Accendo Electronics' Blog

DHID™ (Digital HID™) Vs. FLUO; Just The Facts

Automotive Factory Application Example

Today, more than ever there is a need for Industry to be responsible in its environmental judgements and actions. With the haste to improve the over-all environmental situation and push on Industry to reduce its carbon footprint, it is important to educate yourself on the short term and long term ramifications of the “Green” solutions you implement. In the case of lighting upgrades, there is a great opportunity to reduce corporation and municipality electricity expenses and more importantly to reduce the electricity demanded from the energy providers who are the greatest contributors of CO2 gases released into the environment.

In selecting the lighting solution, be sure to investigate not only the short term purchasing costs, but also the long term costs associated with waste; i.e. labour costs due to installation, maintenance/cleaning and light bulb relamping. Lamp consumable or relamping expenses can be significant yet are typically not highlighted in the selling process of fluorescent (FLUO), LED and induction based lighting products.

When considering the type of lighting for your new or retrofit high-bay or low-bay lighting application, it is essential to be aware of what long term costs will be incurred over the lifetime of the lighting system. One very important aspect to consider is the maintenance and labour costs associated with the cleaning and the changing of lamps. Fluorescent, LED and induction product’s light quality inherently suffers ‘visible’ degradation over the operating lifetime of the lamps, increasing the lamp replacement or relamping frequency and the over-all expenses of operating those systems.

Comparing Digital Ballast powered High-Intensity Discharge lighting (Digital HIDTM or DHIDTM lighting) to fluorescent, induction and LED, end-users agree that the added value offered in terms of the DHIDTM solution’s low buying price, energy efficiency, light quality/performance, and reduced labour and maintenance costs, ensures end-users benefit with the best lighting for the shortest payback or return on investment time. Furthermore, when considering the upgrade or retrofit of an existing inefficient lighting installation, one must consider the labour costs involved in the installation; such as the removal of the old lighting system, re-wiring, changing of the lighting grid pattern, and all the consumable costs and other indirect waste created as a result. In the case of the upgrade of an existing core and coil (magnetic) powered ballast fixture, the DHIDTM digital ballast retrofit solution is simple, cost-effective, outperforms and is the most environmentally responsible <see Installation Guide)

In regards to fluorescent, consider the long term costs associated with this lighting type; costs such as the installation, cleaning/maintenance, relamping and ballast replacements really effect the return on investment. This is especially important in applications where long light penetration and constant light levels are required over long periods of time (exceeding 30,000 hours); as in factory/warehouse, retail, and outdoor applications including street, highway and parking lot lighting applications.

The following facts about DHIDTM lighting versus FLUO lighting serves to highlight the performance and the common costs associated with the installation and operation of each in the short and long term to help you accurately conclude your own realistic return on investment calculation.


Capabilities and Benefits of DHIDTM Vs. FLUO

This is a direct comparison between both DHIDTM and fluorescent lighting solutions for a 40ft high-bay ceiling application where antiquated core and coil (magnetic) 1000W ballasts in existing HID fixture are already installed.

The recommended Digital HIDTM retrofit solution is a dimmable 575W DHIDTM ballast powering a 575W Metal Halide (MH) bulb. The proposed fluorescent high output high-bay T5 solution features 8 lamps at 54W each and 2 non-dimming electronic ballasts.

Installation Complexity and Cost?

DHIDTM: A simple ‘plug and play’ retrofit of one digital ballast into the existing HID fixture and one new HID bulb installed where needed. The existing fixture is re-used and the efficiency is significantly improved by 50% to 75%. The performance and light quality is also better offering 40% brighter, whiter, penetrating light over the old system. The typical labour cost to retrofit a fixture is $50.00 US and takes approximately 30-45 minutes per fixture. The typical total package cost to retrofit a 1000W magnetic ballast application is $250-$300 US including the DHIDTM 575W ballast, light bulb and installation cost.

FLUO: To install fluorescent you need to remove and recycle the used HID fixtures including ballasts, bulbs, reflectors, wires and the exterior metal housings. You then need to create new hanging structures for the new standard size fluorescent T5 8 Lamp high output fixtures. The lighting grid layout will need to also be changed as more T5 fluorescent fixtures will be needed to ensure a uniform light coverage (overlap) at the floor between them. In most cases, extra mid level or low-bay lighting needs to be installed where illumination from the fluorescent high-bay is not significant enough. There are also costs associated with the assembly of the individual fluorescent fixtures which is a labour cost the electrical contractor will invoice. With 8 bulbs and 2 ballasts, the complexity of a fluorescent system is high, adds cost and inhibits performance. The typical cost for a fluorescent T5 8 lamp high output fixture is starting at $280 US or more and this cost does not include the assembly/installation and the cost of the 8 lamps needed per fixture and for inventory.

Luminous Efficacy and Lumens Per Watt Performance?

DHIDTM: Luminous efficacy of 118lm/W for digital ballast powered Metal Halide (MH), High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH) HID bulb applications. If retrofitting an existing HID fixture which has an antiquated 1000W core and coil (magnetic) ballast, a new 575W digital ballast would be installed in place powering a 575W MH bulb for a new total fixture lumen output of 67,850lm (575W X 118lm/W).

FLUO: Luminous efficacy of approximately 81lm/W if 54W bulbs in a fluorescent T5 8 lamp high-output fixture operating with 2 ballasts. If 54W bulbs offer a total lumen output of 4400lm output each, then 4400 X 8 lamps = 35,200 total lumen output from the T5 8 lamp high output fixture.

Ballast / Fixture Efficiency Performance?

DHIDTM: One digital ballast is 97% efficient. For the existing magnetic 1000W MH, we retrofit the 575W DHIDTM ballast operating a 575W MH bulb at 592W with 3% losses. At 575 Watts, the DHIDTM system will produce more lumens at the ground than both the existing 1000W MH and fluorescent consideration. Moreover, the notable increase in lumen output performance will bring the existing fixtures back to life, with more light at the ground, and with more light over-laps between the fixtures for a brighter white facility and working area. Due to the increase in the lumen output of the DHIDTM ballast high-bay installation, 30% to 40% of the existing mid level fluorescent lighting can be removed adding additional energy savings. And since the 575W DHIDTM can be dimmed, even more electricity savings are possible; e.g. instantly dimmed to 20%, the 575W ballast only consumes approximately 474W yet still outputs bright penetrating light to the target.

FLUO: Two electronic ballasts are 90% efficient. Operating 54W x 8 bulbs = approximately 480W total with heat losses. Due to the poorer lumen output of T5’s, more fixtures should be added to the lighting grid to compensate for the lower lumen output to the ground. The 2 ballast design and the accumulation of 8 bulbs creates 10% losses to heat and increased wear on the bulbs leading to a more rapid degradation in light quality. The T5 fixture in this example does not have dim capabilities; to dim would add extra cost and complexity due to the ‘special’ dimming ballasts required. As a result of dimming fluorescent, there is also increased wear and tear on the lamps adding to lamp change increases and ultimately increased labour and consumable costs in the short and long term.

Light Quality Throughout Bulb Life?

DHIDTM: Due to Digital HIDTM’s 118lm/W luminous efficacy performance, more lumens, and natural white bright light penetrates to the facility floor. The light quality is guaranteed over the entire life of the bulb due to patented digital ballast technologies. The bulb does not degrade more than 5% from the life start to life end of the bulb creating huge benefits to retail, factory/warehouse or any applications where consistent bright white light is mandatory. The DHIDTM ballast increases the life of HID bulbs radically by 100% (or more if dimming is utilized). A bulb with an original mean time before failure (MTBF) rating of 20,000 hours will now last 40,000 hours or more and will suffer no less than 5% light degradation throughout the bulbs life. The high luminous efficacy of the DHIDTM ballast delivers brighter more penetrating lumens to the factory or retail application floor for less cost. Compared to LED, fluorescent, and induction based lamp systems, DHIDTM powered systems easily offer the best light quality/performance for the lowest total operating/consumable costs.

FLUO: The fact is that all fluorescent lamps, be they hot cathode, cold cathode or electrode-less will suffer from phosphor degradation. The rate of this degradation is a function of the type and the amount of phosphor, and the type of glass used for the tube. The temperature of the phosphor and glass and the intensity of the UV flux from the discharge also play a role in enhancing the degradation of a fluorescent bulb. High Output (HO) and Very High Output (VHO) bulbs will normally degrade faster than standard output bulbs.

Most standard output fluorescent bulbs claim 10,000 hours to 20,000 hours or more operating lifetimes, but can fall to 80% or less of their original light intensity after only 10,000 hours of operation. One must take into account the long term costs of this realistic bulb degradation and failure in considering fluorescent for your lighting application. If dimming ballasts are installed, please factor in this extra cost and also the increased cost of labour and consumables due to increased lamp changes as dimming has an adverse effect on the life of the fluorescent bulb, degrading it even quicker.

Fixture Noise, Static; Light Quality Psychological Impact?

DHIDTM: The proven DHIDTM ballast is silent, and operates warm as only 3% losses are to heat; the ballast is 97% efficient and does not create significant static electricity. Pulse start MH bulbs are inexpensive and produce a natural white light which is more pleasant to work under. Studies have shown that humans working in brighter, more naturally lit environments are more alert and more productive.

FLUO: Some of the common nuisances end-users underscore about fluorescent lighting are the noise, the light quality/flicker, the colour, and rapid light quality degradation by or before the bulb’s mid-life and inevitably thereafter. Fluorescent lighting fixtures require increased maintenance and cleaning due to the dust that collects on the static charged surfaces of the system. The dust and debris accumulation on the bulb and on the reflector surface is unhealthy and further adds to the degradation of light quality and total lumen output.

Lamp(s) and Ballast(s) Change Frequency?

DHIDTM: Only 1 lamp needs to be replaced per HID fixture and with little labour cost/time needed as HID fixtures are typically easy to maintain with easy access to the light bulb. HID bulbs operated with the DHIDTM ballast are rated to 30,000 hours to 40,000 hours or more life expectancy (with dimming) and the bulb lumen output is guaranteed to not decrease more than 5% over the lifetime of the bulb. The DHIDTM ballast will output 118lm/W right up until the bulb’s life end. The DHIDTM ballast is rated to a 10 year MTBF and will output the same 118lm/W up until its life-end. At ballasts life-end, it is again a very simple and cost-effective replacement to upgrade the HID system without having to replace entire fixtures.

FLUO: 8 lamps per fixture need to be replaced and much more frequently than DHIDTM which adds more labour and maintenance costs. If mean time before failure of the fluorescent bulb is 20,000 hours then lamps need replacement every 2 to 3 years. If the lamps are considered to be failed at 10,000 hours due to significant light quality and brightness degradation, then lamp change frequency needs to be every 1 to 2 years. Since the 8 lamp fluorescent fixtures need two ballasts each, then at the ballasts life-end two ballasts need replacement. If you factor in the labour costs to remove the old ballast and reinstall new ballasts, it becomes evident that a lot of waste is created due to the limitations of the fluorescent lighting technology.

Long Term Realistic Bulb And Ballast Expenses?

DHIDTM: Simple example: 1 bulb per existing fixture x 500 fixtures X $20 US approximate HID bulb cost for a 575W Pulse Start Metal Halide bulb = 500 bulbs at $10,000.00 US total every 4-6yrs+. Very simple procedure, 1 lamp to replace and it is easy to do in the existing fixtures since the bulbs are really easy to access. This decreases the maintenance labour costs noticeably. The DHIDTM ballast is rated to 10 years MTBF and is also easy and cost-effective to replace at that time.

FLUO: 8 x T5 high output bulbs X 500 units = 4,000 bulbs. At an approximated bulb price of $5 USD X 4,000 bulbs the total bulb consumable costs alone is $20,000 US. If the bulb lasts 15,000 hours without significant degradation, you would incur this expense every 2 years approximately. In addition, there will be increased labour costs incurred to change 8 lamps per fixture. At the end of the ballasts life there will again be expenses incurred to replace either the entire fixture (more waste), or to retrofit two new ballasts in the existing fixture. Either option with fluorescent will result in inevitable labour and consumable expenses and environmental waste.

Motion Sensor Dimming Capabilities?

DHIDTM: It is possible to dim Metal Halide, High-Pressure Sodium and Ceramic Metal Halide HID bulbs with DHIDTM digital ballasts. Dimming is simple and instant and it adds to the already sizeable savings in energy consumption since the DHIDTM ballast can dim the HID bulb from 100% power to 50% power or any step in between this range. The dimming of a DHIDTM ballast powered bulb is barely noticeable because the system still delivers high lumen output in the dimmed state. With smart dimming, the electricity costs to operate the system are further reduced without disrupting the operation or safety of the working environment. Motion sensors are strategically placed to detect human and operator activity to determine lamp on times at full power.

In the case of a 575W DHIDTM ballast powered HID bulb replacing a magnetic 1000W system drawing 1200W with approximated heat losses, the end-user can expect 50% or more savings without dimming. The system can then be dimmed down via motion sensor or switch by 20% to the 460W setting for the additional 20% in savings in electricity (1200W – 592W – 118.4W = 489.6W / 1200W = 59%+ savings total).

With the advancement in the DHIDTM technology over magnetic based HID systems, lamp start times are 1 minute, dimming is instantaneous and start-up after a hot re-strike is 3 minutes. In most Industry applications, instant dimming capabilities are preferred since HID lighting systems are typically installed in areas where the lights are to be on for extended time periods. Where it is essential to have the lights on always, the dimming of a HID system is ideal since lumen output is still high in the dimmed state, yet more electricity is saved since the lights are only at full power when needed.

FLUO: Yes and No; it is possible to dim fluorescents, but you need special and expensive ballasts with this capability for T5 fluorescent bulbs. This adds expense as you need two ballasts per each 8 lamp high-bay fixture. Without dimming there is a great limit on electrical energy savings possible with fluorescent lighting. One should also consider the original lumen output performance when considering the fluorescent solutions versus a DHIDTM retrofit solution since DHIDTM offers a much higher output of lumens to the target, even in the dimmed state. Secondly, one should consider the effect of dimming on the fluorescent bulb since increased dim-on and dim-off cycles reduce the bulbs life. Fluorescent lighting was not originally designed for dimming, and is typically not recommended due to the associated expenses, performance limitations and poor return on investment.

Return On Investment?

DHIDTM: With DHIDTM the short term return on investment payback is 0.5 years to 1 year for a total DHIDTM retrofit package including bulb, ballast and installation. In the long term, if utilizing an MH bulb with a MTBF of 30,000 hours to 40,000 hours+ with dimming, operated at 6,240 hours yearly, the bulb would need to be replaced every 4.8 years or 6.4 years+ with dimming respectively. At a bulb cost of $20 US, the total consumable cost is miniscule over the lifetime of the system. The DHIDTM ballast is rated at 10yrs MTBF with the potential to have its life extended further depending on the application. With fewer bulbs and less frequent lamp changes, maintenance/cleaning time is more infrequent making the money saved in labour and consumable expenses over the system life noteworthy. The DHIDTM solution guarantees high energy efficiency, and high-quality, penetrating light over the entire lifetime of the bulb and the DHIDTM ballast.

FLUO: The short term return on investment payback time is poor due to the initial cost of purchase and installation; i.e. the labour to assemble the new T5 8 lamp fixtures; the removal of the used HID fixtures; the install and wiring of the new T5 fixture; the installation of the 8 lamps and the accumulated costs of all the fixture hardware and individual lamps for each fixture. Furthermore, in the short term one must factor in the costs of how frequently the fixtures will require cleaning due to decreased light output as a result of dust accumulation. If the T5 high output bulb is able to last 15,000 hours without noticeable degradation due to cleaning and efficient bulb operation, then bulb change labour and consumable expenses will be frequent; every 2 years or less making the return on investment of fluorescent over the long term (5 years or more) most unfavourable when compared to the DHIDTM retrofit solution.

The Environmentally Responsible Lighting Retrofit Solution

The DHIDTM ballast retrofit solution is the most environmentally responsible and cost-effective upgrade for inefficient lighting installations. By simply retrofitting the Digital HIDTM ballast into an antiquated HID lamp system, the old fixture is re-used and rejuvenated, bringing new life and a drastic improvement in performance to the HID bulb based system. This simple procedure leaves only the old HID bulb to be recycled (and ballast in circumstances) and therefore creates much less strain on the environment.  The cost-effective DHIDTM solution is able to reduce Industry’s carbon footprint; reducing over-all CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere due to the measurable amount of energy consumption and waste reduced as a result of the simple DHIDTM lighting upgrade.

Digital HIDTM lighting promises and delivers the optimal balance of energy efficiency, light quality/performance, and reduced maintenance benefits for the shortest realistic return on investment payback time in the Industry. We welcome the opportunity to discuss our findings with you further; please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Anthony Borges

Copyright © 2009-2012 Anthony Borges. All rights reserved.

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  1. […] See full article here: DHID (Digital HID) Vs. FLUO; Just The Facts […]

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