Are LED Lights Hurting Your Business?

By Torrin Greathouse | September 13, 2016

While LED lights are one of the most efficient artificial lighting methods on the market today, not all LED lamps are created equal. Many LEDs generate light in the high blue spectrum and flicker imperceptibly which can cause a range of health issues. Some lamps also experience dimming over time leading to your lights decreasing in efficiency over time. So, are LEDs more likely to harm your facility’s bottom line than improve it? Below are a few of the adverse effects LEDs can create, as well as suggestions for how to avoid these.

Negative Health Effects

Cheaply produced LED lights produce the majority of their light in the high-blue light spectrum. Studies by Harvard and other leading research universities have shown that overexposure to this form of light can actually throw the body’s circadian rhythm out of synch. This is because the blue light tricks our bodies into thinking it is daylight, curbing the production of melatonin, a neurotransmitter that controls sleep. This leaves building occupants fatigued and unfocused. It is also linked to insomnia and seasonal affective disorder, both of which reduce the efficiency of your workforce and result in an increase in employee sick days.

Repetitive Eye Strain

Many LEDs produce light that flickers, and while this is often imperceptible to the naked eye, the rapid changes in light can create unnecessary strain on occupants’ eyes. These constant changes in light can cause repetitive eye strain and contribute to the development of stress headaches. Both of these effects contribute to decreased productivity and create an uncomfortable working environment.

Loss of Intensity

LED lights do not burn out in the same way as most other bulbs, instead dimming over time. LED bulbs typically last around 50,000 hours on average, however, due to loss of intensity less well-produced bulbs can end up producing only 80% of their initial output after only 8,000 hours. Often times this means that an LED lighting system becomes significantly less efficient than advertised before even reaching half of its total life span.

How to Avoid These Issues

While these issues affect many LED lights, they are by no means unavoidable. Making sure to invest in well-designed LED lamps for your facility can be extremely helpful in preventing the problems mentioned above. Just make sure that if you specify which lamps you want in your building plan, as it is fairly common for building designers to change plans to include lower-quality, cheaper LEDs, unless it is specifically noted in the building specs, to help themselves stay under budget. Also consider integrating a combination of LEDs and daylighting to combine the potential benefits of both systems.

To learn more about the benefits of various lighting systems, download our eBook A Comprehensive Guide to Sustainable Lighting.

(Photo: Samsung Newsroom, CC.)
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