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LED's vs Metal Halides Lighting

The Time is Right for LED Lighting in Industrial Applications
Until a few years ago there was a widespread perception that LED was not up to the job of replacing traditional metal halide for industrial lighting projects, but advancements in technology have finally vanquished that notion, says Tamlite Lighting’s Head of Sales, Marketing and Product Development, Colin Lawson.

‘As LED lighting has continued its spread through domestic and professional spheres, so the case for transformation has become increasingly compelling.’

For many years the industrial sector’s reliance on metal halide technology as the basis of its lighting infrastructure was beyond question. Its ability to deliver a combination of good colour rendition and enhanced levels of illumination meant that metal halide was universally regarded as robust and fit for purpose.
The advent of more reliable, high performance LED lighting systems over the last half-decade has arguably meant that it was only a matter of time before they began to supplant metal halide. But ‘old habits die hard’, as the saying goes, and so it has taken longer than might have been expected for widespread adoption to occur.

Perhaps this isn’t too surprising when one considers the performance (often in excess of 60lm/W) and colour rendering (more than Ra80 for lamps with cool white colour temperatures) that is possible with the more recent metal halide lamps. Factor in the reasonably long lifespans – frequently around the 20,000 hour mark – and the feeling in some quarters that (as another old saying goes) ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ can be understandable.

But as LED lighting has continued its spread through domestic and professional spheres – and as the actual systems have become evermore efficient and easy to implement – so the case for transformation has become increasingly compelling. Here at Tamlite we are able to attest to this as the number of LED lighting installations in industrial environments has risen dramatically over the past 2-3 years.

In short, there is a sense that LED lighting has finally ‘come of age’ in industry – so it pays to take a little time to assess the primary benefits that it can bring for clients (and employees) in this world.

Long life, high efficiency
One of the most significant barriers to adoption until recent times has been the somewhat higher price of LED lighting systems. But as well as costs coming down in recent years, many companies in the industrial space have also shown greater willingness to calculate the long-term financial benefits of converting to LED.

For example, there is plentiful evidence from our recent projects that the purchase costs of new systems can be quickly offset by reduced energy consumption. Return on Investment (RoI) periods of one or two years are by no means uncommon, even for larger-scale implementations.

In the longer-term, these reductions in expenditure will become even more marked as LED lighting continues to deliver high performance over extended time periods. As opposed to the average lifespan of 20,000 hours for metal halide lamps, the duration of LED fixtures is often in the region of 50,000 hours. Quite simply, switching to LED means that lighting is going to be a much-reduced cause of investment in the long run.

Additional benefits
The same might also be said of the support function. With overall installations likely to endure for two or three times the equivalent of their metal halide forerunners – and individual failure rates also substantially reduced – the expenses associated with maintenance and replacement are bound to come down dramatically. This may translate to a reduced need for external contractors or in-house maintenance personnel.

LED lighting has also more than proven its worth in terms of luminous output and efficacy, with the latest-generation products frequently outpacing their conventional equivalents. The result is that fewer luminaires are required to achieve the necessary level of illumination.

Another factor that many industrial customers are now taking into account is the increasing body of evidence that indicates LED lighting’s positive contribution to employee well-being. For example, some recent research reported by LED Professional and undertaken by Katrin Möller, Junior Researcher at the Competence Center Light, Vincent Grote from the Human Research Institut, and Birthe Tralau from Zumtobel Lighting found that LED lighting was widely regarded as more interesting, colourful, comfortable, warm and inviting (1).

With national and international bodies already enacting – or looking to introduce – rigorous new carbon targets, the lower emissions of LED lighting also serve to strengthen what is now an overwhelmingly compelling case for transition. Early indications suggest that 2017 will be a landmark year for the specification of Tamlite LED lighting systems in industrial environments, with a cluster of major projects already in progress or prospect. With the benefits so well-established at this point, why wait any longer?