The first public demonstration of Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb was on December 31, 1879.

At his laboratory in New Jersey, Edison displayed the culmination of  his experiments to produce a reliable electric lamp. We’ve come a long  way since then as lamps that are more dependable have been developed.

Changes in lighting technology

Incandescent lighting requires a small, threadlike filament that is  heated until it is hot enough to emit light. The first working filament  was made of expensive platinum. Further experiments produced a thin,  carbon filament, making the light bulb affordable.

Even though the early models were problematic for years, improvements  were discovered and implemented. And the electric light bulb, based on  Edison’s designs and experiments, became standard household, commercial  and industrial illumination for decades to come.

Over 136 years after the bulb’s unveiling, technological advances  make safer and more reliable lighting available. One major push in  technology is that of energy efficiency. Because of their design,  incandescent bulbs are the least efficient. Up to 90% of the energy in  these types of bulbs is dissipated as heat, not light.

Types of incandescent bulbs include:

  • The familiar globe bulb used in household lamps and fixtures
  • Incandescent flood and spot lights
  • Hi Intensity Discharge lamps (HID), which include metal halide and high-pressure sodium bulbs
  • Halogen bulbs commonly used in flood lamp luminaires.

Technologies were developed to address the poor energy consumption of  incandescent bulbs. One of the major categories was fluorescent  technology.

A safer, more efficient and controllable lighting technology has been  developed in recent years. Lamps consisting of groups of light emitting  diodes (LEDs) have proven more reliable and energy efficient than their  predecessors.

As with any technology, early LED lamps and luminaires were  expensive. However, through manufacturing advances and increased  adoption by users, the cost of LEDs has dropped significantly. The  savings in energy consumption makes this form of lighting more cost  effective.

Even so, retrofitting a facility with any new kind of lighting  technology can be expensive. To answer that issue, many lighting  manufacturers and distributors allow industrial facilities to evaluate  new fixtures and technology through a system called “trialing”.

The pros and cons of trialing fixtures

The trialing option is comparable to the “try it before you buy it”  option given to consumers. Often a manufacturer will offer a “four in  the air” type of trial run. While it may be greater or less than four  fixtures, a facility can use a set number of fixtures for a given amount  of time, usually 30 to 60 days.

A purchase order is generated, but not acted upon until the end of  the trial. If the facility keeps the fixtures, as is most often the  case, they complete the purchase. If they don’t keep the item, the lamps  and/or fixtures are returned, and the purchase order is canceled.

Another form of trialing is when the plant engineer buys a new fixture or lamp for evaluation.

The facility engineers can run tests, do calculations and determine  if the fixture is worth the cost. Other factors, such as candlepower,  color rendering and expected longevity of the fixture are included.

But there are some inherent problems. Setting up the trial fixture is  often as involved as a new installation or lighting maintenance task.  If the fixture is in a hazardous or elevated location, safety measures  must be followed, just as in a repair. This often includes ladders,  scaffolding, fall protection and tie-off points. In some cases, elevated  work platforms or similar equipment must be deployed.

There are ways to set up for these trial runs that also improve maintenance costs going forward.

Light pole conversion for trialing, ongoing maintenance and future-proofing

There are light poles specifically designed for increased safety during routine lighting maintenance. These actually lower the fixture to the level of a worker on a catwalk or other surface.

Pole conversion systems allow simple and cost-effective methods for trialing new lighting techniques.

When using these improved lowering light pole systems, the trialing  is more efficiently completed. And regardless of the outcome of the  trial, the new pole system stays in place to promote a safer, more cost  effective and ergonomic environment for future lighting maintenance.

As an additional benefit, this system actually future-proofs the  plant against future lighting technology advancements, which will  continue at an exponential rate. Going forward, the system allows simple  retrofitting of improved LED drivers, for example.

The Swivelpole™ lowering pole solution is  recognised globally for providing simple, fast and affordable access to light fixtures and equipment. The innovative access solutions eliminate the risk of working at heights, through the controlled lowering of light fixtures and equipment to a safe and comfortable working position.

Maxis™ is the next generation lowering pole solution for safely accessing light fixtures and equipment.