Industry Focus: Creating the Best Lighting for Warehouses and Manufacturing

Each industry has different lighting needs and that gives them plenty to consider on a new lighting project.  This new Industry Focus series will cover the necessary considerations for each type of business, giving you a starting point and plan of attack for your project.

Start with LED’s

We’ve found that LED’s are the superior choice for lighting in these facilities, not only because LED’s are themselves a great technology, but because they lack the downsides seen in other lighting tech. Let’s run through a quick comparison:

High Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting, aka Sodium or Halide—Need to warm up and cool down after a shutoff, while LED’s go on and off instantly. Use far more energy than equivalent LED’s. Give off poor light (see below).

Fluorescent lighting—Require much more frequent replacement than LED’s, and their life will be shortened by cold or hot temps in the facility.

Incandescents—Use more energy and are replaced even more frequently than fluorescents.

Consider Your Space

Take a look at the basic layout of the area, but be sure you consider high shelves and/or machinery. If too few fixtures are used or are poorly placed, these items can cast a deep shadow. In fact, whether your facility contains a number of high items or has a more open plan will affect your fixture pattern more than any other factor. Getting in touch with Thayer for a consultation will ensure you’re getting every inch of the space properly lit.

If your factory or warehouse has skylights, you can get away with fewer fixtures…some of the time. Plan for the number of fixtures you’ll need on a dark night, then put in the proper controls to save money by shutting fixtures off at times when natural light is streaming in. It’s also a good idea to consider how bright or dark (and matte or glossy) the colors on your walls and equipment are. This may factor into the number of fixtures and/or brightness level you need, with lighter colors needing less light, but being more likely to produce glare.

Consider Color

One drawback to HID lights is that they tend to give off a yellowish light. That’s normally not a problem, but in both the warehouse and manufacturing environments, employees closely examine their work hundreds of times a day, and eye strain is a major comfort issue. White light with a bluish tint (Cool White, with a color temperature of 4000 to 5000K) is best for good detail vision and reduced eye strain. Better vision means fewer mistakes, which means less expense.

Decide on Fixtures or Bulbs

Lastly, determine if it makes more sense to replace old fixtures or place LED bulbs in current fixtures. You’ll find a full discussion of this in our post Fixtures vs. Bulbs – Costs and Benefits.

Interested in seeing the difference LED’s can make in your facility? There are a number of examples in our Projects section, including our work with Cardinal Glass, RWSDesign and Controls, Inc., and Brynolf Manufacturing.