Saving Energy: De-lamping, Because it’s Brighter than You Think

Posted on Aug 15 2012 - 11:19am by Brent Hardy


I’m a believer in taking only as much as you need. Why pile your plate full of carrots and celery at the salad bar if you aren’t going to eat it all? I suppose we end up with spare veggies because of good intentions. The same can be said of lighting. 

For safety, it’s important to have a properly lit environment, but sometimes we all go a bit overboard and install more lighting than is actually needed. That’s where de-lamping comes in. It’s all about achieving long-term energy savings by getting rid of unnecessary lights without compromising safety.


What is De-lamping?

While it may sound like a strange term, “de-lamping” really only refers to reducing the number of lights, or lamps, present in an area. De-lamping is completed to reduce energy consumption, plain and simple. However, doing de-lamping right can be a tricky business to make sure less light doesn’t create a dim area. To do it right we carefully calculate to create a brighter area first, with lighter paint on the walls creating more reflectivity of the lightsource.  Doing this allows us to reduce the lights required while maintaining comparable luminosity in the area where we’ve reduced the number of lightsources.  Essentially it allows us to use less lighting without any negative effects.


Taking Another Look at Hallway Lighting

With a good assessment and proper planning, de-lamping is a very responsible way to reduce energy costs and benefit the environment. In the self-storage world, we look at potential de-lamping primarily in hallways, but also in offices and exit stairwells of multi-level facilities.

For Extra Space Storage facilities, about 99 percent of our light output is in hallways, so it’s important to look at our lighting needs in those areas first. Often, de-lamping is the right solution to improve our energy efficiency. If we’re over-lit, we’ll remove two-light fixtures, replacing them with single lights. What makes it possible to achieve the same luminosity while also reducing kilowatt consumption is painting the surrounding walls white or off-white which allows for greater reflectivity.


Cost-effective Simplicity

If the concept sounds simple, it is! And de-lamping can be the quickest, most cost-effective way to create energy savings at a property. Both implementation and return on investment for de-lamping are swift. That makes de-lamping a good choice, not only for the environment, but also for our investors.


How We Decide Where to De-lamp

At Extra Space Storage, we decide on de-lamping projects on a site-by-site basis with the help of district managers and facility service managers who evaluate the properties. During the evaluation, we may use a light meter to determine a baseline for the lighting needs for a property. We also consider the existing reflectivity provided by metal partitions and other building components, but nothing is set in stone. We always take into account how existing or potential customers might feel about the changes.


Considering Customers when De-lamping

Our primary concern is to make sure customers feel safe and secure. That’s why site evaluations are always done locally, and I rely on input from our district managers and facility service managers. In other words, we believe in smart de-lamping!

I’m happy to say that customer complaints stemming from de-lamping are extremely rare. In fact, we’ve only ever had complaints about too little light at one facility that we de-lamped, and the problem area was only in about 10 percent of the property. The issue was addressed quickly by adding back a few lights.


De-lamping Likes Company

While we’re working on de-lamping projects, we may also add motion sensors to increase energy efficiency. I especially enjoy replacing those annoying old twist timers with motion sensors! In addition to motion sensors, sometimes we install skylights for daylight harvesting, which can result in even greater energy savings.

I’ll cover how we use motion sensors and skylights to save money and help the environment on this blog within the next month or so.

Do you ever feel like you have too much lighting in your home, office or storage unit? Which do you prefer – natural light from skylights, or light from fixtures?


Brent Hardy