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The Ultimate Guide to LED Lights for Cold Storage Facilities (2024)

by YG 22 Feb 2024 0 Comments
LED lighting for cold rooms

Proper lighting is crucial in cold storage facilities to ensure safety, productivity, and ideal conditions for stored goods. However, the extreme temperatures and humidity inherent to these environments can damage lighting fixtures and negatively impact lighting quality and efficiency.

This is why LED technology has become an increasingly popular solution. LED lights are durable, long-lasting, and energy-efficient - making them uniquely suited for cold storage applications. This comprehensive guide will explore the challenges of cold storage lighting, the benefits of switching to LEDs, what features to look for when selecting fixtures, lighting layout considerations, cost comparisons, and emerging lighting technologies that will shape the future of cold cold storage facilities.

Challenges of Cold Storage Lighting

Cold storage environments present some unique challenges when it comes to effective lighting. Facilities managers and operators need to consider factors such as:

Temperature Extremes

Temperatures in cold storage warehouses can range from -15°F (-26℃) for frozen foods up to 40°F (4.4℃) for perishables like fruits and vegetables. These temperature extremes can wreak havoc on lighting components like lamp bulbs and electronic drivers/ballasts. Most standard commercial and industrial lighting is designed to operate at ambient temperatures between 35-95°F (1.67-35℃) and may experience reduced efficiency or even fail prematurely when subjected to freezing cold storage conditions for extended time periods. Developing special lighting systems with components rated for cold temperatures is a must for cold storage applications.

Humidity and Moisture

Condensation occurs naturally as warm humid air comes into contact with cold surface temperatures. Prolonged or extreme condensation build-up poses major problems for electrical lighting components and fixtures, creating corrosion issues or even safety risks like short circuits or electrical fires. Additionally, cold storage spaces often require periodic wash-downs for sanitation reasons, requiring that the lighting system is resistant enough to withstand wet conditions. Thus, moisture resistance is a key design factor for lighting used in these environments. Proper light fixtures will carry high IP moisture intrusion ratings such as IP65 or even water-tight IP68.

Energy Consumption

Cold storage facilities operate continuously, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The lighting runs constantly as well, which can drive up energy bills substantially in these large commercial and industrial spaces. Racking and shelving layouts also require wide light distribution from higher mounting heights. Specifying energy-efficient lighting like LEDs becomes critical to keeping operational costs down for both new construction or lighting retrofits of existing buildings. Plus, many states and utilities offer significant rebates, credits, and tax incentives for upgrading to LED lighting which saves businesses on long-term energy costs.

What Are the Benefits of LED Lights in Cold Storage?

LED technology offers significant benefits that make it an ideal lighting solution for cold storage facilities:

Superior Cold Temperature Performance

Unlike older lighting like fluorescent and HID lamps, LEDs actually become more efficient at dissipating heat and converting energy as temperatures decrease. LED fixture components are also able to operate optimally at freezing temperatures that would cause other types of lights to struggle or fail completely. This gives LED lights a unique advantage in ultra-low cold storage environments.

Energy Savings

LED lighting saves tremendous energy versus traditional options - at least 75% less energy, and lasts up to 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting. And because cold storage facilities have constant lighting needs, these energy reductions can really maximize cost savings. The long 50,000+ hour lifetimes also mean fewer lamp and maintenance costs over many years of 24/7 runtimes. Many local energy companies and utilities offer rebates and incentives to support upgrading to LEDs which provides additional savings.

Enhanced Durability & Longevity

With no fragile filaments, tubes or bulbs, LEDs are an extremely durable and long-lasting light source. And modern LED fixtures are specially engineered for moisture, corrosion, and low-temperature resistance. This is a necessity for standing up to brutal cold storage conditions day after day. Facility managers can benefit from not having to frequently replace lamps in hard-to-reach areas.

Improved Visibility

The clear, bright, white light produced by LEDs enhances visibility for workers - improving safety and productivity. Bright, evenly distributed lighting prevents dark spots or shadows hidden around racks, pallets, and shelving. Tasks like reading labels, dates, and numbers are easier without eyestrain. The right lighting also keeps stored goods looking fresher.

Key Features to Look For in Cold Storage LED Lights

When selecting LED fixtures for cold storage applications, there are a few key features to evaluate about product specifications and certifications:

Temperature Rating

Always verify that LED products are rated for cold temperature operation, ideally down to at least -20°C/-4°F for medium temperature cold storage. Extra low-temperature models may be rated for as cold as -40°C/-40°F for frozen and blast-freezing environments. Temperature specifications may apply to both the ambient environment range and the operating range of internal LED components.

Moisture Resistance Rating

Look for moisture-resistant IP ratings like IP65 or IP66 to handle high humidity, washdowns, and temporary condensed water exposure. Products rated for IP66 or the fully waterproof IP68 rating provide an extra level of protection in wet and cold storage settings.

Lumens & Color Temperature

Higher lumen output LED models from 5,000-30,000+ lumens provide ample bright lighting for large cold storage spaces. Popular color temperatures are 4000K-5000K (cool white) for optimal clarity and visibility. Special LEDs also offer enhanced CRI (Color Rendering Index) for improved color recognition and identification tasks.

Safety Certifications

Reputable LED manufacturers produce fixtures that are certified to meet LED lighting standards and electrical and hazardous location safety standards for cold storage in commercial facilities. and hazardous location safety standards for luminaires. These include UL/CUL, DLC, and LM79/LM80 compliance in North America, along with CE, CCC, and RoHS globally.

Types of LED Lights Suitable for Cold Storage

There are a few main types of LED lighting fixtures well-suited for providing reliable, efficient lighting in cold storage environments:

High Bay LED Fixtures

The most common lighting solution used in large, open cold storage warehousing spaces. High-powered LED high bay lights are mounted at heights of 20-40 feet, producing wide spread illumination across aisles, racks, and shelving below. Different distribution patterns and lens options allow customization of lighting design.Finding out why LED high bay lighting has become the ultimate solution for industrial efficiency might be worthwhile for those considering a switch.

LED Strip Lighting

Commonly used to illuminate individual shelving racks and perimeter areas along walls or tight spaces. Waterproof IP65 and IP67-rated LED strip lights come in convenient reels for fast installation. al lighting come in handy for work benches, packing stations, equipment areas and loading docks in or around the facility.

LED Flood & Area Lights

Powerful, energy-saving LED flood lights installed on the interior or exterior perimeter provide economical illumination exactly where it's needed most - entryways, loading zones, and walkways.

LED Emergency Backup Lighting

Exit signs, egress lighting, and emergency LED battery packs are crucial safety additions, especially in facilities with ammonia refrigeration systems nearby. LED emergency lighting guarantees safe exit passage and route visibility if the main lighting ever goes down unexpectedly.

Cost Analysis of LED Cold Storage Lighting Solutions

Upgrading from outdated lighting to LEDs represents a significant upfront investment for cold storage owners, but one that pays off substantially over time. Here are some cost considerations when budgeting an LED upgrade or new construction project:

Initial LED Fixture Cost

Though declining year-over-year, LED fixtures remain more expensive than basic fluorescent or HID lighting up front. However, reduced energy use and extremely long 50,000+ hour lifetimes offset this cost over the long run.

Energy & Maintenance Savings

The biggest impact on the return on investment comes from slashing energy consumption by 50% or more with LEDs. Savings quickly multiply with 24/7 runtime, especially for larger facilities. Almost no maintenance or lamp replacement costs by avoiding failures improves budgets as well.

Incentives & Rebates

Most local utility providers and energy companies offer generous rebates, credits, and tax incentives to install more energy-efficient LED lighting, which further hastens ROI. These should be fully researched and applied for during planning.

Installation & Customization Expenses

Specialized solutions like custom LED layouts, lighting controls, and installation complexity may increase first costs. However simple high bay LED swap outs can keep expenditures in check. Consider DIY versus professional installation tradeoffs.

Ongoing Operational Enhancements

The brighter, higher quality lighting also improves worker safety, productivity, order accuracy, and equipment longevity over the long run - all difficult benefits to quantify outright but which contribute tremendously to the overall value.

Installation Considerations for LED Cold Storage Lighting

Properly installing LED lighting systems requires some special considerations in cold storage's challenging environment:

Professional Installation

Given the complexity of electrical systems, the extremes of cold storage environments, and the precision of modern LED lighting design, professional installation is highly recommended wherever possible over DIY. Licensed electricians have the expertise to handle installation safely and correctly.

Sealing & Insulation

All penetrations into cold storage envelopes should be kept to an absolute minimum. But where lighting electrical boxes, conduit, and wiring enter regulated spaces, precise sealing and insulation around openings must be implemented per local building codes to prevent thermal leaks, moisture ingress, or pest penetration issues.

Layout & Coverage

Light levels degrade substantially the farther away from the central axis of lighting fixtures. Space high-output LED high bays appropriately to overlap coverage areas and eliminate dark spots or shadows on stored goods, racks, and work zones. Manufacturers provide detailed luminance distribution diagrams for lighting layout planning.

Circuiting & Controls

LED lighting is highly compatible with lighting control systems and advanced technologies like sensors and IoT connectivity. Consider circuiting lighting zones separately on dedicated breakers for added customization, automated control, and energy savings versus simpler one-circuit plug-and-play designs. Assess where smart controls or dimming can help optimize operation.

The goal is to create consistent, uniform, and ample illumination across the entire cold storage space while also keeping costs, construction impacts, and thermal loads to a minimum.

Choosing the Right LED Lighting Manufacturer or Supplier

Selecting the right LED lighting provider is key to getting fixtures and designs specifically engineered to withstand harsh cold storage conditions:

Industry Experience

Seek out manufacturers or suppliers focused specifically on commercial and industrial lighting applications with demonstrable expertise in cold storage projects. They will best understand the unique lighting demands and building integration challenges.

Product Testing & Certifications

Reputable LED manufacturers invest heavily in R&D, rigorously testing products in environmental chambers to ensure reliable cold-temperature operation. They also pursue key safety and compliance certifications giving added peace of mind.

Warranties & Support

Leading LED fixture producers back products with generous 5-10 year warranties on both the luminaire housings and LED lamps themselves. They also have readily available customer service and technical support teams to quickly address needs before, during, or after purchase.

Custom Design Services

Top suppliers have application engineers and lighting specialists available to provide consultation and custom lighting layouts tailored specifically to a facility's floor plans, racking, workflow, and lighting goals. They help identify and maximize potential energy incentives too.

The best LED manufacturers and distributors focus on earning long term partnerships with clients through proven performance and reliability once installed.

The Future of LED Lighting in Cold Storage Applications

LED technology will continue advancing at a rapid pace along with smart lighting controls, driving the future of cold storage facility illumination:

Internet of Things (IoT) Integration

Networked LED lighting integrated with facility management and supply chain software systems via IoT connectivity will provide unprecedented automation, monitoring, and data insights on inventory, orders, energy use, and needed maintenance.

Expanded Smart Controls

More sophisticated sensors, timers, occupancy detection, and automated dimming algorithms will remove wasted lighting energy and optimize LED fixture performance for given cold storage tasks and usage patterns.

Enhanced Reliability & Efficiency

Through ongoing LED research and development, fixture lifespan, durability, and light output will continue improving while costs decline - increasing adoption rates for both new and existing cold storage sites.

Energy Requirements & Sustainability

Stricter energy standards for buildings and corporate sustainability goals will make ultra-efficient LED lighting virtually mandatory in new cold storage construction and lighting retrofit projects.

The next generation of cold storage lighting promises to not just illuminate facilities but also help manage, connect, and optimize all operations through brighter, more capable, and highly responsive LED lighting implementations.

cold storage led

LEDs - The Ideal Lighting Solution for Modern Cold Storage

LED lighting delivers unmatched benefits and performance for cold storage facilities struggling with hazardous environmental conditions that quickly damage standard lighting fixtures. Ultra-low temperatures, constant humidity, and moisture routinely disable and degrade lighting components, compromise visibility, and inflate energy costs. Purpose-built LED solutions withstand sub-zero cold, reduce maintenance headaches, and provide brighter, high-quality illumination using a fraction of the electricity of traditional lighting alternatives – all while qualifying for hefty utility rebates.


Q1: What is the best lighting for cold storage?

A: LED lights are considered the best option for cold storage due to their high efficiency, low heat output, and ability to maintain consistent performance in low-temperature environments.

Q2: Do LED lights work in a cold garage?

A: Yes, many LED lights are designed to function effectively in extreme temperatures, typically ranging from -4°F to 122°F (-20°C to 50°C), making them suitable for use in a cold garage.

Q3: What are the requirements for cold storage lighting?

A: Cold storage lighting requires fixtures that are durable, moisture-resistant, and capable of maintaining consistent light output in low-temperature conditions. They should also be energy-efficient and have a long lifespan to reduce maintenance needs in hard-to-reach areas.

Q4: Are LED lights affected by cold temperatures?

A: No. LED lights generally perform well under cold conditions and can even become more efficient as the temperature drops, unlike traditional lighting options that may struggle to start or maintain brightness in the cold.

Q5: What temperature should cold storage be?

A: The ideal temperature for most cold storage facilities is 4°C (39°F) or colder, depending on the specific products being stored.

Q6: At what temperature do LED lights stop working?

A: LED lights can fail in extreme temperatures, typically ceasing to function below -25°F (-31°C) and above 185°F (85°C), due to reduced efficiency or thermal component stress.

Q7: Can LED lights freeze?

A: No. LED lights do not "freeze" in the traditional sense, they are well-equipped to operate in freezing conditions. The cold does not negatively impact their lifespan or performance as it might with incandescent or fluorescent lights.

Q8: What temperature do LED lights reach?

A: The operating temperature of an LED light can vary, but in general, LED bulbs remain much cooler than incandescent bulbs. They can reach temperatures around 140°F (60°C) to 185°F (85°C) during operation, which is still much cooler than the alternatives.

Q9: Are LED lights temperature sensitive?

A: Yes. LED lights are somewhat temperature sensitive, particularly to heat, as excessive temperatures can shorten their lifespan and affect performance. However, they are less sensitive to cold temperatures and can operate efficiently in colder environments where traditional bulbs might fail.

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