Blog – Temporary Climate Solutions

What Should You Know about Warehouse Cold Storage Lighting?

Cold storage facilities are mixed-use environments with office, warehouse and assembly functions. They require the pairing of climate control solutions with cold storage lighting to keep operations productive and workers safe. While the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have standards for general warehouse lighting, it does state that overhead lighting should be “adequate for the task at hand” to promote proper ergonomics. To ensure the lighting in your facility supports productivity and safety, it is a good idea to consult with your state’s specific standards for illumination in workplaces.

The Importance of Cold Storage Lighting

Appropriate lighting is essential in warehouses because it helps preserve the quality of the items stored and helps workers do their jobs safely. Because the eyes process about 80 percent of information in an individual’s surroundings, lighting aids in efficient and accurate performance. Good lighting enhances the overall wellbeing that workers feel, particularly in those who do shift work. Appropriate lighting also helps minimize capital expenses and maintenance costs.

When cold storage lighting is poor, workers may experience eye fatigue and straining that could lead to headaches, visual problems, an increase in errors, and an increased probability of accidents. Lighting problems (e.g., flickering, glare, poorly distributed light, insufficient lighting and improper contrast) may also contribute to feelings of stress, psychological distress, low morale and disturbances to sleep-wake cycles.   

Cold Storage Lighting Best Practices

Lighting solutions in cold storage facilities must be durable enough to withstand the environmental conditions they’re exposed to, such as cool or freezing temperatures, humidity and vibrations. At the same time, they must comply with federal and local safety, fire and materials codes.

Illumination Levels

The Illumination Engineering Society of North America recommends the following illumination levels for warehouse and industrial applications:

  • 5 to 10 foot candles: For bulk storage and simple orientation in inactive areas
  • 15 to 20 foot candles: For fine item storage and basic visual acuity              
  • 20 to 50 foot candles: For detailed visual tasks
  • 30 foot candles: For motor and equipment observation
  • 50 foot candles: For medium bench and machine work
  • 100 foot candles: For inspections

 The IESNA advises that light levels might need to be adjusted based on the type of task performed, level of detail required, size of the objects handled, and the average age of the workers. It is a good idea to interview workers about lighting levels and their effectiveness in each area.

Best Lighting Types for Cold Storage

Lighting in cold storage environments accounts for one of the greatest operating costs in a warehouse. The best bulbs are energy efficient, offer adequate thermal performance, have low maintenance costs and illuminate the space in question well. Depending on the area, the bulb type might need to be rated for food production zones, wet zones or splash zones.

  • LED: Two-lead semiconductor light source
    • Remains cool
    • Emits the least amount of UV radiation
    • Bulbs may last up to 50,000 hours
    • The most energy efficient lighting type
    • Low glare
    • Can operate at temperatures as low as -25°C
    • Fluorescent: Excited electrons react with phosphors in the lamp, causing it to glow
      • Provides even illumination
      • Can operate at temperatures as low as -18°C
      • May last longer than high-intensity discharge lighting
      • High-intensity discharge: Excited gasses within a bulb discharge light
        • Good to use in cold storage include E-HID and metal halide, which can start in colder temperatures than fluorescent lighting
        • Point source is simple to control
        • Is not as temperature-sensitive
        • May be more energy efficient than fluorescent lighting
        • Can operate in temperatures as low as -30°C

Because the heat that lamps, bodies and machinery radiate can affect the temperature in a cold storage area, a facility should invest in Polygon’s custom climate control solutions to preserve the quality of the items processed and stored. These solutions maintain constant temperatures, relative humidity levels and ventilation rates. They also include monitoring systems that immediately alert you to fluctuations in environmental conditions, allowing you to remedy problems before losses occur. Contact a climate control specialist at Polygon today to learn more and schedule a free consultation.