Lighting a warehouse can become very daunting to building owners. It is a financial investment, requires maintenance and takes planning, yet, it is crucial. Warehouse lighting isn’t so much about décor as it is functionality and efficiency. In order to maintain a productive warehouse, it’s important to have the proper lighting systems in place. Since this space typically has few windows, high ceilings and shelving units, it’s important to consider all aspects when outlining your lighting layout – including lighting objective, fixture type, lamp type, color temperature and more.
First things first, what is your lighting objective?
It’s essential to understand what purpose each lighting fixture will serve and what is needed in different areas to accomplish your lighting goals. Three concepts to consider include your lighting layout, the energy and maintenance costs and how the lighting will play a role in the efficiency and safety of your employees.
Whether new construction or remodel, it is imperative to have a good layout for your warehouse lighting system. Lighting is ideally done before setting up racking units and fixtures placed directly over shelving lose value and serve little purpose. Spacing of fixtures is also critical – positioned too close together and hot spots and/or glare are created; positioned too far apart and you’ll have dark areas.
ENERGY & MAINTENANCE COSTS
Unfortunately, when it comes to lighting your building, the warehouse is a must and is sometimes used 24 hours a day – becoming very costly. If you’re still using HID or fluorescent lamps, you are incurring unnecessary maintenance costs which include frequently replaced bulbs and ballasts and renting a lift to change hard to reach bulbs. Switching to LED lamps and installing motion sensors can decrease energy costs and maintenance fees. Don’t forget about the exterior of your warehouse – install photocells on your outdoor wallpacks and floodlights as well.
EFFICIENCY & SAFETY OF EMPLOYEES
Never skimp on the amount of lighting needed to effectively illuminate your space. If you have too little light, this can create safety concerns for your employees. This can also cause more employee mistakes. If you rely on staff to pull items from your warehouse, it can be the difference between them reading an “8” or a “3” on a box – resulting in returns and re-pulling the order. You also don’t want to have too much light in your warehouse, causing your employees to have to squint when looking up at the racks for items. One way to avoid glare is by using diffused shields and lenses on your fixtures.
What type of fixtures and lamps are going to help you accomplish your lighting objective?
The most common fixture types in warehouses are high/low bays, vaportight and strip fixtures. Any time you are lighting an area that has a ceiling height of twenty-five feet or higher, choose a high bay fixture. For lower ceilings, low bays and strip fixtures are popular choices. Strip fixtures are ideal for large spaces that need high-quality light without a bulky fixture. If you are working in an area where moisture levels are high or hazardous chemical vapors are present, opt for a wet location rated or vaportight fixture.
There are three popular choices for warehouse lighting that each have their pros and cons: LED, Fluorescent and HID.
LED is the most versatile type to choose from with options that include lamps, complete fixtures and retrofits – making remodels quick and easy! Although perceived by many as having a high price point, LED has come down in price over the years and are more affordable than ever! Not only do they use less energy, they can also be paired with lighting controls to save you even more. LEDs have a long-life expectancy, some lasting up to 100,000 hours, and work great in colder temperatures. It’s important to note that LEDs can be negatively affected by high heat. On average, the life of LED lamps and fixtures begins to depreciate if used in higher temperatures - be sure to always check the specifications.
Fluorescent lamps are a great alternative for those on a tight budget, while remaining more energy efficient than HIDs. They offer a wide range of color temperatures from 2700K-6500K (warm white to daylight). Fluorescent lamps also come in different sizes, providing more options. Their downfall – they do not operate well in high heat or extreme cold which can have a negative impact on the life of the lamp. Also, if the lamps are in an area where they are frequently turned on and off, the life expectancy will depreciate. Fluorescent lamps typically have a life expectancy of 25,000 hours, whereas LED tubes have an average life of 50,000 hours.
HID, or High-Intensity Discharge, lamps have been around the longest and are a common choice for those on a budget since they have the lowest initial costs. However, they do not offer much variety when it comes to color temperature; only warm white or cool white. They also require a warm up time and cool down time after the lights have been turned off before they can be turned on again. Even though they have a lower initial cost, they have an average life of only 15,000 hours and will need to be changed often – including changing the ballasts which adds up.
Choosing the color temperature of your lamp can make or break your warehouse lighting. The most popular choice for warehouse lighting is 4000K, or cool white. Cool white light reduces eye strain and improves concentration, thus providing a productive environment. This color temperature also makes your space appear cleaner and more professional.
Next time you’re in the market to upgrade your warehouse lighting, remember these key factors when making decisions. Reach out to the pros here at Lighting Supply with any questions. As one of the most widely known and respected lighting distributors, we have all of the products and answers you need – and we’re always happy to help!
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