Lighting accounts for nearly 13-15% of all the energy used in a restaurant or commercial kitchen. Though a commercial kitchen is not the largest energy consumer, it is one of the comfortable places to save money. There are several energy-efficient lighting options in the market, most of which require no expensive retrofit, so saving money in commercial kitchens can be as simple as changing a light bulb.
Fluorescent lights are different from the incandescent lights. Rather than heating up a wire to produce light, as incandescent do, fluorescent lights heat different gases inside the tube. In the fluorescent lighting category, the best energy-efficient types
currently available in the market are CFLs and T8 fluorescents.
CFL stands for Compact Fluorescent Light. These lights are exactly what their name suggests, smaller versions of the fluorescent lights. The benefits of CFLs are given below:
- Cheaper to use: Each CFL can save about INR 1500 over the bulb’s lifetime when compared to a standard incandescent light.
- Easy to install: CFLs can screw directly into an incandescent light socket of equivalent wattage. Nothing from old fixtures needs to be replaced.
- Longer lasting: CFLs can last up to a minimum of 10 times more than incandescent lights.
- Produce less heat: CFLs produce 75% less heat than incandescent lights.
T8 Fluorescent Lights
T8 fluorescent lights are more energy-efficient than the standard T12 lights. Essentially; T8s fluorescent lights have a smaller tube diameter but emit more amount of light, making them more energy-efficient. Replacing just one T12 fixture with a T8 can save around INR 1500-1800 on the electricity bill every year.
Drawbacks: All fluorescent lights contain some amount of mercury or lead. Mercury and lead are banned to put in landfill sites in many states, and though recycling centers are the trend in cities, they are still sparse in number. So, the fluorescent lights have to be taken to a hazardous waste facility for proper disposal.
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. LEDs work similar to incandescent light, except while incandescent lights heat up a filament and throw off heat and light. LEDs heat up a small semiconductor (diode) to emit light and produce minimal heat. On the other hand, standard incandescent bulbs waste a majority of their energy as heat radiation.
Until recently, LEDs were used primarily in computers and other similar electronic equipment. Now LEDs are available that can replace standard incandescent lights and CFLs. LED benefits are given below:
- More energy-efficient than other forms: LEDs can reduce energy use by up to 90% when compared to other forms of lighting.
- Less harmful than other lights: Unlike fluorescent lights, LEDs do not contain any harmful gases and produce very little heat.
- More Durable: Since LED light fixtures consist of several tiny plastic-covered diodes, they do not break as easily as CFLs or incandescent bulbs.
Drawbacks: LED light bulbs are expensive to buy when compared to CFLs or incandescent lights, but the rates are decreasing day by day with up-gradation in technology. Also, many utility companies offer incentives or assistance for investing in more energy-efficient lighting. Companies like this will even finance the light bulbs when doing an entire retrofit.
Natural Lighting or Daylight
Using sunlight to the light commercial kitchen during the daytime hours can significantly reduce the energy bill and increase employee and customer happiness. The benefits of natural light in a commercial kitchen are given below:
- Reduces the energy costs: Every hour that artificial lighting is turned off in favour of daylighting equates to energy saving of several kilowatt-hours.
- Increases employee productivity: Many studies have shown that using day or natural light will increase employee or worker’s productivity by as much as 15 to 20%.
- Longer lasting: A typical LED bulb can outlast at least 30 incandescent lights or six CFLs.
- Increases customer happiness: Sunlight is shown to increase a person’s willpower and elevate their overall mood. Additionally, using daylight makes customers feel connected with the natural world, which also increases overall happiness.
Drawbacks: If the sunlight is too direct it can actually increase the kitchen temperature and raise the cooling costs during the summer months. Products like retractable awnings and window shades can help in regulating the amount of light that reaches the interior. There is also a clear window film that, once installed, allows daylight in but blocks the temperature-raising infrared rays.
Ar. Ashish Batra
General Manager (Architecture and Planning) Total Synergy Consulting Private Limited (TSCPL) Greater Kailash (GK), New Delhi.