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The Light Source

Helpful tips from Bulbs.com lighting specialists

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Lighting Safety for Parking Garages

by Allison Kelley 24 November, 2015 03:19

Parking garages are reputed to be poorly-lit and uninviting places. However, brighter lighting may not always be optimum because of excessive glare and over-illumination. For best lighting practices that increase safety, choose a higher quality light that reduces glare with a high color-rendering index, or CRI.

When lighting a parking garage, it is important to tailor light level to location to improve visual clarity, ease eye strain, and increase safety. Lamps with higher CRI render colors more accurately and enable a driver to better distinguish between features and colors within the garage as opposed to casting both pedestrians, vehicles, and walls in the same poor quality light. Altering light levels within the garage also eases eye strain. The entrances and exits to the garage should have the highest levels of light followed by ramp areas. 

The human eye is highly adaptable; however, it takes a few minutes for a driver’s eyes to fully adjust to a dramatic change in light levels. During the daytime, brightly lit entrances ease the transition from a darker parking garage to the bright outdoors. As the driver continues through the garage, light levels may gradually decrease. Ramps, representing a transition between the brighter, entrance lighting and the darker garage interiors, should be lit accordingly. Finally, low, uniform lighting is sufficient for parking areas.

Uniform lighting within the garage interior reduces shadows and contrast, increasing the visibility of pedestrians. In order to achieve uniform lighting, choose fixtures which emit light upward and downward with wide distributions.

A well-lit garage often incorporates physical changes, such as daylighting and paint color, into the lighting system as well. Often parking structures appear dark and uninviting because concrete does not reflect light very well. Wherever possible, paint surfaces light colors to help reflect light. Further, incorporating daylighting into the structure design increases light levels and reduces energy demand during the day.

Lighting controls also reduce energy consumption by adjusting light output according to occupant activity and daylight. Some LED fixtures are equipped with occupancy sensors and can dim lamps in areas with less traffic. Photo-sensors can also be incorporated in garage-top lighting to control lighting on the top floor of the structure as well.

When incorporating the above recommendations, LED technology is a great option to consider. LED lamps lower energy and maintenance costs, are compatible with a wide range of controls, and have very high color rendering indexes. Many LED options exist specifically for garage applications. These include LED vapor tight fixtures which are optimal in areas where water may get into the fixture and LED garage lighters, which are efficient replacements for metal halide and high pressure sodium fixtures within garages.  

The improvement that LED technology offers over high pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide lamps where color-rendering is concerned is substantial. HPS lamps have a CRI of 30 out of 100 and metal halide lamps rank at a modest 60 within the index. LED bulbs, however, regularly have a CRI of 75 or higher. Ditching HPS technology in favor of LED lighting means that your parking garage will never be washed in a orange hue again. Both drivers and pedestrians will be safer once the visual clarity in your garage is improved.

If you would like to learn more about lighting control, brightness, or LED technology for your parking application, call 888-455-2800 to speak with a certified Lighting Specialists. Additionally, our blog, The Light Source and our Learning Center are updated with new information regularly.

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Commercial Lighting | Energy Efficiency | Expert Lighting Tips | Light Fixtures

Energy Efficiency: Ways to Save in the Classroom

by Allison Kelley 16 November, 2015 10:45

Each year, America’s schools spend more on energy than they do on textbooks and computers combined according to ENERGY STAR®. After salaries and benefits, utility costs are the largest operating expense for school districts and strained budgets often lead to fewer maintenance and energy efficiency upgrades, compounding these issues. With this in mind, it is important for school districts to identify affordable, energy-reduction strategies to lessen this financial burden. Lighting upgrades are a good start.

Lighting typically represents around 26% of a school’s energy consumption and fortunately, lighting is one of the few expenses which can be easily reduced. Retrofits can save between 30 and 50 percent of energy costs without negatively affecting the classroom experience. Read on for tips on how to select the most effective, energy-efficient lighting system for your school.

 

Inside a classroom, it is important to maintain comfortable lighting. Students should not have to strain their eyes to adjust between tasks on their desks and the board. Minimizing high-contrast lighting can help improve mood, concentration, and visual comfort. Each of these factors enables better learning.LED recessed troffers and pendant fixtures are often great mechanisms to create even, uniform light which minimizes contrast. Additionally, troffer retrofit kits, which come with built-in bulbs and ballasts, make transitioning to energy efficient lighting stress-free. These fixtures are often fully dimmable, allowing for versatile classroom lighting.

Classroom lighting must be versatile and controllable due to the variety of teaching methods that require different light levels. During a creative period of artwork, reading, or social time, daylight glare should be controlled. Choose lighting which provides 30-50 foot-candles (lumens per square foot), for these tasks.  30-50 foot-candles are also optimal for a lecture at a chalkboard or whiteboard and lighting the board with additional vertical surface lighting also improves board visibility. During a multimedia presentation, however, it is important to be able to dim the lights to 15 foot-candles or less.

Using sunlight to provide supplemental lighting to rooms during daylight hours is one way to reduce energy costs. Using daylight, or “daylighting”, creates optimum conditions for learning and should be used wherever possible in classrooms, administrative offices, gymnasiums, and meeting rooms. Daylighting sensors can be used to balance artificial light and create optimum lighting conditions.

Soft, uniform, electric lighting should supplement daylighting wherever necessary to create a comfortable learning environment.  As stated previously, LED recessed troffers are ideal for lighting a room uniformly. Replacing T12 fluorescent lamps with T8 and T5 lamps with electronic ballasts can also reduce energy consumption by 35%. Gymnasiums, in particular, benefit from T5 and T8 fluorescent lamps because of their quick startup times and low heat output. If you wish to convert to LED technology, LED high bay fixtures and LED HID retrofit lamps are great, energy-efficient choices for a gymnasium as well. Investing in ENERGY STAR LED exit signs will also significantly reduce energy costs, with LED exit signs lasting 25 times longer than conventional exit signs. LED bulbs also out-perform incandescent bulbs in scoreboards and will not need replacing for years to come.

In combination with occupancy sensors and timers, lighting retrofit savings-per-classroom can double. Sensors and dimmers are equally appropriate for other school settings, such as hallways, bathrooms, storage areas, libraries, and faculty offices. Occupancy sensors in particular can reduce lighting use in these lesser-used areas dramatically.

Though operating budgets in school systems are tight, school facilities typically operate for 50 years or more. Therefore, school systems benefit from a long-term perspective and should take life-cycle costs associated with Total Cost of Ownership into account. Though some upgrades are costly up-front, payback for many upgrades occurs within a few years with a high return on investment. Additionally, a variety of rebate programs directed specifically at school systems help reduce upfront costs. If you are curious where your school system could save money, sign up for a FREE Lighting Assessment with Bulbs.com. A member of our Energy Services team can assess your current lighting system and identify products and rebates to help you save.

 

If you have any questions about rebates in your area or our Free Lighting Assessment, please contact one of our certified Lighting Specialists at 888-455-2800.

Total Cost of Ownership- Environmental Impacts

by Allison Kelley 3 November, 2015 04:12

Over the past few weeks, Bulbs.com has sought to unearth various costs associated with lighting that the average consumer might not consider while purchasing a light bulb. These costs, including operation, maintenance, and replacement costs, culminate in what is called “Total Cost of Ownership.”

Each of these unexpected costs means that incandescent and halogen light bulbs are increasingly expensive to operate in comparison to their energy efficient counterparts. Therefore, if you make purchasing decisions based on monetary incentives, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) are your best options.

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