BlueScope Buildings is the world’s leading supplier of pre-engineered metal buildings, with locations on four continents, including Australia.
At its massive American facility in North Carolina, the company struggled with outdated metal halide lights that barely kept the large bays lit, and when they did work, introduced more heat into an already hot environment.
Having heard of the significant improvements to LED technology, the plant manager ordered new energy-efficient LED fixtures from Big Ass Solutions.
Since the new lights were installed, they have been drawing rave reviews from employees and visitors. And because the LEDs use about half the energy of metal halides, there’s been a dramatic drop in lighting expenses.
LEDs are hardly new – for half a century they have been used for small indicator lights in consumer electronics like computer keyboards and telephones.
Thanks to their low heat production, negligible energy use, long life and durability, they were prized for enclosed devices that weren’t intended to be opened up and tinkered with.
Only in the last decade or so has technology advanced and prices dropped to the point where LEDs can efficiently produce bright, white light ideal for spaces such as garages, warehouses and BlueScope Buildings’ large manufacturing facility in an affordable way.
Big Ass Solutions, which has already established a reputation in Australia for its Big Ass Fans, has now introduced its Big Ass Light LED fixtures down under, allowing this side of the world to see the difference they make in visibility and energy conservation.
In home garages and most workplace environments, LEDs offer numerous advantages over their predecessors.
Unlike incandescent bulbs or metal halides, which both put out massive amounts of waste heat – metal halide bulbs can reach a temperature as high as 150°C – LEDs, particularly high quality ones with built-in heat sinks, produce almost no wasted heat.
Besides making a huge difference in energy consumption, this means that good LED fixtures can be installed as close as 200 mm from the ceiling, unlike metal halides.
LEDs also have a much longer life than incandescents, metal halides, and fluorescents.
High-end LEDs have a rated life – defined as how long they maintain more than 70 percent of their initial brightness – of up to 150,000 hours, which translates into 17 years of 24-hour use or 70 years at six hours a day.
And when occupancy sensors are added to the equation, that lifetime can be extended significantly. And all those extra replacement-free years mean time savings as well as money savings.
In terms of productivity, LEDs enhance that because they require no warmup period to achieve full brightness.
That means no waiting for the lights to come on before getting to work. Metal halides, in contrast, have a warmup time of up to 20 minutes, and must cool down for that same amount of time before they can be turned back on.
The quality of light is the main environmental improvement people notice when they upgrade to LEDs.
Fluorescents can be dim and flicker as they fade; metal halides quickly change colour and grow dimmer. LEDs’ brighter, more consistent light is a vast improvement, especially for sight-sensitive tasks.
LEDs illuminate dark corners and crevices and the small print in instruction manuals because they’re a directional light source – 100 percent of the light they produce is focused in one direction.
That makes it easier for home and professional mechanics to spot dents, dings and colour irregularities, as well as locate a pesky screw that’s fallen on the floor.
In contrast, metal halide, incandescent and fluorescent bulbs radiate light in all directions, so much of the light they produce never even leaves the fixture.
But best of all are the energy savings produced by LEDs, which become multiplied the larger the facility that’s being illuminated.
Savings add up quickly when between 35 and 40 percent of any facility’s typical power cost goes to lighting – the accepted rule of thumb.
Generally speaking, LEDs use half the power of metal halides while producing the same amount of lumens.
That means that despite LEDs’ higher initial cost, large facilities can see a return on investment anywhere from a few months to a couple years by replacing their metal halides.
Clearly, for anywhere in need of better lighting, whether it’s a home garage or a large manufacturing facility such as BlueScope Buildings, upgrading to LEDs, now that they’ve become affordable, is a move that makes both immediate sense and delivers major savings in the long run.
With the arrival of Big Ass Light in Australia, anyone can now see the benefits for themselves.
Big Ass Light
Ph: 1300 244 277