Exterior lighting energy solutions
A look at how energy efficiency helps Vermont businesses run more profitably with answers from Efficiency Vermont’s business energy experts Paul Lambert and Dan Mellinger.
Q: We’re repaving our parking lot and I’m considering upgrading the lighting out there too. I’ve noticed that some newer parking lots have a whiter, brighter light, whereas ours have a very yellow, dim glow. What do you recommend? - LP, Orange County
It sounds like you have high-pressure sodium bulbs, and the lighting you admired was most likely light-emitting diodes (more commonly called LEDs). LEDs use completely different technology than older bulbs—their light is produced by the movement of electrons through a semiconductor material, similar to how a computer chip works. They’re far more efficient than your sodium bulbs, and can actually save you 50 to 75 percent on energy costs.
Another advantage of LEDs is that they work well with lighting controls like timers and motion sensors, because they’re instant-on and off. That means you don’t have to wait for a warm-up time like you do with sodium lights. By timing your lamps or putting them on motion sensors, you’ll save even more energy. If you’re not comfortable with a completely dark lot, you can set them to dim on a timer, too. LEDs can last twice as long as sodium or halide bulbs, and sometimes even longer; so you’re going to save money on maintenance costs as well. I don’t know how high your lot lights are, but any time you have to rent a boom truck or get someone out there with an extension ladder, you’re likely incurring a significant expense.
We should also mention that because LED lighting is so directional, you’ll lose less light to the sky and surrounding areas, so you won’t actually need as much light. It’s not uncommon, when moving to LED bulbs from older bulbs, to require 25-50 percent less light. A local electrical distributor should be well-versed in the different lighting technologies, and many have software available to help you determine the right amount of light for your lot.
Be sure to visit our website, at www.efficiencyvermont.com/exteriorlighting. We have rebates available on both external LED lights and lighting controls, and a list of products qualified by the Design Lights Consortium, a non-profit group dedicated to promoting reliable energy-efficient LED lighting products. Not all LED lights are created equal, so finding a recommended product is important.
It’s great that you’re thinking of this in connection with your repaving project. Bundling projects together is a way to minimize disruption and expense, and any time you’re improving your property is the ideal time to address energy efficiency as well. Good luck with everything, and thanks for a great question!
About Efficiency Vermont
Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Public Service Board to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy, and protect Vermont's environment. For more information, call 888-921-5990, toll-free, or visit www.efficiencyvermont.com.