Highland Foundry saves with LED lighting and incentives

Highland Foundry saves with LED lighting and incentives


High-heat conditions called for special adjustments during lighting upgrade

At Highland Foundry's nine-acre plant in Surrey, the focus is on producing high quality specialty steel castings. That means a lot of energy usage.

Even though the majority of the electricity used at the plant goes to furnaces for melting metal and numerous motors, the company still found it worthwhile to make use of BC Hydro incentives for a lighting upgrade.

The project replaced existing fluorescent and metal halide lighting throughout the foundry with industrial LED lighting. The total project cost was about $350,000, with Power Smart incentives covering close to 41% of the cost at $142,567.

"With the incentives, we calculated a respectable payback time," says Garth McKay, vice-president of operations at Highland. "The incentive made it pretty lucrative economically, and from an environmental perspective it was the right thing to do, so we went ahead with it. "

The upgrade yielded projected energy savings of 561,000 kilowatt hours per year. That's enough energy to power 51 homes.

McKay worked with a member of the Power Smart Alliance on the upgrade. "They went through the whole plant and recommended which lights to change out and what to replace them with, forecasted the actual energy savings, and prepared the proposal to BC Hydro for us," says McKay.

Choose lamps with a sufficient warranty

Given the unusual foundry setting — a dusty, high-temperature environment — the lighting project required special adjustments.

Some additional spotlights were needed in high bay areas to eliminate shadows. And McKay says the high-heat conditions caused some lamps to burn out prematurely, so the Power Smart Alliance supplier for the project promptly replaced them under the manufacturer's warranty.

"Heat is a large factor in premature burnout for LEDs," says Cristian Suvagau, a senior Power Smart engineer and lighting specialist with BC Hydro. "We advise customers to require a warranty of at least five years for LED products they intend to purchase."

"Now that we've been operating with the LEDs for a few months, and weeded out and replaced the faulty LEDs, our burnout rate is next to nothing," says McKay. "But initially, we had to replace quite a few. So I'd definitely recommend that anyone getting involved with this sort of project should make sure you have a suitable warranty.

"If you have to start buying these lights two or three years out, it's going to take away all your savings pretty quickly."

Despite the novel industrial setting for Highland's project, the company and supplier were able to adjust the original plan and achieve the goals of improved lighting and reduced cost.

For anyone planning a lighting project, Power Smart recommends you keep the following pointers in mind, and discuss them with your vendor:

  • Your specific environment, and how lighting (especially new technology) will perform in your environment and for your specific needs.
  • The level of light required in your space, and whether additional ambient luminaires or task lighting may be required to update the current lighting design.
  • The warranty of your chosen technology covers you for the Rated Average Life. All types of lighting have an associated efficiency referred to as Rated Average Life measure in hours of operation. For conventional light sources Rated Average Life is the total operated hours when 50% of a large group of lamps still survive; it allows for individual lamps to vary considerably from the average. However, LED sources have life based on different criteria. When the LED has lost 50% of its original output, it is considered failed. This is a range of 50,000 to 100,000 hours. This methodology is used by most manufacturers.
  • Educate yourself on energy efficient lighting before starting your project. Power Smart has some excellent resources to get you started:

Now that the new lights are in place and faulty lamps have been weeded out, McKay can turn his attention to other things. Based on the projected lifespan of the company's new lighting, he won't be replacing lights for about eight years.