Many contractors consider jobsite lighting temporary and disposable, essentially a consumable. It is charged fully to the client for a single job and then thrown out when the job is complete. Because jobsite lighting traditionally was cheaply made and therefore not durable, in the past there wasn’t an option to effectively move lighting from job to job. Current statistics show that only about 20 percent of lighting can be recovered for use on another job.
Now there is shift in lighting available for a jobsite. Durable LED lighting allows lights to be considered assets and reused from project to project. Using LED lighting is an energy, labor, and material savings. This lighting can decrease the temporary lighting charged to each project by treating jobsite lighting as assets that can be depreciated over time.
WHY USE LIGHTING THAT WILL COST MORE?
“Actually, it is more expensive to keep repurchasing and maintaining bulb-based temporary lighting for each job vs. using purpose-built LED lighting,” says Brian Astl, president of Lind Equipment. “While upfront costs for LED are still higher than traditional bulb-based lights, prices have dropped significantly and are continuing to fall while implementation rates are soaring. Plus, you’ll need less LED lights to light the same area.”
With LED jobsite lighting, the energy savings alone will pay for the lights themselves within a short time frame—on average approximately 9 months. In addition, with no bulbs to replace, quicker installation/uninstallation time and fewer electrical circuits required, even without considering the energy costs, adopting LED on a jobsite will provide a return on investment based on labor savings alone. With the benefit of reusing the lights on additional jobs, the cost-benefit considerations weigh heavily in favor of LED.
Considering energy and labor savings is a new way to look at jobsite lighting. Contractors are now exploring what improvements can be made on a jobsite to run a site more efficiently. By discovering new ways to approach jobsite lighting, contractors are learning how to maximize the potential benefits of LED technology. Making jobsite lighting an asset creates a win-win for everyone on the project—money saved for the project owner, a value-added service for the electrical contractor, and better use of the laborers’ time.
Anyone who has worked a job with string lighting is familiar with just how labor intensive it can be. The string light has long been the norm on the construction jobsite. But an old practice isn’t necessarily good. The concerns with string lighting haven’t changed over the years. It’s still cumbersome to install and difficult to salvage. Cords get caught behind walls and duct work resulting in cords cut and the lighting thrown away. A key downfall of string lighting is the amount of bulb maintenance required. It is necessary to maintain a stock of replacement bulbs and assign someone to replace dead bulbs throughout the day. Not only is the installation of the lights labor-intensive, but it’s also quite costly to stock the replacement bulbs and pay someone to regularly replace them.
“Wide-area LED lights are now replacing the need for string lights in almost all areas,” says Astl. “This new type of LED lighting can replace 250 feet of string lights with just one single light.”
Purpose-built LED lighting reduces the required installation points from 25 down to just one—illuminating the same area up to 5fc. Some LED jobsite lights available on the market have easy daisy chaining capabilities with a predetermined length of cable on each side that match the recommended spacing between lights. For example, 120-watt LED jobsite lights would be spaced 50 feet apart, therefore they are designed with 25 feet of cable with a plug on one side and 25 feet of cable with a triple connector on the opposite side. This saves on the labor required for installation, maintenance, and take-down. The result is fewer circuits to run, no hard wiring/junction boxes needed, and the lighting is easy to move as the job evolves, which means no lights are caught between walls and duct work. The labor at all stages—installation, during the job, and at take-down—is dramatically reduced. Installation requirements are reduced by over 90 percent.
It’s also important to ensure all LED jobsite lighting meets the regulatory OSHA requirements, carries the proper electrical certifications and is approved for outdoor use. The best LED fixtures will put out a 50 feet diameter of light while another LED product may only illuminate at half the brightness and then you would need to purchase more lights to illuminate the area. It’s always important to compare products. Getting a quality product with the proper brightness will reduce the amount of LED fixtures needed and subsequently reduce your labor time.
Not all contractors consider the amount of energy consumption lighting can have on a project since often the energy costs fall to the developer/project owner. Saving money on a jobsite is an important consideration for a project owner and it is prudent for a contractor to show how to cut expenses.
Astl stresses that the energy savings that results when switching from bulb-based lighting to LED lighting can potentially add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings. Less lights are needed on a jobsite while reducing energy consumption by 80 percent. These savings are often underestimated, but are important as utility rates are ever increasing. And, on a jobsite, lighting is typically run 24/7.
A real-life example of the savings that can occur with using purpose-built LED jobsite lighting is a 27-story office tower, which comprises almost 600,000 square feet. The contractor chose to use LED construction lighting during the build. When compared to traditional bulb-based construction lighting, this project reduced energy usage by almost 11 million kWh, which is the equivalent to powering more than 1,130 homes for a year. They also reduced CO2 emissions by almost 7,800 metric tons, which is the equivalent to removing 1,630 cars from the road.
In the end, the key advantage in using purpose-built LED lighting is the reusability. When the same lighting can be moved to different areas throughout a project and reused on new projects, the labor and material savings will be immense. It’s also a competitive advantage to be innovative and introduce new ways to realize energy savings, which can help achieve LEED ratings. Use of LED lighting is soaring, so it’s important to consider that if you’re not using it now, your competition will, and that can be a deciding factor for a developer/owner.
About the author:
Kari Moosmann is senior account manager with Advancing Organizational Excellence (AOE), Farmington Hills, Michigan. She can be reached at 248.516.1107 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Lind is a leading manufacturer and supplier of portable electrical products for commercial, industrial, and hazardous work environments. For more information, visit www.ledjobsite.com.