In the past consumers used watts to work out the type of light bulb they required which made selecting lighting relatively simple. As new, more energy efficient technologies penetrate the marketplace, watts are no longer reflective of light level. As a result, purchasing light bulbs is now more complex than it used to be. For example, a 60-watt incandescent light bulb may give out the same amount of light as a 10-watt LED module.
In addition to varying levels of energy efficiency, each lighting technology has a different rate of light depreciation. This means a light bulb may provide a satisfactory light level for the first quarter of its life span, but after that it may rapidly decline and fail to meet your lighting requirements.
While businesses will typically wait to change their bulbs when they have burned out, the light bulbs may only have a 40% lumen output towards the end of their life. Depreciated light levels can make a significant difference in environments such as retail spaces, showrooms, offices and manufacturing plants. Light levels impact productivity, customer experience, and worker health and safety. For example, not enough light strains eyes and may cause eye discomfort and headaches. We recommend BC businesses check with WorksafeBC for information about light level requirements for their work environment before commencing lighting retrofits.
Lumens vs Watts
A watt is a measurement of how much electrical power a device consumes. A lumen measures how much light you get from a light bulb. More lumens mean a brighter light; fewer lumens mean a dimmer light. Higher watts mean an expensive electricity bill; lower watts mean a lower electricity bill. When shopping for light bulbs, compare lumens to be sure you’re getting the amount of light, or the level of brightness, you want.
Select a lighting technology that will remain bright over time
When purchasing light bulbs and deciding on what lighting technology is best for your facility, it’s important to take into consideration the lifespan of a lumen. The graph opposite sheds some light on the lumen lifespan of different lighting technologies. As you can see the lifespan of each technology and the rate of depreciation is greatly varied. A metal halide, mercury vapour, or high pressure sodium light bulb will have around 50% output for about half their lifespan. Other technologies such as fluorescent and LED maintain a high light level until the final stages of their lifespan.
When to change an LED
Firstly, the good news about LED technology is that you’ll be waiting a long time to change the modules as a typical LED module lasts around 50,000 hours (5-6 years of continuous operation). The lifetime of an LED module is defined as the time it takes until its light output, or lumen maintenance, reaches 70% of the initial output. In the lighting world this is referred to as L70. In other words, the module does not die instantly as many conventional light sources do, it slowly dims down.
If you are considering an LED lighting retrofit in your facility, it’s important to select a company that will do a lighting design assessment to make sure you are getting enough light in the space, especially if you have WorksafeBC inspections that specify specific lighting levels. For Kambo projects, when we know a client needs specific light levels to pass inspection, we make sure to overestimate light levels so the fixtures provide adequate lighting well past the estimated lifespan. With LED fixtures you can’t just change the modules if the light level isn’t adequate, so it’s important that you have proper lighting consultation to make sure your investment will meet your needs over time.
By retrofitting with better lighting technology you can keep your business brighter for longer and reduce maintenance costs so you don’t have to replace lights as often. To learn more about what lighting would work best for your facility please contact us for a free energy assessment.