Product fakery in Britain is big business and is often based on imports from outside the EU, particularly China. Within this web of deceit falls industrial warehouse lighting and is all the more disturbing because of potentially lethal dangers awaiting the unsuspecting. So what should be done to defend yourself from being gulled?

The first tell-tale sign to look for is the price. If it is unbelievably low for a luminaire it almost certainly is too good to be true but if you have succumbed to the temptation to buy then look to see if there is a product label, the UL approval or CE requirement and power rating. Has the product been tested by a reputable independent laboratory? Testing certification is expensive so a low luminaire price is often a sign that corners have been cut. Does the test report cover all the requirements in terms of safety, performance and EMC?

If you are satisfied with the quality of your new lighting because you have chosen a reliable supplier, an essential pre-requisite for any substantial layout on LED lighting, for example, which can be ensured by dealing with the Carbon Trust’s ‘green’ business directory listing only independently assessed and accredited suppliers, then the following five tips should help in choosing the best warehouse lighting.

1) Limit the glare in warehouse lighting. LED lighting is one of the most popular forms of lighting but it comes with one major downside – the spotlight effect. Industrial LED lights are like laser beams. They shine in a very particular direction so if a worker looks directly into an LED light he will be temporarily blinded. This could cause trips or worse still a forklift accident. Reflectors will help minimise light glare, especially in LEDs.

2) Make sure the lighting fits the warehouse. Most warehouses have high ceilings so enough light should reach the floor. If buying specific lights for cost savings then those savings could be swallowed up in accidents and lower productivity.

3) Make sure that the colour rendition index (CRI) is fit for purpose. This CRI measures the light’s ability to show the natural and realistic colours, which is key for workers to identify objects clearly. The higher the index number the more realistic the lighting and one should look for a minimum of 85.

4) Compare energy savings options. The price of some energy savings options may be more expensive but they could save you money over the longer term. And don’t forget to consider the control options to minimise light usage.

5) As already hinted, examine your supplier carefully. Some sellers will try to palm off sub par products on you and take advantage of the confusion surrounding new technologies like LEDs.

While LEDs have grown rapidly as the lighting form of choice, mainly through energy savings potential, it should not be forgotten that LEDs are no silver bullet so it may still be the case that other lighting forms, like TL5s, are more appropriate. It is also important to remember that the output from an LED will in most cases not be the same output once the LED is enclosed in the luminaire.

In most warehouses lighting accounts for the lion’s share of energy costs, typically at least 60%. For environmental and cost reasons, therefore, LEDs should be considered when changing from less efficient lighting types like fluorescent and HID fittings. Such a change does involve a large financial outlay but there is Government help from tax breaks and interest-free loans for SMEs, plus various supplier rental schemes.

Given that most investors in LEDs will major on the energy savings, just how good can they get? One example is the third party logistics specialist, Great Bear. It managed to slash its yearly lighting bill from £146,207 to £23,844, or 83% in 12 months. ROIs will, of course, depend on various factors but expect between two and three years as common.

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