Much has been made about the use, abuse, and benefits of CFL lights. But almost entirely about their consumer level use. What about on a company level? What about all the warehouses, industrial and manufacturing facilities out there, needing high bay (ceiling) lighting? Unless well daylighted they require some sort of illumination, all day, making up 30-60% of energy costs. What options are out there?
One that came across my desk yesterday was T5. If you look up next time you’re in a warehouse store, the lighting you’ll likely see is some variation of metal halide, those glaring circular lights, which use 250, 400, 1000, even more watts. Clearly, there’s room to improve.
T5 are what’s called High Output Linear Fluorescent lamps. They, in comparison, use 54 watts of power, and when clustered in a 4 lamp fixture, it’s still a total of 231 watts, vs. the typical 400 watts for a metal halide light. On the T5 site, it says, “In most cases, maintained foot candle readings are almost always better per energy dollars spent.” and has a chart comparing lumens (illumination) per watt, T5 near the top. My question is, how does that translate when the number of watts is far less than metal halide fixtures?
Other advantages of T5 fluorescent lights:
T5 are also apparently graceful agers. They lose only 5-6% of their output over time, as compared to up to 35% on metal halides, which use the same amount of electricity to produce less light over time.
They are quick to light, whereas metal halides need time to warm up. Along with the waste in energy, this precludes them from being used with motion sensors, etc, which would further reduce energy consumption, since they wouldn’t need to be left on the entire time they might need to be used.
They’re easy on the eyes – literally. Their Color Rendition Index or how accurately they light things in comparison to natural light, is 85-98%, as compared to 65-93% for halides. For you lighting pros out there, they also maintain color output throughout their lifetime and can come in various color temperatures as well.
That said, one question remains, which I could not find the answer on the T5 site. What are they made of? Do they, like CFLs, contain mercury? If so, how much, and how can it be safely disposed of? Still, at a savings of as much as 2 tons of CO2 annually per lighting fixture, their positive impact is clear.
Readers: What lighting options are you using in your business now? What options are coming up that we should know about? Please comment, below.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. His overarching talent is “bottom lining” complex ideas, in a way that is understandable and accessible to a variety of audiences, internal and external to a company.