An innovative North-East company is helping to shed light on the future. Ian Lamming finds out more

IN the beginning there was nothing…then there was light and ever since humankind has been recreating it in some form or other to chase away the shadows and brighten their mood.

Banging the rocks together served them well sparking early blazes to illuminate the caves and rudimentary housing. Gas replaced wicks until the onslaught of electricity and simple bulbs and fluorescent strips gave way to halogen down-lighters.

Since then recesses have been lifted from the gloom but at a cost to the wallet and the planet as the inefficiencies of these bulbs have burned through precious resources.

But North-East electrician for the past 21 years Gary Rudd had a lightbulb moment working in the industry when his interest was switched on to the latest lighting technology LED – light emitting diodes – and he launched a specialist arm of his business four years ago.

Now he and his office and installation team are advising customers on the benefits of this revolution in lighting which is leading to staggering savings and reducing carbon emissions.

In an economic climate where every pound matters and with Brexit just around the corner, Newton Aycliffe based LED Supply & Fit is managing to cut customers’ lighting bills by tens of thousands of pounds.

“It starts with a comprehensive survey followed by a detailed document highlighting areas where costs can be cut; we can tell you exactly what your current lighting is costing you compared to new LED lighting.” This will include every area from reception to the toilets, office and warehousing, hospital wards and school classrooms to sports halls and gyms, lifts, factory floor and stairwells.

LED Supply & Fit calculates energy usage on an hourly, weekly and yearly basis as well as annual carbon emissions predicting the figures over five and ten years.

One customer was spending close to £150,000 lighting its business but reduced this outlay to just over £40,000 by installing LED lights.

The total cost of the LED installation was 100 per cent tax deductible in the first year and LED Supply & Fit also helped the company source thousands of pounds grant funding from the Carbon Trust.

Helping the environment was an equally impressive reduction in Co2 emissions from an icecap melting 62,000kg to just over £17,500kg.

“Very early on we spotted the enormous cost savings around LED lighting for commercial and domestic customers,” said Stockton-born Gary, who lives in Spennymoor. “Early LEDs were a bit stark but the technology within the unit has drastically improved and the equipment has come down markedly in price.

“It is brighter, cheaper, more flexible with the ability to dim and change the colour. It runs much cooler so it is safer and the equipment lasts much longer because it is not affected by the heat which halogens emit. With the LEDs being much brighter than your traditional lighting this often leads to a reduction in light fittings. Being able to use lower wattage can save up to 60-90 per cent so premises such as nursing homes, hospitals and businesses which run night shifts can save an absolute fortune.

“Our LED equipment comes with a five-year warranty and requires no maintenance. Bulbs and panels last more than 50,000 hours compared to their predecessors which could blow from 3,000 to 15,000 hours. It’s false economy buying the cheapest as it often just doesn’t last. We opt for Phillips and Meanwell, which have a proven track record.

“The quality of light is also much better. So in sports halls, for instance, we fit lenses up to competition standard which means players don’t lose the ball or badminton shuttle in the glare of the overhead. Lighting also affects mood and can be important to employers for maximising staff performance and welfare.”

LED Supply & Fit engineers are also licensed to use a cherry-picker or scaffolding allowing them to reach even the most inaccessible places.

“Talking to the customer is vital as by doing so we can recommend the right equipment for their needs, demonstrate how it works and save on potentially expensive mistakes,” said Gary. “We can also help them access a range of grants and financial incentives. New schemes are coming on line all the time and we contact the source to find out the criteria customers need to meet.”

LED Supply & Fit also works with an increasing number of electricians and contractors sharing their expertise and helping them source the best fittings for clients. “In some ways we are being forced into this as the old lighting is now obsolete and is no longer being manufactured,” said Gary.

“There are even apps now so you can control your lighting from your phone, which boosts security around premises and again saves money. There are also daylight sensors, which are really useful installed on our industrial high bay factory and workshop lights. They dim the lighting to the optimum level when the building gets enough natural light through windows and roof-lights. Then, as it gets darker outside, they automatically raise the light levels of the LED unit.

“New mood lighting is being used in hospitals where research has proved that it helps patients sleep better and longer at night but allows staff to continue to see to work.

“We supply and install for anyone who wants the benefits of LED lighting; householders, residential, businesses, wholesalers and other electricians. It is still a relatively young business and it is going well. LED lighting is improving all the time and we work tirelessly to keep up to date with developments so we can share the benefits with customers as they shine a light on what seem like ever increasing energy bills.”