Why Upgrading to LED Lighting Is a Smart Move for Commercial Buildings

Why Upgrading to LED Lighting Is a Smart Move for Commercial Buildings - Lee Company

Whether you manage an office space, retail store, warehouse, or any other commercial property, lighting plays a major role in how the space is used and perceived. It needs to be energy efficient, dependable, and capable of providing exactly what customers and employees need to be safe and productive.

Upgrading your building’s lighting to LED offers several benefits – from cost savings to added convenience – making it one of the best investments you can make when it comes to maintaining operations and improving customer experiences. Let’s examine why upgrading to LED lighting makes sense for commercial buildings and businesses.

Overview of LED lighting and how it works

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode, a semiconductor device that produces light when a current is passed through it. Unlike traditional lighting options, such as incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, LEDs don’t rely on a filament or gas to produce light, making them more durable and long-lasting.

LEDs have become the go-to lighting source for residential and commercial properties because of their incredible energy efficiency. LEDs convert almost all their energy into light rather than heat. Hence, they use about 75% less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light.

This translates into lower utility bills and significantly reducing your building’s carbon footprint — without sacrificing the quality or performance of all your lights and their important functions.

When LEDs were introduced, they were incredibly bright and had a strobing effect that made them unappealing. But technology has come a long way, significantly improving their performance. Now LEDs are available in various colors, temperatures, and intensities, allowing them to produce a more natural, soft light that’s perfect for any commercial setting.

Your business can use LED lighting for any application you can think of:

  • Indoor and outdoor lighting

  • General illumination

  • Task lighting

  • Security lighting

  • Accent lighting

  • Signage lighting

  • Display lighting

Energy Efficiency and Potential Cost Savings of LED Lighting

As we mentioned above, the biggest advantage of LED lighting is its energy efficiency. When running a business, it’s important to reduce operational costs wherever possible. And since lights aren’t optional, LEDs can help you cut costs without extra effort.

Not only do LEDs consume less energy than traditional lighting sources, but they also last longer.

Incandescent bulbs use a filament that burns out over time, while LED bulbs use a solid-state technology that’s more durable. Their casing is also designed to be more resistant to impacts and vibrations than, say, a fluorescent tube or incandescent bulb made of glass. That durability is a huge advantage in a workplace where accidents are bound to happen.

The longer lifespan of LEDs also means fewer trips to the store for replacement bulbs. The average lifespan of a LED bulb is anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 hours, while an incandescent bulb lasts only about 750 hours. This means you’ll have to replace your bulbs far less often – saving you time and maintenance costs. Running an LED bulb 8 hours a day could last up to 17 years!

The upfront cost of LEDs does tend to run higher than traditional bulbs, but the long-term cost savings (among other benefits) make them a wise investment for any commercial building.

Cost Comparison: LED vs. Incandescent vs. Fluorescent

The buzz of fluorescent lights and the dim glow of incandescent bulbs are a thing of the past. LED lighting is more efficient, economical, and reliable than traditional options in terms of cost and performance.

Here’s a look at how LED lighting compares to other options in terms of energy consumption and lifespan:

Let’s compare the cost of operating an incandescent and LED bulb with similar brightness: a 60W incandescent bulb and a 12W LED bulb. An incandescent bulb consumes 60 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity every 1,000 hours, while an LED bulb uses only 12 kilowatt-hours (kWh) for the same duration.

At the Tennessee commercial electricity rate of $0.12 per kWh, it costs $7.20 to run the 60W incandescent bulb for 1,000 hours. In contrast, the 12W LED bulb would only cost $1.44, resulting in over 80% savings.

Now compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) tend to be more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, but they still don’t match the lifespan of LED bulbs.

Manufacturers claim that CFL bulbs last from 7,500 to 15,000 hours on average. And CFL bulbs are cheaper than LEDs. But LED bulbs still save more money in the long run, despite their higher upfront cost because the operational cost of LED lighting is still significantly lower.

Key takeaways on the cost comparison of LED, incandescent, and fluorescent lights are:

LED Bulb

  • The most energy-efficient bulbs require fewer watts to produce a higher brightness

  • Average lifespan of 25,000 hours+

  • More expensive up-front cost but lower operational costs

Incandescent Bulb

  • Least energy-efficient bulbs, requiring more watts to produce lower brightness

  • Average lifespan of 750 hours

  • Cheapest up-front cost but higher operational costs

Fluorescent (CFL Bulbs)

  • More energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, requiring fewer watts to produce brightness

  • Average lifespan of 7,500 to 15,000 hours

  • Moderately priced up-front cost but higher operational costs compared to LEDs

How is LED lifespan calculated?

It’s important to note that LED lifespan estimates are just that – estimates. No one sat in a lab with a stopwatch and the lights on, waiting for an LED bulb to burn out…

The manufacturer’s lifespan calculation is an educated guess based on accelerated wear testing at the component level (not the complete LED package).

The LED lifespan is also based on the number of hours it takes for the LED light to degrade and lose 30% of its original brightness – known as L70. Unlike ordinary bulbs that suddenly burn out, LED lighting gradually reduces brightness. This is referred to as “luminous decay.”

The actual lifespan of an LED bulb depends on several factors, including:

Quality of the LED Chip

Inside each LED bulb is a chip controlling light output and energy consumption. It’s the brain of your bulb. The better the quality of the LED chip, the longer your bulbs will last. This is why the brand is so important when you purchase LEDs.

Heat Dissipation

LED bulbs don’t get as hot as traditional bulbs with filaments but still generate heat. And if the heat doesn’t dissipate properly, it can damage the LED chip and shorten the bulb’s lifespan. So LED bulbs are designed with special features to move heat safely away from the chip. If the bulb isn’t cooling properly, it could reduce its lifespan.

Operating Conditions

The operating conditions of an LED bulb, such as ambient room temperature, humidity, and voltage, can affect its lifespan. So if you have machinery or equipment in your facility that produces high temperatures or other environmental factors, it could reduce the lifespan of your LED bulbs.

High Voltage or Fluctuations

LED bulbs are designed to operate in certain voltage ranges listed on the packaging or product specifications. If the voltage is too high, it can cause the LED bulb to fail prematurely. Older buildings may have outdated electrical systems that can cause voltage fluctuations and affect the lifespan and performance of your LED bulbs.

Other Benefits of LED Lighting for Commercial Buildings

LED lighting isn’t just about cutting costs and saving energy – it also boasts a range of additional perks that any savvy facility manager or business owner will appreciate.

Here are just a few more reasons to make the switch to LED:

Instant On and Off

LEDs turn on immediately with no warm-up time like fluorescent lights. This makes them ideal for locations with frequent on/off cycles and motion-sensing lighting systems.

Improved Security

LED lighting is brighter than traditional incandescent lighting, which can help improve safety and security in dark areas around buildings.


You can adjust your lights’ brightness to suit your business’s needs. This can be a great option for restaurants, bars, and retail spaces that want to create a cozy atmosphere for customers to dine and shop.

More Capacity

Less energy usage means more capacity for additional fixtures and equipment on the same circuit. You can even “daisy-chain” LED fixtures, connecting multiple fixtures together for more efficient wiring and installation.

Environmental Benefits

Since LEDs don’t contain mercury or other hazardous materials like some fluorescent bulbs, they’re much easier and safer to dispose of when their lifespan is up.

Health Benefits

LEDs produce light closer in color and intensity to natural daylight, improving employees’ mood, productivity, and alertness. LEDs also don’t flicker, reducing eye strain and headaches, particularly in work environments requiring extended screen time.

LED Lighting Solutions for Commercial Buildings

If we’ve convinced you of the benefits of LED lighting for commercial buildings, you may be wondering where to start… There are several types of LED lighting solutions available for commercial buildings.

Here’s a brief overview of each type of LED light:

  • LED tubes: A direct replacement for fluorescent tubes and are available in a range of lengths and color temperatures.

  • LED panels: Slim, lightweight, and ideal for use in suspended ceilings or as surface-mounted fixtures.

  • LED high bay lights: Designed for use in high-ceilinged areas, such as warehouses, factories, and gyms.

  • LED floodlights: Best for outdoor lighting applications, like parking lots, sports fields, and building facades.

  • LED downlights: LED downlights provide directional lighting in the form of recessed fixtures.

And then, there are LED bulbs – the most common type of LED lighting for residential and commercial buildings.

LED bulbs come in various shapes, sizes, and wattages and can replace traditional incandescent or halogen bulbs.

Tips for Choosing the Right LED Lighting for a Commercial Building

With so many options on the market and unique lighting needs, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for commercial LED lighting. But here are a few tips to help you choose the right LED lighting for your business:

Consider Your Lighting Needs

Each space in your building may have unique lighting needs and requirements. Take the time to understand these needs before you make a purchase.

You’ll want to consider things like the type of lighting needed to work (task, ambient, accent), the desired color temperature, wattage requirements, and any special features needed (like dimming or motion-sensing capabilities).

Look for Energy Efficiency Ratings and Certifications

Because LED bulbs are more costly upfront, you might be tempted to choose the cheapest option. But when it comes to LEDs, you get what you pay for… Choose reputable brands with ENERGY STAR certification to ensure yours last as long as possible. That will give your lighting a better shot at lasting 25,000+ hours.

Understand Lumens and Wattage

When shopping for LED lighting, you’ll need to understand lumens and wattages. Lumens measure the amount of light produced, while wattage measures electricity usage. The right combination will help you conserve energy without sacrificing brightness or visibility. Higher lumens and lower watts will give you the best energy efficiency and light quality balance.

Look for Compatibility

Some LED bulbs may not be compatible with existing fixtures or dimming systems. So before you buy, ensure the LED bulbs you’re considering will work with your current setup.

LED Lighting Costs for Commercial Buildings

The cost of LED lighting solutions for commercial buildings can vary depending on factors such as the type of lighting, the size of the commercial building, and the existing electrical infrastructure. LED retrofitting is an option, but it’s not always practical or necessary.

A professional electrician can evaluate your current setup, explain your options, and estimate the costs associated with LED lighting installation.

Overall, investing in LED lighting solutions can greatly reduce energy costs and improve employee productivity, safety, and comfort. And even replacing a few standard lights with LEDs can result in significant long-term savings, making the investment worthwhile.

We hope this article sheds light on the benefits of LED lighting for commercial buildings and provides some tips and guidance to help you make an informed decision.

If you need additional assistance choosing the right LED lighting solution for your commercial building, Lee Company has a team of qualified electricians with experience working with Tennessee businesses of all shapes and sizes. Contact us today to get started!

Interested in upgrading your building to LED lighting?

CALL US NOW AT 615.567.1000