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T8: No Longer Sufficient

LED shop lighting

The auto body shop in question with its current fixtures.

An auto body shop in Florida recently contacted us with the hope that we could upgrade their outdated 4-bulb T8 high bay fluorescent lighting to LED. Their nearly ten-year-old lighting just wasn’t providing the much-needed efficiency and lumen output that the technicians required to accurately detail and paint cars. The dimensions of the facility are 40′ x 40′ (1600 square feet) with a 15′-18′ pitched roof. The owner of the shop requested a minimum of 50 footcandles but preferably a higher number for better visibility. The most important factor, they decided, was CRI. A color rendering index of at least 90+ was preferable to distinguish between subtle color nuances when detailing and painting vehicles. Efficiency was also a vital factor to this project as the lights are continuously run between 40 and 60 hours a week. Fluorescent T8, on average, only has a lifespan of about 30,000 hours, compared to our longest lasting LEDs which have a life of over 200,000 hours. It was really a no-brainer: upgrade to LED. But which fixtures would provide the maximum lumens, CRI, and efficiency while staying within a reasonable budget?

Comparing Our Fixtures

access fixtures high bays

For this project, our lighting specialists narrowed what might work down to four types of fixtures in different configurations. These four fixture options have very different features and designs, but we ran photometric analyses to determine if they would all work while fulfilling our customer’s requests of high-efficiency lighting, minimum of 50 footcandles, and high CRI. What we determined was that our EPTA, APTA, HIIO and OTAT fixtures could all be possible options for this project. Each one of these high bays is very different from the next and can provide different features and optics styles to a lighting project.

The first fixture we analyzed was the EPTA linear fixture. This was a great choice because it offers 90+ CRI, over 200,000 hours of life, 5000K, and easy mounting options. We also ran our analysis with diffusers installed, which makes light less harsh and more even. We ran our analysis using 20 EPTA 90s and the price came to a little over $6,000 for the entire project.

View EPTA Photometric Results

Next, we chose to use 10 APTA 160 fixtures in our second photometric. APTAs are another IP67 rated fixture perfect for wet and dirty locations with high CRI options and easy mounting. They are also L70 rated at 200,000 hours like the EPTAs. Using 10 APTAs cut down the cost to a little under $4,000, but did not sacrifice overall lumens.

Two other less expensive options that we considered when lighting this project were the HIIO high bays and the OTAT high bays. HIIO fixtures were able to provide the requested amount of lumens at a reasonable price and have an impressive IP66 rating against water and dirt. However, the major drawback of the HIIOs is that they are not available at CRIs higher than 70+.

OTAT is available in high CRI (80+), and they are highly affordable. However, they are not IP rated at all, which may potentially be problematic in a dusty shop environment. Both of these fixtures are much more cost effective than the EPTA and APTA solutions, but CRI, longevity, and IP rating were obviously not up to par with the first two choices.

A Choice of Solutions

What we determined from our research and our photometric analyses was that all of these fixtures would effectively light the auto body shop, but some would definitely do it better than others. We excluded the HIIO and the OTAT fixtures based on their lack of high CRI options as well as the OTAT’s lack of IP rating and narrowed it down to the APTA and EPTA lighting layouts.

Using 20 EPTA 90s with diffusers produced the most even lighting of the four comparisons by far. Because of the shape and size of the EPTA fixtures, we were able to create shadow-free, glare-free lighting with high CRI and great longevity. The EPTA solution was the best solution in terms of fulfilling exactly what our customers needs were.

However, an obvious barrier to the EPTA solution was the relatively higher price tag. If our customers wanted to cut the cost without sacrificing too much, the APTA package would work nearly as well. APTAs are also IP67 rated and last just as long as EPTA linear fixtures do, and using half as many would cut the cost by almost $2,000. The one drawback to choosing the APTA package is that due to having fewer fixtures, the lighting could end up a bit more uneven with some bright spots here and there. Putting diffusers on the APTA fixtures dramatically decreased the glare but not completely.

Overall, we told our customers that either the EPTA or the APTA solutions would be great lighting choices to replace their T8 lighting. Both would provide the recommended number of footcandles, high CRI, and longevity which translates to energy savings over time.

Speak to an Access Fixtures Lighting Specialist about Your Project

Are you looking for an affordable package for your auto body shop, powered by the latest in LED technology? Access Fixtures prides itself on using high-quality components to provide reliable LED high bay and shop lighting solutions. Do you need to discuss a unique project? Speak with an Access Fixtures lighting specialist today by phone at 800-468-9925 or by e-mail at [email protected].