Jun 22, 2021 3:04:33 PM | 9 Min Read

The Seven Deadly Sources of Industrial Lighting Failures

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Dialight
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The Seven Deadly Sources of Industrial Lighting Failures

It is no secret that industrial facilities are home to some of the toughest environments on the planet. What is less known, however, is how specifically these conditions can impact your site lighting which is essential for worker visibility and overall plant safety.

As you’ll see, understanding the hazards present at your facility, and choosing lighting that is designed to protect against these issues will make all the difference in the world when it comes to ensuring the longevity of your purchase and the safety of your employees.

1. DUST

Dust is a pervasive problem in nearly every facility. Open doors and the continuous movement of everything from people to forklifts creates fine particulates that waft into the air and land on every flat surface. As this material accumulates on LED lighting fixtures, it creates an insulating blanket that blocks heat from escaping. Sustained high heat even as little as 10 degrees above a fixture’s published operating temperature range can cut the service life of the fixture in half in many cases. Dialight industrial-grade LED fixtures are designed to shed dust and debris to prevent buildup of foreign material. Those that are IP66 or IP67 rated for water resistance can even be washed down periodically to mitigate dust accumulation. Prioritize safety by choosing LED fixtures that feature robust heat sink technology, heat-resistant components, and ambient temperature ratings higher than 60°C, which can keep their cool even under a blanket of dust.

 

2. CHEMICAL VAPORS & VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS

A wide variety of solvents, process oils and other materials that produce mist or vapors are common across nearly every manufacturing sector. These materials can have a devastating effect on lighting and facility safety in two ways: 1. They can be highly volatile and prone to explosion or ignition in the presence of high heat or electric spark. LED fixtures which are not certified for use in the applicable hazardous locations can contribute to an unsafe situation. More on that later... 2. VOCs can cause chemical degradation of the LEDs and other electronic components, resulting in color shifting or lumen depreciation. Invest in industrial-grade LED fixtures which are hazardous certified as necessary, and IP sealed to prevent moisture and dust from entering the fixture. This offers the best defense to protect critical internal fixture components from corrosion or LED discoloration. Also, be sure that the fixtures you choose feature high-quality chemical-resistant polycarbonate or glass lenses to resist discoloration.

 

3. HIGH HEAT

Aside from high temperatures as a result of seasonal or geographic climate, there are many types of heat sources inside any industrial facility, including process equipment and heavy-duty motors to molten raw materials. Off-the-shelf commercial LED fixtures are simply not designed or manufactured to withstand these kinds of conditions. Lacking proper thermal management and heat-resistant components, high heat will quite literally fry the electrical components, resulting in premature failure or the risk of a potentially unsafe drop in lighting output that plunges the work area into darkness. Look for industrial LED fixtures rated for ambient temperatures above 60°C which indicates their ability to perform in high temperature conditions. Dialight’s heat-resistant fixtures feature power supplies that are purpose-built to perform under extreme conditions, along with advanced mechanical designs with optimal thermal dissipation.

 

4. MOISTURE & CORROSION

Moisture is a constant problem in virtually every facility causing corrosion and degradation of metal structures. Add to that any kind of caustic or corrosive contaminants and you have a recipe for disaster when it comes to lighting fixtures. Salt spray is one of the biggest culprits. Coastal and marine applications are subject to highly corrosive conditions that can literally eat away at fixture components and hardware, compromising the integrity of the fixture itself as well as its secure mounting. That means not only is the fixture at risk of frequent failure, but also falling and hurting someone or damaging equipment. Choose fixtures with proven resistance to moisture and corrosion that feature a sealed chassis to protect critical components from failure. Those with a powder-coat finish and corrosion-resistant stainless-steel hardware will offer the most durability to ensure long-life function and safety of the fixture even in the harshest coastal or offshore applications. As added protection, always utilize secondary retention cables where possible.

 

5. VIBRATION

Constant vibration of non-stop heavy machinery can literally shake lighting fixtures apart. Conventional HID sources are especially vulnerable due to the inherent design of the lamps which can be easily and adversely affected by vibration and impact, causing premature failure. But even some LED fixtures, with their solid-state design can suffer the same fate if they aren’t designed to withstand these conditions. The drivers, power connections and even the fixture housing itself can quickly fall apart under constant vibration. Insist on heavy-duty, industrial-grade LED fixtures that are tested to withstand high-vibration environments and include built-in shock resistance. Long-life potted drivers and rugged, proven mechanical designs can protect against damage from vibration and shock-related failures.

 

6. UNPREDICTABLE POWER CONDITIONS

 If you’re not familiar with the term “dirty power,” you should be! It’s likely taking a major toll on your lighting system. Despite the best efforts of seasoned electrical professionals, industrial environments are notorious for unstable power conditions—surges and sags caused by heavy equipment startup and shutdown, along with other conditions that cause power to fluctuate. This unpredictability can wreak havoc, overstressing LED power supplies that are simply not built for these “dirty power” conditions. The constant voltage fluctuation will cause excess heat, eventually frying the internal circuitry and causing unexpected and premature fixture failure. Look for industrial-grade LED fixtures with high-quality power supplies and built-in surge protection components to mitigate the impact of unstable power. While it’s impossible to eliminate power fluctuations, installing LED fixtures that can withstand the conditions will safeguard against premature failure, ensuring you get the longest possible maintenance-free performance from your investment. To learn more about Dirty Power and Dialight’s passive power supply option for these conditions, please see our Whitepaper.

 

7. FLAMMABLE & EXPLOSIVE ENVIRONMENTS

When it comes to facility safety, this is the biggest lighting-related risk of all. The volatile combination of explosive gases, dust or fibers in the air, combined with the potential for ignition from an arc or spark from a malfunctioning light—or even just the high heat output from most fixtures—can have dire consequences. Quite simply, failing to install the proper hazardous location-certified products for your facility is extremely dangerous and puts your employees at serious risk. Lighting in hazardous locations must adhere to the UL/CSA/IECEx/ATEX standards by law, as dictated by local jurisdictions. Not every LED lighting manufacturer offers products for these conditions, and only certified products are compliant. For more information on hazardous location standards, check out our blog post: Do I Need Hazloc Rated Light Fixtures for My Facility, Rig, or Plant?

You depend on your lighting every day to illuminate your facility and keep your employees safe. Choosing inexpensive, subpar LED lighting fixtures may seem like a money saving opportunity today, but it will only lead to more maintenance and safety risks that cost more down the road.

At Dialight, we are proud to be the world leader in Industrial LED lighting solutions and design and test our fixtures to perform safely in these conditions. We stand behind our products with our industry-leading warranty, endorsed by the National Lighting Bureau’s Trusted Warranty Program! For more information on our rigorous testing, check out our Product Testing Video. Our knowledgeable staff is always available to advise you on solutions for the specific needs of your facility and our lighting layouts and site audits are always free! To get in touch, please fill out this form and you will be contacted by a local Dialight representative.

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