White Light Savings

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Switch on to the energy and cost saving benefits of white-light – are you missing the obvious?=

David Lambert of Raytec explains how easy it is to cut your energy bills, reduce your CO2 emissions and improve the performance of your CCTV system or general area lighting with the latest generation, LED lighting technology.

Increasing numbers of public and private sector organisations are saving tens of thousands of pounds a year and significantly reducing their energy bills and carbon footprint by upgrading their exterior lighting to the latest generation LED-based products for both CCTV and general area illumination.

Could your organisation do something similar?

If you have exterior lights but are not exactly sure how much energy they are consuming, then the answer to that question is probably ‘yes’. That’s because most exterior white lights are still the old-style, inefficient units that cost a lot of money to run – ironically, although those lights shine out brightly, night after night, this wasted money is just not noticed.

Old vs. New Technology

But old attitudes towards lighting are changing as public bodies and private sector companies are beginning to switch over, in a significant way, to more efficient technology. The advantages of the latest lighting technology over traditional lamps are very clear – with energy efficient LED white lighting you get bright, even quality light; immediate start (no warm up period); long product life (minimum 10 years); zero maintenance and significantly lower power consumption.

Advanced White-Light LED Technology

Many halogen style lamps are very inefficient consuming vast amounts of electricity. They have a short product life and therefore are costly to maintain and replace. This short lamp life and lack of reliability means that they are not suitable for high security applications where failure is not an option. Other technologies have similar problems. Traditional sodium street lights used for general area illumination produce a dull orange glow, and are also slow to start up. Metal Halide lamps suffer from slow start up too and it is often difficult to produce a focussed beam for longer range application.

Wls2.jpg Wls3.jpg
Sodium Street Lighting vs. White-Light LED – same colour camera taking both images

The crystal clear, often cool light produced from specialist White-Light LED products, compared to the yellow light from some old lighting technology, can significantly improve the performance of any CCTV system during the hours of darkness. It delivers excellent images with accurate colour rendition and good facial recognition. White-Light LED technology also provides a safe welcoming environment for use in general area lighting applications together with the advantage of instant start at maximum power.


Sheffield University makes Savings with Energy Efficient White-Light

The University of Sheffield has installed the latest energy-efficient White-Light LED technology from Raytec to achieve huge energy bill and CO2 savings. The University has chosen Raytec LED units for upgrades to improve security and ensure the safety of 25,000 students living on campus; providing a safe environment during the hours of darkness.

“The University of Sheffield has a very strong commitment to reducing its energy consumption and carbon footprint and we are always keen to look at new ways to reduce environmental impact, as well as costs,” says Sheffield’s Energy Manager, Phil Riley. “Choosing energy efficient outdoor LED lights rather than the more conventional energy-hungry, maintenance- intensive metal halide lights will reduce our energy consumption on these buildings by 63% and carbon emissions by over 22,000 kg pa.”

Raytec technology is helping a growing number of customers review their approach to lighting which accounts for a surprisingly large proportion of electricity use – as much as 40% for many organisations. LED lights also deliver big savings in maintenance costs – and with the average cost of replacing a bulb at around £40 a time, this really adds up.


Following the Green Light

Other public sector organisations, such as hospitals and councils are being urged to follow suit and take a clear-headed look at how much their lighting is costing the tax-payer. More private companies are already doing the same – such as energy providers, major power plants and many industrial business organisations, who have all switched to LED-based white lighting for their site lighting.

We calculate that when you take into account higher running costs and money spent on replacing bulbs that have a short lamp life a typical hospital using 100 lights could be wasting £45,000 per year. This is based upon 4,400 hours usage per year at 10p kw/hr; with labour costs conservatively calculated at £40 per bulb change (it can be much higher if a cherry-picker is needed).

Easy to Ignore

Up until now the problem of bad lighting has been all too easy to ignore even though inefficient lighting burns up a lot more energy than most people realise. Firstly, unless you stand close to them it’s not very obvious that your lights are giving off heat, but all lights do to an extent. Heat from a light is wasted energy - electricity that has been converted to heat rather than light - and the worst offenders are the old-style halogen lamps which can often be too hot to touch..

Secondly, if your lights are operating all night while nobody is around to see them, it’s easy to forget how many hours of wasted energy usage that equates too. While you are at home, asleep, your organisation’s energy bill is steadily ticking up, hour by hour.

The best LED units are not just more energy efficient – they have a longer lifespan and they require zero-maintenance. Crucially, they can also be accurately targeted on the scene thus reducing unnecessary light spill thanks to innovations which provide a wide choice of lighting patterns, typically anywhere from 10-180°.

But, perhaps most importantly, with their ‘quick start’ characteristic they pave the way for smarter lighting solutions to be developed: illumination which is only triggered when it is needed. These developments offer other benefits as well as delivering an energy-saving bonus. For example, lights which come on instantly and provide a deterrent, only when the presence of an intruder is detected, offer reassurance for an organisation that their site is being secured during the hours of darkness.

New Opportunities with White-Light

White-Light can obviously be used for a wide variety of purposes and manufacturers such as Raytec are providing all security professionals with a combined solution for both camera lighting and general area illumination. Fit for purpose White-Light can provide effective general area illumination which secures an area and provides a welcoming environment. It provides good visibility for onsite personnel and even-illumination with no dark spots, whilst also providing the same crystal clear, energy saving White-Light to improve the performance of the site surveillance system.


Although the security market has quickly adopted LED technology the general lighting market is just starting to accept LED based lighting systems. For end users, by switching their general site lighting to LED based systems, the same energy and cost savings that can be made in CCTV lighting can also be made in the commercial lighting field.

What is General Area Lighting?

Whilst it is possible to make significant energy and cost savings with White-Light LED technology, it is also important to realise that the lighting requirements for general lighting are very different to that of CCTV lighting.

Lighting for use with a CCTV camera is designed to view longer distances, looking out across a scene on a vertical plane. General lighting traditionally looks down onto a scene, designed to view shorter distances on a horizontal plane; typically for applications such as footpaths, car parks or campus lighting. With general lighting, aesthetics, design and cable management are important factors.

Lighting on a vertical plane is concerned with looking out to view a subject or person on a scene. The light reflects back into the camera from the subject and hence lighting for CCTV requires lower light levels (or illuminance levels – measured in lux or foot candle) to achieve high quality images; between 3 -7 lux.


Lighting on a horizontal plane is concerned with looking down onto the ground to light an area for general use, such as a pathway, a car park, or a play area. For general lighting, an average lux level and uniformity of light is required.


See below a table of recommended standards for illuminance levels for various applications. Note projects requiring above an average of 100 lux may not be economical using LED technology, such as sports grounds and stadiums.

Area example Levels
Walkways (exclusively for pedestrians) 5 lux
Traffic Areas (for slowly moving vehicles) 10 lux
Car Park (light traffic) 5 lux
Medium/Heavy Traffic 10-20 lux
Industrial Storage (short term handling) 20 lux
Industrial Storage (continuous handling) 50 lux
Airport Hangar Apron 20 lux
Terminal Apron  30 lux  
Prisons (perimeter - level dependant)  3-10 lux      
Power Plants (pedestrian movement within safe zones) 5 lux
Perimeter 5-10 lux
CCTV 3-7 lux (Vertical)

To achieve the best possible, fit for purpose White-Light solution it is essential that the following is established:

  1. What is the purpose of the lighting?
    • Security
    • Safety
    • Personnel
    • Visual / Aesthetic
    • Multipurpose
    • What is the application?
    • CCTV illumination
    • Car Park
    • Perimeter Lighting
    • Footpath
  2. What are the lighting requirements?
    • Average illuminance
    • Minimum illuminance
    • Uniformity (Minimum vs Average)
    • Diversity (Minimum vs Max)
    • Horizontal or Vertical Plane
  3. Site Specific Considerations
    • Mounting Height (critical)
    • Is a site plan available?
    • Any obstacles / hills / trees that will affect the lighting?
    • Any fence lines or walls?
    • Does the lighting need to be fitted to existing lighting columns?
  4. Practical Usage, Electrical and Environmental Considerations
    • How will the lighting be controlled / switched on?
    • Is a central photocell required or will all units operate independently?
    • Any environmental considerations – marine grade / hazardous area
    • Fitting and installation of the illuminators

Calculate Your Own Savings

So how do you take the first step to saving energy and money on your lighting? Spend a few minutes using an energy and cost saving calculator. This will quickly give you an idea of how much energy, CO2 and money you can save over one, five and ten years in switching from old style lighting to new low energy LED lighting. If you are interested, it will also take you through to the Carbon Trust website and show you very simply, whether you can obtain a 0% loan on your new energy efficient equipment to help you finance an immediate lighting upgrade.

Upgrading to modern lighting technology requires some action and some capital outlay, but it is one of the simplest ways to save money and energy.

So look around your site. Everywhere you see a light, there is potentially an opportunity for you to cut costs and to save energy by upgrading to energy-efficient, zero-maintenance, LED technology.

Article provided by Raytec. For more information on how you can save costs on your lighting Contact us.