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LED versus induction lighting

Published:Thursday | July 16, 2015 | 7:00 AMHugh Sandford

The fad these days is LED (light emitting diode) lighting and seems to be the panacea for energy savings in the area of lighting. But while LED has its advantages and niche for its application, induction lighting has several advantages over LED, including its cost effectiveness especially in commercial application.

You will hardly hear the common man talking about induction lighting even among the average professionals in the construction industry. This type of technology has been around since the 1890s, but was never exploited until 1971, when John Anderson of General Electric applied for patents for electrode-less lamps, which produce more light for a given amount of electrical power than either compact fluorescent bulbs or LED.

Of note also is that high-efficiency induction bulbs are usually more efficient than LED.

The induction technology is similar to the fluorescent lighting technology. But whereas the fluorescent lighting technology utilises electotrodes, induction lighting utilises a magnetic field, and whereas the weak point of the life of the fluorescent bulb is the erosion of the electrodes, induction lighting has no such problem as the excitation of mercury vapour, the inert gas, is done by a magnetic field.

High-quality induction lighting bulbs have an operating life span of 100,000 hours (equivalent to 25 years at 10 hours per day) which is twice that of LED which has an average operating life of 50,000 hours. The induction bulbs warm up much faster with less energy than sodium vapour bulbs and this has led to some municipalities in the US and other countries adopting induction lights for street lighting. Not to mention maintenance cost and the fact that it produces white light, which allows for better vision at lower lighting levels.

LED technology is the master of electronic gadget application because of the ability to miniaturise same and its use in blue-light technology.

 

disadvantages

 

Anything that is good in nature has its attendant disadvantages and, due to the fact that mercury is extremely dangerous, this means that induction bulbs must be recycled separately.

Induction lighting also produces UV light that can harm products, but a disadvantage that is advantageous for street lighting is that it cannot be focused or dimmed and it, therefore, can only provide flood lighting.

I was moved to write this article, first because I understand that the lack of knowledge for this type of lighting may have caused the country to be heading in the wrong direction in terms of street lighting. Using the power grid, for instance, just look at Washington Boulevard/Dumbarton Avenue and see the percentage of LED street lights that have malfunctioned in such a short period of time and look at the illumination level that it has provided and the efficacy of the lighting. From my preliminary observation, it seems as if the lighting of the elegant corridor in Montego Bay will also be done using LED, which I think is a mistake, and knowing our history of maintenance of systems in five years, the elegant corridor will not look so elegantly lit. Don't get me wrong, it's OK to use the LED technology in the application of solar lighting.

Second, I was engaged to look at the external lighting for a public company, operating from four locations, and in my verbal brief, the operations supervisor kept mentioning the LED lighting bias.

I produced a document detailed enough to solicit a bid that included induction lighting instead of LED and I have not had a response from this organisation, yet the application of induction lighting is ideally suited for these four locations.

If one should contact any of the foremost lighting distributors in the country, they could provide good information on the technology and they do stock induction lighting solutions, and people who are aware of the technology are quietly using it to their advantage.

I recommend that the Ministry of Local Government have Jamaica Public Service look at the feasibility of retrofitting their existing street lights with this technology, save energy and lower their maintenance cost of street lights. The Office of Utilities Regulation could recalculate the cost of providing such a service so that the parish councils will pay less for street lighting and use the money saved to keep our country clean.

- Hugh Sandford is a professional electrical engineer and general manager of Satyn Consultants Ltd. Email comments to columns@gleanerjm.com or satyn@cwjamaica.com.