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Upgrading Your Facility Lighting to LED: Benefits and Options for Self-Storage

LED lighting can benefit your self-storage operation in a number of ways. But before you upgrade, it’s helpful to understand common terms, available options and how to work with your supplier.

Wattage, lumens, incandescence, kelvin … the list of terminology used in the lighting industry goes on and on. But the one on the minds of many business owners these days is LED (light emitting diode). Why? Because upgrading to LED lighting has many benefits. In this article, I’ll define common terms and teach you what you need to know when upgrading the lights at your self-storage facility, including options on the market and how to work with your supplier.

Lighting Terms

Here are a few common ones to know:

  • Wattage refers to the energy a lamp (commonly referred to as a bulb) uses and consumes.
  • Lumens signify the brightness of a lamp. They are a measure of the total amount of visible light from a light source (to the human eye).
  • Kelvin is a measurement used to describe a light’s color and is typically notated with a numeric value. For example, soft white light could be 2700-3000K.
  • Incandescent lamps produce light by heating up a wire filament to a high temperature.
  • LED lamps produce light as current flows through the semiconductor (chip) and are commonly powered by a driver. They can be dimmed and even change colors.

The Benefits of LED

LEDs use much less wattage than incandescent lamps, but still shine with the same or greater brightness. They also use less energy—some experts say up to 80 percent—last longer and don’t put off as much heat. Normally, you’d replace a 75-watt lamp with a 1100 lumen or 11-watt LED.

Because they outlast and outperform other types of lighting, LEDs save energy and money, which can increase your overall return on investment. As lighting accounts for 20 percent to 30 percent of global electricity use, making the switch makes economic sense.

In addition, LED lighting increases facility safety and security for self-storage tenants and employees. A building with abundant lighting inside and out provides reassurance, can help prevent accidents, and even discourage criminal activity or loitering. Renters are seeking well-lit, safe facilities, and lighting is key to enticing them.

LED Options

Now that you know some basic terms and learned a few benefits of LED, you may be thinking “It’s time for an upgrade!” The question is, will you be replacing your lighting in its entirety or retrofitting existing fixtures?

A good way to begin your planning is to determine approximately how many hours per day you run your lights. Next, how bright or dim do you want these spaces to be? Answers to these basic questions will help determine your desired outcome. In commercial/industrial settings, you may also need to be aware of:

  • Footcandle requirements: A footcandle is a unit of measure used by lighting professionals to calculate light level in a business or outdoor space. It’s defined as the illuminance on a 1-square-foot surface from a uniform source of light.
  • Dark-sky ordinances: These are lighting codes intended to reduce nighttime light pollution and preserve night skies. Enacted by municipalities, these are intended to ensure good, safe outdoor lighting.
  • Light trespass: This is an encroachment of light that causes annoyance, loss of privacy or some another nuisance.

Exterior lighting should be used for dramatic effect and to accentuate a self-storage facility’s architectural design. It’ll also provide illumination to guide staff and tenants safely around the property. Colored LEDs can be used as accent pieces to draw attention to your prominent design features.

For interior hallways, opt for LED strip fixtures with lower wattage. This will lower your utility bill and the lights won’t flicker or buzz like those outdated fluorescent lights. You can add occupancy sensors in low-traffic areas such as restrooms to control when the lights turn on and for how long.

Consider integrating light controls, which allow you to:

  • Turn lights on and off automatically
  • Dim lighting on a schedule
  • Change light color
  • Activate motion sensors

These are great features to have when you’re away from your business. Automatic lights make it look like the space is occupied, while motion sensors save energy and money since the lighting is only on when needed. Some states have energy codes, such as Title 24, that require fixtures to be controlled, which will maximize energy savings.
 
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An example of how LED lighting can improve a facility hallway

LED Suppliers

When upgrading your self-storage facility lighting, your greatest asset with be a reputable, knowledgeable supplier who can advise on the project. The company should be able to steer you to products and brands that are the most reputable, while keeping you on schedule and in budget. It can also help you apply for rebates, which can significantly lower the cost. If you purchase products through a distributor, it can likely recommend an installer as well.

For new fixtures and construction, it’s always wise to request a photometric layout from your supplier. This will allow you and your designers to see in advance if the lighting will be sufficient for the space, allowing you to make changes to the scheme if necessary.

Now’s the best time ever to change, upgrade or retrofit your self-storage lighting! Not only will you save money and energy, there are so many beautiful and awe-inspiring fixtures from which to choose. Your lighting should be an integral part of your overall design and reflect your facility’s appeal.

Dan Hengstler is the director of national accounts for Priority Lighting, a national distributor of light bulbs, ballasts and fixtures to self-storage and other industries. He has more than 10 years of lighting-industry experience and speaks at conferences on innovative lighting solutions. Priority specializes in energy efficiencies in LED and other newly refined products. For more information, call 800.709.1119; e-mail sales@prioritylighting.com; visit www.prioritylighting.com.

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