Last Updated on 2 November 2022.
Light Emitting Diodes (or LED to you and me) are the light source of the future.
But they’re much older than you think! They’re only recently becoming more popular as people are seeking greener ways of living and looking for ways to avoid the mind-boggling rises in energy prices.
Here’s a video with Verity and Ricky from WFP talking about how much moving to LED is a money-saving no-brainer!
What this article covers:
A brief history of LEDs…
LEDs date back to 1962 when they were invented by General Electric scientist Nick Holonyak. Apparently, GE referred to it as “the magic one”. Despite its apparent “magical” reputation, the only place they were becoming mainstream was in elevators!
LEDs were then mainly applied for use as indicator lights for circuit boards. By the 1980s, LEDs became more prevalent in the outdoors, such as with traffic lights.
Today, LED technology is the widely applied lighting of choice across commercial, industrial, and residential premises. Over the years they’ve improved in longevity, brightness, and energy-efficiency.
Despite this being a well-known fact, there are thousands of buildings up and down the country that have still not transitioned over to LEDs.
Did you know that fluorescent tubes are set to be phased out from 2023?
Upgrading to LED is easier than you think…
Maybe it’s because it seems like a lot of effort, maybe it’s because the upfront cost doesn’t seem worth it, or maybe it’s because it’s just not been a priority.
With energy prices rising at a rate of knots, you can’t not consider how upgrading to LED lighting can help your business save money.
It doesn’t matter what size your building is – large or small, you’re going to reap the benefits. We installed LED lighting for a small restaurant, for example, who will recoup their upfront cost within three years – possibly less now with the rise in energy prices we’re seeing.
And it’s not just about money, no. There are so many buildings with inefficient lighting at the end of their lifespan, which are in dire need of an upgrade.
Whatever your premises, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about LED lights.
Just before we start telling you all about the reasons you ought to make the switch, let’s answer some key questions we often get asked about this topic:
Do LED lights create a fire risk?
Nope. I mean, it could happen but it’s so unlikely I’d love to hear a story about this happening to understand why.
If anything, you’re actually reducing the risk of fire as LEDs run cold!
The main reason a bulb could start a fire is because of overheating, which is highly unlikely with LED lights.
Remember in the good old days when your lamp at home would blow and you burn your finger trying to replace it?
Well, this won’t happen. Not just the burning your finger part, but even needing to change it in the first place!
Back in ye olden days, filament light bulbs used to trip your Residual Current Device (RCD) on your distribution board every time they blew, so there was a big transition over to halogen.
Everyone and their mother wanted halogen downlights fitted, which gave a much cleaner and chic aesthetic look to a room – except halogen bulbs do emit heat. We were then seeing massive heat build-ups and a lack of fire-sealing, so you’re then creating a fire risk.
Traditional, (halogen/incandescent) bulbs use a filament which loses a lot of energy emitted as heat. Sometimes this is deliberate to be used as heating as well as a light source. These old bulbs lose anywhere between 60% and 95% of their power to heat! This makes them much more of a fire risk.
By contrast, an LED in its hottest part emits about half the heat of a traditional bulb at the same brightness!
How do LED lights work?
Without going into the long-winded science of LEDs, they’re not the same as traditional bulbs in that they do not emit light from a vacuum; the illumination is provided by something solid known as a semiconductor.
Fun Fact: Did you know that there is no such thing as a truly white LED? Yep – they’re either a combination of colours or have a yellow/orange coating that then converts into white light. It’s like the blue or gold dress illusion all over again…
Are LED lights cheaper to run?
Definitely! Actually, painfully cheaper compared to traditional bulbs.
Take a look at the table below!
One of the biggest reasons to upgrade to LED is because of the cost savings available. This is just simple maths: use less energy, pay less money, and with LED, the power consumption is far lower than that of a fluorescent fitting.
A traditional 600×600 panel fitting often found in offices is typically powered with four 18W T8 tubes totalling 72W, an LED alternative is 21W. The major reason for this difference is the fact that the power of a light is not actually measured in watts but instead in lumens.
LED lighting produces a seriously large number of lumens compared to older bulbs and thus require much less wattage. Less power results in cheaper bills – simple, right?
Along with the cost savings of using less power, LED lights last much longer and do not require the light bulbs to be changed as modern fittings are sealed. In short, there are none of the maintenance costs associated with older lighting as there is nothing to maintain. Once the lights are installed you are set to go. Should a light stop working, simply call your electrical contractor and they will replace it.
Combine the above with adding motion sensors to your lighting system and you really are set to maximise savings on your electricity bill. The idea of motion sensors is a simple one; what is the best way to maximise savings? Turn the lights off! In theory the more sensors you have, the better, however careful consideration must be taken during the design stage. Nothing worse than having to keep waving your arms about to get the lights back on, after all.
To give an idea, our most recent case study showed that a medium warehouse with 120 lights was spending an average of £6,500 per year. After the LED upgrade that cost was less than £1,000 per year with a return on investment of 4 years. Consider now that most LED lights have a 5-year warranty but are likely to last 10 years+ and the decision to upgrade should be an easy one.
Watch the video below to learn more about how to calculate your return on investment:
Are LED lights bad for your eyes?
There have been numerous studies over the years about whether LEDs can negatively impact your eyes.
The truth is – all light does this. Especially if you stare at it! You’re in neither a better nor worse position than with the bulbs of old.
In fact, conversely, there’s been research that’s found that headaches are reduced by using LEDs and it can even boost moods!
How can LED lighting improve my mood?
This is an awesome post about LEDs which talks about all the different colours and how each of them affects your mood in a different way.
Have you ever considered that retail stores and offices tend to use bright lighting for a reason? It’s not warm, mood lighting, because they want you stimulated, and everything illuminated to a greater degree to encourage you to see and buy more.
Consider, for instance, your Circadian rhythm where we’re told to reduce blue light before going to sleep.
Lighting has a bigger impact on your health, performance, productivity and mood than you might think. It’s thought that being in a well-lit environment, which LED provides by distributing light more evenly across a room compared to traditional lighting, helps enjoy deeper sleep.
LEDs can replicate sunlight far better than old fluorescent bulbs so your body clock should thank you for it! 5000k-6000k for LED lights is the temperature considered to mimic daylight – the most natural light you can get.
(Don’t be confused when you hear the word ‘temperature’ in relating to lighting as this just means how warm or cold the yellow light is.)
Can you dim LED lights?
Yes, and you can even have intelligent controls such as Passive Infrared (PIR) sensors so that not only can you customise the brightness, but it’ll also automatically come on when you enter a room and switch off after it senses no movement.
You could even install daylight sensors in areas which benefit from a lot of natural light. These can automate to turn on and off depending on what daylight it senses in the room.
Can I retrofit my LED lights?
A retrofit LED bulb is where you get your new LEDs to look aesthetically the same and inserted into the fitting in the same way. We’re talking about your commercial, batten-style lighting, not just your standard bulbs as shown in the picture above.
Yes, you can carry this retrofit out following us doing an inspection of your lighting circuit. If the cables can handle it then we can replace exactly where they were, like-for-like.
This was opted for much more in the past, however doing so nowadays tends to more expensive. You’ll also likely struggle should a warranty claim need to be made due to the co-existence of multiple/pre-existing parts.
Are LED lights energy-efficient?
I mean it’s a pretty obvious answer but to spell it out for the non-believers out there, yes it definitely is. (Take a look at the table above to see the comparison of Co2 emissions.)
Traditional bulbs are totally inefficient and waste up to 95% of the electricity they use (remember the heat we talked about earlier?). Compare this to LEDs, they have a much higher lumen output per watt, i.e., around 70% of their energy is put into doing the job they’re designed to do – create light – making them a lot more energy efficient, and efficient full stop!
Plus, LED lights do not contain mercury, which is another reason they’ve got such a negligible carbon footprint.
The bulbs of old are being phased out (although not quickly enough!), which is thought will reduce Co2 emissions by up to 15 million tons a year. That’s the equivalent of removing around half a million cars from UK roads!
According to The Carbon Trust, lighting is responsible for up to 20% of all energy consumption in the UK.
The Government’s ‘SME Guide to Energy Efficiency’ also mentions that lighting is “one of the most energy intensive parts of the business and can be responsible for up to 40% of a building’s electricity use.
So, being savvy with that energy consumption and minimising it as much as possible should be a high priority for business owners and managers.
What is the warranty for LED lights?
This depends on the manufacturer we would use to install your LED lights (depending on where these are being installed, the manufacturer best suited for that setting can differ), but the minimum we’ve seen from quality suppliers is 3 years; many are at 5 years.
Plus, if you’re in a servicing subscription with us for any of your fire, security and electrical needs, you’ll benefit from access to unlimited support for anything we’ve installed for you!
How much would it cost to upgrade to LED lighting?
This is really hard to say as no two premises are the same! It all depends on your current wiring, what LED products you go for, how many, and so on.
If you redeem a free consultation with us then we’ll be able to give you a more indicative costing once we’ve got a bit more background on your building, and what you’re looking to achieve.
Not just that, we’ll also tell you what your prospective cost savings will be and how long you can expect it to take before you’ve recuperated your costs through energy savings.
Why do I need an EICR before I upgrade to LED lighting?
An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), or commonly referred to as ‘Electrical Testing’ or ‘Fixed Wire Testing’, is an inspection of your current electrical installation to test its integrity and capacity.
For most electrical premises, this should happen every five years, and it’s a crucial aspect of any commercial premises’ electrical/overall safety strategy.
The reason it’s important to do it before you upgrade to LEDs (or indeed carry out any kind of upgrade which relies on your electrical installation to function), is to ensure there are no faults or problems relating to your electrics.
You don’t want to start the upgrade only to find the existing electrical infrastructure is caput or needing extensive remedials. It’s neither safe nor common sense to do an upgrade without referring to the last report. If this can’t be found then you should do another one before an upgrade commences.
What grants or funding is available for getting LED upgrades to my business premises?
Upgrading to LED, especially if you’ve got a fair a particularly large premises or just a lot of lighting needing replacing, can be costly upfront (even though you’re bound to reap the benefits afterwards!), but coming up with the money to get there can be a bit of a task.
There are grants being offered to businesses to incentivise reducing carbon footprints, helping them with the upfront capital to fund the purchasing and installing of LED lighting.
Enhanced Capital Allowance
For example, there’s the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA), which is part of the Government’s programme to encourage climate action and help businesses improve cash through accelerated tax relief.
This is for companies making a profit and pay Corporation Tax, so they can then claim back the % of the tax they pay on the total installation (when using products which are certified/compliant, i.e. must be CE marked). For example, if you pay 19% on Corporation Tax but spend £10k on compliant products, then you can claim back that 19% to get £1,900 back in your pocket (as explained by Light Solution).
Within the ECA there is a list called the ‘Enhanced Technology List’ (ETL), with products carrying “Super Green Credentials” – of which LED lighting products are mentioned galore.
Claims can be made via HMRC in the accounting period the item was purchased in order to claim back the full value.
(Please note that Government schemes are known to change so please research via the Government website for the most relevant and up-to-date guidance.)
If you’re a Small or Medium Enterprise (SME), then you can benefit from funding from this scheme which stands for ‘Low Carbon Across the South and East’, which is endorsed both by the UK Government and the European Union (EU).
It started back in 2016 and is due (presently) to run until Spring 2023, partnering with local authorities and universities to increase awareness.
They offer a grant for SMEs employing 250 full-time employees or less with an annual turnover of £44m or less, which offers up to 40% of the cost of an installation/project – so long as the focus of the project is to improve energy efficiency, which it would be by moving to LED.
So, whilst we’ve already touched on a few points which are clear no-brainers as to why you should transition to LED for your commercial premises if you haven’t done so already, here are 10 clear benefits and reasons (other than the obvious energy efficiency):
Tip 1: Save money
Even before the massive energy spikes, you’d save money by switching to LED.
The upfront cost of upgrading may seem like it’d be a hole in your pocket but you WILL make that back in what you save from less to no maintenance, far less frequent repairs and replacements, and ongoing energy costs to run them.
You should also consider than each LED bulb lasts as long as 20 lifetimes for a filament bulb!
On an energy rate of, for example 19p per kilowatt hour (kWh), the LED would cost £19 over its lifetime (going off the average of 20,000 hours). For a filament bulb, this would be £152. That’s just one bulb!
Apply that saving across your whole building, and suddenly your pockets are feeling a little fuller.
You can use The Calculator Site to do the savings workings for you based on your own usage and number of lights.
Tip 2: It’s safer
We’ve discussed a fair amount in this article about the difference between LEDs and traditional light bulbs, with heat being a big reason as to why traditional bulbs cost more and are less energy-efficient.
With LEDs, you’ll never have to panic again about leaving the light on. It’ll cost you significantly less and it won’t overheat.
And because LEDs don’t affect the ambient temperature, there won’t be any heating/air con wars!
Tip 3: Fewer headaches
There’s a debate as to whether LEDs cause or diminish headaches – harsh light in any case isn’t great, but fluorescent lights are known to often cause glare, leading to headaches. This doesn’t happen with LEDs!
I also talked further up about how LEDs are found to positively influence your mood, and who doesn’t want that?!
LEDs are also completely silent! Sometimes with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs), you might hear a buzzing sound, which is caused by the ballast/transformer in the lighting fixture. Not that this would induce a headache, but it can be a little annoying…
Tip 4: They’re aesthetically superior
LEDs brighten a whole area, don’t have glare and just look sleeker.
If you upgrade to LED, you’ll also be upgrading the aesthetic of the area you’re installing it in.
Tip 5: Longer lifespan
LEDs can last around 30,000 hours – I mean, have you ever heard of an LED bulb blowing?
Check out the table below to see the comparison of duration:
Fun Fact: Something interesting to note here about LEDs is that the depletion of LEDs has nothing to do with how long LEDs are actually on for. It’s about the frequency of turning them on and off!
An LED light left on could last 30,000 hours but if you turned it on and off 100 times a day, it likely won’t last as long.
Tip 7: You can integrate your LED lights to be emergency lights
It’s super easy to convert a normal LED light into an emergency light (i.e. one which stays on in the event of a power cut, say in the event of a fire, to help guide/light the way to safety) – you simply need to put a battery pack in it and then it’s integrated!
If you want this, you will need a competent specialist to design your lighting system as regulations decide which locations need emergency lights and which do not (more often than not near exit/escape routes). Plus, you will still need your three-hour annual drain down, which is part of your building’s Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) and as per British Standards (BS 5266), because you are testing the battery – not the LED.
Tip 8: Easy to recycle
You might’ve read further up this article than LEDs don’t contain mercury compared to CFLs and fluorescents.
This is a big fact when it comes to recycling as those traditional bulbs would need to be disposed of safety, which can incur fees. So, another green perk about LEDs is that you won’t have this problem!
Tip 9: It’s a reputational perk
Showcasing your company through the art of case studies is a great piece of PR and marketing.
We’ve worked with a ton of companies who’ve made the switch to LED and promoted the project, both to incentivise others but also to demonstrate their own green proactiveness.
Companies already do this with the likes of promoting that they recycle or install EV charging points (which we can do for you as well! The charging points, not the recycling…), so lighting is a no-brainer to get efficient with.
Tip 10: It’s the future, and it’s already being phased out
There are huge benefits to upgrading to LED, but the reality is that you’re going to have to anyway.
Traditional bulbs started to be phased out back in 2009 when 100W and 60W pearl light bulbs ceased manufacturing. Then in 2011, 60W clear bulbs were banned. They weren’t removed as they were (and still are!) huge amounts available in the marketplace.
The UK started to phase out halogen lightbulbs in 2018 before banning them from September 2021. The Government also planned to remove fluorescent lights from selves from September 2023.
These measures will mean that around 85% of all bulbs on the market by 2030 will be LEDs.
So, why wait to reap the benefits?
So, what is the process of getting your lighting upgraded I hear you ask?
I’m pleased to say it really could not be any simpler. We start with a site visit to determine your current lighting system, things such as type of lighting, number of lights, building use, and if the circuit(s) are healthy. We then find the most suitable lighting for your specific requirements, calculate the current energy usage and compare that with the new energy use predication and calculate our return on investment.
If you’re thinking about moving over to LED, then you should also consider:
- Where you want to make your upgrades (if not everywhere in your premises)
- How bright you need your lighting to be
- Your colour temperature (i.e. how yellow or white you want the light – or a different colour, altogether!)
- Whether you want to use tailorable technology such as timers, dimmers and sensors
Take a look at this video with our Electrical Manager, Ricky, showing how we went about doing our own LED upgrade!
We can help design your LED upgrade to suit your needs and budget. We’ll need your last EICR report and attend your premises to conduct a thorough survey to create your bespoke proposal.
Why not reach out for a FREE 30-minute consultation to decide how you can take your business to a greener, smarter and more cost-effective level?
Our team are here to help on 01277 724 653!
(And please help us spread the word about energy and cost savings by converting to LED lighting by sharing this post on social media using the buttons below!)
Here’s a bonus for you…
Here’s a handy inforgraphic you can print to give you and your team a few ideas on how to be more energy-efficient!
Thanks for reading!
And good luck on your journey to energy efficiency.