Modern LED Lighting Can Offer Safer, More Reliable Solution for Garages, Lots
Parking area safety and security are paramount to protect not only the facility and vehicles from vandalism and accidents caused by poor visibility, but also pedestrians. Poor illumination is both a physical and psychological hazard. Customers are less inclined to park in dimly lighted areas because they feel uneasy, even if there is no real threat to their personal safety. This can have a direct impact on business performance and bottom-line profitability, not to mention the added liability risk in the event an incident of crime or vandalism should occur. Operators simply cannot afford the perception of an unsafe facility.
Modern LED lighting solutions provide a safer, more reliable and, ultimately, more affordable lighting alternative to conventional fixtures, such as the mercury-vapor, high-pressure-sodium, metal-halide and fluorescent units frequently used in parking facilities. These solid-state devices contain no delicate filament, making them highly resistant to failure from vibration and impact, and the most well-designed, securely enclosed fixtures on the market are virtually vandal-proof. These features eliminate the sudden, unexpected failures common with traditional lighting that results in dimly lighted areas and a maintenance scramble to fix the problem.
While safety is a priority, it’s not the only concern. LEDs also offer a number of operational and business advantages for parking facility owners.
1. LED fixtures are typically 50% more energy efficient than conventional lighting, reducing energy consumption and costs dramatically and immediately upon installation. In addition, LEDs offer a higher efficiency, emitting more lumens per watt than traditional fixtures, to deliver more foot-candles on the ground at a lower energy cost.
2. In addition, LED fixtures are now being offered with intelligent wired or wireless control systems and occupancy sensors for controlling the lights. This allows the LED fixtures to dim to customer specified levels at times when full brightness is not required. At the same time, these intelligent systems will monitor the light for both kWh consumed and degradation of the light output levels, and flag any issues.
3. Because of their superior color rendering compared with high-pressure-sodium (HPS) and mercury-vapor, LED fixtures are often a major improvement, with the picture quality of CCTV and security cameras.
4. LEDs also offer a much longer lifetime performance—more than 10 years in some cases—compared with conventional fixtures. The light output of most HID sources declines to 70%—the point at which change-out is recommended—in just about a year; and keeping up with an annual relamping schedule is a daunting (and expensive) task, especially in a large facility. By comparison, LEDs maintain consistent lumen output for up to 10 times as long, with zero maintenance required. In addition to the maintenance savings, this factor virtually eliminates the need to warehouse replacement bulbs, ballasts and entire fixtures for immediate replacement.
5. LED fixtures perform optimally in extreme temperatures. High-intensity-discharge (HID) sources may fail prematurely under extreme heat and, in cold temperatures, require an extended warm-up period before coming up to full output. To overcome this problem, many garage operators leave the lights on 24/7 as an added precaution, which of course adds to the electricity bill.
LEDs in Action: Less Is More at London Municipal Parking Facility
Charged with complete municipal operations for the City of London’s central business district, the City of London Corporation is the sole public works provider for the zone, with the majority of city operations run out of its Walbrook Wharf facility. Originally constructed in 1960, this bustling four-level parking and vehicle maintenance hub houses the corporation’s police, ambulance and city service vehicle fleet, as well as providing parking area for city workers.
For some 50 years, Walbrook Wharf had relied on the original lighting fixtures in place since the time of construction: mostly 5- and 6-foot fluorescents, with a few 400W high-pressure-sodium (HPS) units. The fixtures had not only become obsolete but also a significant drain on resources—both in terms of maintenance time and costs and energy consumption.
The lights were hardly energy efficient and required frequent replacement, as they were often hit by truck drivers, creating the additional problem of broken glass to clean up. Because of the inefficient warm-up time required, especially for the HPS fixtures, the lights in the facility were often left on 24/7.
To ensure safety and avoid frequent interruption of traffic flow, the Corporation underwent a complete facility-wide fixture cleaning and relamp project every 18 months–a costly and time-consuming process.
Better Lighting with Fewer Fixtures, Less Energy
After learning about the success of LED fixtures at London’s world-renowned ExCeL exhibition center, the Corporation quickly saw a lighting upgrade as an opportunity to maximize energy and maintenance efficiency.
Each parking deck also has been equipped with occupancy sensors that activate the fixtures only as needed, cutting “on time” by about half for additional energy savings compared to 24/7 operation, while significantly extending the life of the fixtures themselves. And because the fixtures are virtually maintenance-free, backed by a 5-year full-performance warranty, lighting maintenance costs are practically zero.
So far, the upgrade to LED has saved the City of London Corporation more than 121,000 kWh per year, which equates to more than 8% of the facility’s entire energy consumption. Between the reduced energy use and maintenance demands, the Corporation expects to realize an annual savings of more than £15,000 (about $24,000 US).
With the energy and maintenance savings, plus the superior durability and shock/vibration resistance that is so crucial in a multi-level parking facility, Walbrook Wharf expects a payback of less than three years on the project, with an energy-efficient lighting solution that also puts the Corporation well ahead of its ERAP and CRC energy- and carbon-reduction goals long before the 2015 deadline.
Michael Schratz is Global Marketing Director for Dailight – he can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.