied – you only pay for the light you need. How? Lighting is provided based on occupancy and required illumination levels, and tailored to your facility’s schedule. Here’s a closer look at the controls variables that drive lighting energy savings:
- Occupancy levels in cold storage, warehouse and manufacturing environments are often significantly lower than one might expect. Occupancy doesn’t mean how busy the facility is, just how much the average light ends up being on. In very busy facilities that have the LEDs turning off quickly, occupancy can be less than 10%! Paying for lighting only when needed creates significant savings opportunities. Light the area where the operators are; not the area where they were ten minutes earlier.
- Timeouts – the amount of time after an area is vacated – seem insignificant but can have a major impact on lighting energy savings. Do your lights need to be on for ten minutes after an area is vacant? Doubtful. Two minutes? Probably not, but you may want to experiment and find out. We see numerous instances where facility managers start out with conservative, two-minute timeouts and find that they can move down to thirty seconds without compromising operator safety, productivity or comfort. But, to test this, you need to be able to do this from an easy-to-use management interface, and not on a lift 30 feet in the air.
- Illumination (or dimming) levels provide additional savings opportunities, as well. When the lights are turned on, are they on at 100% or are they on at a lower level? And, when the lights are turned off, does off mean completely dark? Maybe. Off can also mean night-light mode (say illumination of only 10%) in specific locations – cross-aisles and back corners, for example – so a room is never totally dark. Those decisions make a significant bottom-line difference, because, if you need some light, dim is cheaper than fully on.
- Advanced scheduling options provide yet another way to maximize savings. Does your facility have seasonal changes that your lighting should adjust with? Aligning the lighting delivered with the lighting needed is an essential controls strategy. But, this is only possible with solutions that let you adjust settings easily with a software-based interface. Because we know that it is too much of a nuisance to get up on a scissor lift and manually change settings on hundreds of fixtures. Use a mouse, not a lift.
Helping facility managers maximize lighting energy savings is what drives Digital Lumens and our product development team. We recognize that the most successful solutions maximize the green on the bottom line and green from an environmental perspective. In lighting, the best way to go green is to go black (or dark). Simply put, if cash is king, then Black is the new Green.