How Hospitals Are Cutting Costs By Upgrading To LED Lighting

We understand that operating a hospital or medical center in the United States involves much more than just managing healthcare. Between labor shortages, rising costs, and a neverending stream of unexpected expenses, most hospital administrators are looking for new ways to reduce overhead wherever possible.

Many hospitals have been able to cut costs by upgrading their lighting systems to LED lights to lower their energy costs. While there are some upfront costs for an upgrade or LED retrofit, you will start seeing the benefits immediately. Not only will you lower your energy costs, but your lights will require less maintenance and create a more pleasant atmosphere for your employees and patients.

Hospital urgencies hallway indoor reception desk. Health center interior. Medicine

If you’re looking for creative ways to reduce costs or are just searching for more information about LED hospital lights, we’ve put together everything you’ll need to know to narrow down your decision.

Illumination Requirements In Hospitals & Medical Centers

Hospitals will have different lighting requirements depending on the room or area in question and its use. Each medical center room has specific luminosity requirements, and certifications hospitals must meet to consider lighting sufficient.

Lighting requirements are measured in lux, which is the unit of illumination per square meter. It is usually used as a measure of intensity perceived by the human eye. Here are some of the more common lighting requirements for hospitals.

Patient Rooms

Patient rooms should mimic natural daylight. These rooms should provide adequate, bright lighting during the day with tones that imitate sunlight for the best treatment results. At night, there should be access to enough lights to perform necessary tasks without waking the patient or disturbing their natural sleep cycle.

Depending on the light source, there’s a range of 5-300 lux. Night lights have a standard of 5 lux, and nursing care lights require 300 lux.

Patient room lights also have specific ceiling light placement requirements. Designers took into account that patients stare at the ceiling while lying down. To help patients avoid eyestrain from looking into a light directly above them, ceiling light fixtures must start at the torso level above the bed and fan out to the rest of the room.

Emergency Room

Patients are rushed to the emergency room when they’re in critical care. Bright lights help keep critical patients alert and awake while providing staff with adequate lighting to treat them. Without proper lighting, medical teams can’t assess, diagnose, and treat each patient’s condition accurately.

The standard luminosity is 500 to 1,000 lux in the hospital’s emergency wing. For more granular results, you can use 500 lux between beds and 1,000 lux in central areas.

Exam Rooms

You may think exam rooms need bright lights, but such lighting can cause discomfort for patients, nurses, and doctors. Exam room lighting must balance visibility with relaxation. The standard luminosity for exam rooms should typically be between 150 and 300 lux.

If doctors and nurses require more lighting during an exam, they have mobile lights to provide an additional light source.

Isolated and Controlled Areas

Controlled areas are sanctioned rooms where complete sterilization is required, or there is continuous exposure to hazardous contaminants. These rooms must adhere to National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) rules and Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) RP-29-16 lux regulations. The NSF set codes to protect the rest of the medical center from the potential spread of infection.

NSF-P442: Controlled Environment Light Fixtures is a certificate that indicates light fixtures have passed industry standards and can be used in controlled and contained environments. Illuminaires in these environments are finished in antimicrobial white light to limit the transmission of bacteria.

These areas require this certificate with their respective lux level demands:

  • Clean Rooms – 300-500 lux
  • Pharmaceutical Processing Labs – 500 lux
  • Surgical Suites – 1000 lux

To pass NSF inspection and gain certification, luminaires must:

  • Provide Sufficient Illumination
  • Be sealed entirely around the fixture to eliminate leaks of any kind in and out of the room
  • Be Corrosion-Resistant
  • Maintain Negative Pressure (isolation rooms specifically)

Surgical suites must also be equipped with four or seven reflector theater lights. Reflector theater lights, or Operation Theater Lights, emit bright white light without casting any shadows. This lighting is optimal in operating and surgical rooms as it allows doctors and medical personnel to carry out their surgeries with optimal illumination.

Theater lights are 12 volts each and have a 4200 +/- 300 degree K color temperature. They must emit 20,000 lux of light above an operating table.

Corridors and Waiting Areas

Waiting rooms and corridors are two areas where lighting choices can make a big difference, especially for patients and their families. Whether you’re waiting for an appointment or to get news about a loved one’s surgical procedure, hospital waiting rooms can evoke a sense of anxiety.

The recommended luminosity for waiting rooms is 200 lux. It’s important that the lighting in these areas is not too bright or harsh on the eyes, as this can exacerbate anxiety.

Why Are Medical Centers Shifting to LED Lights?

Doctors need the greatest and brightest lights to see every cut and suture when lives are on the line. Traditional fluorescent or incandescent lighting solutions create harsh shadows, increased heat emission, and high energy consumption. Hospitals and other medical centers are shifting toward LED lights because of their advantages over outdated bulb options.

Here are some of the most common benefits of upgrading to LEDs.

Improves Work Functionality

Light directly affects doctors’ and nurses’ abilities to perform critical tasks. The human body is filled with complex systems, and improper lighting can cast shadows and lead to surgeons incorrectly operating on patients.

LEDs have a low heat emission, creating a cool work environment while providing critical light for medical personnel to function adequately. Switching to LEDs boosts productivity through faster reaction times and reduced fatigue.

Decreases Labor and Downtime

Traditional incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs burn out frequently. Each time a light goes out, electricians must be called, repairs must be scheduled, labor costs quickly add up, and rooms must be closed during repairs. Hospitals can’t afford even a second of downtime with patients constantly flowing in and out.

LED lighting solutions can burn for at least 100,000 hours without needing replacements, repairs, or maintenance. The initial installation cost may seem high, but reduced light burnouts quickly make up for it.

Increases Energy Cost Savings

Lighting makes up a large portion of your facility’s energy bill. Outdated fluorescent or incandescent lights consume more power while producing less light than modern LEDs. LED light bulbs require 90% less power than traditional solutions and last 25 times longer.

A hospital’s main monetary concern should always be methods and newer technology to help heal and treat patients, not lighting maintenance. Switching to LEDs can substantially reduce your hospital’s monthly and annual operational costs, letting you focus money where it’s needed most.

Better Patient and Staff Environment

People respond both positively and negatively to the lighting around them. Light stimulates moods, work ethics, opinions, and circadian rhythms, which are responsible for sleep.

When your team responds positively to the lighting around them, they can spread this reaction to the patients. Good moods are infectious, especially in hospital settings. When your team has a positive attitude, your patients may respond better, given their situation.

Adequate and appropriate hospital lighting encourages productivity, efficiency, happiness, and satisfaction in the workplace.

Improve Patient Well-Being

The idea of hospital lighting impacting patient health may seem like pseudoscience, though it is well-documented that light can have both physiological and psychological effects on humans. It’s believed that LEDs, with proper illumination levels in their respective rooms, can improve patient healing times and directly affect patient health. LEDs can potentially improve patient’s health by:

  • Decreasing Length of Stay
    While we can’t say that simply installing LED lighting will reduce the length of stay for all of your patients, studies have shown that patients exposed to more natural light tend to have a shorter length of stay. While LED lighting is not “natural” light, there are a number of LED bulbs available such as 6500K “daylight bulbs” that get very close to the real thing.
  • Reduces Depression and Anxiety
    For some, going to a medical center is stressful, especially when waiting rooms are backed up with dozens of ill patients, and everyone is waiting hours to receive treatment or word on a medical status for themselves or a loved one. In times of high stress, people begin feeling anxious as they wait. On top of heightened anxiety levels, depression can quickly creep in when patients and families start fearing for the worst after an extended period. Exposure to natural light can help depression and anxiety, but mimicking the sun is challenging in hospital settings. LED lights offer high enough brightness to emulate natural sunlight, boosting moods and reducing anxiety and depression.
  • Improve Sleep Cycles
    Humans instinctively use the lighting around them as a “sleep cue”. Our body’s circadian rhythms naturally respond to the illumination around us, and inadequate lighting solutions can offset patients’ sleep cycles, preventing their bodies from healing. LEDs offer dimming abilities, allowing patients to get ample rest during the night while providing nurses and doctors the sufficient lighting to perform nightly routines.
  • Can Help Reduce Pain
    Fluorescent and incandescent bulbs are uncomfortable to look at and are known to cause headaches for many people. The aches and pains that patients are already dealing with can easily be amplified by headaches or blurry vision caused by unnatural lighting. On the converse, LED lighting is available in a number of temperatures and hues that are known to have positive impacts on mood and well-being.

Contact Suncoast Power To Schedule A Lighting Analysis

Patients and their needs outweigh any other concern in a medical center, but keeping the lights on is a close second for hospital administrators – both literally and figuratively.  If rising energy costs are eating into your hospital’s budget, upgrading or retrofitting your healthcare facility’s lighting systems with LEDs could be the easy solution.

Call Suncoast Power at (754) 200-5872 to talk about your lighting project with a member of our team. Our representatives are standing by to book your consultation.