Lighting issues in warehouses and factories today rightly loom large in the struggle to cut energy costs, where lighting can account for 30% of the total, but future portents outlined in the National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios right up to 2050 suggest that the cost burden is likely to rise, even possibly leading capacity overloads and power outages.

Affecting this scenario is the anticipated rise in use of electric vehicles. It is reasonable to surmise, then, that energy costs are likely to rise and even new, environmentally-driven legislation may penalise use of relatively energy-wasteful alternatives to LED lighting, like metal halide.

The case for energy efficient LEDs is incontestable, especially when added to by savings in maintenance costs and a better working environment. Their lower heat emissions also endear them to cold store operators because refrigeration systems do not have to work as hard to maintain lower temperatures in the cold stores.

But that does not mean relaxing one’s guard in the pursuit of the best solution. There are, for example different ways to present lighting efficiency, and if retrofit LED lamps are being considered remember that there could be a loss of efficiency as reflectors will have been designed for optimum performance with the original lamps, thus resulting in lower lighting levels than the original installation. For this reason the Carbon Trust does not include this style of lamp in the Energy Technology List for Enhanced Capital Allowance credits.

The boom in LED business has also led to considerable variation in the quality of LEDs, and overseas- sourced lights, especially from the Far East, may not even meet EU standards. Warranties are another area for caution and so need careful checking. Be suspicious of long-term warranties, say 20 years, if they have reams of terms and conditions. A safeguard against choosing the wrong supplier could be to access the Carbon Trust’s ‘green’ business directory which features LED suppliers who have been independently assessed an accredited via the Carbon Trust accredited supplier scheme.

In the move to upgrade one’s lighting the evidence suggests that one area often overlooked is emergency lighting. This should comply with the European-wide EN1838:2013 lighting applications – energy lighting, but warehouses and factories across Europe have broken or inadequate emergency lighting and so are not compliant. This is partly due to businesses failing to update their emergency lighting after a refurbishment. But even when such lighting has been updated scant regard is given to ensuring a robust budget for ongoing maintenance and testing. If batteries are insufficiently charged they could endanger lives in an emergency. To ensure such lighting remains compliant, three points to bear in mind are 1) emergency lighting systems with a central back-up battery system should be inspected daily. 2) All such lighting should be tested monthly following a controlled power cut. 3) A test of the full battery duration of all emergency lighting. Advice on this can be had from Firesafe, a free fire safety portal.