Energy Efficient Lighting Solutions

by clickthrough - Date: 2010-08-11 - Word Count: 816 Share This!

As the pressure piles on to save energy, reduce carbon footprints and generally go as green as possible to save the planet, we all need to be able to advise customers on the best way to achieve energy efficiencies.

Newey & Eyre believes there is a lot the electrical fittings can do to help customers save energy by choosing the right lighting solution. Not only will this benefit the customer, but it also provides you with an opportunity to grow your business.

If you were to put a checklist together for energy saving measures, lighting has to be at the top of the list for the simple reason that it accounts for 20% of all electrical energy usage.

Certainly homeowners looking to sell their property will need to look at the energy efficiency of their lighting: the Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) required as part of Home Information Packs (HIPs) include lighting. While for owners of older properties, improving the efficiency of the lighting may be one of the easiest ways to make a start on improving their home's energy rating.

For commercial properties, lighting accounts for 50% of all energy usage. And with EPCs for commercial premises due to come into force from April next year, energy efficient lighting solutions will definitely be under the spotlight in 2008.

Incandescent lamps waste 95% of the energy they consume as heat. If that weren't sufficient argument to look at alternatives, the fact that the EU plans to ban GLS lamps from 2009 is going to force the issue. There is, in fact, already a huge demand for energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) to replace incandescents, which is bringing the price down.

There are still many misconceptions about low energy lamps: people often think they take too long to light up, they can't be dimmed or they flicker and that they are more expensive. While that may be the case with cheap products, good quality brands now deliver lamps that will last up to 15 times longer than conventional incandescent lamps and consume up to 80% less energy. One thing you can reassure your customers is that technology and aesthetics are improving all the time and there are now low-energy alternatives to fit all lights with E14 and E27 type lamps.

Energy saving halogen lamps offer another light source. These will often retrofit into existing lamp holders and offer energy savings of up to 65% compared to incandescents and 30% over existing halogen lamps. They produce a dimmable bright white light, which many people prefer to the light output from CFLs.

In commercial premises, the opportunities for savings are generally higher. Fluorescent luminaires account for 80% of lighting on commercial premises and are generally used because they combine high luminous output with low power consumption. Simply replacing T12 and T8 halophosphor tubes with triphosphor fluorescents could save up to 30% in energy terms. They also have a longer life, higher lumen maintenance over time and better colour rendering.

Well designed light fittings can boost energy savings further. By focussing the light where it is needed you need fewer lamps and, when designing a lighting system, using ceilings, walls and floors to reflect light can further reduce the number of luminaires needed. More savings  up to 20%  can be achieved by changing from conventional switch start control gear to high frequency. This gives a flicker-free start and lighting, automatic shutdown of failed lamps and silent operation. High frequency control gear also needs less maintenance as it is all in one unit.

Other simple steps that can cut down on the energy consumed by lighting include fitting dimmers or time lag switches but, for real savings, we should look at more sophisticated types of lighting control. In just about every family there is at least one member who doesn't seem to realise that light switches have an off' as well as an on' function and in offices it seems to be taken for granted that lights will be on all day, every day, regardless of occupancy.

If people won't turn off the lights, install a system that does it for them. PIR occupancy sensors switch lighting on or off and can be hard wired into either the luminaires or the marshalling box that supplies power to a group of luminaires.

This alone can save energy but go one step further and you have an occupancy system that incorporates a photocell that switches the lighting off if there is enough natural light ' or, with a digital lighting control system, one that enables luminaires to dim up and down in response to changing light levels. Digital control systems can achieve energy savings of up to 70% and they maximise lamp life because rather than turning off in response to bright daylight, they just dim down to about 10%.

We all recognise the need to save energy and with some of these simple steps we can help customers reap the benefits of going green.

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