10 Things Steve Jobs Can Teach Us About LED Lighting

10 Things Steve Jobs Can Teach Us About LED Lighting

LED lighting goes far beyond energy efficiency, it is also making lighting more personal and customizable. Thus, there are valuable lessons to learn from one of the greatest technology marketers of all time: Steve Jobs.

1) Brand Identity

Apple is more than just a brand: it has created a culture around it, and perhaps even an entire lifestyle. LED lighting is associated with sustainability and environmental stewardship, and it can bring marketing benefits to companies who deploy it, in addition to energy savings. Environmentally conscious clients are more likely to do business with firms who share their values.

2) Performance is Important, But Also Aesthetics

Steve Jobs was obsessed with product design: he wanted to deliver the best performance and customer experience, but contained in sleek and visually-appealing devices. LED fixtures are electronic devices after all, more closely related with computers and tablets than with older types of lighting. The manufacturing flexibility of LED lighting enables the creation of products that not only save energy, but can be used decoratively by architects and interior designers.

3) Product Customization Sells

Apple products can adapt to user lifestyles and preferences, and a similar approach can be applied with LED lighting. It is now possible to dim lighting fixtures or adjust their color from the comfort of a smartphone application; in fact, these functions can be automated, and some lighting apps can even learn usage habits on their own!

4) Keep It Simple

Despite their high-end design, Apple products are intuitive and user-friendly. The same approach can be followed with smart LED lighting: if a lighting control system does not require a manual, it was done right! Smartphones and apps have accustomed clients to self-explanatory systems, and LED lighting is not exempt from this trend.

5) Quality Is More Important Than Quantity

In an interview by Bloomberg Business Week, Steve Jobs once said: “Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.”

This can be applied to LED lighting, where the market is flooded with products that offer maximum savings, but with an extremely poor lighting quality. The best LED designs are not those that save the most energy at the expense of everything else, but instead those that balance savings and lighting quality through proper fixture selection and spatial distribution.

6) Offering Solutions Proactively

Steve Jobs also said: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Skepticism is common when adopting LED lighting, and the long-term benefits often take a back seat to the upfront expense. However, once the technology is adopted, clients are generally satisfied with the reduction in power bills and maintenance activities, not to mention the degree of customization made possible with LED products.

7) Provide Experiences, Not Products

Apple Stores provide a unique customer experience even before their clients have purchased a product. In addition, Apple gadgets grant access to an expansive universe of services and customization features.

LED lighting can also be used to create experiences: it is now capable of wireless communication, color adjustment, dimming and automation. The technology can provide ambience and personalization, rather than just a constant lighting output.

8) Innovation

Steve Jobs demonstrated that first movers tend to be more competitive, and this applies when adopting new technologies such as LED lighting. Home and business owners who implement LED lighting early save more energy in the long run, and are better equipped to adopt emerging technologies such as visible light communication.

9) Seamless Integration Among Devices

Apple devices require minimal setup: when a client buys a new one, it integrates seamlessly with any other Apple products already owned. Smart lighting solutions developed following this model provide more value, since they minimize the configuration time and bring their benefits to the user right away.

10) Thinking Outside the Box

Steve Jobs didn’t limit himself to selling computers, he focused on the user experience and dared to offer new products and services that nobody had imagined before, such as the iPod and iPhone.

There are emerging technologies with the potential to turn LED products into much more than simple light sources. For example, Li-Fi is a light-based communication protocol orders of magnitude faster than Wi-Fi, and it could turn LED lamps into communications hubs. In other words, LED lighting could become the backbone of the Internet of Things.

Conclusion

LED fixtures have become more like electronic gadgets than conventional lighting fixtures, and this allows them to be used as a platform for a broad range of services. By applying the Steve Jobs mindset to LED lighting, it is possible to capture considerable value, making lighting more personal and turning it into a potent communication tool.

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14 Common Misconceptions About Energy Efficiency

Common Misconceptions About Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency allows home and business owners to reduce energy bills significantly, and savings of over 50 percent are possible in many cases.

However, the market is flooded with products and services that promise energy savings. And not all information on energy efficiency found online is reliable.

When implementing energy efficiency, it is important to tell apart myth from reality; this article will uncover 14 Common Misconceptions About Energy Efficiency.

1) Energy Efficiency is Expensive

There is a sliver of truth in this idea. Energy efficiency involves a higher upfront expense compared with conventional lighting and equipment.

However, when the lifetime energy cost is factored in, energy efficient devices are the cheapest to own and operate by a wide margin.

LED lighting is a clear example of this: a typical LED bulb may have 6 to 10 times the cost of a conventional incandescent bulb, but it consumes over 80% less energy and last 25 times longer. To be fair, you would have to compare the price of one LED bulb with that of 25 incandescent lamps.

2) The Lighting Produced by LED Lamps and Fixtures is Ugly

You have probably heard of cases where the lighting in a home is upgraded to LED, but the owner decides to go back to halogen or incandescent bulbs because the color of LED lighting was intolerable. However, this is really caused by using products with a poor color rendering index or an inadequate color temperature; it is not a defect of LED lighting itself.

There are now LED products that can replicate the warm and natural lighting color of incandescent and halogen bulbs: just look for a color temperature of around 2700K and a CRI value above 80.

3) Solar Panels are an Energy Efficiency Measure

Solar panels reduce your energy bills, but that is because they generate energy on-site, lowering the total amount drawn from the power grid. Strictly speaking, they are not an energy efficiency measure because your consumption stays the same; the difference is that you are generating a portion of it by yourself.

Of course, solar power is a cost-effective investment to reduce power bills, but does not count as energy efficiency, which brings us to another common misconception.

4) Solar Power Is a Better Investment Than Energy Efficiency

Many home and business owners install solar PV systems without making their buildings more efficient, but this is not the best approach. If you invest in energy efficiency first, your total consumption will be reduced; and if you decide to install solar panels later, they will be able to cover a higher percentage of your energy consumption.

5) You Should Replace Your Windows to Make Your Home or Office Energy Efficient

High-performance windows are a great option for new construction, but in existing buildings their replacement cost far outweighs the benefits, and their payback period may be decades long. A better option is to use caulking and weather-stripping to improve air sealing, and you can install storm windows on top of the normal ones to trap a layer of air and provide insulation.

6) Electronic Devices Consume a Lot of Power, Even When Turned Off

There is some truth to this. Electronic devices consume some power in standby mode, but it pales in comparison to the energy drawn by air conditioners, boilers, space heaters and incandescent lighting.

Disconnecting electronic devices not in use makes you environmentally friendly, since the total load adds up when you consider thousands of households; however, it does not represent a significant portion of energy expenses in an individual building.

7) Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Are the Same

Both have the same effect, which is reducing the total energy consumption, but there is an important difference between them:

  • Energy efficiency means providing the same service with less energy. For example, a 16-W LED bulb can provide the same amount of light as a 100-W incandescent bulb.
  • Energy conservation means reducing usage to achieve energy savings. If an office building reduces the operating schedule of lighting fixtures by one hour, it counts as energy conservation.

8) Oversized Air Conditioners are More Energy Efficient

Oversized air conditioners have a reduced compressor runtime, but this is simply because the unit has a higher capacity and can reach the required temperature faster. However, the total cooling output stays the same, as well as energy consumption.

In fact, oversized air conditioners come with several issues: they do not remove humidity effectively, stimulating mold growth; and they tend to have a shorter service life due to how frequently their compressor cycles on and off.

9) Oversized Boilers and Furnaces Are More Energy Efficient

Just like with air conditioners, there is a common misconception that oversized heating equipment saves energy by reducing runtime. However, total energy output stays the same, and maintenance issues are common due to the short operating cycles.

10) LED Lighting is Fragile and Requires Frequent Replacements

The opposite is true: LED products are sturdier than incandescent, halogen and fluorescent lamps. Instead of using glass, LED products can use impact-resistant housings, and they do not depend on fragile filaments or electrodes to generate light.

The average LED bulb lasts 25,000 hours, and many LED fixtures last more than 100,000 hours, while CFL bulbs are limited to around 10,000 hours and incandescent bulbs rarely last more than 1,000 hours.

11) Lighting is the Top Energy Expense in Homes and Commercial Buildings

Lighting expenses are significant. But heating and cooling devices generally consume far more energy in the typical US household or commercial building.

Energy consultants often prioritize lighting retrofits over other energy efficiency upgrades. But that is because they are easy to implement and have a relatively short payback period. It’s wise to consider improvements in this area, including the use of energy management systems designed to control temperatures and on/off schedules more effectively.

12) Tankless Electric Heaters Offer a Higher Energy Efficiency than Storage Heaters

This is true when both types of heaters use electric resistance heating, since the tankless option eliminates standby losses. However, if a storage heater uses heat pump technology, its energy efficiency is far superior to that of a tankless electric heater.

13) Energy Efficiency Upgrades Require Cash Availability

Many states in the USA have introduced rebate programs for energy efficiency upgrades. And they can cover a significant portion of your upfront investment. If you have access to a low-interest loan, it can also be a great option: you can pay it off completely with the energy savings achieved, never spending a single dollar from your pocket.

14) Expensive Energy Efficiency Upgrades are the Most Effective

The cost of an energy efficiency measure has nothing to do with its effectiveness. For example, caulking and weather-stripping are much more affordable than high-performance windows. But they generally provide a higher percentage reduction of your heating and cooling expenses.

Concluding Remarks

Getting a professional energy assessment or energy audit is the best way to determine the most effective energy efficiency measures for your home or commercial building.

When dealing with energy efficiency, following rules of thumb or word of mouth generally results in wasting money without obtaining a significant return.

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Energy Efficiency Measures for Supermarkets

Effective Energy Efficiency Measures for Supermarkets

Electricity bills can represent a significant portion of energy expenses at supermarkets: these buildings operate for extended schedules, and there are heat-sensitive products that must be kept in refrigerated spaces at all times, even after closing. Therefore, the most effective energy efficiency measures for supermarkets are normally those that improve lighting, HVAC and refrigeration.

Advantages of LED Lighting in Supermarkets

LED lighting has two notable characteristics: energy efficiency and product variety. Supermarkets using fluorescent lighting may achieve energy savings above 40% if they upgrade to LED fixtures, and savings of over 70% are possible when replacing metal halide fixtures.

Other than offering energy efficiency, LED lighting can also be a marketing tool for supermarkets: no other lighting technology offers the same flexibility in terms of color temperature and optical design. For example, it is possible to use a warm white color where products such as apples or oranges are being displayed, making them seem more appealing. Another marketing application of lighting is drawing attention to specific products using spotlights in strategic locations.

Electronically Commutated Motors for Efficient Refrigeration in Supermarkets

Fans play two important roles in refrigeration systems: they make sure that cool air circulates inside refrigerated spaces, and they also provide a flow of air for the condenser to reject heat outside. Normally, these fans are cycled on and off according to the load, but using speed control is much more energy efficient:

  • For example, assume a fan operates all the time, but it is possible to meet the total load with only 80% of the air flow.
  • If the fan operates with a duty cycle of 80%, the energy savings achieved are around 20%.
  • However, if the fan is driven at 80% speed, savings of nearly 50% are achieved, because fan power is proportional to speed cubed.

Electronically commutated motors (ECMs) offer exceptional energy efficiency and speed control characteristics, and are a great alternative to the traditional motors used in supermarket refrigeration systems. There are now ECMs that even surpass the efficiency of NEMA Premium motors.

Anti-Sweat Controls

Supermarkets make extensive use of refrigerated cabinets for product display, and it is very important to control condensation on their doors: it reduces product visibility, it can lead to mold formation, and it is even possible for it to freeze and seal the door. Refrigerated cabinets normally use anti-sweat resistance heaters to control condensation on their doors, but this has two drawbacks in terms of energy efficiency:

  • Part of that heat is released inside the cabinet, increasing the refrigeration load.
  • There may be conditions when indoor moisture is not enough for condensation to occur, and the door heater can be turned off safely.

Anti-sweat controls can be an effective energy efficiency measure, making sure the doors of refrigerated cabinets only generate the necessary amount of heat to prevent condensation, but not more. Since these doors emit heat in both directions, this reduces the load on both refrigeration and air conditioning equipment.

Energy Management Systems for HVAC Control

HVAC represents a significant portion of energy expenses at supermarkets, but this also means that the potential for energy efficiency in this area is significant. There are several viable measures to improve the performance of HVAC systems.

  • Using speed control for air-handling units can yield significant savings, comparable to those of ECMs in refrigerating systems. The main difference is that the horsepower of these fans is often higher than what ECMs can handle, so variable speed drives with three-phase motors are used instead.
  • When the outdoor air is dry, it is possible to use an economizer and meet a part of the AC load with evaporative cooling, reducing the load on compressors and improving energy efficiency.
  • HVAC schedules in supermarkets can be controlled by a building management system, making sure these units only operate for the required time to meet their load.

Energy management systems can achieve great synergy with other energy efficiency measures.

For example, there are cases when the energy savings of an LED retrofit at a supermarket can be duplicated when the upgrade is complemented with automation. And the reduced lighting heat output also contributes to a lower cooling load.

Scott Van Kerkhove is the CEO of EnergyWise and writes on issues surrounding energy management, energy efficiency and sustainability.

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LED Lighting Has a Short Payback Period

LED Lighting Has a Short Payback Period

Even when dealing exclusively with energy efficiency, it is important to plan the order in which different measures will be deployed. In many cases, the best starting point is to upgrade the existing lighting to LED technology because LED lighting has a short payback period.

Before carrying out an energy efficiency or renewable energy project in a building, it is important to determine which measures are viable and the optimal order in which to implement them. For example, if a manufacturing company is considering premium efficiency motors for all of its processes and power generation from biomass, it makes sense to go for the motor upgrade first so that the biomass plant can be sized smaller.

Why LED Lighting is a Great Starting Point for Energy Efficiency?

The advantage of starting with energy efficiency measures that have shorter payback periods is that they reach positive cash flow relatively quickly, and their savings can then be used to help cover the cost of other measures. The payback period of an LED retrofit depends on several factors, but it rarely exceeds four years, and can even be less than one year if project conditions are favorable. The following are some factors that reduce the payback period of LED lighting upgrades:

  • Having rebates from local utility companies to reduce the upfront cost.
  • Receiving federal grant funding via the REAP Grant for energy efficiency
  • Upgrading to LED from an inefficient lighting technology, such as metal halide or T12, yields higher savings than upgrading from more efficient lighting types such as T5.
  • Having long operating schedules – for example, a company that works 24 hours a day with multiple shifts will save three times as much energy per month with LED lighting, compared to a company with a normal 8-hour schedule.
  • High electricity prices translate into more cash savings per each kilowatt-hour of energy.

LED Lighting Can Provide Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Savings

When estimating the savings of LED lighting, calculations are often based on the direct reduction in lighting power. However, in air-conditioned or refrigerated spaces, there can also be significant indirect savings thanks to the reduced heat footprint of LED fixtures. This effect is minimal in homes and small businesses, but can be significant in large commercial buildings with thousands of fixtures.

  • In order to illustrate the concept with an example, assume a large commercial facility has 4000 fluorescent fixtures that consume 90 watts each, for a total of 360 kilowatts.
  • If all these fixtures are replaced with an equivalent LED product that only consumes 50 watts, total power consumption is reduced to 200 kilowatts.
  • In other words, 160 kilowatts of heat are no longer being released indoors, and the air conditioning system no longer has to handle that cooling load – this is equivalent to slightly more than 45 tons of refrigeration.

Companies with warehouses that have cold-storage areas can also achieve significant cooling savings with LED lighting: unlike the AC systems in most commercial buildings, these cold-storage rooms never stop operating.

If there are plans to upgrade air conditioning systems, carrying out an LED retrofit and improving the building envelope first is highly recommendable: then it will be possible to install a new AC system or energy management and building control system that creates temperature and usage savings.

Concluding Remarks

When an LED lighting retrofit is carried out as part of a broader energy efficiency project, there are two strong reasons to make it the starting point: the payback period is short, and it can provide significant indirect savings in air-conditioned or refrigerated facilities.

There are also emerging technologies that will only be possible with LED lighting, such as visible light communication (VLC), which is much faster than traditional Wi-Fi. This means LED lighting will soon be capable of improving the networking and automation capabilities of buildings, in addition to making them more energy efficient.

Scott Van Kerkhove is the CEO of EnergyWise and writes on issues surrounding energy management, energy efficiency and sustainability.

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Importance of LED Lighting Color Temperature

Importance of LED Lighting Color Temperature

The correlated color temperature (CCT) is used to describe the color of lighting produced by a lamp or luminaire. LED Lighting Color Temperature has nothing to do with the actual temperature at which the lamp operates; it rather describes the temperature to which you would have to heat a black body in order to make it glow with the same color, a borrowed concept from physics.

Warm and Cool Light

Most white LED lighting sources used in residential, commercial and industrial applications fall within a range of CCT values from 2700 to 6500 Kelvin.

  • Lamps with a CCT of 2700K generate light with a yellowish tone, commonly called warm white.
  • On the other hand, a source with a CCT of 6500K generates white light with an icy blue tone, commonly called cool white.

In a few words, lower CCT values are associated with “warm” colors, while high CCT values are associated with “cool” colors. For instance, a CCT of 1000K indicates a red lighting output; while a CCT of 30,000K would indicate a deep blue tone.

How Does the Color of Light Affect Humans?

The LED Lighting Color Temperature has a significant impact on how indoor spaces are perceived, affecting human emotions as a result. For this reason, it is very important to make sure the CCT of a specified light source is suitable for the activities that will be carried out where it will be installed.

Applications of Warm White Light

Warm white light tends to create an inviting and relaxing atmosphere, making it suitable for places where leisure activities requiring low concentration will be carried out. For this reason, light sources with CCT values between 2700K and 3000K are commonly found in areas such as:

Warm white is the natural color of incandescent bulbs, and this is why they have been preferred over compact fluorescent lights in various applications. When upgrading to LED lighting, it is very important to select a product with the same CCT to preserve the ambience.

Applications of Neutral White Light

Lighting sources with a CCT of around 4000K generate a neutral white output, making them suitable for applications where long-term concentration is required: neutral white light enhances visibility without distorting how the environment is perceived. Lamps with a CCT of around 4000K are commonly found in locations such as:

  • Offices
  • Home studios
  • Kitchens
  • Industrial locations

Applications of Cool White Light

Cool white light is characterized by enhancing awareness and visibility, making it the recommended choice for precision tasks where high attention to detail is required. High-CCT lighting is often deployed in applications such as:

  • Stores where products with fine details are displayed, such as jewelry or watches
  • Art exhibits
  • Outdoor lighting
  • Industrial locations

Cool white light is unsuitable for bedrooms or locations where leisure activities will be carried out: the blue tones of lighting emitted can make it difficult to fall asleep or to relax, given that they boost awareness.

Conclusion

The LED Lighting Color Temperature and the color of lighting sources in general has a dramatic impact on how the environment is perceived, and the emotional and physiological response of humans varies accordingly. When the CCT of a light source matches the application, the end result is improved: offices can be made more productive, outdoor locations are made safer and stores can boost their sales, just to name a few examples.

Scott Van Kerkhove is the CEO of EnergyWise and writes on issues surrounding energy management, energy efficiency and sustainability.

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Energy Savings of LED Lighting vs Traditional Lighting

Energy Savings of LED Lighting vs Traditional Lighting

LED lighting has been extremely successful over the past few years. According to market research by Goldman Sachs, LED lighting technology went from having only 1% of the lighting market in 2010 to around 28% in 2015, and is expected to hold a market share of over 95% by 2025. In most cases, the main incentive for upgrading to LED lighting is achieving energy savings. The total reduction in electric power consumption depends on the type of lighting currently being used, but there are cases where the savings achieved go over 80% vs traditional lighting.

Comparing LED Bulbs with Incandescent and Fluorescent Bulbs
Upgrading incandescent and fluorescent bulbs is a very simple energy conservation measure for both homes and businesses, and it offers the advantage of not requiring specialized labor.

When replacing incandescent bulbs, LED lighting offers savings of over 80 percent and a service life that is 25 times longer. For example, a 100-watt incandescent bulb rated for 1,000 hours of use can be replaced with a 15-watt LED equivalent that lasts for 25,000 hours or more.

When replacing fluorescent bulbs, LED products can yield savings of over 30 percent. There is a service life increase as well: fluorescent bulbs last 10,000 on average, only 40% of the rated life of most LED bulbs.
Some LED bulbs also offer dimming, automation and color adjustment options. For example, the same bulb can be set to provide clear white light at full brightness when a task requires concentration, and then warm white light at partial brightness to create a more relaxing atmosphere for watching television.

Upgrading Fluorescent Tubes to LED Lighting
Fluorescent T8 tubes are among the most common lighting products for indoor commercial settings, offering moderate efficiency and an affordable upfront cost. However, LED tube lighting is now a viable alternative, and qualifies for rebates in many states. There are two main options when replacing commercial fluorescent fixtures with LED bulbs:

Replacing 32-watt fluorescent tubes with LED products that are designed to use the same fixtures. Power consumption varies by manufacturer, but these tubes typically consume between 12 and 18 watts. Some require the fluorescent ballast to be bypassed, others are directly compatible, and there are models with a dedicated external driver.

There are also integrated LED fixtures that completely eliminate the concept of tubes and replace the entire luminaire: they have a specially designed geometry and an array of LEDs.

Replacing commercial fluorescent lighting with LED normally yields savings in the range of 30 to 65 percent, but this can be increased with lighting automation and daylighting measures.

Advantages of LED Lighting over Industrial HID Fixtures
Industrial settings often use high-bay fixtures with metal halide bulbs. This technology offers a potent lighting output, but is outclassed by LED lighting in many ways:

MH bulbs normally last for around 10,000 hours, possibly less if they are frequently switched ON and OFF. On the other hand, high-bay industrial LED fixtures may offer a service life of over 100,000 hours.
Energy savings of 60% or more are normally achieved. For example, a 450-watt metal halide fixture may be replaced with a 200-watt LED product with an equivalent luminous output.

Of course, it is very important to select LED products that match the application. An energy audit by a qualified field engineer is a great way to detect promising lighting upgrades and other energy conservation measures, especially in large commercial or industrial facilities. Your audit should also include an evaluation of incentive procurement your project might be eligible for.

Scott Van Kerkhove is the CEO of EnergyWise and writes on issues surrounding energy management, energy efficiency and sustainability.

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Future Potential of Energy Efficiency

Future Potential of Energy Efficiency

When it comes to evaluating the future potential of energy efficiency, there are two solutions to consider: one solution is upgrading the power generation mix with cleaner energy sources; and, the second solution is to use energy more efficiently, reducing the need for expansions in generation capacity. These two approaches are not mutually exclusive, and can in fact achieve a great degree of synergy if implemented together.

Continue reading “Future Potential of Energy Efficiency”

Sustainable Energy Solutions To Avoid Peak Load Penalties

As the global community pays increasingly more attention to the finite nature of fossil fuel deposits, sustainable energy solutions for generating power are growing in popularity. Continue reading “Sustainable Energy Solutions To Avoid Peak Load Penalties”

5 Important Steps in Procuring Utility Rebates

I’m always amazed at how many new clients we bring on-board that are not only unaware of the important steps in procuring utility rebates, but are completely unaware that utility-based rebates are available for their energy efficiency projects. Many times, they have completed projects that include energy conservation measures (ECM’s) in-house or had their local electrician complete an installation without ever being aware that they were eligible for a rebate. Continue reading “5 Important Steps in Procuring Utility Rebates”

EPA’s National Carbon Pollution Standards

On June 2, the EPA and President Barack Obama released a proposal that will set the first-ever national carbon pollution standards limits for existing U.S. power plants. Is this move all about politics or is this simply the right thing to do? Continue reading “EPA’s National Carbon Pollution Standards”