Manufacturers looking to replace industrial fixtures could be taking major risks without ever realizing it, thanks to these lighting trends…
Lighting for industrial spaces has evolved greatly over the last two decades. The increased adoption of LED lighting has opened doors to new technologies and ways to solve some of the most common and most complex challenges in these environments. However, warehouse owners, manufacturers, and facility managers who are looking to replace and upgrade their lighting fixtures have many complexities and conditions to consider. Otherwise, they could be taking major risks in their buying decisions without ever realizing it.
Today to explain further, Catherine Bruce is joined by Acuity Brands® Vice President of Industrial Lighting, Tony Gineris; and Jared Kimmel, the Manager of Contractor Select™ portfolio for Industrial Lighting.
WHAT SETS INDUSTRIAL LIGHTING APART FROM LIGHTING IN OTHER SPACES?
Two major factors differentiate industrial environments from other businesses when it comes to lighting.
The first factor is the increased density of heavy equipment, electronics, and machinery. Forklifts, presses, conveyor belts, and other apparatuses actually create fluctuations in facility voltage every time they’re operated. This means that the electricity in industrial environments is more likely to be erratic, and may even surge frequently.
The second factor is building temperature control. Office, retail, and residential buildings will keep their smaller spaces at a steady, cool temperature. Conversely, in industrial facilities oftentimes the manufacturers struggle far more to air-condition their massive spaces– if they even air-condition them at all.
And furthermore, because their ceilings are very high and their roofs are often made of metal, the rising heat within the building means that the air near the lights could be 30º hotter than what the workers are experiencing on the floor. That, coupled with the roof’s penchant for absorbing sunlight, means that industrial light fixtures are going to be exposed to far more extreme conditions under which they are expected to operate.
Have you ever had a smartphone overheat in the sun and warn you that it needs to cool down? The electronic components of lights and the conditions they endure in industrial facilities are very similar. The longer and more frequently these lights are exposed to heat, the more likely they will suffer damage if they were not created for those environments.
HOW CAN YOU KNOW WHICH INDUSTRIAL LIGHT FIXTURES WILL ENDURE EXTREME CONDITIONS?
It’s extremely important to pay attention to a light fixture’s specification sheet, as well as the specific way its warranty might be phrased.
First and foremost, look on the specification sheet to see if the light meets ANSI’s surge protection rating. For industrial spaces, ANSI requires a 6KV rating for surge protection for light fixtures. Any companies selling industrial lights who want to qualify for the ANSI standard must put their fixture through rigorous testing.
The test requires the fixture to be hooked up to a machine that pounds the fixture over and over again with 96 power surges over the course of a two-hour period. Only the most robust and reliable fixtures, built to endure extreme industrial conditions where power surges may be frequent, will pass the test.
That being said… industrial lighting fixtures that DO NOT pass ANSI standards can still be sold on the market. The makers often adjust the phrasing on their product warranties so that it appears the fixture will hold up to ANSI standards. But in the end, it won’t.
Some fixtures might have a specification sheet or installation label which lists the light’s “operating temperature” at a very high level, but that actually means that the light will merely turn on at least once at that temperature. There’s no guarantee it will function properly or at the specified light output, or for how long it will last at all.
It’s very important to look at a fixture’s “Ambient Temperature” performance to know whether it can really endure extreme industrial environments. And if a light’s specification sheet or label lists no ambient temperature whatsoever, then by UL inspection standards the fixture is only rated for just 25ºC (77ºF). For hot manufacturing facilities or warehouses, that just won’t do.
A lot of manufacturers end up buying these lights because they are far, far cheaper. But when it comes to the industrial lighting segment, cutting costs is not a good idea.
WHY SHOULD BUYERS BEWARE OF CHEAPER OPTIONS IN THE INDUSTRIAL LIGHTING MARKET?
Buyers must be careful, because fixtures that don’t pass ANSI standards or specify high ambient temperature ratings are very likely to fail in industrial environments– and fail fast.
Teams at Lithonia Lighting® not only put their own fixtures through the ANSI test, but they also bought fixtures from other lighting manufacturers to test them as well. To their horror, many of these lights often fail the surge protection standards within a matter of just one or two hits.
Lighting fixtures that don’t meet ANSI standards which are installed into industrial environments usually deteriorate rapidly due to power surges and excessive heat.
If you’ve purchased one such fixture, its eventual failure is not a possibility: it is a certainty. Their LED drivers struggle or fail entirely, and so before long their output dims, they start flickering, or they break altogether.
Once that happens, the light fixture will be out of compliance with IES (Illuminating Engineering Society) safety regulations.
For employees trying to work and stay safe in an industrial environment, a dim or dangerous fixture is a major problem. Any distributors who sell these cheaper lights could end up with a bruised reputation (to say nothing of warranty claim or full recompense issues) if their buyer has to turn around and replace the almost-brand-new lights they just purchased.
Tune in next week as we dive deeper into what happens when industrial companies unknowingly purchase poorly-rated lights on the market, and how you can spot warning signs in a light’s specification sheet or warranty before you buy.
To see some examples of industrial lights that do meet ANSI standards, visit lithonia.com/industrial today.
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