Advances in Efficient Lighting...
Induction Lighting: An Old Lighting Technology Made New Again
Induction lighting is one of the best kept secrets in energy-efficient lighting. Simply stated, induction lighting is essentially a fluorescent light without electrodes or filaments, the items that frequently cause other bulbs to burn out quickly. Thus, many induction lighting units have an extremely long life of up to 100,000 hours. To put this in perspective, an induction lighting system lasting 100,000 hours will last more than 11 years in continuous 24/7 operation, and 25 years if operated 10 hours a day.
The technology, however, is far from new. Nikola Tesla demonstrated induction lighting in the late 1890s around the same time that his rival, Thomas Edison, was working to improve the incandescent light bulb. In the early 1990s, several major lighting manufacturers introduced induction lighting into the marketplace.
Despite its high initial cost, induction lighting has many superior characteristics, including the following:
• Virtually maintenance-free operation
• High efficacy—in many cases, 60+ or 70+ lumens per watt
• Long life
• Excellent color rendering index (CRI)—80+ and in some cases 90+
• Choice of warm white to cool white (2,700—6,500 K) color temperature
• Instant start and restrike operation
• No flickering, strobing, or noise
• Low-temperature operation
• Dimmable capability with some units
• High power factor: .90+
• In hard-to-reach locations that make maintenance costs high, such as street lighting and tunnels, or in high ceilings where there is continuous operation, such as hotel rotundas
• Cold environments, such as supermarket walk-in coolers and freezers
• Where high-quality lighting is required or highly desirable
• Where reliability is highly valued
• Where high lumen output is required
• In areas that require lamps to reach full illumination immediately.
• Saving More Energy with Innovative Controls
Some manufacturers are introducing innovative control strategies for additional energy savings. Although most units cannot be dimmed, at least two systems allow for full dimming. One company has teamed with the University of California Lighting Technology Center at the University of California Davis campus to demonstrate a bi-level induction lighting system. This system has two brightness levels. In areas such as parking garages, the light remains at half brightness in the absence of occupants and moves to full brightness when an occupancy sensor shows the presence of someone entering the area.
Utility Involvement in Induction Lighting
Utilities throughout the country are installing and/or promoting induction lighting. For example, many Northwest public utilities are offering incentives. One utility in New Jersey has a program offering municipal customers the opportunity to replace older mercury vapor street lighting fixtures with new induction lighting fixtures.
As do standard fluorescent bulbs, induction bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, although it is in a solid state that makes it less harmful in case of breakage. Nonetheless, dispose of these bulbs responsibly at the end of their service life like fluorescent bulbs because of the mercury content.