Choosing the Right LED Product for Industrial Lighting Applications

industrial LED
As the days of cheap and predictable energy costs rapidly recede, the impact of high energy prices on facility budgets is heightening demand for more efficient lighting solutions. And for good reason. Today, lighting-related energy use consumes upwards of 38% of an industrial facility’s total energy budget and with the ever-increasing cost per kWh of energy, that total bill continues to rise dramatically. As a result, energy efficiency is now a top priority at industrial facilities around the world and a key criterion for capital investment decisions.

Choosing the right industrial LED lighting solution to meet your specific needs may seem daunting, but with a solid understanding of the LED options available, this process can be greatly simplified.

First and foremost, understand the range of LED offerings for industrial applications — from basic LED fixtures, basic LED fixtures with add-on sensors, to intelligent LED lighting systems.

Basic LEDs are a more energy-efficient illumination source that deliver one-time energy reductions versus legacy lighting — high-intensity discharge (HID) or high-pressure sodium (HPS). There is no opportunity for additional energy savings beyond the simple wattage reduction.

Adding sensors to basic LED fixtures can increase energy efficiency; however these add-ons (occupancy or daylight harvesting sensors) are single-purpose tools, typically with fixed settings that control the on or off state of a fixture or group of fixtures. For energy-savings purposes, it is important to note that most fixtures cannot accommodate both occupancy sensors, dimming and daylighting, too, nor are they adaptable to meet a facility’s changing operational needs. So while these aftermarket add-ons enhance basic LED lighting fixtures’ functionality, the additional savings fall short of delivering maximum potential savings.

The most energy efficient category of industrial lighting, intelligent LED lighting systems, is the only category of lighting that routinely delivers savings of up to 90%. These fully integrated solutions leverage software controls, built-in occupancy and daylight harvesting sensors, and wireless networking, to provide facility managers and engineers with an unprecedented level of control and flexibility over lighting usage. And, these fixtures cost about the same as a basic LED fixture plus add-on sensor. The net result is dramatic energy efficiency savings throughout the lifecycle of a lighting installation.


Achieving maximum energy savings requires a lighting system that provides maximum flexibility around all the elements that drive lighting use.

  • Occupancy
  • At most industrial facilities, occupancy levels are significantly lower than most people expect. This doesn’t mean that a facility isn’t busy; it just means that every square foot of the facility isn’t necessarily occupied simultaneously. For lighting purposes, this means that the entire facility doesn’t require 100% light levels all the time. The word ‘occupancy’ in this context is used to refer to how much a particular space is being used and therefore requires lighting. An alternative term is ‘total lighting time. At very busy facilities, space occupancy is rarely above 30% and frequently less than 10%.

  • Timeout Settings
  • Controlling the amount of time a lighting fixture remains on after an area is vacated may seem a minor point, but it can have a major impact on energy savings:

    • 100 fixtures with 30-second settings will cost $3,500/yr
    • 100 fixtures with 60-second settings will cost $5,700/yr
    • 100 fixtures with 90-second settings will cost $7,300/yr

  • Dimming
  • There are times and applications where turning lighting off completely is not ideal. For those situations, dimming provides a viable energy-saving alternative. “Off” in this sense may not mean totally dark, but rather “night-light” illumination levels of, say, 10% to 20% for individual fixtures or groups. Dimming strategies are typically used in locations such as cross-aisles and back corners for security and comfort. Since dim is always more efficient than fully on, managing illumination levels can also make a significant contribution to bottom-line savings.

  • Fixture Longevity
  • With lifetime ratings in excess of 50,000 hours — more than twice that of alternative lamp sources — LED lighting fixtures need to be durable and designed with longevity in mind.

  • Warranty
  • With LED-based systems, a five-year manufacturer’s warranty is recommended, given the lifespan of these systems. Make sure that the warranty covers all of the hardware components of the system, as many lighting manufacturers only provide a pass-through warranty on key components such as the power supply and sensor, leaving the user with essentially no overall warranty.

  • International Safety Certification
  • Best practice facilities are raising the bar on certifications, requiring not only component level approvals, but UL/CE listing of the entire fixture as well. During evaluations, it is
    important not to assume that because one of these certifications exists, the others will be
    there as well. The highest quality manufacturers design their products to meet international standards of safety and quality.

    *Source: Digital Lumens Ltd. WhitePaper ‘Choosing the Right LED Product for Industrial Lighting Applications’

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