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How To Improve Lighting Quality with LEDs

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

by Tim Donovan

“Did a shadow of emotion cross your face Or was it just another trick of the light? - John Entwistle, The Who

Let there be light! But not any old light. Good light. Quality light. And the right amount of light, too.

Often overlooked in the development of lighting projects to reduce energy consumption is the quality side of the equation. I often tell our clients that it is really easy to save them 100% of the energy that they use for lighting. They just need to allow us to remove all of their lighting fixtures. Not a very practical solution - it defeats the purpose - but there is a lesson here.

Don’t let energy savings goals lead to a workplace with too little light

We have recently had several clients push for a “de-lamping” strategy in conjunction with an LED upgrade of their lighting systems. The energy savings models and spreadsheets proclaim this strategy to be an absolute “no brainer” driving both CAPEX down and energy savings up. And because lighting designers have typically designed in a good 25% - 30% of surplus light to account for the lumen depreciation of fluorescent fixtures, dropping the amount of light on commercial LED lighting upgrade projects can be a good strategy. But not always.

Ensure the right QUANTITY of light

We want to ensure that our clients and by extension their tenants, employees, customers and guests, have the right amount of good, quality light. There are several strategies that can be deployed but it is important to start with a solid foundation of data.

In our case, we build photometric models that validate the existing and future lighting environments for our client’s spaces. Most experienced project developers will provide this for their clients. That said, I am regularly running across poorly designed and implemented commercial LED lighting projects where the implementer installed lights without any advance planning. In one case, a client told me that they were on their third set of lights through a trial and error process with their lighting contractor! The disruption from these starts, stops and “do-overs” alone is totally unacceptable.

Getting the appropriate level of foot candles for people to work and live under is critical for productivity, health and safety.

Choose manufacturers of good quality lights

Once the “quantity of light” part of the overall equation has been solved, we can then move on to the “quality of light” issue. Poor quality light can result in glare, gloom, eyestrain, and flicker and can even potentially manifest itself physically through headaches and nausea.

Quality solid state lighting has the ability to control and overcome these obstacles. For example:

  • Manufacturers like Waveform Lighting have products that provide full spectrum lighting.

  • RAB Lighting has T8 tubes that are flicker free (thanks to a premium driver) in a super-efficient package (150 lumens per watt). RAB also has innovative “plug and play” LED lamps that dramatically improve the light quality in a low cost install.

  • Ephesus Lighting is changing the broadcast standards in sports lighting with their incredible commercial LED lighting system. In fact, if you watched a major sporting event in the past year, you will likely have seen their products and what a difference they make, especially within the Ultra High Definition and Ultra Slow Motion viewpoints that the broadcasters are now delivering.

The bottom line is that lighting is critical to how we live our lives and we hardly ever pay attention to it unless the lighting is really bad or not working at all. We all love to save money, and believe me, LEDs will certainly tick that box, but not all lights are created equal. Give our team a shout if we can help shed some light on your building's lighting needs.


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