Smart Energy: July 2016

LED lighting puts businesses in a better light

By Marisa Fink

According to the Energy Trust of Oregon, light emitting diodes, or LEDs, can cut lighting energy costs up to 75 percent. When considering a new technology, cost is naturally the main topic of interest.

Not only should one consider up-front costs, but also the accumulative operational costs associated with powering a lighting system. It is very important for business owners to understand that investing in LED lighting does not result in immediate savings, but does promote significant savings over time.

The YMCA of Douglas County is in the process of replacing existing metal halide lighting in its racquetball courts with LEDs and motion sensors for brighter and higher quality lighting and cost savings.

LEDs use less electricity than metal halide bulbs and they deliver substantial energy cost savings with lights that are on for extended periods. A metal halide bulb, commonly used in courts and gas station canopy lighting, dissipates 400 watts of total power. An LED product dissipates an amazing 60 watts of total power. Over an extended period, it is obvious how the 60 watt LED product will result in dramatic energy savings.

During initial start-up, the metal halide will fail to operate at the maximum luminous output. The pressure and temperature within the interior arc chamber may require up to five minutes to achieve the necessary state for optimal performance.

During this warm-up period, the metal halide may exhibit numerous colors as a result of vaporization occurring within the arc chamber. In the event of a brief power failure, the arc will extinguish.

A cooling period as long as 12 minutes may be required prior to restart. Unlike the metal halide, LED lights respond instantly, and do not require a warm-up period even in the event of a momentary power failure.

LED bulbs are also built to last. LED bulbs last between 60,000 and 100,000 hours compared to just 6,000 to 15,000 hours for metal halide bulbs. This means significant maintenance savings in any application where lights are difficult to replace or maintain. This is especially true for us as the ceiling height in the YMCA racquetball courts is 20 feet and a man-lift must be used to change bulbs or maintain the fixtures.

Energy Trust offers cash incentives for ENERGY STAR® certified LED replacement bulbs. These cash incentives range from $15 to $25 per bulb, depending on the wattage, making LED lighting a highly cost-effective upgrade for many businesses and organizations, both public and private.

LED lights generate significantly less heat when compared to the metal halide bulb. Not only do the LEDs generate less heat, but they also dissipate their thermal energy back into the mounting fixture. Most traditional light bulbs tend to dissipate heat from the front of the bulb, and out into the surrounding atmosphere. This can make thermal management a challenge in certain applications where the direction of heat dissipation becomes critical.

One of the most desirable features of the new LED lighting and motion sensors that were installed at the Y is the instant on and continuing brightness of the courts. LEDs are inherently directional, they emit almost all of their high lumen light output in the desired direction, rather than dispersing it in all directions as metal halide bulbs do. So if you see racquetball or handball players at the Y wearing sunglasses while playing, or they report that they are playing better, you’ll know why.

This column is a monthly feature of Douglas County Smart Energy, a project of the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition. For more information on energy efficiency and renewable energy visit For more information about the Coalition, call 541-672-9819 or find them on Facebook at Douglas County Global Warming Coalition.

Marisa Fink is the CEO/Executive Director of the YMCA of Douglas County. For more information about the YMCA visit or find the Y on Facebook as Roseburg YMCA and South County YMCA in Canyonville, OR.