Following Light

Floor-to-ceiling innovations, and outdoor options, too


Credit: iStock/denizbayram

At the Moorpark Unified School District in Moorpark, CA, Gary Ventsam, director of maintenance and facilities, was weighing energy savings options. The choice came down to installing solar or doing a lighting retrofit with LEDs. At one point, there had been some concerns over LED brightness, clarity, and different colors, he points out.

“Most of them when you saw them were blue,” says Ventsam. “Now they’ve come out with the soft white, daylight, and all of the different lighting configurations for color.”

Not only that, but Ventsam saw how LED life cycle, maintenance, and energy savings had matured over the years. He met with solar company representatives who could not match the potential savings from the LED lighting.

Turning to Titan LED, he began the task five years ago of retrofitting the district’s 10 schools, starting with outside lighting. He then turned his efforts to the indoor gymnasiums by changing out the 450-W metal halide lighting with 100- to 168-W LEDs. “They were phenomenal,” he says. “The savings we got on that was unbelievable.”

To determine energy savings, Ventsam had used a wattage meter in a classroom where he had changed out the T-8 lighting to LED. “We had a 70% savings with the LEDs for the first year,” he says.

The energy savings had not shown up on the Southern California Edison bill, however, due to tiered rates, Ventsam says. “It’s hard to justify when they start changing tiers, but I know we are doing our part by going green. It’s hard to see, but I know by looking at my meters where the savings are.”

Despite being in the thick of the Great Recession, which necessitated pay cuts and furlough days in the school district, Ventsam and his team were able to initiate the lighting retrofit through a bond that voters passed.

Ventsam expects the LEDs to save the school district significant costs in maintenance. For instance, in a gymnasium, the LED lights are putting out almost half of the heat of the previous metal halides, which would go out sooner. “You’re saving in the maintenance of changing out the lightbulbs and saving in air-conditioning costs,” he adds.

LED lighting is a “rapidly developing technology and marketplace,” notes John Ruscigno, Titan LED chief marketing officer. LED lighting has moved past the early adoption stage and the associated challenges to becoming the lighting of the future, says Ruscigno.

US-manufactured lighting is being taken more seriously due to the strict regulations here, says Ruscigno. His sentiment is echoed by others in the industry who are noting more of an emphasis on American-made products. While there can be quality products manufactured overseas, it takes due diligence to ensure their quality, Ruscigno adds.

Titan LED’s Hennessey series offers high bays, low bays, shoeboxes, wall packs, tube lights, fuel canopies, and 2-foot-by-2-foot troffers. The products are made with a Tier 1 chip.

While LED light end users can see as much as a 75% or higher energy savings, there are additional benefits to morale, production, sales, and safety environments, Ruscigno points out. And maintenance is minimized. Titan LED products are designed to last 125,000 hours.

Titan LED uses ACC technology, with 28 thermal exchange ducts through which cool air is actively vented to signi­ficantly reduce the core junction temperature of high-power LEDs.

Innovations Throughout the Industry
Philips recently rolled out its latest in connected lighting systems, including Power over Ethernet (PoE) luminaires, app-based controls, and cloud-based technologies.

Those innovations include luminous carpets and ceilings, as well as HealWell lighting systems for hospital environments, and new applications that allow remote management of lighting technologies.

Philips Lighting CEO Eric Rondolat notes: “We live in an Internet age marked by 24/7 connectivity, and these trends are fundamentally transforming the way we use and interact with light.”

Value propositions focus on lighting that transcends illumination and energy efficiency, he adds. “For example, this includes streetlights that communicate their location and slash the cost of maintenance, office lighting to improve productivity, and supermarket lighting to enhance customer loyalty by enabling special offers to be pushed to shoppers’ smartphones,” says Rondolat.

Philips’ latest architectural application is the Philips OneSpace luminous ceiling, which integrates LED lights with textiles to create a white light ceiling surface that hides the source of light, offering architects a solution for uniform, glare-free functional white light for hospitality, public, and retail spaces. The system has an ultra-thin minimalistic design and is available in customized sizes and a variety of mounting options.

Philips eW Fuse Powercore luminaire has a design that shapes and directs light to produce optimal uniform illumination for either washing, where the beam from lights mounted on the ceiling fall at a wide angle, enhancing a wall’s smoothness and eliminating shadows, and also for grazing, a technique where lights are positioned closely to a wall, either from the floor or ceiling, to force the beam of light to hit the wall at a narrow angle; grazing draws the eye to the wall’s texture by creating a shadow. Combined with ActiveSite, the luminaire supports remote monitoring and management of individual light points.

Philips and Tandus Centiva have integrated luminous carpets into commercial interior design, using them as programmable messaging tools capable of informing, directing, welcoming, and inspiring people. For example, the carpets can direct people to building exits in case of an emergency, or point them to the coffee machine or restrooms.

The Philips HealWell lighting system uses spectrally tunable LED luminaires with integrated controls for a health care solution that supports circadian rhythms and improves sleep for patients, and provides a comfortable environment for staff and caregivers.

Sensors and Controls
Southland Industries offers a variety of innovative lighting control technologies, including those that integrate occupancy control and logging, tying into building management systems and simultaneously controlling lighting and ventilation. “This is something we have been doing to decrease the number of sensors needed to reduce lighting levels and control ventilation levels at the same time,” says Bridgette Rodgers P.E., energy engineer.

Rich Paroby, P.E., project developer, adds that a similar innovation is using controls to integrate lighting and plug loads wirelessly at the individual workspace level.

Southland Industries has both radial, relay-based topologies to topology-free systems, both utilizing PC- and Web-based scheduling controls to offer both local and remote communications, says Michael Starego, P.E., associate principal electrical engineer. “Topology-free systems offer distributed, addressable, and intelligent devices that—wired or wireless—tie into a central network for local or Web-based control and data logging,” says Starego. “Our innovative use of wireless control technologies allows for greater opportunities with decreased cost, reducing both material and labor requirements, while also providing the same benefits and capabilities of traditional wired systems.”

Seth Pearce, P.E., director of engineering and development, quips that the company’s services are becoming more “tactical” in approach. “We’re performing innovative logging utilities with our advanced occupancy sensing designs that offer movement tracking and identify high-use areas,” he says.

The company’s use of dual technology sensors and controls (infrared and ultrasound) have eliminated false occupancy sensing and improved systems’ operation and function. “Coupling smart systems with sustainable innovations utilizing solar, skylighting, and daylight harvesting technologies to further decrease energy consumption really tops the cake,” says Pearce.

Facilities with windows or skylights benefit from natural lighting and supplement non-natural lit spaces using efficient technologies, says Warren Van Ryzin, P.E., project developer. “Daylighting control and automation innovations sense the amount of natural lighting and dim or shut off lighting equipment in a daylit space to provide the proper amount of work area foot-candles per the Illuminating Engineering Society [IES],” he adds.

Southland Industries offers the ability to enhance control scheduling with multiple data algorithms, analytics, and end-user adaptability. “We’re a bit naturally innovative, because we’re product-agnostic,” says Pearce. “This enables a lot of exposure to different solutions and allows us to optimize the solution for the purpose.”

To this end, Paroby adds, “we are really leveraging the increased availability of open protocol controls now available to maximize innovation without some of the limitations of proprietary control systems.”

Southland deals with environment-specific innovations that include automatic daylight controls integrated into either radial control or topology-free systems. This provides intelligent device systems to make buildings and energy use “very smart,” notes Pearce.

“Southland also is innovating with individual fixture control, offering end users the ability to control their individual area to their own lighting level preference for increased comfort and performance,” says Van Ryzin. “These innovations, coupled with others such as vacancy sensing, high-end tuning, and demand response capabilities are providing great energy savings.”

The company’s value-oriented solutions consider lifetime maintenance cost, best IES of North America practice, integrated HVAC, space usage, and appropriateness of the lighting system to exceed the project objectives,” says Starego.

“Our transparent and experienced development teams look at projects as partnerships that simplify need, safety, and satisfaction,” adds Pearce.

Southland performs turnkey service for its customers. “Numerous lighting technologies, controls options, and alternate lighting sources are engineered and developed to understand the overall cost of ownership of our customers’ systems,” says Van Ryzin. “A holistic approach to the available lighting solutions and noodling out the feasibility of each technology is how we determine if, where, and what products meet the project objective.”

Southland’s energy modeling capabilities and advanced simulations offer detailed analysis designed to determine baseline energy use, explore simulated scenarios, or computationally model the most sensitive environments such as an art exhibition, datacenter, or scientific research.

“Our lighting pros work closely with our comprehensive design/build engineering staff to be able to coordinate design with all other trades and designs. And our Building Information Modeling offers the ability of architects and owners to view what rooms look like with the future of lighting,” says Eddie Sladek, P.E., energy engineer.

Commercial, Industrial, and Outdoor
Mike Lorenz, president of Ephesus Lighting, says controls “bring another whole dimension to lighting and efficiency. We have designed our lighting to be compatible with many third-party control systems on the market in our industrial segment.”

In the sports market, the company offers its Black Box Wireless Control System “to generate unique fan experience effects that are created to the customer’s or venue’s specification,” notes Lorenz. “Settings are typically programmed for maintenance modes and other situations where the lighting does not need to be at 100% power. The control system also can be used with our unique color LED fixtures for an even more engaging fan experience.”

Its value proposition lies in being able to reduce fixture count while dramatically increasing the amount of light in the facility, says Lorenz. “Ease of installation, maintenance-free operation, excellent energy efficiency, and controllability all contribute to the value proposition,” he adds. “This is all while dramatically increasing the quantity and quality of the light, and more closely mimicking natural daylight.”

An Ephesus installation also may qualify for energy efficiency rebates from local utility companies, further defraying the cost of the system. The most utilized products in Ephesus’ industrial and commercial offerings include Visium, Altus, and Luxor.

Visium LED fixtures are made from heavy-duty anodized extruded aluminum, designed to withstand an expansive temperature rating of -40°C to 65°C (149°F). The fixtures feature high-impact-resistant tempered glass lens construction and operate at an average of more than 100 lumens per watt. Their modular designs, multiple lens configurations, and numerous mounting options, including pivoting, enable the light to be directed where it is needed. The high power density metal core LED array is designed to be capable of delivering up to 500 lumens per square inch.

The Visium’s corrosion resistant heavy-duty 6063 extruded aluminum heat sink construction is designed for maximum thermal management. An isolated power supply is designed to ensure lower temperature operation of the power supply and LEDs to provide more than 225,000 hours of operating life.

Visium uses integrated smart electronics to monitor the light’s temperature and health, such as a custom-designed controller card with pulse-width dimming for constant color temperature versus light output.

The Altus Series is designed for harsh industrial and commercial environments prone to having dirty, wet, and corrosive elements. Applications for Visium and Altus Series lights include warehouses, food processing facilities, industrial manufacturing, recycling plants, steel and iron mills/foundries, paper and textile plants, and water treatment plants.

The Luxor Series was designed for outdoor spaces. The Luxor 190 has an 18,900-lumen output, and the Luxor 300 has a 32,700-lumen output. Applications include warehouses, airplane hangars, food processing plants, cold storage facilities, industrial manufacturing, recycling plants, steel and iron mills/foundries, paper and textile plants, and water treatment plants.

Buyer Beware
Martin Webley, LEDtronics manager of business development and strategic relationships, says LED lights bring much to the table. “There are economic advantages, very dramatic cost advantages: reductions in managing costs, reduction in maintenance costs,” he says. “There’s also the reduced need for air conditioning; thus a reduced demand on the HVAC systems for buildings because LEDs don’t give off as much heat as conventional lighting.”

Webley came to the lighting industry from a business development background and points out that for owners of small or large businesses, “the dramatic savings in those energy and maintenance costs is wonderful newfound money to use to hire new people, buy small equipment, expand production. The savings can be used for far greater purposes than being thrown away on energy and lighting costs every month.”

Not all LED lights are equal, Webley contends. “The market is flooded with cheap and cheerful imports that are unreliable,” he says. “In many cases, the certification is not necessarily accurate, so those people who don’t know the difference and are buying LEDs at a third or half the price of a reliable LED ask why they should pay twice as much? It is ‘buyer beware.’ That initial decision to buy cheap will hurt in the long run.”

Government and military entities require robust lighting, Webley points out. He says LEDtronics lights are designed to “go decades without having to be replaced.”

Webley says LEDtronics has had to replace lights bought by government entities that went for the lowest bid. “They got what they paid for, and now they’re having to quietly replace those lights that aren’t reliable,” he states. “For a market that’s taken us from no competitors, to thousands of competitors, a large part of what I have to do is to educate potential C-level customers on the market that there is a difference.”

LEDtronics’ Gary Peterson, who for years has served as the company’s national sales manager, echoes that challenge. In helping end users sort from among the thousands of offerings, he uses the phrase “FICO,” meaning “fully-installed cost of ownership.”

“People need to evaluate from conventional lighting to LED lighting what FICO is, and then, in turn, they have to start looking at and evaluating FICO of a superior LED product to a “Johnny-come-lately” LED product, of which there are thousands,” he says.

Peterson references a major military end user that had a negative experience with LEDs. “They were ready to turn their back on LEDs entirely, and nearly five years ago, we got them started down the road with very good LEDs, and today, that 1.5-million-square-foot facility has replaced about 85% of all of their lights with LEDtronics LED lighting,” he says.

“In everything from the local government to the federal government, when public money is being used the knee-jerk default is to put it out to bid,” says Webley. “Typically, when they do that, they go for the lowest price. I can understand why they do that, but it’s an absolute false economy and ends up costing the taxpayer a lot more money in the long run because those lights will, and do, fail.”

The same holds true for the private sector, Webley adds. “A facilities owner who has not had anybody advise him on the difference between reliable and unreliable LEDs is obviously going to buy the cheaper one if he’s choosing between two, and they both look similar,” he says.

“If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. In the case of LEDs, when they go for the cheap LEDs, they start to fail, and they’ll be left with the impression that either LEDs are unreliable and not all they’re cracked up to be, or believe that’s the way LEDs are—that they need to replace them every six or nine months—and neither of those assumptions is correct.”

The challenge from the standpoint of the manufacturer is having devices and products that can be controlled by all of the different technologies, says Kyle Everson, LEDtronics distributor sales manager. “We do not see from those things that are being asked of us that there’s one winning technology, because it’s pretty well being defined by the actual application itself—whether or not a single device or an entire bank or room of devices is going to be controlled,” he says.

“The technology challenges are there from the standpoint that we the manufacturer of the light end of the applications are concerned because those people at the controlling end have yet to settle in—and we don’t know that there ever will be a settling in—but the challenge for us is to be able to solve all of the questions and the demands that the market brings.”

New Construction
For new construction, today’s facility owners and operators have a vast array of integrated LED lighting solutions that are energy-efficient, can be controlled, provide greater lumens per watt than other light sources, and have virtually no maintenance, notes Glenn Siegel, director, marketing and product management for Eaton. “Almost all of Eaton’s recessed lighting products are Energy Star or DesignLight Consortium qualified,” he adds. “These products are necessary to meet model energy codes and in many instances qualify for utility rebates.”

In providing lighting for new construction, considering a building’s maintenance costs, “the proposition of having a longer-life product is one that’s much easier to sell from the design standpoint,” says Everson.

Another consideration in new construction as well as retrofits with respect to LED is “unlike conventional lighting, we can go brighter for a few cents more in energy and thereby reduce the number of fixtures required to provide the required amount of light in a specific task area,” says Peterson.

“Rather than an office area where you might have a two-foot-by-four-foot troffer with four fluorescent tubes in it every six to eight feet of spacing, you might be able to go to a two-foot-by-two-foot LED troffer for almost minimal cost increase from the 40 watts to the 60 watts, and double the output of those standard fluorescent troffers, so you can put fewer in and still maintain your low energy costs and have the proper lighting,” he says.

“When planning a new facility, LED lighting is extremely controllable,” says Webley. “We ask end users where they want the light to cut off. What color temperature? What intensity?”

Webley points out that lighting is the fastest way to get the maximum number of points for LEED certification of a building. Power requirements also play a key role.

“We are looking at projects that are standalone mini-campuses with relocating companies that are setting up a new facility, and because of the dramatic difference in power required for LED lighting—especially when teamed up with power control systems—they can reduce their onsite power requirements quite considerably so they don’t need to have huge generators or as many as they might have thought because they don’t have those needs anymore,” he says. “The LED lighting eliminates a huge percentage of the energy requirements for that building.”

Other factors facility owners need to consider in lighting newly constructed spaces for long-term benefits include energy consumption, energy codes, lighting load densities, energy efficiency, and control designs, Rodgers points out.

“Lighting controls such as occupancy sensors and automatic daylight controls interplay with the design and augment low-density designs to reduce energy consumption by turning off or dimming fixtures that are not in use or when ample daylight is present,” says Rodgers. “It’s valuable to factor in to new construction and increasingly mandatory in many areas.”

Another consideration is to factor in as many future costs as can be anticipated. “Consider how material selection plays a key role in recurring maintenance cost,” says Starego.

Additionally, new LED technologies will greatly reduce facility storage space due to the absence of many 4-foot and 8-foot boxes of fluorescent lamps, Starego says. “These technologies offer better opportunities to establish consistent color temperature in spaces in lieu of varying color temperature of individual lamps due to the frequency of replacements,” he adds.

In new construction, owners sometimes don’t know what alternatives are available beyond the single design concerned with incremental costs, Rodgers notes. “We work closely with our customers to perform life cycle cost analysis on all components of a new building and show them options and solutions that work long-term, not just based on upfront first costs,” she says. “The total cost of ownership should always be considered.”

Risk is another consideration. “The competitive market has produced many low-cost alternatives, but in many cases the sacrifice is quality,” says Van Ryzin. “Facility owners and operators need to look at products that will not only bring energy savings to the table, but [will also] be backed by long-term support and have a proven track record.”

Building owners and operators need to consider that some of the many manufacturers who have entered the market may not be in business in the future, says Van Ryzin. “They should select a product from a company who will be able to provide future replacements and treat any warranty issues,” he adds. “Southland recommends selecting fixtures and materials from well-known and prominent manufacturers to assure high-quality, long-life products that are lab tested as complete systems, in lieu of fixtures and equipment assembled with cheaply made outsourced pieces in enclosures not ideal for the application.”

Life cycle of the project—not low price—should be the prime consideration, Rodgers says.

“The decision should be made based on considerations such as replacement interval and costs, maintenance costs, energy consumption, and cost over the life of the system,” adds Pearce.

Matching LEDs and controls is another imperative. “The recent innovations in LED-sourced fixtures have made these long-life fixtures most cost-effective,” says Sladek. “Looking at the life cycle costs of lighting, and considering where the market is heading, it is clearly towards all LEDs. So building to accommodate for this is wise, and—for new construction—LED, along with controls, is ideal.”

Coupling LEDs and controls extend the life and performance of the LEDs, he adds.

Pearce says, “The future will be occupant-controlled task lighting, with customized light levels, color, temperature, increasing productivity. Considering these factors now can provide cost-effective upgrade options at that time.”

A design encompasses a variety of factors, such as the type of lighting fixture, how the fixture is controlled, and light quality, among others. “Tailoring designs to light task surfaces and providing an appropriate amount of ambient light while minimizing lighting load density is nuanced,” says Van Ryzin. “The interplay among space, surface, technology, energy, and activity should be understood while considering candidate designs.”

Looking at task lighting early in the process is an ideal way to provide the same amount of light with less energy, he adds. “Task lighting benefits from lighting’s inverse-square law, meaning that as the distance between the lighting source and the task area doubles—only one quarter of the original energy/illuminance is received,” says Van Ryzin. “Placing lighting closer to the work area provides for a better environment and can save a significant amount of energy. Task lighting applies to retrofit/upgradeopportunities as well, but design and incorporation of task lighting during new construction is much easier to accomplish.”

Van Ryzin goes on to explain: “Lighting should be easily accessible by personnel performing service and maintenance tasks. Lighting that is 20 feet in the air above a stairwell increases maintenance costs to replace and endangers the personnel.”

Retrofits are sometimes more challenging in that everyone must work around what is already established, such as the ceiling heights, rafters or catwalk placements, and other building systems, notes Lorenz.

To that end, Ephesus Lighting offers various mounting options for different situations. “Our different fixture wattages and lensing options allow for great flexibility in dealing with mounting heights,” says Lorenz. “There are also some benefits to knowing what challenges the facility already faces with lighting, such as dirty or corrosive environments, or poor light levels and quality from existing systems.”

Ruscigno points out the major considerations in lighting retrofits center on desired light levels. “What are you trying to accomplish? Are you looking for a classroom environment where you can keep people attentive and not falling asleep or things are clear and they don’t have to squint? Lights aren’t flickering? Ballasts aren’t humming?”

An environment in which color is important, such as a retail store, is another consideration, says Ruscigno. “The higher the Color Rendering Index, the truer the color,” he says. “I’ve seen lighting situations such as where they do auto work on cars, and sometimes the lighting is so poor in their warehouse, they have to take it outside to see what color the vehicle is.

“In environments with good quality light, they’re able to work safer, do meticulous jobs, and not make mistakes,” he continues. “The spread of light and uniformity of light is extremely important.” A proper lighting layout can ensure that.

“You have units working in unison so one would carry over and cover the other and you’re not getting hot spots,” says Ruscigno. “You’re going to bring up the light levels, but also, you’re going to have better uniformity of light so you are avoiding the hot spots.”

In traditional non-LED lighting choices, there is a significant amount of degradation that happens over time, he says. “If you have a maintenance crew or an environment that is dependent upon lighting, you’re now up on a ladder changing the light more, even though it’s not out. It’s lost light, you’ve got color shift going on, and you have some that are brighter than others.”

Retrofit applications can mandate the same code criteria as new systems, says Starego, adding that a retrofit can manifest some “surprises” due to its “perceived simplicity.”

Being aware of as many factors as possible can help minimize that. “We consider how that affects costs, savings, and other elements,” he says. “Consider the impact to access, and the safety impact to the facility and its occupants. Items as simple as material selection can minimize disruption to workspaces and utilize retrofit housings fixtures that don’t incur finish rework.”

A control system selection that fits the existing conditions also is important. “Control wiring usually is not able to be routed as freely as in new construction, so wireless solutions can be considered to implement sophisticated controls while keeping renovation costs down and minimizing disturbance,” says Starego.

Other factors to consider in a retrofit include existing spacing, light levels, compatibility, and form factors. “For instance, perhaps low-current draw LED fixtures can ensure a one-to-one fixture replacement without reworking the circuiting,” says Starego. “What will work? Will a new zero- to 10-volt LED dimmer driver work with the existing system? Is there ceiling accessibility? Can it be opened up? Should the presence of asbestos lead to a non-intrusive solution?

“Is a simple option such as LED tubes really the right answer?” he continues. “Would a new fixture perform better than a retrofit? What is the condition of the existing system? Is it worth upgrading? What is the age of the ballast and other components?”

Interpreting manufacturers’ data is crucial to assess real life performance on such factors as temperature, longevity, output, and efficiency. “Consider how all the technologies included in the project will meet all the expectations,” says Van Ryzin. “Consider creating a basis of design, spelling out intended use and performance. Consider that for a given space IES standards are met or exceeded. Ensure a product is acceptable to be installed in the fixture that is being retrofitted.”

Some fixtures are designed to bounce lighting across all surfaces of the fixture, but LEDs are more directional and don’t benefit from the reflectance of many of the existing installed fluorescent fixtures, says Van Ryzin. “And consider that with all the retrofit solutions available, there are some small technology-specific factors that can make a difference in quality and total cost of ownership,” he adds. “For instance, the Color Rendering Index [CRI] is an important factor affecting perception and energy consumption.”

Labor cost savings are the predominant concern in retrofits, says Everson. “Obviously, we’re not going to save them in cutting down the amount of copper they’re using, but with labor costs being what they are today—and they’re not going down—it’s extremely important, depending on the facility,” he adds.

In some settings, it takes a great deal of equipment to change a light bulb. “In some cases, it costs as much as $300 to change a light bulb in a conventional lamp source,” he adds. “If someone has hundreds of those devices inside and outside their facility, the sustainability and labor savings potential—as well as the energy savings—is huge.”

Siegel notes when retrofitting existing downlights, the decision maker must be aware and plan for desired lumen level replacement of the incumbent system, making sure the replacement retrofit kit properly fits into the existing space and that it can work with the existing controls architecture, adding that Eaton has several dual-dimming retrofit options that can function on either phase cut or 0- to 10-V dimming circuits. BE_bug_web


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