Illuminating Facts On Warehouse Lighting

Jun 20, 2011 9:54 PM  By

Energy efficient lighting in the form of T5 and T8 fluorescents has been around for a number of years now. These are better by far than even the T12 fluorescents that most of us have been accustomed to all of our lives.

Yet I’m astounded at how many businesses are still using lighting that’s practically from the Stone Age, such as metal halide (MH), which gained prominence for commercial use in the late 1960s. Westinghouse Electric estimates that there are about 40 million commercial facilities that still use MH lights.

That’s amazing, considering they are so antiquated. What’s more, the benefits from upgrading to T5 or T8s are numerous, and they’re quick to realize.

Is it time for more energy efficient lighting at your company? Here are a few more things to think about.

The quality of light is superior with the new lamps. There are a number of ways to measure light, and one is the color rendering index (CRI). The sun has a CRI of 100; that’s the benchmark. MH has a CRI of 65; T5s have 85—a 30% improvement.

Why should you care about the quality of warehouse lighting? Good light can improve mood and bring about a feeling of health. Better lighting will enhance the quality of your workplace—your absenteeism will drop, and production will soar.

MH deteriorates every time they are turned on until you get to about the middle of their expected life. At that point, they are only putting out 45% of their original light (or lumens), but still consuming the full amount of electricity. MH bulbs have a 20,000-hour life expectancy; T5 and T8 35,000 hour.

There is no data as to the CRI of a MH as it goes through its life—just when it’s new. But, just look at a row of them in your facility. The older bulbs are dimmer and closer to yellow than white.

T5 and T8s maintain their full amount of lumens to within 94% of new for their entire life. And these T5 and T8 fluorescents do not have the flicker that fatigue the eyes like the old T12 fluorescents do.

MH are slow to warm up and come to full brightness; T5 and T8 are instant on—no waste. And if there is a power interruption, T5 and T8s will come back on instantly.

The energy savings can be considerable—you may see a payback on your investment in less than 24 months. For example, exchanging MH lighting that consumes 465 watts for a two-lamp T5 consuming 117 watts can result in a drop in electricity use of 74%!

Finally, there are tax breaks available for making the upgrade (check with your tax accountant), and there are incentives offered by your local power provider so ask about those.

And if your boss is hesitant to write one big check for the new lighting, there are lease options. This way the power savings can make the lease payment. How’s that for being painless?

Steve Kinsella is an outside salesperson for Kansas City-based Warehouse One (, a provider of new and used material handling equipment.