Shine a light on wasted energy

Sept. 26, 2012
Stop wasting lighting energy and lower operating costs.

Managers of process control plants, industrial manufacturing facilities, warehouses and terminals are all looking for ways to offset rising material, transportation and operating costs without outsourcing to other countries. Lowering operating expenses can be the difference between maintaining domestic production and closing the doors. Lighting is one area that must be examined for sustained cost-saving and energy-saving opportunities.

These types of facilities are wasting lighting energy, and lots of it, by over-lighting work areas and overpowering lamp fixtures (HID or fluorescent). For example, most fluorescent lights are powered by a “dumb” ballast, specifically matched for either one-lamp, two-lamp, three-lamp, four-lamp, or six-lamp fixtures. With HID lighting, plants often have fixtures installed on 12-foot centers, although they can probably accomplish the appropriate level of brightness on 20-foot centers. Another option is to switch to high-bay lighting. In either case, these lamps are being overpowered and are on at full brightness 100 percent of the time, driving up energy costs. Some facility managers have adopted the makeshift solution of shutting down every other row of lights to cut energy usage (and light) by 50 percent. Such a plan does not optimize lighting for the task at hand and does not deal directly with other issues affecting each fixture’s energy usage.

Fortunately, there are other options available to operations managers that will result in significant savings on lighting costs. These options do not require shutting the plant down to remove the current lighting fixtures and install new versions of the same type. You don’t have to change the lighting technology that you already have; you just have to be able to control it to optimize lighting for the task. The solution is to control each lighting fixture with an efficient lighting controller and solid-state dimming ballast.

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