Clean lamps and fixtures to boost their performance

Image of dirty light and concrete ceiling
It's easier to clean lamps and fixtures than it is to replace them because accumulated dirt has decreased their lifespan.

Neglecting your lights will wreak havoc on their lifespan and efficiency

It's understood (and somewhat expected) that lighting wears down over time. However, did you know that routine cleaning can add years to the life of bulbs, fluorescent lamps and LEDs?

According to lighting engineer Dr. Cristian Suvagau, a fixture's light output (which is measured in lumens) can be reduced by 30% to 50% if it isn't clean. Dirty bulbs and lamps also overcompensate for filth by operating at higher than normal temperatures, shortening their lifespan.

A cleaning routine, says Suvagau, is an easy way to get the most out of your lights. Here, he shares a few tips to consider before you start scrubbing:

Tip 1: Check the manufacturer's cleaning guidelines before you begin

Suvagau points out that some bulbs, lamps and even LEDs require special handling – some may even ban wet cleaning. So always check the manufacturer's instructions before you start.

The manufacturer may even go so far as to specify the kind of cleaning solution you should use, such as a degreaser, general-purpose detergent, a metal polish, or a heavy-duty cleaner, so look over their guidelines carefully before you begin.

Image of Cristian Suvagau
Dr. Cristian Suvagau, a lighting expert at BC Hydro, suggests twice-a-year cleaning as a rule of thumb.

Tip #2: Take the proper safety precautions

Before you get out the ladder, Suvagau recommends taking the following safety precautions:

  • Gather all of the tools, equipment, cleaning supplies and safety gear that you'll need, such as a ladder, gloves, goggles and a dust respirator.
  • Clear and secure an 8-foot work area underneath your fixture in case of falling debris.
  • Turn off power to area and/or fixture.
  • Remove bulbs and lamps and store them securely. If one breaks, use a broom to clean up the broken glass – never use your hands.
  • Protect yourself by wearing a dust respirator when you remove built-up dust.

Tip #3: Clean fixtures twice a year, or whenever you see soil build-up

To ensure cleaning is done regularly, Suvagau suggests business owners create operating procedures for staff, such as mapping out a specific days and times that lights are cleaned, and the steps required to do the job properly. Having a plan in place reminds staff of the need to be diligent about cleaning routines, not only for the sake of energy efficiency, but for fire prevention too.

Tip #4: Keep other surfaces, such as tabletops, clean too

Surfaces, such as walls, ceilings and tabletops should also be kept clean because their reflection of light can impact the quality of light in a facility or a room.

For more tips on how to better manage your lighting-related electricity costs, meet with a Business Energy Advisor. Funded by BC Hydro and FortisBC, our energy advisors can help you understand your business' energy efficiency opportunities.