Slow Off the Mark: LED Technology in the Factory

While LED technology has been available for a number of years and is more efficient than other light offerings, it has not caught on as quickly as advocates hoped. This new LED fixture from Big Ass Fans addresses the issues that have caused industrial and commercial spaces to be slow in adopting the lighting technology.

Fan manufacturer Big Ass Fans (Lexington, KY) has unveiled an LED fixture that company leadership says addresses why industrial and commercial spaces have been slow to adopt the lighting technology.

While LED technology has been available for a number of years and is more efficient than other light offerings, it has not caught on as quickly as advocates hoped. Among the failings of existing industrial and commercial fixtures are the vulnerability of the LEDs to dust and the many other after-effects of work like welding and fabricating.

Existing fixtures simply don’t stand up to the tough environments that exist in factories, warehouses and distribution centers. We know because we looked at using them in our own manufacturing operations. The Big Ass High Bay LED addresses those shortcomings,” said James DeSmet, vice president of engineering at Big Ass Fans. “Our staff has been inside countless factories, warehouses and distribution centers. Because of that, we know how companies work and how their lights often prove to be a burden instead of an asset.”

The Big Ass High Bay LED comes from the new Big Ass Light division and represents the company’s first foray outside of fans since its founding in 1999. Like with fans, the company sells and installs the Big Ass High Bay LED directly.

This overview introduces the capabilities of the new High Bay LED.

Traditional industrial and commercial LED fixtures are made of thin, stamped sheet metal. Big Ass Light instead manufactures its product from a solid piece of anodized, extruded aluminum that includes ribbed fins at the top to further increase surface area. The design allows the entire structure to act as a heat sink, moving heat away from the fixture and, most importantly, the LEDs.

That’s important because too much heat shortens the lifespan of LEDs,” said Tom Greinke, who leads Big Ass Light. “By quickly removing the heat, our LEDs stay brighter for longer.”

Because of its ability to dissipate heat, the fixture comes with a seven-year warranty for all parts, including the power supplies, surpassing typical offerings ranging from three to five years.

DeSmet said the company chose aluminum for its material, as opposed to the stamped sheet metal, to ensure the fixture would never falter. While other fixtures easily bend, the staff at the company’s research-and-development laboratory in Lexington, Ky., recently settled a bet and drove a Ford F-250 pickup truck over their light. The fixture supported the weight of the truck as a fixture from a leading competitor folded. View a video of the torture test here.

It’s common for facilities to change floor plans as their needs change. Lighting, though, is often overlooked in revised layouts because of the time it takes to reset grids. Big Ass Light engineers designed the company’s High Bay LED fixture to have narrow, regular and wide trays, so customers can redirect light as their floor layouts change.

What was once an open floor space may be converted to racking,” Greinke said. “In the past, companies would be forced to either move lights or do nothing and wind up paying to illuminate the tops of shelves. With the Big Ass High Bay LED, you simply change out a tray to switch your light distribution from 55 deg to 85 deg or 105 deg.”

Called a lumen maintenance tray, the patent-pending feature serves a dual purpose by also offering hassle-free cleaning. In the past, DeSmet said LEDs would output less light as they became obscured by the dirt and debris that quickly accumulates in facilities. The lumen maintenance trays on the Big Ass Light fixture protect the LEDs, he said, and can easily be wiped down or replaced to allow the light to again shine fully.

The lens trays also protect the LEDs from common mishaps and hazards, such as forktrucks, reducing both the likelihood of damage and the need for replacement.

Beyond the physical issues, facility managers have been wary of LEDs because of how quickly the technology has evolved. A common fear is that a purchase today will leave companies with outdated fixtures once the next leap forward occurs. To address that, DeSmet said Big Ass Light engineered the Big Ass High Bay LED with an easy-access panel that allows users to swap out drivers and other components so the fixture never becomes outdated.

The Big Ass High Bay LED is predicted to maintain 70 percent of its initial light output for up to 150,000 hours, surpassing the 100,000 hour ratings of competitive fixtures. The LEDs also boast efficiency of 110 lumens per watt, exceeding the 90 lumens per watt available on rival products.

We believe so strongly in the High Bay LED that we’ve dubbed it the last fixture you’ll ever buy,” DeSmet said. “We’ve also committed to a 60-day free trial and installation of up to four fixtures.”

Big Ass Fans, 2425 Merchant Street, Lexington, KY 40511, 859−685−0825, Fax: 859−233−0139,


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