Talk to any of your electrical clients about their lighting needs, and most will already have some knowledge of LED lighting.
Usually people understand LED in the context of energy and power bill savings. In the UK, lighting accounts for 20 percent of all energy consumption, so any move toward more efficient lighting can have a significant impact on expenditure.
LED lights use about fifty percent less energy than traditional incandescent, halogen or fluorescent lighting options. LED bulbs also tend to last eight to ten times longer than their incandescent counterparts. These are clear benefits which will be of interest to clients looking to reduce energy bills or meet targets for environmental impact, but research is showing us that there are other benefits to LED use as well.
Let’s take a look:
Lighting is associated with a number of different outcomes for human health. It is known to impact our circadian rhythms which govern sleep cycles, and to have an impact on overall mood.
If we look at LED bulbs specifically, studies have raised a few known or potential health benefits from their use. One thing that comes up often is the potential for flickering. Fluorescent lights are notorious for flicker, a phenomena that has been known to cause headaches, or even seizures in some people. In the workplace, flickering lights can have a strong negative impact on productivity.
While LED lights can also flicker under certain conditions, one remedy is to follow the IEEE guidelines for LEDs, which limits flicker to levels where health impacts are negligible. It is possible to have much less flicker from LED lights than from traditional old office fluorescent lights.
Another issue, particularly with older fluorescent lighting fixtures, is the humming noise which they often emit. Some studies have suggested that this noise is not only distracting, but can lead to irritability and fatigue. LED bulbs, in contrast, do not emit any humming noise.
Consider heat as another side effect of older styles of lighting. While LED fixtures remain relatively cool, even after long periods of use, fluorescent, halogen, and incandescent light fixtures can reach high temperatures, sometimes getting close to 100 degrees celsius. This is not only a safety hazard when it comes to handling or accidently touching bulbs, but can be a health risk for the surroundings of the light. For example, consider places like supermarket delis, where foods might be under lights, but need to be stored at cool temperatures. LEDs also represent less of a fire risk.
UV emissions are another concern with fluorescent bulbs, which are not present with LED bulbs. Exposure to UV radiation is associated with skin aging and some cancers. An August 2008 edition of the Oxford University Press stated: “the UV emissions from a significant percentage of the tested CFLs…may result in foreseeable overexposure of the skin when these lamps are used in desk or task lighting applications.”
Perhaps one of the most talked-about benefits of LED lighting as related to health, is the ability to customise the lighting to meet the needs of the space and use. Our eyesight benefits from having the right amount of light for the task we are doing, while the ability to adjust lighting levels can help people to maintain healthy sleep patterns.LED lighting can provide several health benefits for the people it impacts Click To Tweet
People have conducted experiments with light since the first studies into productivity began. More recently, scientists have started to compare LED lighting with other types.
A 2010 study found that LED lighting outperformed fluorescent in the workplace. One of the key findings was “LED supports positive mood, extended wakefulness and speeded performance.”
Specifically, here is some of their key data in favour of LED lighting:
- 8.3% improvement in visual and cognitive tasks
- Faster reaction times
- Reduced fatigue
- Increased vigor/activity
- Lower rates of depression
The researchers summarised their findings with:
“The present results indicate that recent increases in the number of LED technologies being incorporated into industrial lighting applications may be justified given the positive implications for worker performance. Relative to traditional fluorescent technology with relatively low color temperature, LED appears to support positive mood, extended wakefulness, and speeded performance on both visual perceptual and cognitive tasks.”
The ability to customise or automate LED lighting to suit the situation is another factor in favour of using it in a workplace setting. Under the right lighting conditions, productivity can see significant improvements.
A common hesitation over LED lighting has been that it costs more than other types of lighting, at least initially. Although, with more common use of energy-saver bulbs, the price has come down compared to what it used to be.
If cost is an argument for the client, it’s worth noting the factors which make LED an affordable option. For example:
- LED lights have a much slower burnout rate as compared to incandescent lights. Typically, an LED bulb can last 50,000 hours, whereas incandescents burn out in less than a year. LEDs also retain their colour consistency for longer.
- LED lighting tends to be more durable than other types of lighting. There are no filaments or glass enclosures, so LED lights are less likely to be broken.
- If you want to control the lighting levels, LED tends to be a much cheaper option to set up this way. As semiconductor devices, they are compatible with controls, whereas other types of lighting require more investment. Some LEDs can be dimmed as low as ten percent of their full output, whereas fluorescents tend to only go to thirty percent.
Of course, as we mentioned in the introduction to this article, there’s also the fact that LED lights use about fifty percent less energy! If you combine this with their longer lifespan, these factors should more than make up for any higher cost to install.
One of the coolest benefits of LED lighting is simply how versatile it is. Lights are small and can be used for virtually any application imaginable. For example, besides practical lighting for visibility, LED is great for architectural features, such as downlighting.
LED lights can fit into small spaces or onto tiny objects. You’ll see them on appliances, furniture and consumer electronics. They can light your pathways, stairways and any area which may be dangerous if not illuminated.
Feature lighting can be affordable and pleasing to the eye, creating directional light where needed. The fact that LED lighting is very compatible with electronic dimmers adds to the versatility of the product. Pair it with smart sensors, and you can improve security, boost comfort and productivity, and reduce environmental impact.
We’re not suggesting LED lighting is a panacea – in fact there are some claims being made which are as-yet unproven. However, there are plenty of studies to back the potential positive impacts of making the switch.
A key thing for any electrical client will be that their LED solutions need to be customised to their particular space and needs. A poorly implemented LED swap will probably not grant them the benefits they’re looking for.
LED lighting can provide energy and environmental savings, as well as improvements to productivity and efficiency. It can bring health benefits and a host of possible applications. Making the switch can have a positive impact for both residential and commercial clients.
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