In the quest for greater facility efficiency - from maintenance costs to energy savings - facility managers may have stopped to consider LED lighting. However, when it comes to saving with LEDs, there's still a lot of talk about product potential, context of use and other qualifiers that may make facility managers second-guess going with the lighting technology. Here, in some simpler terms, is what you need to know about LED lighting.
LED stands for light emitting diode. LEDs are compact, they can last a long time, they are easy to maintain, they perform well in cold temperatures and they lack the glass-and-filament design of other bulbs that are so easily breakable, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The light from an LED also has directionality, meaning that light can be used more efficiently to light specific things. Think of a highway street lamp that shines in all directions - including the sky - compared to a spotlight that illuminates only the road.
For facility managers, an LED bulb could save time and effort when it comes to building maintenance, as a well-designed light could last anywhere between 30,000 to 50,000 hours, compared to incandescent bulbs, which only last approximately 1,000 hours, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. They also consume much less energy, making them more environmentally sustainable.
The disadvantage of LED lights is simply the upfront cost. LEDs only cost a fraction that incandescent do in terms of energy usage, however, upgrading to LED lights in the first place can be pricey and it could take years to make up the cost, according to FacilitiesNet. At the end of the day, facility managers will have to consider what they plan to use LEDs for and how much they are willing to spend on a high quality product that will last long enough to justify the upfront cost.
Deciding to buy
Facility managers who are simply looking to cut down on maintenance and aren't necessarily concerned with huge savings may find LEDs worth the current price. Also, managers willing to do the research on the highest quality products may in fact save significant amounts of money depending on the product. The purpose of the lighting is also essential. Some of the more common applications for LED lighting, according to FacilitiesNet, include downlighting, outdoor area lighting and ceiling troffers. However, if the installation doesn't maximize the efficiency of LED, it may be just as valuable to wait for LED improvements and use fluorescent bulbs in the meantime.