Go to the White Light

The cost and operational benefits of LED lighting create a compelling business case for migration

Video surveillance can be considerably improved by using LED lighting. The low-voltage, solid-state technology includes both infrared and white lighting capabilities, and the “green factor” of LED lighting’s low power consumption makes it financially feasible to establish lighting levels high enough to ensure quality images commensurate with camera capabilities.

A number of manufacturers make LED lighting specifically designed for use with security video cameras. Typically, the light design includes LED bulbs and lenses, and some have a hinged two-part light fixture design for narrow or wide beam adjustment, so that a field of light can be achieved that corresponds to the field of view of the camera.

Two visual advantages of white LED lighting over infrared lighting include color night video, and the fact that the eye of a patrolling officer or first responder will see just what the camera sees, whereas infrared lighting provides no visual benefit to observers in the field.

However, practitioners should not limit their consideration of LED lighting to pairing lights with cameras. There are considerable benefits and cost savings to considering the broader lighting picture.


Safety and Operational Benefits

In addition to video surveillance improvements, white LED can provide significant safety improvements and a higher comfort level for individuals who are on-property in late evening and nighttime hours.

Figure 1 illustrates the comparison of traditional lighting — a mixture of fluorescent and high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps — and white LED lighting in a warehouse application. The parking lot areas in Figure 2 show the stark difference between traditional lighting and LED lighting. It behooves safety and security practitioners to take the entire spectrum of value into account and consider where current LED lighting technology, especially white lighting, can provide improved risk mitigation at a good cost.

A business case can be easily made for a transition to white LED lighting. Here’s an overview of the benefits, which will be explored in-depth as you read further:

  • Lower energy costs;
  • Low to practically no maintenance costs;
  • Life expectancy between 8 and 20 years;
  • Lower total cost of ownership;
  • Improved personal and/or operational safety;
  • Enhanced security deterrent effect;
  • Improved security video images;
  • Nighttime color video;
  • Reduced video network bandwidth;
  • Enhanced facility appearance;
  • Battery backup options;
  • Better compliance with lighting control ordinances; and
  • Potential contribution to LEED certification.

The stakeholder list for lighting improvement projects can include security, safety, finance, HR, legal, real estate/facility management, operations management, partners, customers, visitors and public relations. It is common to find that a lighting improvement project has ROI that spans multiple business functions.


Energy Savings and Cost Picture

It is common for wide-area lighting to insufficiently illuminate walkways and waiting areas to the degree desired, and for those areas not to get additional lighting treatment due to the total cost of traditional lighting. LED lighting has no “warm-up” period, and LED bulb life is not affected by cycling lighting on and off; thus, LEDs are perfect for motion-activated usage where more light is desirable only when people are present. Now, the existing lighting at walkways and waiting areas can be supplemented with motion-activated LED lighting, with no discernible impact to energy costs.

LED lighting fixtures typically have a higher purchase cost than traditional lighting fixtures — a major reason is that the quality of LED lighting is temperature-dependent, thus requiring a more advanced fixture design. This is offset by the fact that LED light bulbs have a much lower operating cost and longer life expectancy than other types of light bulbs.

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