LpR Article | Jul 05, 2016

Practical Results of a Gas Station Refurbishment with LED Luminaires by the Electromagnetica SA Semiconductor Lighting Centre

Perfect lighting at a gas station is very important for competitiveness. But a conventional lighting system is also a costly and energy demanding installation with high maintenance costs. Stelian Matei from the Electromagnetica SA Semiconductor Lighting Centre shows how a well-planned upgrade of conventional lighting to LED lighting lowers energy consumption and maintenance and, therefore, costs.

Good service is the key to a competitive gas station’s selling point, which is simply comprised of the gas pumps in and around the station. The service station sells a combustible product 24 hours a day which makes artificial lighting an integral part of their operation. Safety is the most important aspect, yet designers seem to think that it is only a simple lighting project, and could never be a magnificent work. As if to emphasize energy conservation, then, they replace the traditional gas discharge lamps with LED luminaire tents. They not only have to comply with appropriate standards but their job is also to make customers feel relaxed and comfortable. If they succeed here, customers are bound to frequent this site again or visit the same brand name of gas station somewhere else. This article emphasizes this issue and analyses design aspects.

Introduction

Lately gas stations are showing rapidly changing trends in development, focussing on a number of issues like the different light effects, poor quality, and the visual differences. Specifically, the main differences between lighting at gas stations are in the following areas:

• Poor light efficiency: Most gas stations are still primarily using fluorescent lights, energy saving lamps, mercury vapour lamps, and mercury lamps which results in low luminous efficiency

• Poor quality: Low light flux; short life time, electrical quality compliance leading to frequent changes and some natural phenomenon caused by light

• Poor visual effects: There is too much glare (Figure 1), especially for the visual comfort of drivers that are not buying fuel

The new trends help to improve the poor visual image of gas stations which brings economic benefits. This also leaves competitors at a disadvantage.

Figure 1: Example of an unpleasant illumination with high glare

The current LED luminous flux technology has the ability to perform as required for this application. Therefore, the number of gas station lamps doesn’t only resolve the flux problem but it also solves the problem of lighting quality.

LED Canopy Lighting

Lukoil and Bioromoil, both from Romania, are among the first companies to unveil their new LED lighting approach. The CIS Electromagnetica LED lighting solution as adopted shows the versatility which LEDs offer for internal as well as external applications. In addition, substantial energy efficient gains were achieved, without compromise to performance. Here we take a closer look at these projects.

The new LED lighting design encompasses the entire site from gas canopy and exterior, right through to inside of the shops and restrooms. The energy savings obtained is approximately 64% across the installation. The sites, as described, are the first in the country that are lit completely with LEDs which is a major breakthrough in filling station lighting. For canopies, the classical 250 W or 400 W metal halide fittings have been replaced with IP65 rated LED luminaires (Dorado 4M) using a high performance LED module (Figure 2). The highly efficient and low maintenance solution offered makes a significant contribution to keeping lifetime costs down. Of equal importance is that profits achieved through energy efficiency are not made at the expense of good illumination. This is because the levels of illumination are almost the same as those achieved using conventional light sources. One of the projects is a small self-service “AutoMat”, 2 pump gas station from BioRomOil. Initially, this site was lit by 6 luminaires containing 250 W metal halide lamps; two mounted on the canopy at a height of 4.5 m which caused a strong glare effect (Figure 1). This was replaced by a linear version (4 LED modules in a line) of the LED luminaire as shown in figure 2. Figure 3 shows the simulation in Dialux and figure 4 shows that the average level of luminance with an LED luminaire is 230 lx.Figure 2: LED luminaire - Dorado 4M with Luxeon LED

Figure 3 & 4: “AutoMat”, self-service gas station-simulation in Dialux (left). “AutoMat”, illuminance level-simulation in Dialux - white equals 250 lx (right)

Figure 5 & 6: “AutoMat” gas station before (left) and after (right) installing LEDs

The illumination level measured with Metal Halide lamps indicates a level just over 200 lx nadir. After replacing them with LEDs the average illuminance level measured was 220 lx. The visual effect can be observed in figure 5. A similar lighting treatment, this time using symmetric Dorado 4M luminaires, was used for larger gas stations like the Lukoil sites. It should be mentioned here that in both cases (Bioromoil and Lukoil) the electrical installation was not changed except for those sites in which a motion sensor/ dimming system was implemented. At the site mentioned, a simulation in Dialux (Figure 6) was also performed prior to installation, which indicates that the average level of illuminance was 300 lx as shown in figure 7. With traditional light, the level measured was just over 100 lx. The visual effect can also be observed in figure 8. The gas station is lit with traditional lighting on the right side of the picture and with LEDs on the left side.

Figure 7: Lukoil, gas station-simulation in Dialux

Figure 8: Lukoil, gas station-illumination level (red 300 lx)

Figure 9: Lukoil LED installation

As can be observed, canopy lighting is a key feature in gas stations due to the sales of gas and other flammable material goods in this region. The goal is to acquire high brightness, have glare and shadow control and guide the driver easily over to the gas pumps in order to improve security. Unfortunately, many gas stations have lighting that glares because most of them use metal halide lamp’s as a light emitting source.

The metal halide lighting glare caused by direct exposure to the location makes it necessary for the drivers making a pit stop to adapt their vision quickly. The same problem may be encountered with LEDs if the light is not diffused. Once diffused, it will reduce risk and increase visual comfort. All LED luminaires as described above, use micro-lens light diffusers with a low grade of absorption below 20%.

Energy Saving

The emphasis of energy conservation is not just simply replacing the traditional discharge lamps with LEDs. Energy conservation is necessary but a lot depends on the location of the gas station. There is a difference if the gas station is in the city or on the highway. Because the cars drive fast on highways, drivers should be able to see the gas station’s lights from a long distance away, especially in winter or when it is foggy. Current LED luminous flux technology has the fundamental ability to penetrate these elements as needed. Therefore, the problem of lighting quality does not depend on the number of lamps alone.

Compared with LEDs, metal halide electricity consumption as well as the speed of light output degradation is very high. Gas station lighting consists of gas station signage, refuelling area lighting, exit lighting square and the convenience store. In the table below the inventory of the traditional luminaire as used in a Lukoil gas station and the corresponding power consumption has been listed.

Listening to the needs of a gas station operation, the new LED lighting design encompasses the entire site from gas pump canopy right through to the shopping and coffee bar area.

Total installed power for traditional lighting was 6,680 W yet only 2,403 W when replaced with LEDs. This is almost 36% of traditional lighting energy consumption or, in other words, a 65% energy saving.

Table 1: Original traditional lighting products and power consumption

Table 2: New installed LED lighting products and power consumption

Conclusion

Gas station lighting has a direct impact on the staff’s efficiency and physical health. In addition, gas filling stations are an important part of landscaping. With the requirements of modern cities it is not enough for gas stations to only meet lighting needs. Lukoil and Bioromoil is the first location to unveil their new LED lighting approach. The LED lighting solution adopted by them shows the versatility that LEDs offer for internal and external applications. Over and above that, it has allowed these companies to make substantial energy efficient gains without compromising performance.

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