Magazine article Corrections Forum

Seeing the Light

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Seeing the Light

Article excerpt

When most people turn on a light, as long as the bulb does not flare out, they do not give it a second thought. In corrections, though, there are myriad considerations when it comes to lighting. There is the quality of the light, the amount, the direction it takes, potential glare that could affect security cameras and safety, the type of light, the length of time the light will be on, and, of course, the cost. The light must not allow for shadows, and in many situations they must be left on at all times, which can be costly in a time where budgets continue to shrink. In some places, governmental standards and regulations dictate how lighting should be done. A manual prepared for the New York City of Design and Construction Data prioritizes the issues to consider in regards to lighting. These include system control, modeling of faces and objects, light distribution, surface and surface reflectance, flicker, daylight integration and control, color, direct glare, and biological effects.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that lighting accounts for 33% of correctional facilities' energy consumption, and case studies on the matter have found that the ROI for updating lighting fixtures in correctional facilities goes far beyond being strictly financial.

It is not as much a question of "which technology is better" as much as "which technology is right?" There are many technologies advancing, and they go beyond bulbs and fixtures, and there is almost always a matter of compromise. LEDs have an incredibly long life, but the price is high. Induction provides long life, but has the most lumen depreciation. The incandescent bulbs we have been using since Thomas Edison invented them are inexpensive and have a high color rendering index (CRI), but they do not last long.

LED technology is still evolving, and the expectations couldn't be higher (look to examples from the London Olympics ceremony and the top of the Empire State Building to see the possibilities LEDs offer), and while the price has come down and ratings have gone up, there are still things to keep in mind. As Larry Leetzow, president of Sarasota, Flordia-based Magnaray International Division World Institute of Lighting and Development Corporation points out, when it comes to component replacement, the purchaser will be locked into the manufacturer, so if something goes wrong, the user will have to go back for the driver and bulb. Replacement parts for most fluorescent systems, though, can be found at a local electric supply company.

According to the Greening Corrections Technology Guidebook, LED lighting has not yet been particularly cost-effective for corrections, but "fluorescent, induction, high-intensity discharge and occupancy sensor technologies of many types are available to save money with no reduction in security or convenience."

A Checklist for Lighting

Leetzow directs customers' attention to a checklist of what should be taken into mind when considering an upgrade. The most important is the quality of the light. It should have high CRI sources, wide distribution patterns, low glare, and it should be adaptive. (Glare alone can be broken down into more than half a dozen categories and analyzed by experts like Leetzow.) It should also be energy efficient, affordable and sustainable.

Magnaray is a manufacturer of lighting systems primarily used for outdoor and perimeter security lighting and is a company that evolved around fluorescent technology, but existing clients can be retrofitted to LED upon request. Its website mentions that, "LED retrofit devices are being properly developed to provide the best solutions for future sources, and will only be released to the market when reliable, cost effective, high quality products become available." Among Magnaray's offerings is the twin T5 fluorescent luminaire, which provides 90% lumen maintenance for 90% of life, which is currently rated at 50,000 to 60,000 hours. With single start operations, where the light is turned on and left on, that figure jumps to 84,000 hours. …

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