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Warehouse operators make the transition to advanced LED solutions as costs are halved

"Warehouse and logistics operators have seen the cost and energy efficiencies achieved in retail environments, but the payback periods haven’t been attractive enough to encourage a switch," explained Sam Stageman, Head of UK Sales at Minimise Energy, part of the Minimise Group.

"In the last year, payback periods for LED lighting installations in both new build and retro-fit warehouses have, in some instances, been halved. Rather than four years, costs can now be recouped in two years, making LEDs much more attractive to those in charge of these power-hungry sheds," he said.

For example, in a recent LED retrofit warehouse project Minimise Energy replaced 533 400W SON high bay lamps with 140W high bays. Over five years this provided a 73% reduction in kWh energy use and achieved a payback period of 15 months. In year one alone the cost savings achieved were £84,739, with a total five year cost saving of just over £500,000. The carbon emissions saving was 2,469.68 CO2 over five years.

These costs can also be offset against government finance schemes designed to encourage energy efficiencies, again making them more attractive.

"The fact is that LED technology has improved significantly in the last two years," said Sam Stageman. "When combined with a lighting control system the energy cost savings and reduction in carbon emissions alone make this an essential consideration."

The benefits

Warehouses are traditionally lit using high bay SON or mercury fittings, using lamps of between 250W and 500W. Spanning huge areas and providing 24/7 operating environments, these are energy intensive buildings. This is exacerbated by long lamp warm up times (up to eight minutes) and challenging high level maintenance requirements. Also important is the fact that regularly switching these traditional lamps on and off can significantly reduce lamp lifespans, especially in a chilled environment. All of these reinforce 24/7 lights on behaviours.

By comparison, LEDs will provide a brighter working environment from a lower Watt lamp. While all environments are different, it is not unusual to halve the lamp Wattage while still maintaining the required lighting levels under BS EN: 12464. This instantly reduces lighting energy consumption by half. Therefore, where a traditional warehouse lighting system would use 500W lamps, an LED equivalent will use 250W lamps to create a similar or improved environment.

Another reason that facilities and building managers in the warehouse and logistics sector are increasingly considering LEDs is their ability to accommodate regular on/off switching without affecting performance or lifespan. Combined with instant warm up characteristics, this enables warehouse operators to illuminate only operational areas, fit daylight sensor controls, or use motion sensors. This can result in further significant energy savings, often showing another 50% saving, said Sam Stageman.

"Until now, many warehouse and logistics businesses have been reluctant to make the change, instead putting up with less than perfect and costly lighting," explained Sam. "We believe that 2015 is the year that this will change."

To ensure that businesses optimise their LED opportunity, Minimise recommends an initial lighting benchmarking period using the Minimise Monitoring and Control System, powered by Realtime Online. This wireless system operates on its own frequency and so will not interfere with any other wireless systems.

It can quickly be fitted to a representative circuit of 10 light fittings and should be used over a period of up to four weeks to monitor usage and energy consumption, identifying environmental impacts that affect performance.

Unlike alternative monitoring systems which aggregate results across 24 hours, it transmits results every 15 minutes, ensuring that impacts such as daylight dimming and motion sensors can be taken into account when developing an advanced LED system.

Minimise Energy has used LED lighting technologies and the associated Minimise Monitoring and Control System to improve lighting performance for warehouses operated by Royal Mail and also a number of food manufacturer, warehouse and supply chain partners.

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