The Advantages Of LED Lights For The Environment

Taking care of the environment is a responsibility that everyone should feel accountable for. Most of us are already aware of environmentally friendly processes such as recycling to minimise the amount of waste we produce and reduce our carbon footprint. However, a lot of people are unaware of new and upcoming technologies that we can use to help reduce carbon emissions. A good example of this is LED lighting, which provides many environmental advantages.

Energy Efficient

LED lights are up to 80% more efficient than traditional lighting such as fluorescent and incandescent lights. 95% of the energy in LEDs is converted into light and only 5% is wasted as heat. This is compared to fluorescent lights which convert 95% of energy to heat and only 5% into light! LED lights also draw much less power than traditional lighting; a typical 84 watt fluorescent can be replaced by a 36 watt LED to give the same level of light. Less energy use reduces the demand from power plants and decreases greenhouse gas emissions.

No Toxic Elements

LED lights contain no toxic elements. Most offices currently use fluorescent strip lights which contain noxious chemicals such as mercury. This will contaminate the environment when disposed of in landfill waste.  Disposal has to be arranged through a registered waste carrier so switching to LED avoids the cost and time implications required for compliant disposal – and helps to protect the environment from further toxic waste.

Less Lights Needed

LEDs have a better quality of light distribution and focus light in one direction as opposed to other types of lighting which waste energy by emitting light in all directions, often illuminating areas where light isn’t required (such as the ceiling). This means that less LED lights are needed to achieve the same level of brightness given off by fluorescents and incandescent lights. Fewer lights will reduce energy consumption and will therefore be a benefit to the environment.

Life span

A longer life span means lower carbon emissions. LED Lights last up to six times longer than other types of lights, reducing the requirement for frequent replacements. This results in using fewer lights and hence fewer resources are needed for manufacturing processes, packaging materials and transportation.


Why Use Energy-saving LED Lights To Save Money

Light-emitting diodes, more commonly referred to as LEDs, are semiconductors that emit light when an electrical current is applied to the component. Even though LEDs have been around since the early ‘60s, it is only in recent years that white LED bulbs have become more commonly used as a substitute for other industrial and household lighting systems. Their rising popularity is due, in part, to the positive impact they have on energy-efficiency. Find out how LED lights are saving the planet, one lumen at a time.


In the United States, EISA (Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007) banned the production of incandescent bulbs in order to move towards a more energy-efficient country. The act, passed by the Department of Energy (DOE), requires less electrical output per number of lumens (units of emitted visible light) produced, compared to previously used incandescent light bulbs. Under title 24 of the California Energy Code, stricter building standards and energy-saving requirements were also passed, which include lighting. In compliance with these energy codes, the phase-out of standard incandescent bulbs has caused a higher demand for fluorescent and LED lights, especially in labs and cleanrooms where saving energy is critical for budget-conscious facilities.

According to a DOE article, fluorescent and LED lights produce a higher amount of lumens at a lower wattage than an incandescent; when comparing performance, standard A-19 incandescent bulbs produce 10-17 lumens per watt, whereas cool LEDs emit 60-94: a similar lumen level to fluorescent bulbs. Cool LEDs produce a white or blue light, depending on the CCT (correlated color temperature) measured in Kelvins. Warm LEDs that have a much lower lumen/watt performance (27-88), produce a softer, yellow light. See Figure 1 for a visual example.

Light direction also impacts the efficacy. LED bulbs are unidirectional; a higher percent of the light is emitted directly out from the bulb, while nearly half of tubular fluorescent bulbs’ omnidirectional light is released up into the fixture.


Since LEDs have lower energy consumption, they also produce less heat. Rather than radiating concentrated heat, the warmth that they do generate dissipates into the surroundings, to be quickly blended with, and cooled by, the environmental air. This reduces the burden placed on the AC unit of your controlled environment. Personnel can work more comfortably while simultaneously decreasing cooling costs.

The Color Rendering Index (CRI) classification of an LED is comparable to those of fluorescent and incandescent lights. The CRI measures a light’s ability to accurately represent an object’s genuine color compared to a natural or “ideal” light source. Dependable perception and interpretations of a material’s physical characteristics may be critical to specific lab applications. An LED light accomplishes this natural light reconstruction while saving energy and the associated costs.
Double-stacked LED strips


Fluorescent bulbs are estimated to last a minimum of 7,000 hours. Over the 25,000-hour minimum lifespan of an LED bulb, you would likely have replaced a fluorescent bulb three times. Since fluorescents contain a small amount of mercury, it is required by law that the bulbs be recycled or disposed of as hazardous waste. Proper disposal can be a hassle as the depleted bulbs must be taken to an authorized recycling or hazardous waste facility.
Also consider that LED lights are estimated to function for up to 50,000 hours—that’s about 24 years of Monday-through-Friday 8-hour shifts! While LED bulbs are initially more expensive, they are a smart long-term investment due to their endurance, low-maintenance, and performance.

LED Options

Terra Universal offers cool LED light panels and strips. The LED light panel is a fully sealed module suitable for positive- or negative-pressure rooms and compatible with ISO 3 to 8 standards. Seams and crevices are eliminated in this design, creating an ideal lighting unit for biopharmaceutical clean rooms. With the LED light strips, laminar air flow is not obstructed as the lights are mounted directly onto the ceiling grid that separates each panel or FFU (fan/filter unit). Lumen output for these double-stacked strips is slightly greater than the 2’ x 4’ LED panels, and also meets ISO 3 cleanliness standards.


What else can LED lights do? With a lower kW/hr consumption rate per year, LEDs produce less carbon dioxide (CO2) than both incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Of the greenhouse gasses produced from human activity, the principal offender is CO2. Although an LED bulb may initially cost more, it’s clear that over the course of time, LEDs will not only save your wallet, but also leave a more positive environmental impact.


How Factory Lighting Affects Manufacturing Productivity

Many manufacturing facilities are now considering upgrading their existing factory lighting to more energy efficient LED lighting to save on energy costs and maintenance costs. While the direct energy savings are absolutely notable, the effects of a lighting upgrade extend beyond only that. While considering an LED lighting upgrade, it is important to consider a total overhaul of your factory lighting. The gains produced may be hard to directly measure, but are inherent and should not be ignored.

Effects of Factory Lighting on Morale

Morale of the employee is always on the minds of managers as an employee that is motivated will be more productive and more reliable. The color temperature of today’s LED lighting is typically around 5000 Kelvin’s. This temperature is very similar to natural light and has been found to reduce the amount of melotonin production. This results in employee alertness and reduces sleepiness or fatigue. Improved lighting makes the workplace look cleaner, safer, and more natural.

Safety Improvements with Upgraded Lighting

Safety is an important consideration that can be improved with upgraded lighting. If an employe can not clearly see a hazard, accidents can happen. Collisions in the workplace can be prevented if proper factory lighting is in place to illuminate oncoming pedestrian or material handling equipment. In addition to general facility lighting consider the upgrade to include specific workstation lighting. Improved in process, work station lighting can reduce machine/employee related accidents by making hazards more readily apparent.
LED lighting as a lighting source is typically made of an array of tens or even hundreds of individual LED light chips with highly directed lensing. This results in very little shadowing. In addition, LED lighting maintains its brightness far longer than typical HID lighting. Thus, even though older lighting may still be working it may be operating at far less than the initial light output when it was initially installed. This dim lighting can lead to increased workplace accidents and safety complications.

Improvement in Quality Checks

Quality improvement always plays a major role in a production manager’s mindset. Improved lighting is valuable to inspection stations and quality check cells. As mentioned earlier, reduced shadowing can highlight quality defects in parts, and improves the ability to spot defects and quality deficiencies. LED lighting also improves color recognition, which can improve the recognition of quality issues.

Many quality problems occur during the manufacturing or assembly process. Improved lighting can reduce manufacturing errors as employees can recognize improper components or missing components during the assembly operation. Alertness is a key component to operating machinery and product assembly. Improved alertness from LED lighting can lead to fewer mistakes and improved quality output.

Improvements in Health and Wellness

Poor lighting can lead to eye strain and causes headaches, tension, and eye discomfort. Improved workplace lighting can reduce these health effects and can lead to improved attendance. An employee that is not feeling at their peak can lead to poor productivity and production errors.
Improving Lighting can Increase Manufacturing Productivity
Improved lighting in the workplace can improve assembly accuracy and potentially speed up assembly operations. If sub-components can be located and orientated with more speed and accuracy, productivity gains may be achieved in the workplace. LED lighting has very sophisticated lensing systems that result in the efficient directing of where the light needs to be in a workplace environment. An upgrade to LED lighting can improve overall vision, improve alertness, reduce shadowing, and improve color recognition during the assembly process, thus leading to increased efficiencies and improved manufacturing productivity.


LED lighting is proven to be more energy efficient and longer lasting than traditional florescent, high pressure sodium, or metal halide lighting. As a result most manufacturing facilities are evaluating LED lighting upgrades to reduce energy costs and lower maintenance costs. These cost reductions can be quantified by projecting wattage reductions and the cost to replace lights as they burn out. By itself these savings can often justify the expense of proceeding with a lighting upgrade project.

What is often not considered are the savings that are harder to quantify but are obviously very significant and can far outweigh the energy and maintenance savings with an LED lighting upgrade. Consider how much profit could be realized if a 1% gain in productivity could be gained with improved facility and workplace lighting. What about a 5% reduction in safety occurrences? What does this mean in insurance costs and workmen’s compensation claims? If overall product quality were improved by 3% what does that mean to the cost of defective goods and customer quality claims. Improved lighting can both improve quality during the production process and in the QC and inspection stations.

When an LED lighting upgrade is being considered, factor in the not so obvious benefits and a marginally justifiable project suddenly becomes an easily justifiable project. It is important to take this opportunity not to only replace existing lights and maintain previous light levels but to significantly upgrade light levels to take full advantage of all the benefits improved lighting can lead to in the manufacturing environment.

If you’re considering an LED Lighting upgrade, read the whitepaper below to learn exactly how much you can cut your operating expenses.