How to choose LED lighting in harsh industrial environments

This article describes the common challenges of lighting in industrial environments, criteria industrial users should keep in mind, and considerations for extreme environmental conditions to help you choose the right led lighting for your facility.

Common challenges of lighting in industrial environments, how to choose led lighting in harsh industrial environments?

Industrial facilities have a wide variety of tasks, machines and uses, but the following key characteristics are common.

  • Most industrial facilities have high ceilings and wide open spaces, and they often host detail-oriented or adventurous work that may require very specific (bright) lighting solutions.
  • Lighting systems may need to withstand harsh conditions, such as extreme temperatures, dust or moisture.
  • Lighting may be exposed to mobile equipment and heavy machinery.
  • Industrial facilities often have sensitive equipment that can be damaged by electrical noise caused by poor quality lighting. Conversely, equipment in the space may generate electrical noise that may damage the lighting system.
  • In some industries, health standards require protection of consumer or other manufactured goods from contamination due to malfunctioning or damaged luminaires.

Industrial Lighting Applications

Industrial lighting can be classified as area lighting or task lighting. Area lighting includes both high and low-bay applications, such as warehouses and other open spaces, which often require high-powered lighting to obtain adequate illumination over large areas.
Task lighting, on the other hand, can add area lighting to a space by focusing the lighting where the work is occurring. By bringing the light source closer to the work, industrial users may be able to use lower-powered lamps to achieve the recommended lighting.

Industrial users should consider task lighting for the following.

  1. Worker assembly rooms and workstations
  2. Machine/robot assembly cells
  3. Switchboards and other enclosures
  4. Inspection stations
  5. Machines that require operators to be able to see internal parts

Industrial Lighting Performance Standards

Determining the right light intensity for an application can be challenging. Too little light is potentially dangerous, while too much light can create uncomfortable glare and add unnecessary costs. Because of the diversity of uses in architectural and industrial spaces, there is no one light output recommendation that fits everyone.

The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) publishes appropriate light levels and distribution in its exhaustive lighting manual for over 100 industrial and manufacturing tasks. As a result, lighting designers typically begin their initial assessment by taking an inventory of the spaces in a facility, including the occupants and their functions.

The table below shows recommended illuminance levels for different industrial applications and for workers of different ages. Illuminance meters can be used before or after strip or illuminance levels to ensure that your lighting levels are adequate for the space, task and personnel. To learn more, see our Illuminance/Lumen Calculator.

ApplicationReferral of Lux for age 25-65Referral of Lux for age 65+
Warehouse LED Lighting100200
Working Area LED Lighting150300
Meeting Room LED Lighting10002000
Assembly Area LED Lighting20004000
Precision Inspection LED Lighting500010000
Considerations for lighting in extreme conditions
how to choose LED lighting

Lighting products can be designed to withstand the harsh conditions found in typical industrial facilities. The three things to look for in lighting for industrial environments are water, oil and dust resistance Protection from impact and vibration; and temperature protection mechanisms to ensure that light operates safely and efficiently even at high temperatures. Not every application needs all of these. Talk to an engineer to discuss your specific application requirements.

Water, oil and dust Along with other types of electrical equipment, lamps can be rated according to protection class (IP) designations. lamps rated IP67 and above are dust and water resistant and are ideal for many industrial lighting applications, including machine lighting and machine tool environments. Housings rated IP67 can withstand temporary submersion in water.

Lamps rated IP68g are oil and water resistant. IP69K rated housings can withstand the high pressure washdown environments required for sanitation procedures commonly used by food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Read this article to learn more about IP ratings and what they mean.

Vibration and Shock

Dust and water resistance are important, but lighting equipment in industrial environments may also need to withstand vibration or shock from heavy equipment. The glass housings used in incandescent and fluorescent technology can shatter on impact, putting workers and other equipment at risk.

Constant vibration can also shorten the life of some lighting solutions, especially those with fine filaments and other delicate components. LED lamps, on the other hand, do not use glass housings or filaments and are therefore very resistant to vibration and shock.

Extreme Temperatures

Industrial facilities can also be subject to extreme ambient temperatures, making certain technology options ideal. LEDs perform better in cold conditions than traditional technologies. LED lights are ideal for refrigerated warehouses with temperatures as low as -40°C.

LED lighting manufacturers continue to design for higher temperatures, using high-grade housing materials that dissipate heat and temperature sensors that automatically dim the lights as heat increases.

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