Warehouse operators are generally aware that relatively new lighting developments like LEDs make a good case for investment, thanks primarily to their energy savings and longevity yet it seems the biggest barrier to investment remains the CAPEX issue, followed by scepticism over energy-savings claims. Potential buyers of the initially more costly LEDs are right to be dubious over payback claims and need to exercise great care in their choice of suppliers. As Andy Chell , MD of Lumilow, warns, “The main trend (in this industry) is that the industry has become vastly more unregulated. It is very easy to jump on a ‘plane to China, pick up a load of lights and fly them to the poor unsuspecting customers. There is absolutely no regulation and suddenly everyone is an expert.” The problem, as he sees it, is that the industry has drawn in its fair share of cowboys, and as Brian Pohl, CEO of Pulsar Lighting, adds: “The cheap and cheerful suppliers don’t offer refunds.”
To counter this understandable scepticism Lumilow has commissioned the services of an independent energy consulting engineer who is a certified measurement and verification professional. This means the engineer will verify energy consumption before and after a new lighting investment. For their part, Lumilow provides a payback exercise to prospective buyers, and where they cannot prove the savings they will not offer a solution.
There is, of course, a wide choice of warehouse lighting technologies and by no means will LEDs always be the best solution for a given warehouse. This is why it is important to choose a supplier who has a broad range of lighting technologies in its portfolio and a reliable after-sales service. Even if, however, choosing LEDs one should ask if there is modularity built into the luminaire so that when it reaches the end of its long life, typically ten years or more, it may be possible to replace only the light source rather than throw away the entire luminaire, which improves sustainability, says Aura Light UK. The other important point to bear in mind is that LED quality can vary widely from good to poor so buyers should make sure they obtain a clutch of quotes, where even for non LED lights quotations can vary by up to 30%.
Given that lighting in ambient warehouses can account for 60% of total energy used it makes sense when considering the construction of a new warehouse to allow for the design to make best use of natural daylight by installing windows and skylights, which when fitted with thermal glass can help maintain climate control. Even painting walls white can help, while at the more high tech end there are voltage optimisation units.
Cordant Technical, for example, believes that a 4% cut in voltage can lead to savings above 9% in energy without any detrimental effects on operations. Intelligent lighting controls can also reduce energy by up to 80%.
The really good news is that provided you have chosen your lighting products and supplier well then you can expect energy savings of up to 80%, sweetened by Government incentives like 0% interest on loans of up to £100,000 for SMEs and the Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme, which provides 100% first-year capital allowances on investments in energy-saving equipment against taxable profits. Payback periods on even big investments can be as low as 12-24 months and a better, and safer working environment, courtesy of the improved lighting conditions, is guaranteed