In storage areas with sub-freezing temperatures, workers often need to get in and out quickly. The inadequate lighting provided by cold bulbs forces employees to either linger in the cold while it heats up, potentially endangering themselves, or perform their work in dismal light. By contrast, LED fixtures provide instant illumination in very cold environments. This allows employees to swiftly retrieve the correct product without endangering themselves or the integrity of the food due to the trips, slips, and spills common to a poorly lit area.
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Moving beyond safety, LEDs offer massive energy savings in cold storage areas. The alternative to the lengthy warmup period of arc-based lighting is to simply leave metal halide or fluorescent fixtures on at all times; however, this wastes tremendous amounts of energy in areas that are sparsely used. LED lights already offer a 50 percent reduction in energy costs compared to metal halides when in use, and pairing them with occupancy sensors that turns them off when they aren’t needed can offer an additional 60 percent energy savings.
Unlike arc-based lighting, LEDs thrive in the cold. High-quality fixtures are rated for use in temperatures as cold as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. The average LED fixture’s lifespan already drastically exceeds those of other lights, and studies suggest it may actually be extended at colder temperatures. That’s because excess heat causes LEDs to dim more rapidly, and the cold dissipates heat more effectively.
Food Preparation and Restaurants
Food prep areas at restaurants, bars, cafeterias, and elsewhere also benefit from LED technology. Kitchens are fast-moving and dangerous spaces with knives, slicers, and dangerously hot grills and fryers. Having the bright, clear light of LED fixtures in this often-chaotic environment decreases the likelihood of accidents. Aside from the human toll, such accidents can carry heavy financial costs as well, such as reduced productivity, increased food waste, and personal-injury claims.
Additionally, the high CRI provided by LEDs can help employees identify discoloration when preparing food. The visual difference between a fresh steak and a slightly rancid one can be far subtler than many imagine and almost undetectable in low light. Additionally, proper lighting is an invaluable resource to prevent undercooked or incorrectly-dressed dishes from leaving the kitchen.
Restaurant owners frequently comment that they never noticed how dirty their kitchen was until they installed LEDs. Poor lighting masks dirt, grime, and dust. With inadequate light, chefs may be working on a surface they believe is clean, but LED lighting reveals otherwise. By exposing these deficiencies in sanitation, LED lighting helps chefs and restaurant owners better clean their kitchens. This not only ensures that food is being prepared in the most sanitary environment possible, but it can help boost inspection scores, which most restaurants are now required to post for the public to see.
When shopping for a new lighting solution, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, different spaces need different distributions of light. For example, lighting in a narrow aisle needs to be far more focused than it would be in a large, open warehouse. When researching for LEDs, look for fixtures with multiple lens options offering a variety of light distribution patterns and angles; this will ensure the fixture is suitable for your space.
Second, some food manufacturers’ processes require a very specific kind of light. A brewery, for instance, might need a light that emits at a particular wavelength in order to avoid skunking its beer. With previous technologies, such as low-pressure sodium, metal -halide, and fluorescent, the finer details of light were essentially fixed. With new, cutting-edge LEDs, every aspect of light output can be tweaked: brightness, color, color temperature, wavelength, and more. In fact, light manufacturers can create a custom “light recipe” designed to meet almost any criteria. If you’re in need of a specialized lighting solution, make sure to find a company capable of working with you to create a custom-designed LED fixture.