10 years ago, as I was about to do one of my first warehouse showings, I remember walking in the dark with only the light of my Samsung flip phone to guide me over to the breaker box. As I hurried to get the lights on before the clients arrived, I fumbled with the box, looking for the four breakers that said “W/H LGTS.” After about 5-7 minutes of an awful buzzing sound and telling the clients, “The lights take a minute to warm up,” we could finally see the warehouse through the yellowish flicker produced by the metal-halide lights. In addition to the unpleasant buzzing, flickering, delayed “warm up” time, and yellow tone, these lights were also incredibly inefficient and costly to use.
At the time, the industry was just being introduced to T-8 and T-5 warehouse lighting, which could save warehouse users roughly 30% on lighting costs. Along with cutting costs, these lights did not fade or flicker, turned on immediately, and cast a much more visibly pleasing, soft white color. The tubular lights also featured new technological advancements. They were equipped with motion sensors, so when employees left a section of the warehouse empty, the lights would automatically shut off, thereby increasing efficiency levels and decreasing overall energy costs.
In the last three years, LED warehouse lighting began providing an even more efficient lighting source within the industry. The quality of the LED light was great, as was the ROI of only two years. Similar to the T-8 and T-5 lighting, the upfront cost was high, but energy suppliers often provided rebates to users.
Just like phones, TV’s, watches, and a variety of electronics, the updated LED lights now in use are “Smart Lights.” More traditional lights, such as the metal-halide and tubular lights (T-8 and T-5) mentioned above, cast light in a circular blob, and much of the light is wasted by overlapping coverage areas or by hitting the tops of the racking. Smart lighting allows LED light to cast at different angles in order to maximize each fixture. These lights are also equipped with motion sensors and daylight controls. The daylight controls adjust the amount of LED light cast based on how much natural light is available at any given time. We may even start to see more new buildings with skylights.
With interior lighting consuming 55% of the total utility cost of the average warehouse user, it is no wonder innovators are eager to create even more efficient lighting solutions to meet business demands. I would suspect as technology continues to advance, warehouse lighting options will as well.