6 Things to Know About LEDs in a Warehouse
Efficient LED sources are changing the way we view high-rise lighting in warehouses and distribution centers, but there are some important factors that cannot be ignored. There are obvious considerations, of course.
Energy efficiency and operating costs will always be high on the priority list, and maintaining high-level equipment is often a logistical nightmare every time it occurs. An LED solution seems to make sense, but there are extra special challenges when it comes to warehouse lighting.
Get the right design
This may seem like an obvious thing, but installation work doesn't always happen with shelf systems already installed. Luminaires that end up on top of the shelves are useless. Make sure you know where the shelf should be before letting electricians get lost in the facility.
Poorly arranged lighting installations waste energy, severely reduce lighting levels by bringing light to the wrong place, and make maintenance an unnecessarily costly and time-consuming procedure. Not only does this apply to LED installations, of course, but it is also possible that the light distribution of a high-rise LED luminaire is less permissive than the type of HID sources we have been accustomed to.
Check the LED system optics
There is a new generation of high-altitude lighting that depends on the use of optical systems to deliver your light pattern. If you have decided to use the benefits offered by optics, be sure to install the correct version. It's easy to get light into the floor, but operators need a good light wash on the vertical face of the shelf. That's one of the big improvements that LED sources have brought to high-rise lighting.
While 'traditional' high-rise luminaires used to use elliptical HID lamps in yarn aluminium reflectors that provided a wide light cone, the form factor of high-rise LED luminaires varies from a high-quality central module output within a reflector, replicating the old HID versions, to linear matrix styles that have a defined asymmetric distribution that adapts to vertical surface washing.
Avoid glare of forklift drivers
LED arrays do not work like conventional HID sources. The point intensity of each LED chip can make glare a serious problem if operators are required to look up on the face of the luminaire. This is a typical problem for forklift drivers when they need to stack products at the highest levels of racking.
There is a necessary compensation between the efficiency of the luminaire and visual comfort. A high-rise LED luminaire can report excellent luminous efficiency, but can rely on poor optical control to achieve that figure. A good optical system will take into account the needs of those working under the luminaire and can sacrifice a degree of efficiency in doing so.
You don't need light all the time
There will be times when 100% working lighting is not needed. LED installations should be efficient in any case, but that is no reason not to exploit the technical characteristics of the source. While HID dimming was never really a working option, LEDs can be dimmed very easily.
Use localized presence detectors to help reduce energy consumption when not working in specific bays. And save more energy if you have ceiling lights by linking lighting to daylight control.
Know what's happening at all times
Unless you have some kind of monitoring software, you won't get an idea of how efficiently the installation is working. Link a robust lighting control strategy with reporting software that gives you all the feedback to let you know how well your installation is working.
We are more accustomed to seeing such tests and automatic reports with emergency lighting. But having a full-time analysis of a lighting installation that works at height and for long periods of time can bring all kinds of benefits when it comes to preventive maintenance.
And you know what happens next
Warehouses can perform 24/7 operations, and that means the lifespan for the LED array of around 50,000 hours is less than seven years. Make sure that the specified computer can be reinstalled with a new LED array and driver when that day comes.
Full-life evaluations of LED installations should include a statement of manufacturer's intentions when internal components should be replaced. This is a relatively new area for manufacturers. There has been so much emphasis on LED longevity that it has taken some time for the harsh truth of the matter to be discussed. LEDs are not forever, but luminaire housings can be.