By Tamar Williamson
In wastewater and water treatment facilities, updating to a successful, quality lighting system is a sure way to reduce energy usage, maintenance costs, and meet stringent safety requirements. Lighting is often an afterthought during the planning and construction phases, but well-informed facility managers can avoid common mistakes and benefit from improvements in lighting technology.
Upgrading a lighting system is an attractive cost-saving initiative because it pays back quickly and can be installed quickly without hampering operations. However, not selecting the appropriate solution can actually decrease productivity and increase maintenance costs and accident rates.
With hundreds of choices available, one needs to have a basic understanding of a lighting system and the environment in which it will be installed. The goal of any lighting project should be to provide an adequate amount of light where and when it is needed, and to complete work tasks safely and most effectively.
Lighting requirements unique to the demands of the wastewater and water treatment industry can make selecting the most appropriate solution a challenge. The National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions (NCQLP) offers assistance in finding Lighting Certified Professionals who can help with this process. An expert can help you establish goals and perform a detailed audit and analysis of the existing or proposed space.
Select a vendor partner that will help you succeed long-term. Conduct due diligence around past installations with similar requirements (ask for references) and confirm their financial stability to help ensure a successful project.
Once you establish your goals, there are some basic steps to selecting the most appropriate lighting solution for your facility.Know your environment
The geometry, construction of space, and presence of hazardous chemicals will influence your lighting selection. Areas that are classified per the National Electric Code as hazardous locations must have luminaires designed and suitable for performing in such environments. Areas in wastewater and water treatment plants where combustible liquids and gases, such as chlorine and sulfur dioxide, exist in sufficient quantities require luminaires that are specifically approved for use in hazardous environments by a third-party listing agency such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
In certain applications or geographical areas (think coastal), luminaires must be resilient enough to withstand corrosion, humidity, and/or higher ambient temperatures to deliver long-term performance and durability. Industrial luminaries listed by third-party agencies have an ambient rating — typically 25° C, 40° C, 55° C or 65° C (although Celsius is standard for the lighting industry, that translates to 77° F, 104° F, 131° F, or 149° F).
Take care to understand your maximum ambient temperature at the mounting location during your hottest season. Exceeding the luminaire ratings may severely impact the performance and life of your lighting system.
For corrosive and high-humidity environments, your first line of defense is material selection. Nonmetallic, aluminum, or stainless-steel enclosures are generally accepted materials for corrosive environments, along with electro-static coatings such as polyester or epoxy. For additional protection, try luminaires listed for Outside Type (salt water) that are subjected to a salt spray test for at least 200 hours, as indicated in the ASTM B117 Standard Practice for Operating Salt Spray (Fog) Apparatus.
In applications where significant vibration is likely, select a luminaire designed to operate in those conditions — including its mounting apparatus and internal components. If vibration is a concern, request vibration data from your vendor to ensure the unit will perform adequately in the application. (There is no industry standard for lighting equipment vibration in wastewater and water treatment plants.)