Our lighting expert, Craig Baranowski, answers your lighting questions:
- Which fluorescent lights is best for my business? I hear the terms T12, T8, super T8, high-performance T8, and even T5. What's the difference?
- I want to put up some lights in various locations outside my business, including walkways, the parking lot and some areas that are quite a ways from my building. But I don't want to shine light in the homes neighboring one side of my property. How do I know what types of lights I should use? What outdoor lighting is good for my business?
- My lighting fixtures are about 20 years old. Should I think about replacing them?
- I operate a gift shop on Route 1 and want my business to stand out. Can you give me some ideas?
- I’ve heard that the old T12 fluorescent lighting I use at my business will not be available much longer. Am I going to have to replace all my old lighting equipment?
- I’ve heard that regular incandescent light bulbs are going to be outlawed. Is that true? Am I going to have to change out any lighting equipment, too?
- I’ve been thinking about installing track lighting to replace my ceiling-mounted fluorescent lights. Can CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) be used in track lighting? And
what other track bulb options are out there?
- I’ve heard I should be concerned about the color temperature and the color rendition of my lighting. Is this something I should be concerned about?
- Sometimes I see fluorescent lighting with plastic covers or louvered covers, and sometimes there are just bare bulbs in the fixture. Which is better?
- I want to add some accent lighting to my business. What should I look for?
- I’ve been hearing a lot about LEDs. What are they exactly? And can I use them in my business?
- One problem I have with my lighting system is that bulbs don’t last very long. It seems like I always have to replace them. What can I do about this?
- I’ve heard that indirect lighting is good because it reduces glare. Can you tell me more?
- I’d like to have more control over my lighting levels by installing dimmers. Do dimmers save energy? Can dimmers work on fluorescent lights?
- I enjoy the real-life lighting projects featured in the newsletter. Is there any way you could give more specifics on the costs of these projects — both equipment and installation? Also, there must be some rules of thumb that can be used to get an idea of how much a lighting upgrade will cost?
- What is the most efficient type of lighting?
- I have a great location and a unique building, and want to expand my open time into nighttime. I’ve got some lights on the building pointed toward the parking lot and one over my front door pointing down the walkway. What else can I do?
- I'm planning changes in the lighting in our hospital and have heard how light can help people feel better. What should I use?
- I have been in the retail clothing business for 25 years and am a well-established business. Sometime back, CMP convinced me to put in energy efficient lamps to lower my energy costs. It seemed like a good idea, but my customers complained they couldn't see the clothes. So I put the old lighting back in. Now you say installing additional lights can help my business. What's changed?
- I have lights in my parking lot, but still have problems with car break-ins. How is more lighting going to help?
- I've heard the pitch about 'productivity' lighting, but I don't buy it. You tell me I can increase my bottom line just by changing my lighting. I think you just want to improve yours. Please prove it.
- I recently replaced some old 4' fluorescents with 8' single pin fixtures, and installed color corrected (CRI=90) tubes in place of my cool whites. I am very pleased with both the color and quantity of light, but the hum from the fixtures is driving me crazy. Is there any way of reducing the noise, or did I just buy the wrong type of fixture?
- I've been hearing about business lighting through CMP's Lighting Connection newsletters, bill inserts, and phone representatives. I have a lighting project planned. Can you please explain how CMP could play a role in my project? What can you do for me?
- I've got a lighting vendor telling me to change out perfectly good, working office ceiling lights. What's going on?
- I have some 100-watt (incandescent) bulbs that keep blowing out. The fixtures look great over my entryway and they require this type of bulb. I've tried several brands, but with the same result. What do you recommend?
- We changed all the lamps in our office a year ago and now I'm getting complaints about them burning out. My facility person says I bought "cheap" lamps and I need to spend more. Please advise.
- Which type of sign lighting is best - neon or fluorescent?
- What type of lighting should I use with the high ceilings in my business?
- I'm confused! Sometimes you promote energy efficiency, and other times usage. Please explain.
- I work in a billing office with nearly fifty workstations, each with PCs under fluorescent lighting. Several of us are getting headaches and think it's a lighting problem. Could this be the case and, if so, what can be done about it?
- You've talked about how better lighting can improve productivity. Can you cite some specific examples and statistics?
I’ve heard that regular incandescent light bulbs are going to be outlawed. Is that true? Am I going to have to change out any lighting equipment, too?
No, and no. Standard incandescent lamps (light bulbs) will still be sold in the United States. However, incandescent lamps will have to meet new efficiency standards — and today’s common incandescent lamps cannot meet these new standards.
These new standards are included in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007). The effective date for the first of these standards is January 1, 2012, (with stricter standards coming in 2020). The table below summarizes the new standards. For comparison purposes, today the light output of a typical 100-watt incandescent lamp is about 1,750 lumens and a 75-watt lamp produces about 1,400 lumens.
These new standards require that the efficacy (lumens per watt) of common incandescent lamps be increased by 20-30%. The new standards also require a minimum-rated lifetime (how long the lamp typically lasts before burning out) of 1,000 hours compared to 750 hours
that is typical now. For now, these standards apply only to “general service” lamps. Specialty lamps like rough service lamps, 3-way lamps, and others are exempt.
Some major lamp manufacturers have announced that they are developing incandescent lamps that will meet these new standards. Halogen lamps, which are really a type of incandescent lamp, already meet the new minimum-rated lifetimes, and they have a higher
efficacy than standard lamps, too. New generation halogen lamps that meet the new standards are likely to be available by the effective date. Manufacturers are also developing
new filament technologies, but it remains to be seen what will come to market and at what cost. Expect that any new lamps will be compatible with your existing fixtures.
wattage for lumen range
under EISA 2007
lifetime under EISA 2007
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) includes standards for other types of lighting as well, including incandescent reflector lamps (commonly used for recessed lighting), metal halide lamps, and even fluorescent lighting. Most of these standards regulate the manufacture of lighting equipment, so business owners don’t have to worry about compliance.
If you have further questions about any of these new standards or any other lighting questions, contact the CMP Lighting Experts at 1-800-649-1169, or email email@example.com.
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I’ve been thinking about installing track lighting to replace my ceiling-mounted fluorescent
lights. Can CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) be used in track lighting? And what other track bulb options are out there?
Certainly you can replace any lighting with a track system. But first think about what you are trying to achieve. In many situations, the best choice is a combination of lighting options
to fit the ambient and task lighting goals you are trying to achieve.
For general illumination of a business, today’s linear fluorescent lighting is still probably the most efficient and effective option. Track lighting is a great choice when you want to focus the light in certain directions, and have the flexibility to change the lighting angle.
CFLs can be used in track lighting, but there are some drawbacks. The spiral shape of CFLs may limit light output when used in some track lighting fixtures. Also, they can stick out of smaller track cans, creating a visual distraction. And standard CFLs can’t be dimmed, so they shouldn’t be used for fixtures that have dimming controls.
Halogen lamps provide a quality of light that is hard to beat. They last longer and are more efficient than standard incandescent lamps. And they are readily available in shapes and sizes designed to fit different size track heads and to maximize light output.
Halogen track lighting is available in line voltage and lowvoltage systems. Line voltage systems are generally less expensive to purchase, while low voltage systems allow for
better control of the light beam and provide more lumens per watt.
There are two new options on the market now. Metal halide track lights are efficient and long-lasting, but their bright white light isn’t the same as halogen, and the lamps are much more expensive. Light emitting diode (LED) lamps are also commercially available now. However, the light output per lamp is much less than halogens, limiting their practical application. And even though LED lamps are low-wattage, the cost per lamp is quite high.
Take a look at how a combination of linear fluorescents and halogen tracks might work for you. And remember, our Lighting Experts are ready to help with just a phone call at 1-800-649-1169. Call us today!
I’ve heard I should be concerned about the color temperature and the color rendition of my
lighting. Is this something I should be concerned about?
While there are other factors that affect the appearance of a lighted space and the objects and people within it, color temperature and color rendition are important factors to consider when selecting a light source.
Color temperature and color rendition are terms that describe two different characteristics of lamps (light bulbs). Explaining them can get quite technical, but practically speaking, color temperature refers to the color of the light source itself, while color rendition refers to the relative appearance of colors under a light source.
Color temperature is expressed as degrees Kelvin. An incandescent light that has a typical yellowish glow has a color temperature of around 2700 Kelvin, while a cool white, fluorescent lamp with bluish light will have a color temperature of about 4100 Kelvin. Ironically, light
sources like an incandescent lamp are called “warm” and bright white sources are called “cool,” despite having a higher color temperature.
Color temperature can affect the appearance and mood of a lighted space. Everyone’s experienced the jarring effect of the cool, bright lighting in a fast food restaurant or similar place at night. However, in the middle of the day, it’s barely noticeable. That’s because the color temperature of mid-day sunlight is quite high.
Color rendition refers to how “true” colors appear under a light source. Color rendition is measured by the Color Rendering Index, or CRI, which goes from 0 to 100. From a practical point of view, the higher the CRI of a lamp the better things look. A CRI of 80 or more is
considered to be a high rating, and over 90 is considered excellent. For the most accurate comparison purposes the CRI should be used to compare lamps with the same color temperature.
Incandescent lamps have a CRI of near or at 100. Fluorescent lighting years ago had a low CRI of around 60, but now fluorescent lamps are available with a CRI of over 90. You can look good under fluorescent lighting!
When selecting lamps, look for Color Temperature and CRI ratings on the packaging. Using lamps with the same ratings will give your lighting a more uniform appearance.
Questions about your lighting? Email the lighting experts at firstname.lastname@example.org or call today at 1-800-649-1169.
Sometimes I see fluorescent lighting with plastic covers or louvered covers, and sometimes there are just bare bulbs in the fixture. Which is better?
The fixture covers are called lenses and louvers. There are several reasons to use a lensed or louvered fixture instead of a bare bulb, including:
So how do you know what kind of lens or louver to use? Solid lenses made from clear plastic deliver the most light output, while louvers usually provide better glare and direction control. Here is more information on some common types.
(1) Louvers are very good at reducing glare and directing light downward. Parabolic louvers are especially effective in directing light down. They have an open grid pattern with parabolic reflectors in each cell of the grid. For all louvers, the size and depth of the cells will affect the light output and distribution.
(2) Solid thermoplastic lenses are excellent for diffusing light for even illumination and blocking lamps from direct view. These are often a white or clear plastic material with a flat finish.
(3) Prismatic lenses are molded with a pattern of small refractive elements on one side for superior light diffusion and glare reduction.
More light comes out of an open fixture, but lenses and louvers allow more control of the light output. And they can be used to dress up fixtures, too. Most lenses and louvers can be easily custom-made to fit most existing fixtures. Look at your space, consider the environment,
and then make your choice. If you have questions, give us a call at 1-800-649-1169 today!
I’ve heard that the old T12 fluorescent lighting I use at my business will not be available much longer. Am I going to have to replace all my old lighting equipment?
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has drafted new efficiency regulations on 4- and 8-foot linear fluorescent lamps. If put into effect as proposed, it will prohibit manufacturing of today’s 4-foot and 8-foot T12 linear lighting. (Please note that these standards do not apply to T5 lamps — to find out the differences among all three types, visit our Web site and look for Vol. 9 - No. 2 in our CMP’s Lighting Connection newsletter archive.)
The proposed standards for fluorescents would specify minimum lumens rather than an outright ban on specific lamp types. Lumen levels are achieved by a combination of the lamp (bulb) and the ballast (the device inside the fixture that regulates the electrical current). If manufacturers could meet the new standards, T12s would stay in production — but the cost for the lamps could be as much as three times higher.
No matter which standards are adopted, you will not need 04336to replace all of your lighting equipment. Fixtures for T12 lamps can be retrofitted with T8s as the lamps are the same size — but the ballasts should be replaced. Most T8 lighting systems will meet the proposed standards. But remember, fluorescent lamps and ballasts work together. The wrong ballast can lead to higher energy use, poor lighting quality, and shortened lamp life — effects the DOE and businesses are trying to avoid.
Lighting should be viewed as a system. The DOE does not regulate overall lighting, just some of the components. If you are buying new fixtures, ask for information on their efficiency, too. Your lighting needs should be your primary goal. Work with a lighting expert to achieve the effect you want and need. There are a lot of great choices out there — and many are highly efficient.
Regulations effectively prohibiting the production of magnetic ballasts for T12 lamps (which now have magnetic ballasts) are already in effect for new fixtures. The new standards will apply to replacement (electric) ballasts beginning in July 2010.
The earliest you would need to worry about general-service fluorescent lamps would be the summer of 2012. CMP’s Lighting Experts are already reviewing the 387-page proposed rule document. We’ll keep readers of CMP’s Lighting Connection newsletter up to date on the process.
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I want to add some accent lighting to my business. What should I look for?
Focused lighting that will accent products or other features of your business is a great idea for any company or organization and there are several excellent choices for you to consider. Not long ago, the only practical lamp choices were incandescent and halogen. Today, the
options include incandescent, halogen incandescent, compact fluorescent (CFL), ceramic metal halide, and light-emitting diode (LED).
Halogen lighting is a type of incandescent lighting. Halogens provide a bright white light, last longer, and are very slightly more efficient than regular incandescent lamps. If you want to use small fixtures that provide tight, focused beams, halogen MR 16 or MR 11 lamps are a good choice.
Early CFLs were long and bulky, but now there are CFLs that are much smaller; they can even fit in the smaller track heads.
An even newer product is a ceramic metal halide lamp with integrated ballast. It can replace halogen incandescent without having to replace anything else as the ballast is built right in.
Another new technology that is available for accent lighting is LEDs. Like ceramic metal halide, LED bulbs are now made to replace incandescent bulbs. Although these lamps are more efficient, they are also a lot more expensive to purchase, so you’ll need to weigh the benefits.
All the lamp types mentioned above provide good color rendition. Standard incandescent lamps provide a warmer, more yellow light than the others. If you’re thinking of changing lamps in existing fixtures, try a small number of new lamps first to see the differences
between them and to make sure they meet your goals. If you’re installing new fixtures, decide on the lamps at the same time to ensure they’re compatible. And please note, using the same lamp type in the same vicinity will ensure that like colors will look the same and will be
more visually appealing.
To be effective, accent lighting needs to be brighter than the ambient light levels — at least three times and as much as 10 times as bright. The fixture and the lamp should work together to provide focused illumination. Track lighting systems are often used for accent lighting,
as the moveable track heads give you the flexibility to reposition lights as needed. Other types of fixtures can be used, so shop around, or work with a lighting designer.
Accent lighting is always a great idea because they can add or enhance the overall lighting design to your business. Choose what you want people to notice and then put it in the spotlight! If you have more lighting questions for your business, contact our Lighting Experts
Which fluorescent lights are best for my business? I hear the terms T12, T8, super T8, high-performance T8, and even T5. What's the difference?
T12, T8, and T5 are all linear, tube-shaped lamps; the “T” simply indicates the tubular shape of the lamp. The number after the "T" indicates the diameter of the lamp in 1/8s of an inch. So a T12 lamp is 1 1/2" in diameter, a T8 is one inch, and a T5 is 5/8 inches. These lamps are available in different lengths with 4 feet being the most common.
T12 lamps are the older fluorescent lighting systems that are still in widespread use. T8 lamps are now the standard lamp used in general overhead lighting, having replaced the
less efficient T12 lamps. T5 lamps are the newest technology and generally used in different applications than T8s. For example, because T5 lamps are brighter than T8s they are better suited to locations with higher ceilings because of the glare they can produce.
High performance T8 and Super T8 lamps are two different names for the same type of lamp. High performance T8 lamps have a higher efficacy (more lumens per watt) than
standard T8s. And they last longer than standard T8 lamps. There are also energy saving, or low wattage, T8 lamps. Although they will use less energy than standard T8s, they will also provide less light.
T5 lamps provide about the same amount of light for the energy used as T8 lamps. However, improvements in the design of luminaires (fixtures) are improving the overall performance of T5 lighting systems. Newer luminaires are also being designed to allow T5 lamps to be used in more varied applications. Because of their different size and optical properties, T5s should only be used in fixtures designed for them, and generally can’t be used in fixtures designed for T8 lamps.
High output T5 lamps are also available. High output lamps are not the same as the high performance T8 lamps discussed earlier. As the name implies, they provide a lot of light per lamp. A 4-foot high output T5 lamp will provide about 40% more light than a standard T5, but at about twice the wattage. High output lamps allow a space to be lighted with fewer fixtures. T5 lamps are gaining in popularity as a replacement for metal halide lighting in high bay applications. One big advantage fluorescent lighting has over metal halide is the time it takes them to reach full brightness, especially when the lights are turned off and then right back on. The warm up and restrike time for metal halide lamps can be as long as 15 minutes.
So which lamp type is best for your business? It depends. Lighting is a tool, and like any other tool you want the right one for the job. You can always improve lighting quality and efficiency by replacing T12s with either T8s or T5s. T5s are newer, but not necessarily better or significantly
more efficient. T8 lamps will continue to be a good choice for many applications.
Lamp selection is only one factor to consider when upgrading your lighting, but it’s a very important one. For free advice on what lamp types are best for your business and for all your other lighting questions, call the CMP Lighting Experts at 1-800-649-1169.
I’ve been hearing a lot about LEDs. What are they exactly? And can I use them in my business?
LED stands for light emitting diode. LEDs produce light in a whole different way than standard electric light sources. Simplified, they’re tiny light bulbs that illuminate by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material rather than having a filament. They have tremendous potential to be a very efficient and long lasting light source, but right now they have limited practical application. So the answer to the second part of your question is "maybe."
LEDs have been around since the 1960s. They’re commonly used now in exit signs and
traffic lights, and they’re being used more in business signs, and LED desk lamps are now
available. LEDs are very effective at lighting small areas, but according to the U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE), "for most general illumination applications, current LEDs cannot
yet compete with traditional sources on the basis of performance or cost." Getting the color right is one of the main challenges LEDs need to overcome. They produce a bluishwhite light that has relatively poor color rendition. Also, the cost of LEDs is currently much greater than incandescent, fluorescent, and metal halide. According to the DOE, LEDs that produce a white light cost more than $50 per thousand lumens. Compare that to just one 75-watt incandescent lamp or a 20-watt compact fluorescent lamp which produces over one thousand lumens, obviously at a much lower cost.
As we’ve said before, lighting is a system and this is true of LEDs as well. As fixtures are
developed to take advantage of the unique properties of LEDs, as researchers figure out how to produce LED lamps that provide higher quality light, and as manufacturing costs decrease, the use of LED lighting systems will become more widespread.
I want to put up some lights in various locations outside my business, including walkways, the parking lot, and some areas that are quite a ways from my building. But I don’t want to shine light into the homes neighboring one side of my property. How do I know what types of lights I should use? What outdoor lighting is good for my business?
That’s great that you want to be a good neighbor as well as update your lighting to work harder for your business. Today’s technology will let you do both.
You need adequate light with a minimum of glare, light spillage, and skyglow. But, until you install and turn on your lights, how do you know how much light will shine where? Fortunately, there are ways to eliminate the guesswork. Lighting manufacturers use modeling tools
that can provide the light pattern for a given fixture. The fixture characteristics, the mounting
height, fixture placement and angle, and the wattage and type of lamp all determine the light pattern. All of these variables can be worked into a photometric diagram designed for your property so you can plan outdoor lighting that will be good for your business and kind to your neighbors!
If you have any questions on photometric diagrams or other tools for making lighting choices, please get in touch with the CMP Lighting Experts. We’d be happy to help.
One problem I have with my lighting system is that bulbs don’t last very long. It seems like I always have to replace them. What can I do about this?
Assuming there are no problems with the overall lighting system that is causing premature bulb (also called lamp) failure, there are a number of things you can do to solve this problem.
For starters, select lamps with a long average rated life. Look for information on lamp life on the packaging or in manufacturers’ spec sheets, which can often be found online.
Different lamp types have different rated lives. For example, the longest lasting incandescent lamp burns fewer hours than the shortest lasting fluorescent. But, even among lamp types it will vary. Typical fluorescent lamp life ranges from 10,000 - 20,000 hours. Compact
fluorescent lamps are at the lower end of this range. Halogen lamps, which are essentially a type of incandescent, will last longer than standard incandescents.
For many commercial applications, metal halide lamps can be used instead of incandescents. They provide a nice, white light and last as long, or longer, than fluorescents.
The conditions under which the lamps operate will affect the lamp life. If your fixtures are subjected to vibration, excessive heat or cold, or other difficult operating conditions it can shorten lamp life. So choose bulbs made for tough environments — look on packaging and online for that kind of information, too. Fixtures can affect lamp life as well. For optimum lamp
life, a lamp should only be used in a fixture designed for it. For example, compact fluorescent screw-in lamps will not last nearly as long as their rated life when used in recessed down fixtures.
Next, remember that lamps should be positioned as specified (pointing up, down, or sideways) to get the best light and longest life. Again, the packaging or the manufacturers’ spec sheets will provide this information.
Lamp maintenance is important, too. Try replacing the lamps in all the fixtures in a given area
all at once (when you change one at a time it can seem they are burning out fast even if they aren’t!) to save time and effort. And, since light quality can decrease over time, mass lamp replacement can help you maintain uniform lighting levels and color rendition.
Finally, if you’re using long-life bulbs that truly last for a short time, you may have problems with other components, namely the fixture or the ballast. Lights are a system, and they work most efficiently when all the components are in sync. With good planning and some
basic knowledge about how lighting systems work, yours can be smooth running and effective. And as always, our Lighting Experts are ready to provide you with the latest
lighting information that can give your business a boost. Give us a call today.
My lighting fixtures are about 20 years old. Should I think about replacing them?
First, let’s define what you mean by a light fixture. We’ll assume you’re talking about the whole unit (also called a luminaire), which consists of the lamp (bulb) — plus the housing and equipment that operate the energized lamp and direct the light into the space you want illuminated. For simplicity, let’s say there are two parts: the lamp and the fixture. Typically, lamps will need to be replaced before the fixture reaches the end of its life.
How long any one fixture lasts depends on several factors. The environment in which a fixture
operates — the temperature of the space, the presence of dust, dirt, and other contaminants, vibrations and other disturbances, etc. — affects its longevity. Another key factor is the actual hours of operation, as well as the on/off cycles. The heat generated by the lamp itself has
an impact on the fixture’s useful life too. In addition, parts will wear out over time and need to be replaced. Over time, maintenance costs can add up — and the quantity and quality of light from that fixture will deteriorate.
So, if your fixtures have been in place for 20 years, it’s definitely time to consider replacing them. In its analyses of lighting systems, the U.S Department of Energy assumes fluorescent fixtures have a life span of 15 years. Plus, lighting design and technology have advanced a lot in 20 years, so you can get new fixtures and take advantage of new lamp technology that will do a much better job for you. For example, there are new recessed fixtures designed to get the most out of T5s, the latest development in linear fluorescent lamps. Other new fixtures offer integrated occupancy and daylight sensors.
The older your existing lighting system, the more likely you are to benefit by changing it.
One final tip: you may be using your space differently than when the lighting was originally installed. And a lighting system that’s not meeting your needs is not effective or efficient, regardless of its age or its technology. So your aging fixtures may offer an opportunity for you to upgrade to a better lighting strategy.
I’ve heard that indirect lighting is good because it reduces glare. Can you tell me more?
Indirect lighting illuminates by bouncing light off one or more surfaces, then onto and into the area that needs lighting. This can provide a more even lighting level and reduces glare. For indirect lighting, fixtures (or at least the lamp) are aimed at a reflective surface such as a suspended ceiling. In commercial applications, fixtures often bounce light off the ceiling and walls, so it is reflected back into the space that needs to be lit. However, there are many
ways you can set up indirect lighting. Be creative — you can even hide an up light behind a plant on top of a shelf in your lobby!
While indirect lighting may reduce glare, and produce good, even illumination, it may not be bright enough on its own for certain purposes. In retail stores, for example, you need direct lighting as well to highlight merchandise. And you’ll need adequate task lighting at desks,
computer stations, manufacturing or service areas, and in other places where people are working.
Make sure your lighting plan matches your business needs. Indirect, direct, and task lighting together can give you the best of each. You can set up both direct and indirect sources in the same space, or you could look at fixtures that combine both types of lighting — these are
becoming increasingly popular.
For more information on lighting systems and how they can help your business, call the lighting experts at CMP. We’ve helped hundreds of businesses get the most out of
their lighting. Is your business next? Give us a call.
I’d like to have more control over my lighting levels by installing dimmers. Do dimmers save energy? Can dimmers work on fluorescent lights?
Yes and yes, dimming lights saves energy and some fluorescent lamps can be operated by dimmers. But they provide more than just energy savings. Let’s look at the benefits of dimmers, and the options you may want to explore.
Installing dimmers is an excellent idea when your goal is to vary lighting levels. It gives you a wide range of illumination, instead of limiting the light to either on or off. This flexibility
can offer advantages. For example, the amount of daylight entering a space will vary depending on whether it’s a cloudy or sunny day, so it’s great to be able to change your lighting accordingly. Also, some businesses like to create different atmospheres in their spaces depending on the time of day, or the activity taking place, or for merchandise that needs special focus. And some recent research indicates that allowing office workers to control the lighting levels in their individual workspace can lead to productivity gains.
Dimming switches now come in many modes beside the familiar round dial. There are slide switches, small slides next to standard on/off switches, dimmers built right into standard on/off switches, and touch pads, for example. There are even remote control dimmers. If you have a regular schedule for varying light levels, there are controls that can
program the dimming automatically.
For more complex lighting systems and schemes, these can be
well worth the extra expense.
Any incandescent lamp and fixture can have a dimmer installed. Fluorescent lamps can be dimmed too — including compact fluorescent lamps. However you need to have a lighting system that allows dimming.
Consult with your electrician or a lighting professional to find out what can be done to add dimming capability to your existing lighting or upgrade — and get a cost estimate. Dimming
is not the answer for every business. But for others, it’s a must.
Call the Lighting Experts at CMP today for more free lighting advice customized for your business!
I enjoy the real-life lighting projects featured in the newsletter. Is there any way you could give more specifics on the costs of these projects — both equipment and installation? Also, there must be some rules of thumb that can be used to get an idea of how much a
lighting upgrade will cost?
That’s an excellent suggestion. We’ll try to incorporate project costs into our case studies when we can. If customers are willing to provide their actual costs, we’ll look to include
this in the future.
As to the second part of your question, there really aren’t any rules of thumb that can be used to estimate how much it will cost to improve the lighting in a facility. While certain design
principles stay the same, there are so many different factors to consider that each situation is unique. The height of the ceilings, the size and orientation of the windows, the type of
existing lighting, and the age of the current lighting system, are just a few of the factors to consider when planning a lighting upgrade. Even more important are the types and
locations of different functions in the workspace, and the goals you want to achieve. These will dictate different amount and types of light, all part of a plan that’s tailored to your space.
The choice of the lighting fixtures chosen will have a big impact on a project’s cost. There are a tremendous variety of fixtures available today, even for basic fluorescent tube lighting. The cost for fixtures varies depending on the materials used to make them and in how their photometrics (the way light goes from the fixture to the space) are designed. Obviously, projects that require the removal of existing fixtures and installation of new fixtures will have
higher labor costs than a simple relamping project. There are other factors affecting labor cost. This will be unique to each situation and building, so it’s important to get an estimate from your contractor before committing to a project.
That’s why it’s important to have a lighting plan, including an estimate, so you know what your
costs will be up front. CMP’s Lighting Experts can help you get started on planning your lighting improvement project. Call us today!
What is the most efficient type of lighting?
This sounds like a simple question, but there are a lot of factors to consider when giving the answer. As you’ll see, the most efficient light is not always the most effective.
Based on light output and energy input (lumens per watt, also called the efficacy of the lamp), low-pressure sodium lamps are the most efficient. However, they make everything look a
dingy yellow. So, typically they are used for roadway and security lighting, where color rendition is less important. As efficient as they are, low-pressure sodium lamps would not be effective in a retail store.
High-intensity discharge (HID) lamps are not quite as efficient, but they provide a whiter light than low-pressure sodium. HID lamps include mercury vapor, high-pressure sodium and metal halide. Most HID lamps take nearly a minute get up to full brightness, making them less suitable for areas in which the lights are turned off and on as needed — but ideal in other settings. Metal halide lamps are gaining in popularity and are effective in applications such as retail stores, production facilities, indoor arenas, and as outdoor lighting, because they produce a bright, white light, with very good color rendition.
Fluorescent lamps are nearly as efficient as metal halide. They spread light evenly and are the preferred choice in offices, schools, and other similar settings. The color rendition of fluorescent lamps is getting better too, making them more popular for general illumination in retail outlets.
The downside is that, compared to other lamp types, a much bigger lamp is needed to provide a given amount of light, making fluorescents less suitable for spaces with very high lighting level needs and for spot and accent lighting. Also, standard fluorescent lamps do not work well in very hot or cold locations.
Incandescent lamps have the lowest efficacy of the major lamp types. However, they have excellent color rendition. They can be easily dimmed with inexpensive controls, so lighting
levels can be adjusted as needed. Dimming lights decreases the amount of electricity consumed, too. Unlike the other types discussed above, incandescent lamps don’t require ballasts.
Fixtures affect the overall efficiency of lighting, too. Most lamp types can only be used in fixtures designed for that specific lamp type, although compact fluorescent lamps can be used in incandescent fixtures. The fixture is crucial in achieving the lighting effect you want by the way it distributes the light.
Using light as efficiently as possible is important — and so is making sure the lighting is doing its job. That’s what makes lighting effective. Lighting that produces too much glare, that is directed to the wrong areas, is too bright or not bright enough is inefficient regardless of its efficacy. Lighting, even simple lighting, really is a system. To get the most out of your lighting
dollar, we recommend you consider it as a system that includes switches and controls, fixtures, lamps, and the environment in which it operates.
I have a great location and a unique building, and want to expand my open time into nighttime. I’ve got some lights on the building pointed toward the parking lot and one over my front door pointing down the walkway. What else can I do?
I wish you had told me the type of business you are in, because I could be more specific. However, there’s general lighting advice that can help.
For starters, I’d remove any light you have that is pointing toward customers. You want to beckon them in, not drive them away! To make the building stand out at night, light should be directed at the building itself, not away from it.
You say you have a unique building, so I assume you have interesting details you can highlight? Even if a building has a flat, blank wall a play of light can make it stand out. You can cast up or down light onto the building, or an object such as a tree, to create dramatic shadow and contrast effects. You could also mount fixtures so the lighting pattern overlaps and creates a smooth even wash of the whole surface. Or you could space each fixture so that it’s pattern shows on the building with a dark space separating it.
Pathway lighting is always a good idea. It can help lead customers to your front door with a feeling of comfort and safety — and even anticipation if you have the right moodsetting
What’s the best advice I can give you on ways to light your business? Go out into the daylight and look at your building. What features set it apart? Perhaps it’s the building itself, the trees around it, the entryway, the grounds, or the windows? Go back that same night and look at the building from the same place and note the features you can still see, or can’t see in the dark. Ask yourself if the right lighting could bring them to life and put them to work for you.
I'm planning changes in the lighting in our hospital and have heard how light can help people feel better. What should I use?
I'm not qualified to make any medical claims about the effects of lighting on wellness. But I have read a good deal about the subject, and have talked with many lighting experts. I'll pass what I've learned along to you.
The effects of lighting are largely psychological. This is true whether it's in a hospital setting or the local hardware store! The color, intensity, and source of light can easily affect our moods. Think about your own experiences in different lighting conditions. That said, let's explore some different lighting options for your hospital.
All of your public and office areas would benefit from high quality light. Many people find hospitals intimidating. Light is an ideal tool for creating a warm and encouraging atmosphere, which can help reduce anxiety. In the business areas, light can be used to create the best possible working environment. In fact, many studies show that light can boost employee productivity, wellness, and general attitude.
What is the "right" lighting? You may want to look at the new color-corrected T-8 lamps and electronic ballasts. You can retrofit your existing fixtures to take these lamps. Or you can put in all-new fixtures with specular reflectors, color-corrected T-8 lamps, and electronic ballasts. Color-corrected simply means that these lamps will produce light that renders truer colors, and doesn't mask them. I don't know what kind of lighting your hospital now uses, but it's likely any or all of the following.
- The very common Cool White (CW) lamp producers a bluish white light.
- The next most-common Warm White (WW) yields a brownish tone. Both mask certain colors;
CW has a tendency to dull down red and green and it enhances blue. WW dulls blue and green and enhances red. The new T-8, and some of the T-12 lamps, now have special phosphors that render more truly the color of whatever they are lighting - including people!
And remember: quality lighting affects staff and visitors as well as patients, and is a terrific value for the money!
I have been in the retail clothing business for 25 years and am a well-established business. Sometime back, CMP convinced me to put in energy efficient lamps to lower my energy costs. It seemed like a good idea, but my customers complained they couldn't see the clothes. So I put the old lighting back in. Now you say installing additional lights can help my business. What's changed?
Over the years, CMP has offered various programs. Some of these were in response to directives from the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). For example, a few years back, the PUC required us to encourage customers to purchase energy efficient products. While conserving energy is a good idea, many of those early products did not have the output that they do today.
For 20 years, utilities all across the country promoted lighting on the basis of energy efficiency. While the experts were right about the energy savings, they did not always weigh the quality issue heavily enough. You can't sell clothes if customers can't see them!
The need for well-planned lighting has become increasingly important to businesses as consumers seek ever more satisfying " shopping experiences". CMP's understanding has grown and we realize that as businesses grow and change, so do your lighting needs. One lighting scheme or goal does not fit all! Light levels, quality, balance, correct color, and other considerations come into play. You need the right mix to meet your specific business goals - to attract new customers, increase sales, decrease product returns, increase productivity, promote safety, and encourage repeat business.
The final decision is up to you, because the right lighting can make a big difference to your business!
I have lights in my parking lot, but still have problems with car break-ins. How is more lighting going to help?
The ideal lighting solution includes the use of various fixtures to roll security and safety into one strategy. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Security: Lighting does act as a crime deterrent. It's well documented that far fewer incidents happen when there's plenty of illumination. The issue of liability is also well documented; the owner must provide an adequately lit and safe lot or face serious consequences. As a rule of thumb, parking lot light levels should vary in relation to your business hours; all lights on during sales hours - most of them on when the business is closed but traffic flow is still high - and most off (except for security lights) the rest of the time.
Safety: While safety is always an issue, it's even more so when it gets dark. Your parking area must be bright enough to provide visibility for drivers and pedestrians after sundown. Although most lots have some light - and may even meet Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) standards - IES standards are only guidelines for MINIMUM lighting. It's best to work with a lighting professional to arrive at a level that protects both your customers and your business. Don't make the mistake of thinking only about cost outlay. A single lawsuit could quickly erase, by a multiple of 100 or more, any savings gained by keeping light to the minimum. Not to mention the cost of lost business if customers don't feel safe! When planning, think about the following:
- Keep illumination uniform across your lot. Uneven lighting looks sloppy and uninviting. It's also unsafe for drivers and pedestrians because the eyes have to keep adjusting to the varying light levels.
- Strive to reduce glare or reflected light which can create a hazard as it affects depth perception. This is especially important for older people.
- Work with a lighting professional to come up with the most effective, cost-efficient outdoor lighting for your business.
I've heard the pitch about 'productivity' lighting, but I don't buy it. You tell me I can increase my bottom line just by changing my lighting. I think you just want to improve yours. Please prove it.
Quality lighting and your company's bottom line are linked like this: give a good employee the best environment in which to perform a given task and that employee will produce his or her best. For example, a clerk who can see his computer monitor without squinting is more likely to produce an error-free invoice than a clerk who has a headache from dealing with VDT glare!
Let's look at specific components in the good lighting = better productivity equation. There's light quality, which covers brightness, contrast, color, and amount of glare from the light source. Light quality has to be suitable for the type of work, size of work object, age, and physical condition of the person doing the work and that person's attitude. Imagine two offices, each1500 square feet. Light each in the same way, following IES published guidelines. Put 20 people of the same age and ability to work at the same tasks in each office. Theoretically, everyone's output will be the same. Now change nothing but the lighting in one office. Studies by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (www.lrc.edu), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (www.lbl.gov), show that, with everything else being equal, changing cool white lamps to color corrected-lamps increases productivity levels!
Quality lighting contributes to a safe, comfortable workplace. Employees put more focus on their jobs, and have a lower absenteeism rate in a well-lit environment. There are gains in work volume and accuracy. There's less waste and fewer customer complaints. Increased productivity'.lower costs'.all going to the company's bottom line.
Remember that every person/task combination is different. Your lighting needs to fit your business. Think about your own work area. Can everyone see what needs to be done without moving to a better-lit area? Does anyone squint because of reflections or glare? Are colors true-to-life under your indoor lamps? If your office has lighting challenges - or if you'd like to explore increased productivity through better lighting - get some specific advice from a lighting designer.
I recently replaced some old 4' fluorescents with 8' single pin fixtures, and installed color corrected (CRI=90) tubes in place of my cool whites. I am very pleased with both the color and quantity of light, but the hum from the fixtures is driving me crazy. Is there any way of reducing the noise, or did I just buy the wrong type of fixture?
The hum you hear is coming from the ballast, a lamp part you don't usually see because it's behind the fixture reflector. Allnon-electronic ballasts make a noise. Here's what a ballast is, and an explanation of why it makes noise.
A ballast is a device used to start and maintain energy in fluorescent, Metal Halide, High Pressure Sodium, and Mercury lamps to produce optimum light output. The ballast heats up the filaments, provides the right voltage to start the arc, and then creates the impedance to limit the current to the proper amount. Ballasts are often large and boxy. Most are made of steel laminates wound with copper or aluminum wire. The laminate core vibrates from hum. All ballasts are rated for sound. Interestingly, these ratings do not indicate the actual sound made by the ballast, but rather the amount of background sound needed to obscure it. The ratings are:
A. <26 decibels
B. 26-30 decibels
C. 31-36 decibels
D. >36 decibels.
The sound rating for fixtures is located on the face of the ballast. You would want to choose an A-rated ballast in a church or library, B would be suitable in typical offices; C in noisy offices or retail stores; and D outdoors or in a factory. So one option is to replace your ballast with one that has an appropriate sound rating for your workshop and noise tolerance.
That said, if you keep your fixture as is, there are ways to reduce the effect of ballast noise. If your fixtures are mounted solidly to a ceiling or a metal frame, the ballast sound may be amplified. You can sometimes reduce this by using rubber shims under the mounting points to absorb vibration and lessen the noise. You can also check and make sure the ballast is mounted into the fixture tightly.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Give me a call if you want to discuss lighting at your business.
I've been hearing about business lighting through CMP's Lighting Connection newsletters, bill inserts, and phone representatives. I have a lighting project planned. Can you please explain how CMP could play a role in my project? What can you do for me?
CMP acts as your energy project consultant. You set the goals and select your lighting partners. I can give you ideas to help ensure your project is on track to meet your objectives - for FREE!
You're the expert when it comes to your business, but you may feel uncomfortable evaluating proposals or making decisions that involve color temperature, color rendering, lamp placement, or other unfamiliar territory. In your case, your project partners might include electrical tradespeople, an architect or engineer, and electrical wholesalers. Next, you're invited to use CMP as a "second set of eyes." CMP is available to review your plans, double-check specs, raise questions, or make suggestions about the lighting solutions proposed by your project partners. A FREE second opinion!
As an example, I recently assisted a customer who wanted to review parking lot and entry lighting at her restaurant. The fixtures selected were commonly used 175-watt globe area lights. My suggestion was to change these to square exterior fixtures - they direct the light where needed. These fixtures have excellent light control, are very efficient, and do not add to light clutter. For the walkway leading to the entry, I suggested bollards (4-ft. tall post light that casts light downward) to create a well-lit path to the entrance. For the entry I suggested she light with a couple low-mounted floods to make it stand out. After review of my suggestions and understanding how lighting could affect her patrons, her business security, and her bottom line, she implemented the changes - but now based on informed decisions!
The effort on my part is to educate, suggest, and, yes to promote, the use of electricity so your business can be more profitable. I do so in a manner that can help you make a business decision whether to use additional lighting, or any electrical product, or not. Give us a call today!
I've got a lighting vendor telling me to change out perfectly good, working office ceiling lights. What's going on?
All lamps and fixtures have an operational life and a useful life. My guess is the lighting vendor feels either the lamps or fixtures have reached the end of their useful life.
You didn't say if the suggestion was to replace the lamps or an entire fixture, so we'll look at both for a typical office light fixture.
A typical recessed ceiling fixture has four components to it. The fixture body, the lens, the lamp(s), and the ballast. If any part fails or does not perform at its rated level, the light system as a whole is not operating at maximum benefit.
A fluorescent lamp has a rated average life of between 20,000 and 24,000 hours for 4-foot lamps, based on 3 burning hours per start. As the lamp's operational time increases, the lamp's output decreases. It reaches a point - after about 15,000 hours - and the fixture is dirty, the operational life stays the same, but the useful life could drop to 4-6 years. In other words, the fixture is still consuming the same energy, but you may be getting less than half the intended light because the lumens can't get out.
Lack of care and maintenance on the fixture, lens, and/or lamp can cause substantial decrease of that light coverage. That can lead to a waste of energy, money, visibility, and productivity in your business. A decrease in any of its operating characteristics may be good cause for replacement. Even though a lamp is still burning in your fixture, it may not be doing its job.
In addition to recommending lighting changes, I can assist you and your lighting vendors in establishing a maintenance plan to help minimize early light system.
Give me a call today!
I have some 100-watt (incandescent) bulbs that keep blowing out. The fixtures look great over my entryway and they require this type of bulb. I've tried several brands, but with the same result. What do you recommend?
Your question is probably the most common one relating to incandescent lamps. Per lamp manufacturers, more than 50% of all the lamps that fail do so because of a break in the filament, not because the lamp burns to the end of its life.
An incandescent lamp is comprised of three parts: the base, globe, and filament. The base passes the electrical current across lead wires to the filament; the globe protects the delicate filament; the filament is the light-producing piece of the lamp and the most common factor in early lamp failure. The filament is made of tungsten metal which glows white-hot and produces the usable light we get from the lamp.
In a perfect situation where the lamp is never subjected to any temperature swing, vibration and/or voltage variance, the lamp would burn for 750 to 1000 hours before burning out. But because lamps are rarely used in this perfect situation, outside events and elements tend to excessively flex the filament and can eventually break it.
That leads me back to your question. I would guess that you have extensive vibration from door use and foot traffic in your entryway. This is likely affecting your lamps and causing a shorter-than-average lamp life. A good solution might be a rough service lamp, which most lamp manufacturers. These kinds of lamps are made with heavier filaments that are more resistant to vibrations and other outside effects.
As always, the choice of lighting depends upon your objectives and your business setting. The good news is, with so much technology to choose from, you're likely to find something that solves your problems and satisfies your business needs.
We changed all the lamps in our office a year ago and now I'm getting complaints about them burning out. My facility person says I bought "cheap" lamps and I need to spend more. Please advise.
Odds are you purchased replacement lamps designed for residential use. When buying lamps for your business, you have to look at both performance and price - kind of like buying a car.
Comparing a 4-foot fluorescent that costs a dollar to one that's 3-6 times as expensive is much like comparing a Yugo to a Rolls Royce. Fluorescent lamps are glass tubes filled with various gases, phosphors, mercury, and some starting aids. The better the mix of these components, the higher the performance of the lamp. As with all things, when quality goes up, so does the manufacturing cost and the price tag.
Look for a "performance rating' on the side of the lamp packaging. It should state the watts consumed, average life, lumen output, and, in some cases, the color temperature. Lower cost lamps often have a much shorter rated lamp life - 10,000/12,000 hours compared to twice that for a commercially-rated lamp. Evaluate burn time and lamp cost against your disposal rates and costs. There's a big difference in lumen output, too. A typical lower cost lamp has an initial output of 2,700 lumens and then quickly drops off to 2,300 or less. A high quality, energy efficient T-8 lamp averages 3,100 to start, then drops to 2,950. That's a 15% light level loss with the lower cost lamp compared to just 5% with the better one. Additionally, color correction is hard to find in less expensive lamps (see our cover story and charts for more information on color rendition).
A 10,000-hour lamp in your basement shop might only be used 500 hours per year and thus could last 20 years. In a typical office it might burn from 4,500 hours per year right up to 8,760 hours if it's on 365/24/7.
What does this all mean? Buy lamps that are rated to fit your specific setting and needs. Otherwise, they'll burn out quickly and the associated business costs will mount up fast - outweighing any upfront savings on the cheaper lamp itself. Consider labor costs for more frequent change outs, additional money purchasing new lamps more frequently, and increased disposal costs.
There are many things to consider when selecting lamps. Most lamp manufacturers have excellent web sites with very helpful information about all kinds of lighting issues. I encourage you to check out gelighting.com, philips.com, sylvania. com and others. Take time to do a little homework and you'll make the right business choice the next time you're replacing lamps.
And, as always, never hesitate to give a CMP Lighting Expert a call at 1-800-649-1169 to assist with your lighting project!
Which type of sign lighting is best - neon or fluorescent?
For most businesses, a properly lit sign is the single most important - and relatively least expensive - advertisement you can have. A well-displayed sign, set on an attractive fa-ade, almost shouts, "Here we are, come on in!" At the very least, a sign states your business name and advertises your location. The best signs do more. They portray image and character, offer a promise of quality, and make your business virtually impossible to pass by without being noticed. A well-designed sign says something about you as an owner, as well. It shows you take pride in your business- outside and in.
With that said, let's look at advantages offered by neon and fluorescent lighting:
Neon can be bent and shaped in such a way to write or depict almost anything you can dream up. And it comes in a dazzling array of colors. Here at CMP, we have seen neon lights shaped into cars, cups of coffee, flowers, animals, and much more. Though this specialty signing comes at a higher price, it may well pay for itself quickly if neon proves to be the material that best sends your message.
Fluorescent sign lighting has advantages, too. It can be mounted above, below, or inside your sign and will operate in temperatures that dip below zero. In general its output is a white light. You position it to reflect the color of the sign back to the viewer. Because fluorescent is a linear light source, it can create a very smooth lighting pattern over the whole sign.
The right choice is the lighting that achieves your goal. No matter which light you choose, you'll want to make a commitment to keeping your sign lit to its original intention.Watchful maintenance is key! As mentioned above, a well-lit sign tells the customer a lot of good things about your business. A sign with burned out lighting and fixtures, or any hint of disrepair, sends the wrong message.
So, make sure your exterior lighting is planned, established, and well maintained. It's a reflection on your business!
What type of lighting should I use with the high ceilings in my business?
As a general a rule of thumb, fluorescent lighting can be used at heights up to 20 feet. High pressure sodium (HPS) lamps or metal halide (MH) will give their best output in low bay fixtures at 8 to 20 foot heights and in high bay fixtures at heights of 15 feet and up.
Each has its good and bad points and is situation dependent. A fluorescent system of 4 or 8 feet, non-high output lamps can be used at heights up to 20 feet, but best results will be obtained at 9 to 15 feet. With high output lamps and/or the new T-5 lamps and fixtures, the height can increase to 30 feet. Fluorescent fixtures give you a great deal of flexibility in sizes, shapes, and lamps, while retaining great color. Their design has been accepted as the standard for offices, retail businesses, schools, and other applications.
High and low bay fixtures have been, until recently, considered industrial fixtures because of their ability to light from high mounting heights and due to their size - some fixtures are 30 by 28 inches wide and weigh 60 to 70 pounds. In the past 5 years, these fixtures have crossed over into many of the large hardware, food, and upscale department stores. They are also beginning to use more electronic ballasts (which allow efficiency gains) and lamps that have better color characteristics.
For more specific lighting application assistance, don't hesitate to give us call at 1-800-649-1169. Take advantage of the lighting expertise that CMP has provided to help hundreds of CMP business customers.
I'm confused! Sometimes you promote energy efficiency, and other times usage. Please explain.
That's a very good question, and you're not the only one who gets confused about efficiency issues. First, let's clear something up. The right light is not about using less or more, it's about using exactly what you need to get the job done.
So where did all that confusion come from? Even though business lighting costs contribute less than 5% on average to overall operating costs, lighting is often a target for lowering electric bills. And that can be shortsighted. While no company should waste energy, you don't want to cut corners where it might hurt sales without saving much money.
Fifteen to twenty years ago, the common practice for conservation was to remove lamps and fixtures. Unfortunately, this was at the expense of lighting quality, and often resulted in ineffective, low light levels that were not matched to the business purpose.
Today there's a movement toward true efficiency of light - a combination of light quality and quantity that meets the business needs and uses energy wisely. With the wide array of fixtures and lamps currently available, that goal can be easily achievable. I can help you with this process and offer suggestions on a variety of options.
If done properly, good lighting can be truly efficient, in terms of both quality of light delivered and amount of energy used, with results that can grow and strengthen your business. Contact CMP today to learn how!
I work in a billing office with nearly fifty workstations, each with PCs under fluorescent lighting. Several of us are getting headaches and think it's a lighting problem. Could this be the case and, if so, what can be done about it?
Glare and flicker from fluorescent lighting could be the problem. My first suggestion is to have your system reviewed and analyzed by a certified lighting professional.
Glare is a disproportionate reflection of bright light sources - natural or artificial. Windows, unshielded light fixtures, and shiny objects will reflect back to a VDT screen or glossy papers on your desk. Glare from light fixtures can be greatly reduced with parabolic lenses. A parabolic lens has a grill face with louvers that control the light output and help stop the "hot" spot on ceilings that regular flat plastic lenses often create. Another lighting design to consider for this environment is an indirect lighting system, in which the fixtures bounce light off a light-colored, reflective ceiling. Indirect lighting designs are becoming more popular as they produce softer, more defused light. Properly designed, indirect lighting reduces shadows and provides a less harsh, more uniform lighting pattern. Additional items to consider in glare reduction are window shades or drapes, positioning the angle of the PC monitor away from the glare-causing source, positioning the operator effectively, and use of PC anti-glare monitor screens.
The other major contributor of eye fatigue and strain is flicker. Older-style fluorescent ballasts operate at 60 Hertz (Hz) - they are actually shutting on and off 60 times per second. Flicker is the name for this constant shift in the brightness of the lamp and has been well documented to cause eye fatigue and strain. For most people, flicker is not apparent beyond 70 Hz, however, under some circumstances it can be visible upwards of 100 Hz. If this is the source of discomfort, a retrofit of the newer electronic ballasts, which operate over 100 Hz, should eliminate a flicker issue. In considering the new electronic ballasts, a retrofit of T-8 lamps to replace any T-12s will also help to improve an eyestrain problem by improving the color and quality of light in your space.
You've talked about how better lighting can improve productivity. Can you cite some specific examples and statistics?
Sure. There are many specific examples of companies that have benefited from a boost in productivity resulting from lighting system improvements. And studies continue to be done, so you can expect to see more information on this topic. For example, the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is completing a 4-year study on productivity and lighting this year. We'll let you know when their report is out, and share some of their findings in future issues.
These well-known companies experienced increased productivity after upgrading their lighting. Here are the numbers:
- Pennsylvania Power & Light: Productivity in the drafting department increased 13% with a lighting upgrade to provide more illumination and less glare.
- Lockheed: Engineering & Development facility increased productivity by 15% with a new lighting upgrade.
- US Post Office: Reno, Nevada facility - saved $400,000 per year when a new lighting system was installed.
- West Bend Mutual Insurance: Claims Processing department - increased productivity by 16% with overall lighting changes.
I operate a gift shop on Route 1 and want my business to stand out. Can you give me some ideas?
Here’s a really effective strategy: turn the front of your building into a shopping landmark! (Don’t worry – it’s a lot easier than it sounds.)
You have approximately two to five second in which to make a positive impression on a passing motorist. In that short time, he or she has to recognize your building as a business – get the idea you’re selling something they can’t live without – and see available space for parking.
That’s where the landmark idea come sin. First, you need a focal point. This might be your building itself. Or it could be a feature of your building, such as a big bay window or interesting architectural detail. Or it might be something you add. A colorful flag, a carved sign or figure, an old rowboat…anything people will talk about and remember.
Now you have to make sure customers see your landmark!
If you want to put the focus on your building, there are a number of lighting strategies you might consider. For a flatfront style building, you can create scallop light patterns that catch the eye. Mount fixtures halfway up the building, and direct the lights both up and down. Or overhang fixtures from the top of the building so the light shines down. If you building is contoured, you may find a wall-washing light very effective. It results in an attractive play of light and shadow.
Suppose you’ve chosen and object to identify your business. Light it from above, using a relatively high-wattage fixture; put the spotlight on your focal point. We can all think of a business or two where we’re not sure of the name, but remember some distinguishing feature.
Once your building is noticed, you want to invite customers in. A good way is to use bollards to configure a walkway from your parking lot to your establishment. A bollard is a fixture 6 to 10 inches in diameter mounted about 4 feet off the ground. It’s generally 35 to 50 watts and either metal halide or high-pressure sodium. The bright light seems to say “Welcome, come this way.”
Finally, parking lot lighting is always worth looking at. If customers don’t feel safe, they’ll keep driving, and you’ll lose the opportunity of those magic 2 to 5 seconds. Does your lot signal that it’s safe, secure, and convenient? If not, it’s time to revamp your lighting.
Why not take a few minutes right now to check out your buildings eye appeal? Walk across the street. Take a look at your business. Which of these lighting strategies could you use to get more attention and customer traffic? Try one or all. They work!
All companies have the potential to increase productivity by improving their lighting.
The benefits of the improvement depend a lot on the state of your current lighting system, and every company is different. But ask yourself what a 10-20% increase in productivity could mean to you. Better quality control? Fewer mistakes? Less waste? Lower absenteeism? Higher morale? Every one of these results can be translated into a dollar and cents statistic - and show up right in your bottom line. Do a little math and you'll find it adds up!
Even without statistics, seeing is believing. Our CMP's Lighting Connection will continue to bring you stories about Maine businesses that have seen for themselves the benefits provided by improved lighting. And we'll continue to give you ways to make and benefit from lighting upgrades of your own!
*From the National Lighting Bureau, Solar Today, and the Rocky Mountain Institute.