Is LED a bright spot in the future of your business?
By Ed Malinowski

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LED lights are making a name for themselves as a cost-saving, environmental alternative to neon and fluorescent lights in signage, parking-lot lights and other exterior and industrial lighting solutions. So is it worth it to retrofit your signage? First you'll want to weigh the cost and benefits.

INDUSTRY PULSE

Does your facility use LED lighting?
  • 1. Yes, it's saving us money
  • 2. No, it's too expensive to switch

The Unique Benefits of LED Lighting

LED lighting offers many benefits that simply make sense for the way we live and work. Here are the main benefits of choosing LED signage:
  • Cost savings: It may cost a bit upfront to switch to LED, but the potential savings are well worth the initial expenditure. Seven watts of LED lighting generates the brightness of 70 watts of incandescent lighting, yet uses only 10 percent of the power — or roughly a 90 percent energy savings. Through reduced energy and HVAC costs, decreased maintenance, longer lifecycle and fewer recycling costs, LED lighting saves more than its purchase price in the long run.
  • Environmental impact: Whether your company is looking to meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits for certification or simply wants to protect the environment, LED lighting is a good choice. It uses an average of 80 percent less electricity than neon lights and 60-75 percent less than fluorescent lights.
  • Durability: Unlike neon lamps and incandescent light bulbs, which are made of thin glass, LEDs are made of solid plastic and are extremely durable.
  • Easily programmable: LED lights can be easily programmed, which makes them ideal for scrolling and multi-message signage.
  • Extremely bright and long-lasting: While neon and incandescent lights can flicker or burn out with age, LED lights produce the most light per watt with a burn life of 50,000-plus hours.
  • Great color saturation: Because LED lighting can emit light in virtually any color, it can add unparalleled richness and vibrancy to signage and displays.
  • Easier to install and operate: LED signage can be controlled remotely — up to 175 feet from the sign — so there is no digging or traditional installation involved.
Making the Decision to Switch to LED

Now that you know the advantages of LED lighting, here are a few additional questions you may want to explore before making a decision to retrofit your lighting or signage:
  1. Is switching to LED worth the extra expense? There are two factors when considering your return on investment (ROI) for LEDs: energy efficiency and long life. The more electricity your signs or lights use, the faster the payback. So you'll want to do the math on how long it will take to see your ROI. You'll also want to factor in additional cost savings from reduced maintenance and a longer lifespan, plus local electricity rates, operating hours and the availability of utility incentives.
  2. Do I need a dimmer feature? Not all LED products can be dimmed, and those that can may not dim as easily as other lighting sources. If you have dimmers already installed, LED may not work with your specific type of dimmer. Only certain types of dimmers will work with a particular LED fixture.
  3. Who should I talk to about my particular lighting needs? The best source of information is a professional who specializes in signage and exterior lighting — one who focuses only on sign and lighting maintenance and can give you the exact determination of costs and benefits.
Shedding Light on Your Options

Whether you switch to LED lighting depends on your unique business needs. Double-faced pylon signs can be easily retrofitted for LEDs, but LED lighting can also be applied to parking lights, canopy lighting, cabinet signs and flood lighting. Plus, LED lighting can accommodate virtually every size signage. All you need are the dimensions of your existing signage, and retrofitting is a simple procedure.

Ed Malinowski is the national sales manager at MX Services, Sign and Lighting Maintenance, an exterior sign and lighting maintenance company that provides expert exterior lighting solutions to businesses nationwide. Ed has more than 20 years of experience in facility maintenance, where he has helped hosptality, restaurant and retail industry customers improve operations and reduce facility costs.