We’ve entered a new era of warehouse lighting. Gone are the days of costly, inefficient installations. Today’s high-quality LED lighting is all about flexibility, energy efficiency, and lower maintenance costs. Because lighting can account for up to 80% of a warehouse’s energy bill, it’s critical that lighting be as efficient and cost effective as possible. With its long useful life and powerful, flexible options, LED-based lighting systems illuminate effectively from a height, deliver light on the both the vertical and horizontal planes for optimal visibility of racks and shelves, and virtually eliminate lamp replacement, which means fewer operational disruptions.
Keeping employees safe on the warehouse floor is critical. Highly uniform, inherently directional white LED lighting helps eliminate shadows and dark corners where accidents may occur. Flexible, easy-to-use lighting controls let you deliver the right levels of light where and when they are needed, increasing the efficiency and quality of operations. In the past, conventional lighting technology and lack of lighting controls meant that lighting had to be permanently on for safety. In 24/7 operations such as warehouses, this was costly to run and not sustainable. Now, we can put an end to those days – by delivering lighting ‘on-demand’.
Get the lighting just right and an amazing thing happens. The mood in the warehouse improves. Energy levels rise. And workers feel energised and comfortable, productivity flows. The environment benefits too. Presence-detectors ensure spaces are only fully lit when needed. Which means lower carbon emissions and lower energy bills. Win-win.
Take up of LED lighting has seen a rapid rise in the industrial sector as more and more companies reap the cost and energy saving benefits of the latest technology. Warehouses, with their high ceilings, large spaces and narrow aisles can be challenging spaces to light; what should you be aware of to ensure that the lighting is correct for your application?
Beware of glare
Keeping glare to a minimum is important in any workplace setting; eye strain, headaches and fatigue are potential side effects of light that dazzles. But in high risk environments such as warehouses where staff are operating machinery and looking up at high racks, a momentary loss of visibility caused by glare could lead to serious accidents.
In lighting products, glare is rated according to the Unified Glare Rating (UGR); choose products with a UGR of less than 19. Lens design is vitally important for both efficiency and glare-free operation; but the right option will vary depending on the particular application, from open area lenses to high racking lenses.
The importance of ‘colour temperature’
In warehouse environments, staff often work unsociable hours under artificial light. The ‘colour temperature’ of your lighting (which determines whether the lighting gives off a warm or cold appearance) can make a big difference to the look and feel of a space – and can even affect staff wellbeing and productivity.
An LED product’s colour temperature is measured in Kelvin (K). 3500–4000K gives a comfortable, warm-white colour appearance and is a good option for spaces where staff are working for long periods of time.
Even light distribution is also a key health and safety consideration. The high ceilings and narrow aisles in warehouses mean that it’s particularly challenging for light to reach all areas, but the consequences of a dark or dimly lit workplace can cause serious accidents. “Put simply: the easier it is to see a hazard, the easier it is to avoid it.”
Good product design as well as good installation is important here; choose a product that is designed to ensure precise optical control of the light distribution. A narrow beam angle will illuminate aisle spaces efficiently without any light wastage. Products with wide beam angles are best suited for open areas.
With the right product, ‘more illumination’ doesn’t mean ‘more energy’. UK tests have shown that LED lights provide extremely high illumination with excellent efficiency.
Lighting is only as good as the control; and the most efficient light is the one that is switched off. Using occupancy sensors to dim or switch off lighting when there is nobody in a room can reduce electricity use by 30%, according to the Carbon Trust. Daylight sensors (which adjust the artificial lighting according to the amount of natural light in a room) can reduce electricity use by up to 40%.
Some lights have a space within the centre of the luminaire for a sensor – eliminating the need for unsightly wiring. Various dimming options can also be incorporated, including remote programming from ground level via a smartphone.
Not all LEDs are made equal
Advancements in product research and development mean that LED technology is better than ever before – quality LED products now outperform the traditional metal halides and SONS usually found in industrial settings.
However, the rapid growth of the market has seen the sector flooded with new suppliers looking to ‘cash in’ on the trend. Some of these suppliers are less than scrupulous, and product quality can vary widely.
As well as asking for client references from your supplier, one way to tell whether a product will stand up to its claims is to ask about the components. At GA, we only use quality branded components and will work with you to meet your lighting needs, helping to create an intuitive, fully capable, state-of-the-art lighting system.
We recently installed new warehouse LED lighting for our client, Wallingford based Rowse Honey, who are close neighbours of ours.