Rapid-fire technology advances related to light-emitting diodes (LED) have led to increased interest in these products in institutional and commercial facilities. While LED applications remain somewhat limited, the use of LEDs likely will expand as facilities focus even more on energy efficiency and reduced maintenance in specifying lighting technology.
"LEDs are the future," says Anne Kustner Haser of Anne Kustner Lighting Design. "Facilities are going to rely on them more heavily down the road."
As a result of the likely expansion of applications, maintenance and engineering managers face a host of decisions related to specification, installation, and maintenance. While much of the focus has been on LEDs' promised benefits, including performance life and energy efficiency, managers need to get answers about the way LEDs will perform once installed, as well as what happens when a system fails.
"LED is the buzzword that is on everybody's mind and lips," says Stefan Graf, IALD, with Illuminart, a lighting design firm. But he adds, "managers should not get too hung up on the technology. They need to understand what it's trying to achieve with lighting."
The first challenge for managers is understanding the applications most appropriate for LEDs. Lighting specifiers are cautiously optimistic about select applications, Graf says, including areas in which the required light output is relatively low — 0.5-2 footcandles, compared with 10-30 footcandles interior areas typically require. Common applications include: downlights and low-ceiling areas; task lighting; and nightlights and patient reading lamps in health care facilities.
Specifiers also are looking to LEDs for exterior applications, such as edges and accents in landscapes and along walkways and in outdoor parking areas.
"That type of lighting is really a great place because color stability and color rendering are not as crucial," Haser says, adding LEDs also can enhance security in parking lots because they offer instant-on capability.
"When you have facilities with late-night shifts, you can turn off the lights in remote parking lots, she says. "But you can install motion sensors, so that if you need light in the area, they provide it instantly."
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