What is Induction Lighting and how does it work?
Induction lamps are fully enclosed, with inductors around the outside that generate a magnetic field. The magnetic field transfers power to the inside of the lamp, which has gas in it. The power excites the gas, producing UV radiation that converts to visible light by a phosphor coating on the bulb. There are no electrodes or filaments used in the process, which means induction lamps last longer than traditional fluorescent or metal halide lamps because the components do not decay as rapidly or burn out.
What are the benefits of Induction Lighting?
Induction lighting has been hailed as the best kept secret in the lighting industry. It has many benefits, including a long life span, efficient operation, and control features to save more energy. Induction lamps last up to 100,000 hours, which translates to 11 years if turned on 24 hours a day. Standard lighting technology does not last nearly as long, and thus requires much more maintenance (and related expenses) in order to frequently replace bulbs. Induction technology uses electricity more efficiently than metal halide; however it is not as efficient as T5 fluorescent technology. Certain control features, such as dimming ability, can increase energy savings. Additional benefits of induction include:
- High efficacy
- Instant on/off and hot re-strike operation
- No flickering, strobing, or noise
- Suitable for low temperatures
- Unaffected by vibration or lamp orientation
- Less UV output than fluorescent (lenses are available to diffuse UV completely
There are two types of induction lamps: those with external inductors or electrodes, and those with internal electrodes.
Types of Induction Lamps
Induction lamps with external electrodes
Bulb type induction lights
These have internal inductors or electrodes that enable a smaller and more compact bulb size, more typically shaped like a regular metal halide, high pressure sodium, incandescent, or mercury vapor type of bulb.
Here are some of the real products that we use on our commercial projects. Wattages range from as little as 40W all the way to 300W lamps and ballasts.
What applications is Induction Lighting used for?
Induction Lighting is suitable for virtually any indoor or outdoor commercial lighting application. It is ideally suited for indoor spaces with hard to reach fixtures and/or high ceilings, as well as indoor and outdoor locations with consistently cold temperatures. Induction lighting is less common for residential applications.
Induction lighting is very popular in indoor high bay applications used in warehouses, plants, factories, retail areas, and gyms. In exterior applications, induction fixtures are used to replace just about any type of old or inefficient commercial fixtures, including wall packs, parking lot lights, street lights, post tops, acorns, bollards, wall mount fixtures, garage canopies, and other surface mount fixtures.
Induction vs. Metal Halide?
Metal Halide/HID (High Intensity Discharge) lighting has been the traditional lighting solution and standard to light up large interior areas such as retail spaces, warehouses, gyms, and factories. It has also been used for decades in most commercial exterior applications. The initial benefit of HID was the very high lumen per watt output, but that comes at a cost. HID lamps last only about 2-3 years and have a very rapid lumen depreciation over that time period. While they may start out at 100-110 lumens/watt initially, within a very short time period they get down to 50-60 lumens/watt and continue gradually until burnout. This means to keep light levels up you must change out the lamps constantly. Other shortcomings of HID include:
- Slow re-strike time - 15-20 minutes once lights are turned off
- Low color rendering index rating (60-65) - the lamps appear to be pink, yellow, blue, white and do not match each other
- Very high wattage due to over engineering - they use 10-20% above their stated wattage with the ballast. Example: a 400W HID really uses 458 watts.
- Heat - HID lamps run so hot that the A/C system needs to work extra hard to keep the building cool.
- Maintenance - must replace lamps and ballasts constantly. Costs commonly include lift rentals, labor, and a lot of time.
In most applications with today's induction technology and costs to do an induction lighting retrofit, it makes sense to replace metal halide lamps. A good starting point is to divide the HID wattage by 2, or take about half the current wattage the HID is using, and that is what you need for an induction lamp to maintain equal light levels. In most cases once analysis is done, you can be more aggressive and save between 60-70% energy to get the same light levels.
Here are a few retrofit examples that we commonly use with a lot of projects:
A warehouse has many 400W metal halide/HID high bay fixtures and the owner wants to have a 5-15% increase in current light levels. We would recommend a 200 watt induction lamp retrofit kit or a new 200W induction fixture if they want to replace their existing ones.
A facility manager currently has multiple 250W HID parking lot pole lights and wants to save energy and also cut down on maintenance costs, because the current metal halide lamps and ballasts are always going out or failing. They are more concerned about energy savings and the current light levels are adequate, even after 1-2 years of light depreciation from the HID bulbs. We would recommend maximum energy savings by going with a new 100W induction retrofit light kit or a new 100 watt induction fixture. This also provides the same light levels as an HID bulb about 6 months to a year into its life.
A gym sports center currently has 1000W HID fixtures hung at about 35 ft over its basketball and hockey arena and is looking to save energy while keeping the play areas nicely lit. In this case there is not a 500W single induction lamp available, so the retrofit would have to include doubling up on two 250W induction lamps, or going with a new 500W induction high bay fixture. New high bay fixtures usually make more sense in this situation because even though they cost a bit more, the new fixtures include a 10 year warranty compared to a 5 year for the retrofit, and the new reflector and ballast system is designed specifically for the new induction system, where as retrofitting might be less efficient in terms of design.
Here is an example of a customer who wanted to save energy in a parking lot by replacing 400W HID's with a 150W bulb type induction retrofit kit. The energy savings is 67% in total because the 400W HID really uses 458 watts -
The one area where we caution customers on switching to induction from HID is when there is a need for indirect lighting (light bounces off surfaces or the ceiling and back down to the floor), and very far reaching areas, typically in stadium and field lighting. Examples include indoor tennis centers where players are concerned about light in their eyes and glare, stadiums, and outdoor playing fields. Metal halides put out a tremendous "punch", that can reach 100-200 ft if coupled with enough lights together. Induction lighting does not have the same reach, and in these cases it often makes sense to switch to a pulse start HID system or the newer electronic ballasted HID systems.
Induction vs. LED?
Induction offers virtually the same lifespan and stability as LED, but it is available in much higher wattages and brightness. Thus, induction is more suitable for large commercial applications where big, bright lights are needed. Both technologies are rapidly improving and have the potential to lead the future of the lighting industry.
What is typically more expensive is higher wattage applications such as indoor high bay and exterior applications. In lower wattage applications LED makes more sense. Applications such as household bulbs, troffer lighting, track lighting, and recessed cans/fixtures; induction lamps just would not fit. It especially gets very expensive when you need the highest wattages available, which typically range over 100W-500W in LED to match existing 400W to 1000W HID systems. As of right now LED can be 2-5x more expensive than an equivalent induction lighting solution for these types of areas.
In terms of technology induction and LED have many similarities in terms of light output and lumens/watt ratings. They can both be engineered to last a very long time. LED's last 50,000 to 100,000+ hours, while induction lamps last about 80,000+. LED and induction systems share the instant-on capability, and also the very high and consistent light quality in terms of photopic and scotopic aspects. While induction has been around for over 100 years, (going back to the 1800's), LED are relatively new to be used in commercial applications, and is continually evolving.
It is often wise to compare the two for most energy efficient projects to determine the best solution for your lighting retrofit.
Induction vs. T5 Fluorescent?
T5 fluorescent and induction lighting has a greater lumen output per watt, but it is not available in high wattages. Thus, induction is more suitable for large commercial applications where big, bright lights are necessary.
Is induction lighting environmentally friendly?
Yes! Induction lighting is a great choice for the environment because of its long life span. Lamps don’t need to be changed often, so less waste and pollution is created from fixture maintenance and replacement. Induction lighting is relatively efficient, which reduces energy and fossil fuel consumption. Induction lights do contain a small amount of mercury, which can be hazardous to the environment if disposed of improperly. The mercury is in a solid state, so bulb breakage is not a concern. It’s easy to dispose of induction bulbs properly. The need to do so is also infrequent because of their long life span.
Is it difficult to install Induction Lighting?
It is always recommended that it should be installed by a qualified professional. Whether it be a lighting retrofit or installation of new fixtures, you are working with high voltage electrical circuitry. It can be very dangerous. Retrofits consist of removing old lamps and ballasts in the existing fixtures, and installing the new lamp and ballast in its place. New fixtures include disconnecting the wiring, installing the new fixture in place, and wiring the circuit correctly to it.
Can Induction Lighting be used with dimmers?
Some induction lamps have dimming capabilities. Before purchasing, make sure that your order is correct. Non-dimmable induction lamps that are used with dimming fixtures can end up damaging both components.
Is Induction Lighting more expensive than conventional lighting?
Induction lighting systems, lamps and fixtures typically have a higher up front cost than metal halide and other conventional lighting technologies. However, because of higher light output the number of fixtures needed to light a space decreases. Coupled with increased energy efficiency and lifespan, this translates to a smart investment with a relatively fast payback. Induction lighting is becoming hugely popular and prices are continually going down. Typical payback on lighting projects currently range from 1-3 years. Your payback will compound since the technology lasts 10-20 years depending on operating hours.
How long does Induction Lighting last?
Induction lamps are known for their long lifespan, which is typically up to 100,000 hours. This means 11 years of operating life if the lamp operates 24 hours per day. Check individual product specifications to determine lamp life.
Does Induction Lighting require specialized fixtures or components?
In most cases, induction lamps require specialized fixtures. The fixtures must have certain thermal properties to ensure proper operation. Often times, we can retrofit existing fixtures to be compatible with Induction lighting.
Have more questions about induction lighting or your own application? Give us a call or email one of our experts by clicking here.