Installing an Energy Efficient Warehouse Lighting System

warehouse lighting system

Warehouse Lighting SystemThe ideal warehouse lighting system will efficiently provide the necessary level of illumination while adhering to the principles of good lighting design. These standards safeguard user safety and health. Adequate light enables the warehouse staff to easily and safely navigate through the aisles. This can help to minimize the risk of accidents and damaged items.

Good lighting will also reduce staff fatigue, stress, headaches, eyestrain, and other issues related to poor lighting. In addition, it increases productivity and efficiency since the staff takes less time to identify and pick the required items.

What is “good” warehouse lighting design?

An efficient warehouse lighting design provides enough illumination to allow the staff to work comfortably without straining. It should provide a good quality light that is uniformly distributed. Fixtures should be positioned properly to avoid damage from forklifts, or damage when stacking or removing items. The design should eliminate:

  • Dark spots or large shadows
  • High level of glare which can be dangerous to forklift drivers
  • Energy waste due to lighting fixtures directly above shelves or on top of the racking

Energy losses in warehouse lighting system

Outdated warehouse lighting systems have more energy loss and inefficiencies. Some of the traditional lamps dissipate a ton of heat unnecessarily. Temperatures can get hot, reaching over 3632F. This energy is wasted as heat inside the warehouse that even requires additional energy for cooling.

Light is sometimes required 24 hours a day. Even with low consumption light, a large warehouse or distribution center may require hundreds of lights. Consequently, these will add up to a significant amount of energy.

Reducing energy losses in warehouse lighting system

Warehouse Lighting SystemAlmost 80 percent of the total electricity costs in a warehouse, storage or logistics buildings may be attributed to the lighting. The amount of energy depends on the warehouse lighting design. It can be influenced by factors such as the light usage, types of lighting fixtures and sources. Other factors include the design of the structure, amount of natural light that gets in and business operating hours.

Older lighting systems or poorly designed systems that use inefficient components may be very expensive to run due to increased energy bills. However, businesses can reduce their energy costs with proper lighting design. Energy efficient lighting technologies provide the required level of illumination without compromising on the lighting quality.

New energy saving lighting technologies for warehouses

New technologies that include energy efficient fixtures and sources can drastically reduce energy usage. Adding a lighting controller is also a good idea.

The choice of the lights and how to control them is therefore very critical if the organization is to save any energy. For example, fluorescent lamps can be replaced with an equivalent energy efficient LED lamp. These use less than half the electricity while producing about 30% more light.

Replacing traditional lighting with the energy efficient LED technology alone can lead to savings of over 60%.  Adding lighting controls may achieve over 80% savings. Overall, it is possible to reduce the electricity bill by over 50% with a payback period of at most 3 years.

The warehouse landscape

It is important to have a warehouse lighting system where the designer optimizes the positioning of the lighting fixtures. The design should match the layout of the aisles and open spaces in the warehouse.

It is important to find the best lighting layout. For warehouses where the maximum height is about 15 feet, it may be better to install low wattage lights that provide a wide light distribution. These may be placed close together to provide good vertical illumination and prevent shadowing.

For high ceiling warehouses using racking, shelves may reach heights of between 20 and 35 feet. More lighting is required as the storage gets near the roof. Sometimes, there is no need to install lighting directly above the shelves. Instead, the lighting should be dedicated to the aisles. The dedicated lighting increases the storage efficiency and working environment, but may be more expensive then the uniform illumination.

Energy saving lights

These are more efficient and fast response lights that can be controlled depending on the required level of illumination. Using efficient light sources, such as LEDs, induction lamps, and T5 fluorescent tubes, instead of older lamps such as the metal halide, Sodium and T12 fluorescent tubes, leads to significant savings.

However, a good design must be used to ensure that the low energy lighting does not result in reduced or poor illumination. In addition, the designer must pay attention to the way light is delivered. In an attempt to ensure maximum light is radiated out of the lamp’s face, it may lead to glare problems which can be uncomfortable to the staff and dangerous for the forklift operators.

When designed well, the energy saving lighting systems have the ability to reduce energy consumption by about 80 percent without compromising on the quality of illumination.

Lighting controls systems

Typical lighting controls include movement and light level detectors. This enables the dimming of the lights when there is no movement or when there is daylight coming into the building.

Occupancy sensors

These are used with compatible control systems that allow instant switching and dimming of the lights. Some of the controls include the occupancy detectors which could be infrared, microwave or acoustic based built into the light fixture or externally.  The controls have built-in time delays to prevent erroneous switching off the lights when a person remains motionless.

Daylight level detection

Warehouse Lighting SystemFor warehouses with skylight panels on the roof, daylight may be sufficient in some areas in the warehouse at certain terms. The controls can gradually dim or increase the light levels depending on the time of the day, time of the year, and the amount of light. These maintain the lighting at the desired level while reducing the energy consumption during the day.

How the lighting controls save energy

The lighting controls are usually incorporated into lighting schemes to reduce the energy usage. The control depends on the warehouse usage, the amount of time staff spent in certain areas and other factors. If there is no activity or staff in an aisle, the amount of light is reduced through dimming or switching off of some of the lights.

When the system detects a movement, either by a person walking or a forklift driving through the aisles or controlled areas, it automatically switches on the lighting to full brightness.

A more advanced warehouse lighting system may be customized to only switch on the lights in locations where there is activity. For example, illuminate specific shelves where an employee is working, while dimming other areas where there is no activity.

With a little thought and planning, a warehouse lighting system can be effective and cost efficient.