See The Light

As the technology improves and the price comes down, hotels are in increasing numbers turning to LED

November 6, 2013
AAHOA Lodging Business

Eric Loader, director of sales for Acclaim Lighting, recently compared the progress of LED lighting technology to that of the rapid progression of the processor in a computer: the performance doubles every 18 months while the price comes down at a similar rate.

While opinions on the progression of the technology and price vary, manufacturers estimate that an LED bulb, depending on its type and usage, can last anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 hours as the cost of LED bulbs have decreased anywhere between 30 to 50 percent in just the last two years.

Rahul Kansara, LED specialist with Solus LED Hospitality, said that LED lighting in hotels is still in the “infancy” stage but that many hoteliers are “jumping” at the chance to make a switch.

“There are still a large number of people in the education phase,” he said. “They know of LEDs. They understand it somewhat. They are asking a lot of questions.”

During the 2013 AAHOA Annual Convention in Houston, Kansara said his booth welcomed many hoteliers “at all hours of the day” asking questions about the technology.

The benefits of LED are multi-fold, for reasons both obvious and not. Kansara said half of his company's hospitality customers are exploring LED options for the energy savings.

“They're looking for a way to operate their property more efficiently, spend their money wisely, get a return on investment on their lighting, and provide a better product,” he said.

With some lights, especially outside and in corridors, running at all times, the energy costs can pile up. When hotels have to change bulbs, owners have to pay maintenance to change bulbs and the maintenance staff has to interrupt the guest experience.

“There are so many spaces in a hotel back of house [where lights] generally run 24/7. [Hotels] can't afford to have people come in and change lights,” Richard Myers, vice president, PIXI Lighting, said. “A lot of spaces in hotels maybe have high ceilings [and] stairwells that are hard to get to. Guests don't like people coming in and changing lights. It's a big cost savings when you don't have to pay someone [constantly] to change lights.”

LED lights don't run nearly as hot as their incandescent and flourescent counterparts. As a result, hoteliers could experience further HVAC energy savings because the hotel would not have to run the air conditioning as much.

“Your electrical installation costs go down because you don't need to put in as much copper to power an LED-lit building,” Loader said. “Temperature is a big enemy for LED. If it's a hotter space, the LED life will be less. When designing an LED fixture, we take that into account.”

Kansara noted that because LED bulbs do not run hot, the quality of the LED bulb does not degrade over time, providing hotels a consistent lighting look throughout the life of the bulb.

“With LED being so flexible, we're getting into spots people never thought they could light up. With an LED strip, you can find places to mount that that can have some pretty cool effects,” he said. “It's changing the landscape of how we light our spaces, how we design our spaces and it's giving a lot more flexibility.”

The Flex line of low-profile LED circuit strip from Acclaim Lighting can be cut to any length needed to provide high-output lighting in a variety of cove, millwork, signage, and other applications.

“We've taken the technology we made in the entertainment business and transferred it over to architectural lighting. It's kind of intelligent lighting for spaces. If you want to light up your hotel with different colors, we can do that,” Loader said. “LED gives you the ability to change the room lighting from warm to cool depending on what time of day it is. There are sensors you can put in that can adjust light levels. Where it's dark a lot, you want to have lighting combat that.”

While hoteliers could enjoy longer-lasting bulbs with LED, they also have to focus on form factor. The PIXI FlatLight luminaire is a lighting fixture that provides bright, uniform, energy-efficient light without glare, flicker, or hot spots. The completely flat fixtures, at 0.55 inches thick, have an internal driver, allowing them to be flush mounted against any flat surface including ceilings, walls or under the counter.

“We developed an interior driver power can wire directly to the light, and the light acts as a junction box,” Myers said. It makes installation very simple.”

Kansara noted that where once the industry focused on retrofitting lighting fixtures with new bulbs, hotels now purchase entire packages of fixtures with the LED bulb included.

“People are going to start buying ready-made products,” he said. “I think LED will be with us for some time to come. The future holds a lot of light possibilities.”  

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Amber Lutz
Domus, Inc.
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