By now, you may have heard about the rise of LED lighting, as well as several of its benefits. Many clients switch to LEDs because they help reduce overall energy consumption and maintenance costs. And because of their customizability, including color-changing capability, LEDs are increasingly being used for aesthetic purposes as well. Their bright, even light output can also improve safety, visibility, and productivity, making LEDs a great choice for a wide range of building types. From art installations to office building renovations, LEDs are taking the entire lighting industry by storm.
Below are a few of the trends we have noticed recently among LED installation projects. One or more of them may even apply to your organization. However, don't worry if your lighting needs aren't covered here, as there are plenty of other commercial LED applications.
One of the best examples of combining the practical and aesthetic benefits of LED fixtures is the beautiful installation on the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The bridge was first illuminated in 2013, and was just recently approved to be lit indefinitely. The LEDs provide pedestrians, bikers, and motorists with a safe, yet artistic and cost-effective, lighting solution.
Earlier this year at the United States Conference of Mayors in Washington DC, 41% of US mayors said that upgrading to LED luminaires is a top priority for their cities. The pressure to be more energy efficient and drive down carbon emissions, as well as municipal expenditures, make LED lighting a practical solution for upgrading roads, government buildings, and schools.
Several cities across the United States have turned to LED alternatives for street lighting for reasons of durability, environmental benefits, and electricity savings. These retrofits generally have a short payback period. However, there have been concerns in residential areas that LED lights are too bright for night illumination. Luckily, industry-leader Cree has developed a new street light that helps to mitigate this problem. The new lights offer a warmer, softer glow that is pleasing to residents, but they are still as energy efficient as Cree's other LED products.
The benefits of LED lighting extend beyond energy and cost savings, and many school districts are beginning to realize this. Studies have shown that installing LED lights in schools can actually decrease distractions and increase focus in both students and teachers.
Monroe Elementary School was one of the first schools in the country to use predominantly LED fixtures in their building. School officials were drawn to LEDs because of their long life, lower maintenance costs, and high efficacy.
The school’s lighting choices resulted in an enhanced learning environment, reduced maintenance costs and energy consumption, and compliance with health code regulations. Pleased with the outcome at Monroe, the Everett School District decided to install LEDs in its other schools as well.
Sports arenas are also taking advantage of the superior quality of light that LEDs provide. The higher level of uniformity and sunlight-mimicking light output help increase player safety as well as broadcast quality and spectator visibility. The NCAA recommends lighting levels between 75 and 125 footcandles for any broadcasted games, which is an easy, and cheaper, feat with LED fitxures.
While stadium lighting is not left on day and night, or even every night, traditional fixtures are often powerful enough to consume a large amount of energy over a short time period. On average, LED lights consume up to 75% less energy than traditional bulbs, prompting the likes of the New York Yankees, the Houston Astros, and the Seattle Mariners to make the switch.
LED lights can be a great addition to any building, both inside and out. In our own city of New Orleans, 20,000 color-changing LED lights illuminate the Superdome’s exterior, making this massive downtown fixture stand out even more at night.
The output of LED fixtures is similar to daylight, and helps drive down crime and increase customer peace of mind in parking lots and parking structures. To illustrate the difference, Cree published before-and after-aerial footage of a parking lot installation they completed in Allen, Texas. Check out the video to see the amazing difference - it’s like night and day.
The Future of LED Lighting
Cisco and Cree have teamed up to create lighting solutions through the Internet of Things. Essentially, they are working together to build smarter lighting that responds to you, much like Nest’s popular self-programming thermostats. The lights would connect to an intelligent device (such as a smartphone) and allow you to employ motion sensors that automatically control light levels based on where you are in a building.
“The potential for technology like this is pretty endless,” says Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at the Triangle Business Review and an avid Internet of Things watcher.
Eventually, with the integration between the Internet of Things and LED lighting, we may see the end of the traditional light switch. But regardless of the technological breakthroughs that are sure to come, LED fixtures can save you time and money, keep you safer, and even make you more productive, using cost-effective solutions that are available today.