Lighting costs for companies can be substantial. They may include shedding light on facilities like parking garages, warehouses, factories, stations, airports, greenhouses, or other premises where the lamps are lit most of the day.
“Energy prices are rising, environmental awareness is increasing and there are many companies looking for smart lighting solutions to save money and reduce their carbon footprint. LED lamps work in many situations but not if they are placed four meters overhead which is generally the domain for fluorescent or other types of lights. Despite the fact that we are dealing with conventional technology, unconventional methods exist to save electricity,” says Mats Karlsson, president of Malmö-based Wattguard.
‘The green box,’ electronically controlled
“Our ‘green box’ is an electronically controlled instrument that allows storage of large amounts of electrical energy in lighting intensive environments. Wattguard lowers the voltage and increases the efficiency of running the lights. The number of lumens per watt increases and the power consumption is reduced by almost half, yet there is no need for costly investments or changes in the fittings. The technique can be applied to existing fluorescent lamps. Because we offer the system as a lease, there is no initial investment for the customer,” continues Karlsson.
The technology is based on research at a university in Budapest and has its origins in a partially unsuccessful plasma project. To the delight of the research professor, the technique instead could be used to optimize energy consumption including fluorescent lighting and was later commercialized by Wattguard. The Hungarian inventors had developed a special attachment that improved the discharge so that more UV photons could be produced per watt unit. This produces more fluorescent light.
The natural relationship between light and heat generation in fluorescent lamps with conventional grid power is 25 percent light and the rest heat. With the help of Wattguard technology the ratio becomes 40 percent light to 60 percent heat. The increased light is exploited by lowering the wattage providing about 40 percent savings on electricity consumption.
The environmental ‘green box’ is basically one or several electrical cabinets that work best on fluorescents in environments with extensive and intense lighting. The system is most effective when it is coupled with T8 fluorescent lamps and conventional magnetic systems. Apart from these types of applications, there is also a market for lighting with metallic halogen and high-pressure sodium.
Reduced bills and climate impact
As part of its environmental efforts, gardening retailer Plantagen – with more than 105 stores in Scandinavia – installed Wattguard in eight stores. The retailer estimates energy savings of 1,000 MWh per year and a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of 100 tons per year. Additionally, the need for servicing the lighting equipment is reduced. Fluorescent lighting does not need to be changed as often as before.
Other good examples include retailer Citygross, industrial company Lindab and the Fair Play tennis stadium in Malmö that reduced its electricity bill by around SEK 120,000 per year.
“The technology will be used in Norway and Portugal, where we recently won a government contract in 2014. In 2015, we’ll start in Germany, Holland, Spain, the Baltic countries, USA and Malaysia. The plan is to be present in 24 countries by 2016. Together with our partner Invest in Skåne, we aim to introduce Wattguard into new markets,” says Karlsson.
This article was published in December 2014