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Previously, incandescent and fluorescent light fixtures were the light source of choice for hospitals. But as both LED technology and healthcare facilities improve, flickering dull light is being replaced with warmer, more human-centric illumination. The transition to LED lighting not only allows hospitals to provide better service to their patients, but reduces maintenance and energy costs so resources can be spent on people rather than bulbs. Read below to learn more about how LEDs offer better illumination and options for caregivers and their patients.
Color Temperatures and Circadian RhythmLED lights are available in several shades of white. These shades are referred to as a bulb’s correlated color temperature (CCT). CCT is measured in Kelvin (K), which is similar to degrees in Celsius. Different temperatures on the Kelvin scale represent different colors. For example, light at 2000K-3500K looks more orange/yellow and is called ultra warm or warm white, and as temperature increases in Kelvins, color changes to more of a “paper white” known as natural or neutral white (between 3500K and 5000K) and finally into a bluish-white known as cool white (5100K-20000K). Throughout the day, light changes from a warm white color at dawn to natural white then to a cool white in the afternoon, back to natural white, and eventually to an ultra warm white color at sunset. Our bodies are used to this cycle of light. Artificial lights that deviate from the natural lighting cycle can throw off our circadian rhythms. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences, states that, “Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.” According to healthybuildingscience.com “. . . different types of light trigger different physiological effects. Blue/white light, akin to a bright midday light, suppresses melatonin and increases serotonin, this light is great for activity. Conversely red/orange light triggers melatonin in preparation for going to sleep. If everything is in balance, the body will generate dopamine, serotonin, cortisol and melatonin in the right quantities at the right time of day.” Various researchers have found that when circadian rhythms are off, anything from sleeping disorders to irritability and illness can occur. In hospitals and healthcare centers, it’s important that patients and staff have access to cool white light that’s similar to daylight. Dr. Anajali Joseph, director of research for the Center of Health Design, writes, “Several studies have documented the importance of light in reducing depression, decreasing fatigue, improving alertness, modulating circadian rhythms, and treating conditions such as hyperbilirubinemia among infants. Further, the presence of windows in the workplace and access to daylight have been linked with increased satisfaction with the work environment.” Windows are the best method of accessing daylight, but cool white LED lights—along with the right color temperatures at the right times—can have the same effect on the body. Warmer color temperatures lead to the release of melatonin, which causes drowsiness. This is appropriate during bedtime hours, but causes problems for those who need to stay awake, such as overnight nurses and doctors. Introducing natural or cool white light to hallways, operating rooms, and nurse stations can help hospital staff, especially overnight workers, feel more alert and energetic.
No Health RisksFluorescent lights contain mercury that can be released if a bulb breaks. Mercury is toxic and can be harmful if absorbed through skin or inhaled. To reduce the risk of harm, the EPA has a list of cleanup procedures, such as having everyone leave the room, opening doors or windows, shutting off heat and air-conditioning systems, and other specific instructions. Fluorescent and incandescent bulbs also emit low doses of UV radiation that can damage not only facility materials but can also damage skin and eyes. According to a study published in PubMed Central® (PMC) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, “Chronic, low-dose UV exposure can cause cumulative skin damage.” An article on CBSLA.com discusses the results of another study that had similar findings. In this article, it is said that, “. . . exposure to the (fluorescent) bulbs could lead to premature aging and cancer.” Continued UV exposure is also harmful to the eyes. A study published in PMC about fluorescent lighting and eye health states that, “Fluorescent lighting may increase UV-related eye diseases by up to 12% and, according to our calculations, may cause an additional 3,000 cases of cataracts and 7,500 cases of pterygia annually in Australia.” The possibilities of eye and skin damage are significant factors to consider for a facility whose purpose is to heal. LEDs contain no mercury, and unless they’re specifically UV bulbs, they emit very little to no UV radiation. These factors alone make them a better choice for health care facilities. Not to mention that—unlike fluorescent bulbs—LED lights won’t flicker or emit any color spikes. Color fluctuations and flicker can cause negative effects, such as headaches and dizziness. When used for hospital lighting, LED bulbs and fixtures can improve overall health and eliminate the possibility of additional health risks posed by fluorescent and incandescent bulbs.
One of the biggest questions involved with purchasing lights for your industrial or commercial space is how many are needed. If you just want to replace your existing fixtures with their LED equivalents, we have a post to help you do that. If you want lights for a new build, or if you want to improve your current lighting layout, figuring out what’s needed is a different process altogether. Here, you’ll learn how to figure out what’s needed and/or create your own lighting layout. The first question that needs to be answered is how much light is required in your space. The answer can be found in a document published by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES). In their Lighting Handbook, the IES has an extensive list of suggested lighting levels for commercial and industrial spaces, such as warehouses, retail and auto shops, and parking areas. They work to inform the public of the best lighting practices to meet visual and aesthetic needs. As stated on their website, the IES is “. . . an accredited Standards Development Organization (SDO) under American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved procedures.” The organization consists of different types of lighting professionals who are all working toward quality lighting design for every space. Now that you’ve seen the IES list, it’s time to figure out approximately how many fixtures you’ll need. A graphic like the Illumination Diagram shown below can be found on LM-79 reports and photometric PDF files on our product information pages. These diagrams show foot-candles and lux produced by a fixture when mounted at different ceiling heights. They also show beam distance, which is the area covered by the light from the point of 50 percent intensity on both sides. Beams are brightest in their centers and fade as light spreads outward. Beam distance can change based on surface/wall reflectivity. Ultimately, what’s most important in these cones is foot-candles at different heights. This allows you to find your ceiling height and quickly tell if a fixture can emit what you need. Once you know what fixture is capable of this, it’s time to do some critical thinking and take a common-sense approach to your lighting design.
This year November 21st is National Use Less Stuff Day. The day was created to help people think about the excess amounts of stuff we throw away every year. When we think about things we can cut back our thoughts go to straws, fuel emissions, plastic water bottles, the list goes on, and on. There are less traditional ways to use less stuff, like using less energy. One way you can do that is by switching to LED lighting where you can. On average LED lights last around 50,000 hours compared to incandescent light bulbs that on average last around 1,200 hours. LEDs also emit more light than traditional bulbs, all while using far less power. The lesser power requirements can benefit the electrical grid by causing less stress on it. In turn, this cuts down on the use of fossil fuels like coal and natural gas that are commonly used to power most electrical grids. Additionally, LEDs don’t use harmful chemicals like Mercury which is found in CFL Lights (compact fluorescents). Both the manufacturing and use of LEDs cause less damage to the environment than most traditional lighting options. It’s also important to remember that LEDs can be more beneficial to the environment when they are recycled properly. Many of the components used to make LEDs can be recycled and reused to make new LEDs. You can find all sorts of energy-efficient lights on our website, from something as simple as a low-voltage household LED bulb to high-output industrial LED Parking Lot Lights. Along with the quality energy-efficient LED lighting solutions we provide, we also strive to give the best customer service experience possible. Our goal is to give customers the knowledge and tools needed to complete any lighting project with ease. Speak with dedicated customer service representatives to help with pre- and post-purchase questions. We also offer volume discounts when you purchase lights in large quantities. You can get even more savings with utility rebates from your local utility companies. Most local utility companies will offer you monetary incentives for switching large amounts of applicable lights to energy-efficient LEDs because of their lower power consumption requirements. We offer rebate assistance to help you get the most savings with either our utility rebate tool on the website or by calling one of our customer service representatives. Have a great National Use Less Stuff Day by doing your part to cut back on the use of plastic bottles, straws, fuel, and energy by making the switch to LED Lighting!