The lighting world is all abuzz over light-emitting diodes, or more commonly known as LEDs. Many c-stores and gas stations have already made the investment in lighting their sites with the technology as more continue to do so, and now some car wash owners are making the transition.
Benny’s Car Wash has six sites in Louisiana and when they were building its new Gonzales, LA location in 2010, owner Justin Alford took a look at some of the advantages of LEDs over the traditional high intensity discharge (HID) lighting.
LSI Industries, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, made Alford aware of the advantages of its Crossover LED technology, such as its lighting performance and energy and maintenance savings. So Benny’s decided to use LEDs to light almost the whole site, including the parking lot, automatic car wash tunnel, and detail and vacuum area canopies. Now that the Gonzales location has been open for over a year, have these promises come true?
“Yes, I know it has saved money,” said Alford. “I know because we have another site, identical in size, and we spend $1,500-$2,000 less a month on our electricity bill at the Gonzales location.” Although, he added, they did do other things to help save electricity, such as installing variable frequency drives, the LEDs are a big factor.
And as for performance? “I love the way it looks,” he said. The LEDs give off a different light, he said, compared to the “old-type of lights that have a bright twinkle to them.” But in LEDs, the illumination is more pure and directional. He said they are functionally superior to HID, in that they do a better job of lighting up an area, especially at night.
“We are firm believers in the more light, the better, and we want our sites as bright as can be,” and, Alford added, no doubt these lights have a better look. Plus, with the better quality of light at night, people feel safer because they can see more.
Gonzales is a town about 20 miles away from Baton Rouge, so the setting is more suburban, but the car wash site sits in the center of town. The area doesn’t have any lighting restrictions on its businesses, unlike some towns’ governments imposing so-called “Dark Sky” ordinances. However, Alford said that if a car wash owner is facing that situation, the LEDs would definitely help with that.
The lighting upgrade hasn’t been completely problem-free, however, Alford said. They have had to replace a lot of the LEDs’ driver boards, but all things considered, he’s very happy with the lights.
As for the environmental advantages, “I’m not too into the ‘green’ movement,” he said. “But if I can save $2,000 in electricity bills, I like that green.”
All in all, Alford said, LEDs are the way to go. “If I were to build another new site, I’d do it again.”