Author Archives: Kathy Velasco

Can UV Lighting be a Danger in Your Workplace?

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, there’s an increased demand for sanitation methods that can be used with a wide range of items reliably and quickly.  UV-C ultraviolet lights are a fast-germicidal technology that kills over 99% of biological hazards, eliminating viruses (including coronavirus), bacteria, mold, etc.

However, improperly UV-C use can be a danger to humans. Let’s review some questions and answers about this technology.

How is UV-C used?

UV-C lights are mounted in areas where the light shines on items or substances requiring germicidal treatment. The targets can be objects (such as beauty/nail salon tools, food containers, horticultural tools), or even flowing substances. For example, water can be purified by passing it through UV-C lighting. Robots equipped with UV-C lights disinfect public transportation, hospitals and other spaces.

Why is UV-C dangerous?

UV-C light is dangerous to people, animals and plants for the same reason it’s dangerous to coronavirus: It damages the DNA in cells to the point they can no longer function properly, leading to cell death. When a human’s skin, eyes, etc. are exposed to UV-C, cells in the area begin to die. This can not only interfere with the function of the affected area, it increases the risk of cancer, especially skin cancers.

Because UV-C is outside the visible spectrum, those may not use the simple natural defenses we have against damage to our eyes—closing them, shading them, blinking or squinting.

Unfortunately, a high-intensity UV-C source can cause damaging overexposure in just a few seconds. 

What damage does UV-C cause?

Over-exposure can lead to eye and skin damage that can take 1-2 days or longer to appear. Exact effects depend on the wavelength and intensity of the light, proximity to the source, and time of exposure. Some UV germicidal devices produce ozone, and uncontrolled ozone buildup can create a hazard to the lungs.

Skin injuries range from minor to severe burns and are similar to a sunburn. Exposure usually doesn’t cause permanent major damage to the eyes, but victims can be effectively blind for two days or so. This is known as photokeratitis and is caused by burns on the cornea similar to those seen in snow blindness.

As we mentioned, UV-C exposure (especially exposure that causes skin damage) also increases an individual’s cancer risk.

How can we prevent these injuries?

Following these four procedures will greatly increase the safety of your workforce when it comes to UV-C.

  • Increase awareness—Make sure your workers receive training on the dangers of UV-C and ways to prevent exposure.
  • Avoid handheld units and any other unshielded equipment—A number of UV units coming onto the market to meet COVID-related demand lack necessary safety features. In particular, handheld units are potentially dangerous because they may lack proper shielding and can be easily pointed at skin or eyes. Avoid purchasing or using these or any other UV-C equipment that allows the light to be on while a worker might be exposed.
  • Use equipment certified by an NRTL— No matter what you use, ensure it’s certified by Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) or one of the other Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories that certifies product safety. These products will include proper safety measures, whereas the growing number of products rushed to market use “safeguards” which leave plenty of room for accidental exposure.
  • Employ protection measures—Even if UV-C equipment has an NRL certification, double-check to make sure it has proper safety measures that prevent radiation from being emitted while a worker is exposed. For example, a sanitation unit should have an interlock preventing it from being opened or serviced while the UV light is on, in the same way a microwave oven will not turn on while its door is open.

    It’s also important to ensure workers who might be accidentally exposed to artificial UV light have proper PPE, such as UV-resistant gloves, goggles or face shields.

With the right training, safety measures, and certified equipment, you can use the sanitation power of UV-C while keeping your workers 100% safe.

Saving Money on Lighting Maintenance in Your Manufacturing Facility

There’s always pressure to reduce costs in manufacturing, not just on the production line, but anywhere you can.  LED’s lighting controls are an answer because they reduce energy use.  But can they reduce your costs in other ways?

In fact, they can.  LED’s not only save energy, with a little strategizing they can also help you slash your maintenance budget.

Choose LED’s and other new technologies over traditional lamp

Part of your maintenance budget is periodic lamp/bulb and or ballast replacement.  When you replace fluorescent or HID lamps with the newer LED technology, you will have far fewer lamp changes.

For example, a typical 400-watt metal halide lamp has a life expectancy of about 15,000 hrs.  When the Metal Halide lamp is first installed, it is almost at full light/ lumen output. Through the course of time, and at about 50% of the Metal Halide’s rated life, the lamp typically loses about 50% of its lumen output. The HID’s counterpart, an LED only loses about 10% of its lumen output after 30,000 hrs.  

Fluorescents do better than HID’s when it comes to lumen output retention but still not nearly as good as LEDs. Fluorescents only lose about 30% of their lumen levels up until reaching about 20,000 hours and then they start to rapidly lose lumen output.

LED’s typically cut your energy consumption in half or better due to newer technology which has greatly increased LED lumen output.  You can count on a 50% reduction in energy when replacing HID’s and linear fluorescent lamps. The energy savings is much more dramatic when replacing incandescent or halogen lamps.

Choose LED fixtures where appropriate

You may decide to install a new LED fixture in place of your current lighting fixtures. It can be as simple and disconnecting the old and replacing the new. This of course depends on when current fixtures were installed.  

If a facility runs two shifts a day averaging 100 hours a week with all lamps burning, it will take an estimated 10 years before you would even need to consider changing out your fixtures.  By then, you would typically have met your ROI by end of year 3 or 4 depending on the system.

Energy efficient changes can free up capital to invest in machinery, technology, additional labor, etc. and you can still put money away for your next lighting investment.  Technology is changing rapidly, and I can see another 50% in lighting energy savings in the next 5 to 10 years or sooner!

LED’s love the cold and typically perform well where there is vibration

LED’s light quickly, even in cold environments.

Vibration can also be an issue in manufacturing. That is where LED fixtures come in. This can be a significant problem in factory environments or other places where there is a whole lot of shaking going on during the workday. LED fixtures are somewhat vibration resistant. Unlike conventional lamps that use filaments to generate light, LEDs produce light using a robust semiconductor. The vibration will rarely cause LEDs to fail, but it will speed up the lumen degradation rate. In situations where there is a lot of vibration, an LED fixture is recommended.

Don’t forget outdoor lighting

If you have had to pay an electrician with a bucket truck to change lamps and ballast in your parking lot, you know how steep the costs for that sort of work can be. With LED’s, you can greatly lengthen the time between lighting changes, so be sure to include the parking lot and security lighting in your plans.

Consider Lighting Controls

When you use a light for longer than it is needed, you not only pay more in electricity costs, you move the day closer when the lamp or fixture will need to be changed out. With the right lighting controls, you can make sure that lighting use is optimized, stretching out the maintenance life cycle.

The right lighting controls can increase safety, too. For example, something as simple as a motion detector can ensure there’s always enough light in a loading/unloading area as well as in your parking lots. And, a well-lit area can reduce accidents.

All thing considered

Good lighting can increase production as well as employee morale, not to mention safety. This fact has been proven over and over.

Spend your investment wisely. LED lighting can range in cost from inexpensive to a bit more costly. The investment should be weighted by a good side by side comparison.

Is the lighting manufacturer a new company or one that has been in business for several years? In other words, be wary when the warranty of the product is longer than the years the manufacturer has been in business.

Payback and ROI are very important too when choosing a product.  However, having to replace the less expensive LED fixtures that came with great incentives and fail quickly, can be costly.

In lite (no pun intended) of our economic situation where Nuclear Plants are closing across our country and there are possible changes in legislation, an unsurety in the future cost of energy, it is wise to save where you can.

Installing LED lighting and lighting controls are truly great investments. Get good advice from a long tenured, community minded company when considering options.

Three Surprising Effects Lighting Has on Worker Productivity

It’s typical for those who recommend converting to new lighting to focus on the cost savings a business can experience by installing LED’s or other new energy saving technologies.  That certainly makes sense, given that LED’s offer significant savings, using less power and requiring less frequent maintenance.

However, a lighting change can boost your business by having a positive effect on worker productivity. Let’s look at some ways the right choices can help your workforce do more.

Daylight Increases Productivity

The circadian rhythm that governs our waking and sleeping cycles is crucial to alertness and productivity, and the rhythm is tied to the frequencies found in daylight. Research studies and field experience have repeatedly shown that exposure to daylight makes workers more productive. A study by the World Green Building Council found that natural daylight increased worker productivity by 18%. The design firm HOK redesigned a Washington, DC law firm’s offices with natural light, glass partitions, and soft, indirect lighting for aesthetic reasons, but the firm found their lawyers were more productive!

What if your setting doesn’t allow natural lighting? Lighting in the “daylight” color range—color temperature 6500°K—is the perfect match, but Cool White (4000 to 5000K) has a similar effect on circadian rhythms and is available in more lighting options.

It’s best to choose light colors that are cool rather than warm, because bluer light tends to help alertness while yellower light has no effect. In one study, researchers found that workers exposed to cool light on a “blue floor” had significantly higher alertness levels later in the day than those on a control floor where there had been no lighting changes. Workers also reported improved sleep.

Blue-white light suppresses the early release of sleep hormones, keeping the body closer to a natural circadian rhythm. Introduce as much natural light into your work spaces as possible and use cool white LED’s when natural light is not available.

The Right Lighting Means Fewer Minor Medical Issues and Fewer Mistakes

Eyestrain may seem like a minor problem, but it can compound by causing headaches (30% of employees report headaches related to eye strain) and other minor medical issues that cost time and productivity. Eye strain leads to mistakes, which lowers production further. Lastly, workers who have high morale and satisfaction are more productive, and workers who are comfortable are more satisfied.

The best way to begin reducing eyestrain is to consider the work being done, and the environment where it’s performed. Fortunately, the best lighting color for detail work is a color that helps workers remain alert: Cool White, with a color temperature of 4000 to 5000K. When possible, provide task lighting in this range for those doing close-up work.

It’s also important to eliminate glare, which is a major source of eyestrain. Glossy furniture, paint, flooring, fixtures, and equipment can all produce glare, and should be toned down.

You Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing

One source of eyestrain, glare, and other disruptive problems is spaces that are too brightly lit, and they are far too common. Most workplaces have lighting at least twice as bright as OSHA recommends. Instead of depending on high output overhead lighting, make use of task and accent lighting so that workers have softer illumination, and control over how much illumination to use.

Choosing the Right Partner for Energy Reduction

Even in strong economic times, reducing expenses is always a smart move.  In today’s climate of crisis, it makes even more sense to take opportunities to cut costs wherever you can.  Energy use is an excellent place to start, and new technologies and incentives make energy reduction easier than before.

The question is, how do you choose a partner to help you navigate a process that covers so many systems and options? Let’s review the qualities you’ll need to look for.

Choose a partner that knows LED’s.

Lighting counts for about 25% of the average business electric bill, varying by industry. Replacing linear fluorescent tubes or incandescent bulbs with LED’s can save thousands of kilowatt hours (and therefore, thousands of dollars) each year.

Because LED’s have matured as a technology, there are now a dizzying array of lighting options to choose from. The right partner company will not only be able to help you replace bulbs, but help you get even more out of your project by addressing other aspects of lighting choice. Will LED bulbs or entire fixtures be better for your maintenance needs? What lighting design choices, such as the range of light color to use, will work best in your working environment? A partner who knows and deals in a wide range of LED equipment will be able to help you make the best and most profitable decisions.  Since 1988, Thayer has been providing a wide range of lighting solutions needed to achieve your goals.

Choose a partner that is experienced.

Knowledge and capability are important, but so is project experience. Knowing the common hitches and how to avoid them, leads to better service. Choose a company that has extensive experience, and a number of solid project references.  Thayer has upgraded over 40 million square feet of turnkey lighting solutions in Northern Illinois and Wisconsin for hundreds of clients.  Let our experience work for you.

Choose a partner that can lead you through the rebate and incentive jungle.

Illinois, the federal government, ComEd and a number of other organizations are eager to provide rebates, incentives and grants to organizations that reduce their energy use with LED’s and other new technologies. They range from per-bulb rebates to green building ratings that reduce your tax liability.

The downside is each of these opportunities has its own requirements, benchmarks, and paperwork. Make sure your energy reduction partner is experienced in navigating this territory, helping you realize the best possible return on your dollar.

Choose a partner that is local.

In our increasingly connected world, buying equipment or even seeking advice from outside the region makes a certain kind of sense. But energy reduction is an ongoing process, one that can sometimes involve long-term projects. For that reason, it makes even more sense to have a partner who can visit your site easily, answer concerns as they come up, and give you the best advice after seeing “the lay of the land” in person.

Need a local partner for your project? Choose Thayer Lighting. We have decades of experience with LED’s and other energy-saving technology, know how to navigate the jungle of incentives, and are right here in your region. Get in touch and let’s see what we can do together!

Case Study: Rockford Lutheran

When the leadership of Rockford Lutheran School was examining how they might reduce energy costs at their Junior/Senior High School buildings, they wisely turned to solar power.  But, advisers suggested they focus first on an easier way to reduce electrical costs: Replacing the school’s traditional lighting incandescent and fluorescent lighting with LED’s.

Rockford Lutheran asked for quotes from several local lighting contractors and chose Thayer. “We knew Thayer as a partner from previous work,” said Becky Chewning, the school’s Finance Director, “but we chose to work with them on this project because their proposal was the most competitive and supplied the most support.”

Replacing every bulb in the 60,000 square foot facility was a daunting task, and one the school elected to take on. Each fixture would require some rewiring to accept the LED’s. Work began in earnest as soon as the 2018-2019 school year ended. Over the course of the summer, the school’s maintenance specialist and students from the engineering class managed to complete half the lighting changes. Once the 550 junior and senior high school students had returned in the fall, parents volunteering on weekends continued to keep the project moving.

The total cost of equipment was approximately $8,000, and Chewning reports they’ve already saved at least $10,000 over 12 months.

Apart from the cost, Chewning and others at Rockford Lutheran appreciate the relationship they have with Thayer.

At the beginning of the project, Thayer provided advice on “light color examples geared to education, that create a more studious environment,” Chewning said. “They carefully explained all the options available. Karl Arvidson came out several times to consult with maintenance.” Challenges Arvidson helped them solve including a power delivery system in the Junior High wing that differed from the rest of the building, and specialized lighting in the gym.

“Having local support and knowing they can pop right over to help makes for a good relationship,” Chewning said.

Food Service Industry Focus: Using Your Downtime

We realize the major problem the COVID-19 crisis has been for the food service industry.  Even before shutdown orders began, data showed restaurant visits down 73% nationwide.  Even if you’re doing pickup/delivery and have a supportive customer base, times are tough. 

This guide discusses using this downtime to your advantage, focusing on your dining space.  But more to the point, we’re going to finish with recommendations for two options: One for those that have the financial resources for lighting changes, and one for those who have an abundance of time, but not an abundance of money.

Evaluating Your Dining Space for Optimal Lighting

Replacing your dining space lighting can require weeks of downtime. Unfortunately, that time is now available.

The upside? Minor changes may have a large effect on the diner’s enjoyment. Lighting design is crucial to ambiance, and not only do 91% of diners say ambiance plays a role in their choice of restaurant, 20% say it is their top concern.

First, Consider the Color of Your Lights

Though there are other factors that affect ambiance, the color of lighting is perhaps the most important component. After all, there’s a significant difference between the feel of a room lit by candlelight-like warm white and the bright white that matches the light of standard fluorescent tubes. In general, dining areas should use warm lighting temperatures (from around 2500 to 3000°K) and not stray too much higher on the spectrum.

Second, Consider the Colors in the Rest of the Space

Lighter colors make it easy to light the general area with indirect lighting fixtures, and when white or light colors are more common in a space, direct lighting tends to seem less harsh to the diner. You may be able to improve the ambiance greatly with simple color changes.

Third, Look Again for Glare

Check for items that are dark, but shiny; their presence can lead to glare as their dark color can cause you to perceive that more powerful direct lighting is needed. Eliminate items that are glossy, are made of glass or are otherwise highly reflective. Obviously, you’ll still need to have glassware and highly glossy silverware, but by carefully reviewing the amount of direct light in the table space, you can eliminate glare from these, too.

How to Move Forward

Depending on your current financial situation and what government relief becomes available, you will have one of two basic options:

The Well-resourced Option: Use your downtime to replace old fixtures with a better look, and with LED technology that pays for itself with energy savings. Partner with a lighting provider, such as Thayer Lighting, to create a great new design for the space.

The Low-Cost Option: Look to replace bulbs with LED equivalents that are the right color for the space, and use low cost repainting and replacement of items to eliminate glare and improve the general lighting effectiveness. In any case, it costs nothing to check in with an experienced lighting provider to get assistance choosing the right approaches and equipment.

Beyond the Budget: 3 Ways New Lighting Tech Benefits Your Business Beyond Saving You Money

Every company watches the bottom line, so it’s no surprise our blogs often focus on financial benefits of bringing new technologies into your business.  But what about benefits that don’t directly show up on the balance sheet?  New lighting technologies can help your workforce feel better and be more productive.  Let’s review three of these benefits:

Reduced Eye Strain and Related Problems

Sorry to talk dollars again, but the lower energy cost of LED’s means you can produce far more light in a space for a given cost. And while incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with a high color rendering index (CRI) are often quite expensive, high CRI LED’s are not.

What does this mean for your workers?

  • Eye strain is greatly reduced, meaning greater comfort for workers and fewer mistakes.
  • Employees will experience fewer problems that follow from eye strain. According to a study by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), 30% of employees report headaches related to eye strain.
  • For tasks requiring color matching/differentiation, high CRI light reduces eye strain even further.

Increased Productivity & Alertness

Studies consistently show a strong relationship between bright light and increased productivity. The right lighting also employees’ emotional states.

One factor of major importance is the presence of natural light, or artificial lighting that includes the blue tones of natural sunlight. Somewhere between 5 and 10% of the population suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), becoming depressed during winter months and long stretches of inclement weather. But as little as 15 minutes of natural light exposure leads to the release of endorphins, countering the effects of dim winter light.

A study by the University of Surrey found that workers on a “blue enriched” floor of an office building had significantly higher alertness levels later in the day than those on a control floor where there had been no lighting changes. Workers also reported improved sleep. The research team concluded that more “natural” light was suppressing the early release of sleep hormones and was helping their bodies operate more closely to a natural circadian rhythm.

When the ASID created a lighting system in their headquarters to address circadian rhythm, 25% of employees reported getting better sleep.

Advanced Lighting Controls Allow Adjustment

Speaking of natural light, today’s advanced lighting controls make it possible for your space to adapt to the outdoor environment. Sensors can increase the artificial lighting when conditions outside are dim, and decrease it when the sun is bright. This lowers costs on bright days, but more importantly, it increases the feeling of exposure to natural light, and thereby increases employee productivity and morale.

Moving Closer to Sustainability Goals

“With all the changes to our warehouse, we knew it was time to upgrade our lighting to new LED fixtures.  They’re smaller, brighter and come with a 10-year warranty.  This moves us closer to our sustainability goals, plus we expect to save about $14k a year on our electric bill.”

John Barelli,

President, WaterSurplus

Thayer Holds Solar Breakfast Event for Commercial & Industrial Business Owners

Thayer Lighting held a solar breakfast event on February 27, 2020 at Giovanni’s.  Over 40 Commercial and Industrial business leaders attended the event, which covered topics such as: Is solar right for your commercial or industrial building, information on programs to defray solar installation costs, how to depreciate the cost of the project and helped answer questions on how solar can work for you. 

The Thayer solar event featured a presentation from Sam Strader, Sustain Rockford, on “Illinois Solar for All”, Scot Dobbs, Wipfli, to discuss tax incentives and a panel discussion with key personnel from RPG Energy Group, Jami Krynski, Colton Cooper, Zach Henderson and Andy Cooper.  Einar Forsman, President and CEO of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, was the moderator for the Q&A portion. 

Prior to the presentation, Patti Thayer, owner of Thayer Lighting, presented La Chiquita with the “Soaring into Sustainability” award for their commitment to addressing the environmental impact of their upcoming building projects.  For more information on if going solar is right for you, please contact Patti Thayer at 815-282-1112 or patti@thayerlightinginc.com

Thayer to Host Solar Breakfast on February 27th to inform local business owners about the benefits of going solar!

Is SOLAR RIGHT for your COMMERCIAL or INDUSTRIAL building?

  • Experts will answer questions on how solar can work for you
  • Find out what programs exist to help defray installation costs
  • How you can depreciate the cost, and more!

BE OUR GUEST at the 2020 Energy Breakfast Event
February 27 at Giovanni’s
Breakfast 7:20am / Presentation 7:45am / Q&A 9am
SEATING IS LIMITED: Call Patti at 815-282-1112 or
email Patti@thayerlightinginc.com by February 21.