Savings that go on and on

Aurora, whole life costs, LED lighting
Stating the case for LEDs — Paul Davidson.

Paul Davidson of Aurora shares his enthusiasm for LED lighting, using its many benefits to dispel concerns about initial costs.

Just why has LED emerged as the definitive lighting solution? Solid-state-lighting technology is on an exponential drive of development, with the amount of light being produced increasing at a rate of 2000% over the past decade while the cost of producing that light has fallen by 90% over the same 10- year period.

Despite statistical evidence, there is still a reluctance to embrace LED for all lighting solutions. The reluctance typically stems from factors such as high installation cost, thermal management, consistency of colour across different lamps/luminaires. But what is the alternative? Conventional light sources?

I think not.

Fluorescent as an initial installation is more cost effective, but issues with low outputs during run-up times and limitations on using sophisticated lighting control over short operating periods make the product less than a definitive solution.

LED lighting has many benefits. It offers an extended lamp life with little future on-going maintenance, insensitivity to vibration, virtually no infra-red or ultra-violet radiation, and the opportunity of white and coloured sources for different applications. In addition, compact design means instant and flicker-free lighting. However, the main benefit is energy efficiency, leading to higher lighting efficacy.

LED can be designed into virtually all lighting applications. It is also an ideal light source for emergency lighting with its low power consumption requiring lower charging loads to maintain a healthy system.

Superficially, at least, luminaires using LEDs resemble those using fluorescent tubes — but LEDs offer significant benefits.

In commercial applications the areas of consideration are entrances and feature, transit and amenity, break-out areas, person interaction, individual offices, group offices, open-plan offices and prestige offices. Each requires a different approach, but with one constant — LED.

Open-plan offices have historically featured 600 mm-square recessed luminaires with four 8 W T8 fluorescent lamps. While suitable in its day, LED has now surpassed the performance of fluorescent lamps for little more than half their consumption. Whilst T5 solutions have become prevalent in commercial installations for their increased performance, the issues of maintenance and dimming require consideration.

For other areas in buildings, a cohesive solution can be created utilising the variety of LED-based luminaires from small recessed downlight fittings, similar to those of halogen sources, up to larger LED fittings that provide performance similar to that of metal halide.

LED is also an ideal light source for decorative wall lights and feature lighting due to its compact size and flexibility to create bespoke solutions that offer a lighting installation that fully meets the client’s individual requirements in ancillary areas such as receptions, meeting rooms and breakout areas.

LED development now provides a credible alternative to conventional light sources without needing more luminaires. But its strength goes beyond energy consumption. Reducing energy consumption of luminaires at a high cost is only half the story; it must be about how these fittings are used and operated. LED can be supplied with an option to dim, so installing these fittings in areas where there plenty of natural light allows for artificial lighting to be reduced during daytime. Luminaires near windows can be dimmed state for up to 75% of the average 9 to 5 office day. Centre and inner rows where the daylight benefit is reduced will provide a much smaller benefit and should be switched on.

Delaying installing LED lighting until the next stage of development can waste money during the waiting period to such an extent that it is more advantageous to undertake the installation rather than wait for the next development.

On the important issue of maintenance, LEDs again bring advantages. LED panels and downlights can provide up to 50 000 hours of use with virtually no maintenance. For many office environments, this amounts to 10 to 15 years.

While LED installations are more expensive, the benefits of energy efficiency and reduced life maintenance can be realised over the short to medium term.

There are other, less quantifiable benefits, too. Creating an aesthetically pleasing working environment — one that provides the optimum levels of illumination with good glare control and good levels of vertical illuminance — should boost staff morale and wellbeing.

A question frequently asked about LED installation is: ‘If I wait until development is more advanced, will the energy consumption requirements of my installation be lower?’

It’s a perfectly valid question, and the answer is, of course, ‘Yes.’ But there will be a ‘waiting cost’. This is the amount not being saved during the waiting period, which will very quickly reach a point where it is more advantageous to undertake the installation rather than wait for the next development. LED will continue to evolve, and if clients wait for the definitive solution, the installation will never be realised.

Consider not just the cost of energy, but also the cost of on-going maintenance, the cost of conventional lamp replacement, the cost in man-hours of the work and the parasitic cost of charging emergency fluorescent lighting against LED. The opportunity of providing true life-cycle costing and return on investment, rather than just a simple energy calculation, allows the financial benefits of the proposal to be considered and fully realised.

Finally, it’s your money, so spend it wisely by having a comprehensive design package that demonstrates the financial benefits to be gained and the attributed costs of implementation for your premises. Talking to a reputable manufacturer which fully understands LED, both the concept and the application, will help you to make an informed decision on where to make an investment, rather than just changing everything.

It’s your choice, but the calculated investment will provide the returns, not just financially but also in staff morale and well-being.

Paul Davidson is technical trainer and sales-development manager for Aurora.

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