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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What type of experience does Energy Savings Group have in the lighting industry? 
ESG has over 40 years of electrical contracting knowledge and expertise. We have worked with and providing solutions for commercial, industrial, and manufacturing facilities, schools, universities, and hospitals, as well as state and federal entities. We have experience working with a wide variety of light sources, including new technology applications such as LED, HID, and Fluorescent (T5, T5HO, and T8).

What are the benefits of fluorescent lighting? 
In general, fluorescent lamps have the following advantages:

  • Efficient, fluorescent lamps can cost significantly less to operate over their lifetime than incandescent lamps.
  • Life ratings range from 6,000 to 24,000 hours based on the industry standard of burning 3 hours per start.
  • Fluorescent lamps are available in a wide range of sizes, shapes, color performance, and wattage ratings.
  • Rapid-start and instant-start lamps typically start within 1 second of being turned on.

Why use fluorescent lighting instead of HID fixtures in industrial applications? 
Metal halide HID lamps have several drawbacks:

  • HIDs require several minutes to warm up. During this "re-strike" period, the lamps consume electricity but produce no usable light.
  • Energy-saving occupancy sensors, which automatically turn lights on when the area is occupied and off when the area is unoccupied, cannot be used with metal halide HIDs.
  • Dimming systems for HIDs are expensive and less efficient than those used for fluorescent control systems, reducing the benefits of decreasing light levels during low-use periods to save energy.
  • HID lamps can contain larger quantities of mercury compared with fluorescents.
  • Metal halide systems use one lamp per fixture. When a lamp fails it requires immediate replacement, since a failed lamp represents a 100 percent reduction in the illumination provided by that fixture. In most fluorescent systems, there are at least four lamps, so when a lamp fails there is only a 25 percent reduction in illumination, allowing a facility to operate safely until it is convenient to change the failed lamp.

What are the benefits of T5, T5HO, and T8 lamps? 
Switching from HID lamps to one of these fluorescent lamps is now a common strategy for increasing energy efficiency in warehouses and other high-bay lighting situations. These lamps:

  • Are capable of instant-on and instant re-strike.
  • Can be used with energy-saving occupancy sensors.
  • Can be adjusted through dimming (with a dimmable ballast).
  • Have lower average mercury content than metal halide HID lamps.
  • Utilizes an electronic ballast.

What is the difference between an electronic and a magnetic ballast? 
A magnetic ballast uses coiled wire and creates magnetic fields to transform voltage. A magnetic ballast does not change the frequency of the power to the lamp—it remains the same as the input power, in the United States 60 Hz.

An electronic ballast uses solid state components to transform voltage. It also changes the frequency of the power from 60 Hz to 20,000 Hz, or higher, depending on the ballast. Because the electronic ballast doesn't use coils and electromagnetic fields, it can function more efficiently and cooler than older magnetic ballasts. The frequency change also greatly reduces any flicker in the lamp due to burn in or improper power.

What is high-bay lighting? 
High-bay lighting is used in high-ceiling areas to light surfaces more than 15 feet away. Common high-bay applications include industrial manufacturing, gymnasiums, warehouses, and warehouse-type retailers. All lamps typically used in high-bay applications contain mercury, although some varieties—most notably highoutput T5s and induction fluorescents—offer opportunities for mercury reduction.

How does an occupancy motion sensor work? 
High bay occupancy sensors are designed to control lighting in high mount areas including warehouse aisle ways, open spaces, and conveyor areas. Sensors are installed directly onto industrial T8 or T5 fixtures or to electrical junction boxes and turn lights on and off based on occupancy. Their specially designed lenses provide reliable coverage from a wide range of mounting heights.

How does dimming work in industrial applications? 
Fluorescent fixtures can be wired with multiple circuits that can be switched to vary light levels, reducing energy costs. Because HID fixtures contain individual lamps, they do not offer this dimming method. Fluorescent lights can also be dimmed with a dimming ballast. In the case of HID fixtures, lights can only be dimmed to about 50 percent of their full output; even then, the dimming is not linear with the energy consumed, so in some cases very little energy is actually saved.

How can I calculate energy savings with efficient industrial lighting? 
We can perform a Lighting Audit to determine the cost savings of switching from an HID system to a fluorescent lighting system in your workspace. You will need to know the annual burning hours of the system, the energy costs in your area, fixture quantity, total wattage, and lamp cost.

What are recommended lighting levels for facilities? 
Recommended lighting levels vary depending on use, size, layout, and other factors. ESG has the solutions to help you with your lighting layout based on your needs. We use I.E.S. (Illuminated Engineering Society) recommended lighting levels. Contact us for more information.

What is a fluorescent lamp? 
A high efficiency lamp utilizing an electric discharge through low pressure mercury vapor to produce ultra-violet (UV) energy. The UV excites phosphor materials applied as a thin layer on the inside of a glass tube which makes up the structure of the lamp. The phosphors transform the UV to visible lights.

What does the numbering on a fluorescent lamp mean? 
Most standard lamps are designated in the following format F32T8 35K. The F meaning that the lamp is fluorescent, the 32 is the lamp wattage, the T designates the shape of the lamp (T = tubular), the 8 is the diameter of the lamp in 1/8 of an inch. A T8 lamp has an 8/8 diameter or one inch diameter. A T12 lamp has a 12/8 diameter or 1-1/2 inches. The last designation is the color of the light the lamp emits in this case 3500 degrees Kelvin. You may see other color designators such as CW cool white, WW warm white, or other numbers in degrees Kelvin. The higher the number the cooler the color of the lamp. The lower the number the warmer the color of the lamp is.

What is task lighting and why should we use it? 
Task lighting is the concept of providing the correct amount of light for the task being performed. It does not require the same amount of light to walk down an isle or run a copy machine as it does to read a type written page, so why light the entire environment? When utilizing task lighting, the general light level in the facility is lowered thus creating a softer, more pleasant atmosphere and saving energy. The work surfaces are then supplemented with task lighting, either under shelf or freestanding to provide the correct amount and quality of light for the task being performed.

What is a fluorescent lamp ballast and what does it do? 
A fluorescent lamp ballast is an electrical transformer. Fluorescent lamps require different voltages at different places in the lamp in a standard rapid start system. There are small filaments at the end of the lamp that require low voltage (approx. 4 volts) to aid in starting the lamp, this is called cathode voltage. The lamp also requires a higher voltage (200 volts or higher depending on lamp type) from end to end on the lamp to operate, this is called arc voltage. The ballast transforms line voltage 120 volts to these requirements. The ballast limits the amount of current that the lamp can draw. This prevents the lamp from drawing too much current and failing.

What is color rendition (CRI)? 
Color rendition is the color appearance of an object when lighted. The higher the color rendering index (CRI), the less distortion of the object's color. Scales ranges from 0 to 100. Higher number indicates less color shift. See also CRI in the glossary of terms.

What is color appearance? 
Color appearance is color temperature, which is measured in Kelvins. It ranges from 9000K (which appears to be blue) down to 1500K (which appears orange-red). Color temperatures of 4000K or more are considered cool, 3100K or less are considered warm.

What is a footcandle? 
A unit of measurement indicating how much illumination is reaching a surface. It is equal to one lumen striking an area of one square foot.

What is a candela? 
A candela is a unit of measure indicating the luminous intensity (candlepower) of a light source in a specific direction; any given light source will have many different intensities, depending upon the direction considered.

Why should I be concerned about the mercury content of lamps? 
Mercury is a highly persistent and toxic chemical that is building up to dangerous concentrations in fish, wildlife, and human beings throughout the US. By choosing high-efficiency lamps that contain less mercury, you help reduce the environmental impacts and health risks of lamp breakage during use, transport, and disposal.

What is the proper disposal of fluorescent light bulbs? 
See www.lamprecycle.org