“Warehouse lighting is a necessary cost that our company has to bear. There are no savings to be made and the best thing we can do is keep expenditure to a minimum.”
If this is what you’re thinking, we completely disagree with you. Your warehouse lighting doesn’t have to impact your business’ bottom line negatively.
Yes, warehouses require many bright lights because they have high ceilings, very few windows, high shelves, and large floors. But they can be well-lit without driving up an electric bill.
A warehouse’s lighting system must do the following:
- Increase work productivity
- Enhance the safety of workers and their working conditions
- Lower maintenance costs
- Decrease environmental degradation
- Refresh the area’s operational efficiency
According to the Department of Labor (DOL) slips, falls, and trips are the top general industrial accidents. If the lights in your warehouse don’t boost safety, workers will get injured and take days off work – which will affect your business. If they don’t increase productivity, your workers won’t be alert or energetic – and your business will suffer.
When buying lighting for your warehouse, you may be confused by all the available options. In this post, we’ll be discussing the pros and cons of different warehouse lights. It is very easy to make a poor purchase decision if you’re misinformed. Use the tips we’ve provided here to get the right lights for your warehouse.
Choose the Proper Lighting System
There are three common types of lights used in warehouses: high intensity discharge lights, fluorescent lights, and LED lights. And while most warehouse owners and managers have upgraded their lighting systems to LED, some warehouses still feature HID lights and fluorescents. Let’s discuss each of these lights in detail.
HID technology generates light by passing a current between two electrodes secured inside a bulb with ionized gas. There are different types of HID bulbs and they are all named after the gas they contain. Some bulbs use sodium, others mercury, and others metal halide.
HID bulbs are more efficient than halogen bulbs. However, even the brightest HID bulbs do not emit very powerful light. High pressure sodium lights give off very yellow light and metal halides do not produce bright white light, even though their light is better than that of HPS lamps
- They are more energy-efficient than halogen lamps
- They are a bit cheaper than LEDs
- They have a strong, blinding glare that can cause headaches or eye strain
- They use a lot of electricity
- They take a long time to warm up (achieve full brightness) and cool down
- They have a very high rate of lumen depreciation
- Their color temperature options are very few
- They don’t work well with lighting controls
The first fluorescent lamp was developed by four scientists at General Electric in the year 1934. And while the light has both admirers and critics, there’s no denying the fact that it is better than a HID lamp. For a fluorescent to produce light, an electric current triggers the mercury vapor which generates ultraviolet light, causing a phosphor coating on the lamp’s interior to glow.
Fluorescent lights have 2 advantages over HID lights: They consume less electricity and have more color temperature options (their color temperature ranges between 2700K and 6500K).
But these lights are not free of flaws. They don’t function well in very hot or very cold areas and their lifetimes can drastically decrease if they are used in such areas. Their life expectancies can also go down if they are constantly switched on and off.
- They are more energy-efficient than HID lights
- Their color temperature range is wider so the light they produce is brighter
- The bulbs contain mercury which can be poisonous if inhaled or ingested
- Disposing of the bulbs is costly because it must be done professionally
- They are powered by an alternating current and have a tendency to flicker and hum
- They don’t work well with dimmers as their light output can only be dimmed up to 30%
LED stands for light emitting diode. LEDs produce light by exciting semiconductors, causing them to release light particles. The first visible spectrum LED (one that produced light that could be seen by the human eye) was invented by Nick Holonyak in 1962 as he worked for General Electric.
LEDs consume the least energy of all lighting systems and produce better light because they have a greater color temperature range (2700K-6500K). LEDs are also popular because of their flexibility of design. They don’t emit a lot of heat and are cool to the touch.
- They are the most energy-efficient lights and can reduce energy consumption by up to 75%
- They have flexible designs as individual bulbs are made up of many small LED chips. This makes them ideal for different applications
- They do not create a strong glare
- They last much longer than all light sources (up to 100,000 hours) and reduce lighting maintenance costs
- Frequent on and off cycles do not affect their lifespans
- The lights function well in both high and low temperatures
- They can be paired with different types of lighting controls
- They have a fuller light spectrum and reveal details about objects other light sources can’t reveal
- They retain 70% of their lumens (brightness) up to the end of their lives
- They are slightly more expensive. However, rebates and incentives given by the government and utilities can lower their costs
Just by looking at the pros and cons of each lighting technology, it’s easy to see LEDs are the best. When buying the lights, here are some things you need to consider.
Determine How Bright You Want Your Warehouse to Be
One thing you may not be aware of is that the color of your warehouse’s ceiling and walls can determine the amount of light needed in the place. For instance, a warehouse with white walls and a white ceiling doesn’t need very bright lights as white paint reflects light, making a place look brighter. However, a warehouse with gray walls and a white ceiling needs brighter lights as gray paint doesn’t reflect light very well.
If you paint your warehouse’s walls and ceiling white, you may not need to get LEDs that produce a lot of lumens. And if the LEDs consume very few watts, they will significantly reduce the lighting part of your electric bill. If your warehouse has skylights, you can save even more energy by switching off all the lights on sunny days.
Pay Close Attention to the Color Temperature
Color temperature usually describes the appearance of the light produced by light bulbs. It enables us to know how the light produced by a bulb will look and feel.
The Kelvin scale is used to measure color temperature as it is very accurate at measuring extremely cold or hot things. Light bulbs with a color temperature between 2000K and 3000K are “warm” and their light color ranges between orange and yellow-white.
Those with a color temperature between 3100K and 4500K are “cool” or “bright” and produce neutral white light that may have a blue tint. Light bulbs with a color temperature above 4500K generate blue-white light that is similar to daylight.
Optics Are Very Important
In order to make maximum revenue per square foot, modern warehouses have very high ceilings and narrow aisles. Old lighting technologies dispense light sideways and downwards. Because they have wide beam angles, they waste a lot of light by delivering it where it isn’t needed.
Most new LEDs incorporate optics for better performance. Optics shape and focus the light LEDs produce, dictating the illumination pattern. They can make the difference between mediocre and great lighting in a warehouse. They ensure LEDs deliver narrow beam angles which are perfect for high warehouse ceilings and racking systems.
Lighting experts use photometry to determine the foot candles needed in a warehouse and how the light should be distributed across the entire surface. The Lighting Centre can conduct a free lighting audit to determine the best optics for your warehouse.
Don’t Forget Lighting Controls
Lighting controls have significantly changed the way energy is used as they make sure that lights are only on when it’s necessary. They are part and parcel of every great lighting design as they automatically regulate the light output. One of the best things about LEDs is that they work well with all types of lighting controls – from occupancy sensors to dimmers.
You can significantly reduce the energy consumption of your warehouse by installing different lighting controls in different rooms. For example, you can install motion sensors in the lights outside your warehouse and occupancy sensors in the busy areas of the warehouse.
The Fixtures Must Be Properly Spaced
The placement of the lighting fixtures in your warehouse should be just right. Place them too close to each other and they will cause glare and make it difficult for your employees to work, affecting their productivity in the process. Light fixtures that are too close may also create bright spots as their light may overlap.
Fixtures that are too far apart can cause dark spots in a warehouse as some areas will lack light. A lighting designer can recommend the best placement for light fixtures and help you to steer clear of issues like glare, bright spots, and dark spots.