Illuminating a Warehouse: It’s Always a Challenge (Especially for a Retrofit)
One of the most difficult spaces to design a lighting layout for is the warehouse. It looks like a simple, open area to light up at the onset. But once you take into consideration the big space, high ceilings, tall racking aisles, and the different tasks performed in each area, it becomes a challenge to provide adequate illumination; especially when it comes to retrofits, where energy efficiency and project costs are at the forefront.
It’s in these situations where we hear about the success of one-for-one retrofit replacements (where every existing fixture is replaced with a more efficient one). But what if you can do even better than that and further reduce overall project cost, minimize energy footprint, and quicken the ROI for your client? Read on!
Tip #1: Deal with the Height
The most unique challenge a warehouse presents is height. Since almost every facility uses vertical stacking requiring workers to look upwards to identify bins, glare and the uniform light distribution becomes highly important. To deal with glare, ensure your fixtures of choice have a diffuser to soften the light. To manage light distribution, make sure the spacing between each fixture isn’t too much to avoid “drop-off”. Light fixtures with a narrow beam will get you suitable illumination of the tall racks and more coverage per fixture; this gives you the opportunity to do better than a one-for-one replacement.
Tip #2: Don’t Forget Light Reflectance
Apart from fixture choice and placement, the colour of the ceilings and floors of the warehouse can influence lighting requirements. Lighter colours can increase illumination a great deal; for example, by removing dark surfaces in concrete and polishing it, light reflectivity can increase dramatically. Suggest ways to leverage reflectance and you can spec fixtures with lower light output to achieve the same illumination, ultimately reducing energy costs and helping your client achieve a quicker ROI. Interested in light reflectance? You can read more about it.
Tip #3: Top It Off with Lighting Controls
The fluid and efficient operations of today’s warehouses means traffic and activity can be predictable; this is where lighting controls have become a big part of every project, both new and retrofit. Certain areas will have low or high activity at different times of the day. Add in the fact of how natural daylight can provide an additional light source, and you can see that there is an opportunity for proper lighting controls to up overall efficiency. First, make sure every fixture you choose is dimmable and then combine them with lighting controls such as an astronomical time clock, occupancy and daylight sensors, and networked lighting. The evolution of lighting controls means that today, everything can work together to be responsive to changes in occupancy, and provide different levels of lighting to ensure productivity and energy savings.
So keep these three things in mind: height, reflectance, and controls. Whether you are using high bays or linear high bays on your next new or retrofit project, know these tweaks and help your clients achieve better efficiency and realize a return on their investment faster.