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LED lights have revolutionized the lighting industry, and with good reason. LED lighting is more energy-efficient, has a longer life and is safer for the environment than traditional bulb-based lights. Yet, common misconceptions exist in the construction industry. Isn’t LED lighting expensive? Since all contractors know how to work with bulb-based string lighting and high bays, how could switching to LED be easier or better? These are only a few of the questions faced when evaluating whether LED lighting is a good solution for a jobsite.

Misconception #1. Jobsite lighting must be temporary, disposable and a consumable

Jobsite lighting is usually treated as disposable equipment after a job is finished. Just because it’s been done that way for so long doesn’t mean it’s the best practice anymore. Bulb-based jobsite lighting is traditionally cheaply made and therefore not durable, so in the past there wasn’t an option to effectively move lighting from job to job. Times have changed.

Now there is shift in lighting available for a jobsite. Durable LED lighting designs allows lights to be considered assets and reused from project to project. Using LED lighting provides an energy, labor and material savings on the construction jobsite. It will decrease the temporary lighting charged to each project by treating jobsite lighting as assets that can be depreciated over time. Good quality LED jobsite lighting will perform in harsh construction environments for more than five years if running 24/7. 

With traditional jobsite lighting, statistics show that only about 20 percent of the lighting can be recovered for use on another job. The reality is that traditional bulb-based lighting creates waste and extra labor – all which is unnecessary and expensive.

Misconception #2. The energy savings from switching to LED jobsite lighting won’t make a difference

Energy savings that result when switching from bulb-based lighting to LED lighting can potentially add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings. These savings are often underestimated, but are important as utility rates are ever increasing. And on a jobsite, lighting is typically run 24/7. 

The savings can be accounted for as LED area lights replace the need for string lights in almost all areas. Less lights are then needed on a jobsite – one LED light can replace 250 feet worth of string lights while at the same time, reducing energy consumption by 80 percent.

With LED lighting, the energy savings alone can pay back the cost of the lights on the first project they are used on. Why should this matter to the contractor, when he is not the one paying for the energy consumption? By using LED jobsite lighting, the potential savings to the developer can place a contractor in a more favorable position by providing a more value-added service.

Misconception #3. Changing to purpose-built LED lighting will not affect a job’s labor or materials

Anyone who has worked a job with string lighting is familiar with just how labor intensive it can be. The string light has been the standard on the construction jobsite seemingly since the dawn of time. But old 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 can 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.

Wide area LED lights are now replacing the need for string lights in almost all areas. This new type of LED lighting can replace 250 feet of string lights with just one single light. That reduces the required installation points from 25 to just one. Some LED jobsite lights available on the market are plug and play, with a cord on each side so that the connected lighting illuminates the area to 5fc. 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. 

It’s important to point out that not all LED lighting is equal. With the rising popularity of LED temporary lighting, there is a risk of the market being penetrated by poor quality products. It’s important to ensure all LED jobsite lighting meets the regulatory OSHA requirements and carries the proper electrical certifications. The best LED fixtures will put out a 50 feet diameter of light while another LED product may only illuminate at half the brightness, or 25 feet diameter lighting. It’s always important to compare products.

Misconception #4. Jobsite lighting will not have an environmental impact on the jobsite

By using LED lighting, a jobsite can reduce electrical consumption and CO2 emissions. LED lighting will reduce energy usage required to run temporary lighting on a jobsite between 60 – 90 percent. Implementing LED jobsite lighting is one of the most cost-effective ways to have a significant reduction in the carbon emissions during the construction period. 

An 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 sq. ft. 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.

Additionally, waste is reduced by reusing lights from project to project. LED jobsite lighting reduces waste going to landfills and contains no hazardous chemicals such as the mercury present in compact fluorescent and metal halide bulbs, along with other toxic heavy metals. 

And since LED lighting lasts longer than traditional jobsite lighting, less lighting needs replacement during the life of a job. Using purpose-driven LED lighting on a jobsite is also a potential for a LEED credit in innovation in design.

Misconception #5. LED lighting is too expensive

Actually, it is more expensive to keep repurchasing and maintaining bulb-based temporary lighting for each job. Upfront costs for LED are still higher than traditional bulb-based lights, but with adoption rates soaring, prices have dropped significantly and are continuing to fall. With LED jobsite lighting, the energy savings alone will pay for the lights themselves within a short time frame – on average, approximately nine 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. 

The question about LED is not whether they will become the standard in construction lighting – but when. Using purpose-driven LED lighting on a construction jobsite brings many advantages to contractors. Most importantly, it reduces their labor and material, saves the developer hundreds of thousands of dollars in electricity, and creates a more sustainable jobsite. The return on investment is fast – and with the ability to reuse the lights again and again on multiple projects, makes the move to LED construction lighting worth the investment.

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