Warehouse lighting issues should occupy minds more than usual this year as from April 2018 a new standard for minimum energy efficiency will apply to rented commercial buildings. This means that the worst energy efficiency ratings of F and G will be replaced by the minimum standard E, which means that buildings cannot be rented out unless they meet this new standard. Industrial buildings, however, are exempt. If currently using old warehousing with older forms of lighting, therefore, now could be the best time to rethink your situation.

Some key points when considering a new energy efficient warehouse include:

• How often will the warehouse aisles be occupied?

• Is good access to daylight available in the warehouse via sky panels?

• How critical is minimum maintenance of the lighting fixtures?

• Are there issues with the existing lighting system – poor colour rendition, or light distribution (glare, shadow, etc)?

• Is there a set target for payback on any investment made in the new lighting?

• Is the installation dependent on qualification for the Carbon Trust financial loan scheme?

While it may sound obvious, at the start of any new investment it is important to get the layout right.

Lighting installation does not always happen with the racking system in place. So if luminaires end up on top of shelves they are next to useless. Make sure, therefore, you know where the racking is meant to before letting electricians loose on the installation. Poorly arranged lighting installations waste energy, badly reduce illuminance levels by delivering light to the wrong place and make maintenance an unnecessary and time-consuming procedure.

LED luminaires are now often the first choice when considering replacement of older lamp types because their much greater life spans and energy savings deliver the best ROIs. However, there is a new generation of LED high bay lighting that depends on the use of optical systems to deliver its light pattern. If deciding to make use of the benefits that optics offer be sure you are installing the right version. It’s easy to get light on the floor but the operators need a good wash of light on the vertical face of the racking. That’s one of the big improvements that LED sources have brought to high bay lighting.

LEDs, however, involve a trade-off in luminaire efficacy and visual comfort. It’s also important to consider some kind of monitoring software because without it you will not have any idea of how efficiently the installation is performing.

It may also be worthwhile considering plasma lighting. A contact lens warehouse at Farnham recently became one of the first facilities in the world to be lit this way. The distribution centre has a maximum height of 11 mt, which had used T5 lighting but it became inconvenient and very costly and the company wanted to slash the cost. Moreover, the company wanted to raise the amount and quality of light but the system also had to be dimmed and controlled automatically. Lamp longevity of 25,000 hours has meant the installation would be maintenance free for four years. Energy savings of 39% have been achieved.