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6 Key Considerations to Choose the Right Lighting for Your Data Center

LED Lighting in Data Center

If you think of lighting as an afterthought in your data center design, you’re missing out on a major component that can have a distinct effect on the safety, energy efficiency and cost of your facility. Data center operators might be surprised to hear that lighting is becoming a hot topic in data center circles, but there’s a good reason as to why. With energy efficiency and enhanced sustainability taking on immense importance in today’s climate-conscious world, data centers and other industries are looking for every possible means to save energy. Every watt counts is the new mantra.

As it turns out, data center lighting – particularly LED lighting – can play an important role in that effort. But not all lighting is created equal. In the following article, we’ll discuss six important criteria data center operators should pay attention to in order to make an informed decision for illuminating data centers.  

  1. Energy Efficiency. LED is a highly energy-efficient lighting technology and has the potential to fundamentally change the future of lighting in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In fact, it is anticipated that the majority of lighting installations will use LED technology by 2035. Why? LED lights produce significantly less heat and are far more energy efficient than traditional lighting. Studies have shown that using energy-efficient technologies such as LED lighting can reduce data center lighting energy usage by up to 70%. This translates into lower energy costs and a reduced carbon footprint, so it’s a win-win for your facility and the environment.  When examining an LED’s energy efficiency, operators should look for lighting with a high lumen output per watt, note the fixture’s lifespan and consider the light’s heat production, which can help reduce cooling requirements for their center. 

  1. Longevity. LED lighting offers a much longer lifespan than traditional lighting. According to industry estimates, a quality LED bulb can last three to five times longer than a CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) and 30 times longer than an incandescent bulb. The longevity of LED lighting equates to fewer lighting refreshes over time offering significant cost savings.  When comparing lighting solutions for data centers, it’s important for operators and engineers to know that light fixtures can fail in high-heat environments. Choosing fixtures that are UL-certified for elevated ambient operating temperatures and offer long lifespans are critical considerations for data center lighting to ensure continuous operation and prevent constant, costly replacements.

  1. Luminance. Lumens measure the amount of light emitted by a fixture, so the higher the lumens, the brighter the light will be. Both LEDs and traditional lights use lumens to quantify how much light they produce. However, the difference is that LED lights can produce the same lighting intensity (i.e., number of lumens) as other lighting types, but at a lower wattage – so the data center uses less energy to achieve the same lighting quality.  For data centers, experts recommend choosing fixtures that meet 50 foot-candles at the 3-foot horizontal plane. Fixtures with high-lumen outputs that provide a greater spread of light can reduce the total fixtures needed while still meeting the illumination requirement. This results in decreased fixture costs and additional savings in installation and maintenance.

  1. Safety. LED lighting is safer in a variety of ways than incandescent lighting. For one, LEDs are much cooler than incandescent lights, reducing the risk of combustion or burnt fingers. They are also sturdier, being constructed from epoxy lenses, not glass, and so are much more resistant to breakage.  In choosing a lighting solution for your data center, remember that placement and power types pose different safety hazards. For example, distributed low-voltage LED’s and PoE (Power over Ethernet) lighting enables remote control, allowing workers to control the lights from a safe distance and are less likely to produce electrical shocks than LED fixtures using line voltage.

  1. Color. Two critical parameters that significantly impact your environment's visual comfort and aesthetic appeal are the Color Rendering Index (CRI) and the Correlated Color Temperature (CCT). CRI, a scale from 0 to 100, quantifies the light source's ability to faithfully reveal objects' true colors compared to an ideal or natural light source. A high CRI value, typically above 80 for most LED lights, ensures vibrant and authentic color representation, making it an essential consideration for spaces where color accuracy is paramount. On the other hand, CCT, measured in Kelvin (K), indicates the color appearance of the light itself, ranging from warm (lower Kelvin values like 2700K-3000K, producing a yellowish-white light) to cool (higher Kelvin values like 5000K-6500K, emitting a bluer white light). Beyond aesthetics, a CCT of at least 4000K with a CRI of 97 carries biological benefits. It closely mimics the effects of natural daylight, which can help regulate circadian rhythms, improve mood, enhance alertness, and increase productivity.  Dynamic and tunable options allow owners to adjust the CCT and CRI of individual fixtures after installation. Not only can adjusting your LED lights to a higher color temperature during work hours boost productivity, but studies have shown that cooler, bluer light also improves cognitive performance. Adjusting the color temperature is especially helpful for preventing eye strain from visually demanding tasks like reading or working on a computer.

  1. Budget. Quality LED lighting may have higher upfront costs than traditional lighting, but the long-term savings in energy consumption and maintenance make it the better choice. Simply put, quality LED light bulbs last longer, are more durable, and offer comparable or better light quality than other types of lighting at a lower operating cost.

If you’d like to learn more about lighting options for your data center or other commercial facility, contact us today.



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