The LED revolution is certainly evolving into an industry that lighting manufacturers may never have imagined years ago and, along with the modern home, the industrial lighting world will never be the same since the introduction of LED lighting. Not only are the lights much more efficient when it comes to energy usage but also much more effective as the light that can be produced has many more options to consider that ever before. All the different characteristics of LED lighting that were not previously available or even considered with previous lighting technology has given LED lighting a huge advantage over all previous commercial lighting techniques and technologies. The new LED products are able to be designed to produce trouble free lighting in areas such as wet environments, vibration applications, temperature extremes, and other areas where conventional illumination was previously crippled by negative affects when it came to performing at the high levels which are possible with LED lighting.
For many years the LED technology was lacking when it came to industrial applications but now the gates have opened and the option for industrial/commercial LED lighting has become very viable. Thanks to all the fast evolving advancements in the LEDs themselves, other semiconductors, optics, heat management, other materials and manufacturing breakthroughs, the application possibilities in the LED field have grown exponentially, and in short order. The development of LED lighting which is of the characteristics which would be needed for industrial applications is now possible and the commercial lighting possibilities are now nearly unlimited. All the advancements in LEDs and their manufacturing processes have occurred none too soon as recent U.S. legislation requires the phasing out of mercury vapor ballasts and lamps as well as 150 to 500 watt metal halides lights.
The true industrial lighting practicality has only recently strongly emerged in the LED field. Previous products which were produced prior to the most recent developments were poor examples of the possibilities and, at this point, most, if not all of the poorly designed products have been culled from the market. These previously poorly designed products were not so much poorly designed due to cost saving materials or production but due to the fact that the industry had not reached the pinnacle of current perfection that the residential LED lighting had reached. Still, in all cases in the LED industry, improvements are being made on a regular basis and the LED applications have become a very real and highly accepted method of modern lighting in industrial and commercial applications.
For industrial lighting, heat dissipation is a major issue as the number of LEDs necessary for the production of the quantity of light necessary for applications differ greatly from residential lighting. LED lighting does not naturally operate on the AC voltage that the world runs on, so a “driver” is required to convert the AC to DC and to step down the incoming voltage at the same time. Without going into the science of the process, just let it be said that the conversion of the incoming energy into energy that can be used by the LED leads to energy being released as heat. The front end of an LED and the beam it produces is cool but the back of the LED or LED array can become very hot. The “driver” is also a heat producing part of the equation and both of the heat producing aspects need accurate control. This control is achieved with heat sinks which, on commercial lighting luminaries can be quite a prominent part of the design.
The control of heat production is especially important in the industrial/commercial LED lighting field as the temperatures developed by the drivers and LED arrays are much more extreme than those LEDs used in residential applications. Proper management of generated heat within the LED fixture is quite important as excess heat will reduce the life expectancy by huge margins. Also, the range of ambient temperatures in which the product can properly operate will be limited if the heat management of the LED unit is inadequate. For enclosed and gasket sealed or explosion proof fixtures the heat control is very critical, as without it the lights would never reach their full lifetime design expectations. Luminaries which are to be used in hazardous environments must be rated according to very stringent requirements to ensure that generated heat or a potential spark cannot possibly lead to flame ignition or explosion.
The evolution of industrial LED lighting is still in preliminary stages but has come a very long way in a very short period of time. It is inevitable that the improvements and innovations will continue, as that’s what man does. The benefits of the LED lighting simply cannot be denied, and industrial institutions and governments are paying great attention to the LED movement in an effort to reduce the problems of energy consumption, toxic waste, greenhouse gasses, pollutants, and the general overall carbon footprint that mankind has placed on our environment.
As always, if you need help with your LED lighting projects, please feel free to call Polar Ray at 303-494-5773 to speak with a lighting consultant.