LED lights making inroads as treatment plants seek savings

LED lights making inroads as treatment plants seek savings
The 17 mgd City of Santa Cruz, Calif., wastewater treatment plant upgraded its lighting from HPS and mercury vapor fixtures to Dialight’s DuroSite LED fixtures.

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Faced with higher operational costs and tighter budgets, water and wastewater treatment plants are turning to LED (light emitting diode) lighting as a tool to reduce energy and maintenance costs while improving plant security and enhancing the work environment. 

Traditionally, water and wastewater facilities use three types of high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting: High-pressure sodium (HPS), metal halide and mercury vapor lights, which have been banned in the United States since 2007. Those choices have expanded since 2008 when white LEDs became bright enough to illuminate large areas. 

“We’ve seen strong growth in our LED industrial lighting business segment, particularly for hazardous environmental applications like water and wastewater treatment, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and power generation facilities,” says Michael Schratz, global marketing director at Dialight, a producer of lighting products since 1938. “Companies across the spectrum and around the globe are discovering the bottom-line energy, maintenance and environmental advantages that converting to LED affords.” 

Plants save with LEDs 

Why the growing popularity? LED lights save energy and cut down on maintenance costs, Schratz says. On average, LEDs are at least 50 percent more efficient than conventional lights and they last a lot longer. Where a conventional HID bulb for a water or wastewater treatment plant might last two years, LEDs last 10 years or longer with minimal maintenance required. Two examples illustrate his point: 

  • Henkel, a manufacturer of adhesives, sealants and surface treatments, installed Dialight SafeSite LED lighting at its wastewater treatment plant in Puerto Rico. Installation of a dozen 100-watt LED fixtures to replace 16 of the existing 250-watt HPS lights reduced plant energy needs by 75 percent and achieved annual energy savings of $3,500 while vastly improving illumination. 
  • The 17 mgd City of Santa Cruz, Calif., wastewater treatment plant upgraded its lighting from HPS and mercury vapor fixtures to Dialight’s DuroSite LED fixtures. The plant reduced lighting energy usage by more than 50 percent, significantly lowered carbon dioxide emissions and realized a dramatic improvement in visibility that enhanced security throughout the facility. 

Rugged, easy to install 

Given the energy savings and reduced maintenance costs, a typical water or wastewater plant could see payback from LED lighting in two years or less. Moreover, solid-state LED lights are durable and resistant to vibration that often occurs in treatment plants. Plus, they have excellent heat resistance, operating at up to 160 degrees F — even remaining fully functional during plant fires. They also withstand cold temperatures, functioning at -50 degrees C. 

LEDs also offer instant-on capability, even in extremely cold temperatures, that eliminates the prolonged warm-up time associated with HID sources (Remember how long it took for the lights to come back on during the Super Bowl?). This instant-on feature enables LEDs to be equipped with dimmers and motion sensors, further improving electrical efficiency. 

In terms of installation, most retrofits from conventional HID lights to LED lighting take less than an hour per fixture. Manufacturers provide conversion kits, and many use existing wiring. 

“LED lights have great potential for water and wastewater plants,” Schratz says. “We’re confident the market for this technology will grow as plant operators and municipalities discover the cost savings and outstanding performance.” 



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