Upgrading Paint Booth Lighting
Q. Our shop is looking to upgrade our paint booth with LED lighting. Is this an easy upgrade? What recommendations do you have?
A. Light-emitting diode (LED) lights have grown in popularity over the last few decades, and for good reasons. They last longer, save energy and are better for the environment. In addition to shops, offices and warehouses, LED lights can offer significant advantages in a paint booth. Here are seven reasons to upgrade to them in your booth:
- Easy integration: LED lamps can usually be easily integrated into any new or existing equipment, without having to replace the fixtures. These types of lamps include inside-access and corner paint booth light fixtures, as well as general-purpose light fixtures. Retrofitting is as simple as changing out the tubes; no rewiring is required, because the LED tubes use the existing electronics.
- Energy savings: LED T8 lamps offer significant energy savings over traditional fluorescent 32-W T8 systems—sometimes as much as 40 percent, depending on your system configuration. Lower energy consumption allows for short payback periods, also making it more cost-effective to upgrade to LED lights.
- Sustainability: LED lamps emit virtually no ultraviolet or infrared light, and contain no mercury, allowing for non-hazardous waste disposal. The amount of waste is also minimized, since the tubes can be installed in existing light fixtures.
- Safety: LED lamps are glass-free, creating safer working conditions, since you no longer have to worry about dropping and shattering of lights.
- Instant illumination: There is no need to wait for light fixtures to turn on, as LED T8 lamps turn on instantly at full luminosity, withour flickering or buzzing sounds.
- ETL listing: Some existing linear light fixtures maintain their original ETL listing after the switch over to LED lights, since there is no need for rewiring and the LED lights use the existing electronics. Most LED light fixtures also are ETL listed.
- Longevity: LED lights last longer than traditional fluorescent bulbs, providing a life span of as many as 36,000 hours that eliminates the need to frequently replace the tubes.
In a nutshell, LED T8 lamps are the ideal energy-saving choice for paint booths or other finishing equipment. Not only do they save energy, but they are also a more sustainable and overall safer choice.
Q. I have purchased a booth and my contractors are pulling permits to do some work, but the building inspector won’t let them proceed because I don’t have a UL label on the booth. All my electrical components have UL labels on them, however. What happens when parts are UL-listed, but the paint booth itself isn’t?
A. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) labels on paint booths and finishing equipment are crucial to building inspectors, but they can lead to a great deal of confusion and frustration for a shop trying to get its equipment up and running when it’s not entirely clear exactly what is required.
National building, mechanical and fire codes do not specifically require paint booths to be “listed assemblies.” This, however, does not mean that the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) cannot require a third-party listing such as UL or ETL to ensure that these assemblies meet construction requirements as described by the IFC-2404.3.2.1 (International Fire Code) or NFPA-33 (National Fire Protection Association).
Very few spray booths are available with a UL listing as an “assembly,” due to the infinite combinations of sizes and types of paint booths that require mechanical assembly in the field, including those with electrical wiring that must meet the NEC (National Electrical Code), specifically designed fire suppression systems and mechanical ducting systems.
In cases where the AHJ requires a listing or third-party inspection, and the booth assembly does not already have a UL or ETL listing, it is possible to have the booth field-listed by an agency that is acceptable to the AHJ. This can be quite expensive, however, and few agencies offer this service.
We recommend that you get clarification on the requirements from your local authority (in this case, that would be the building inspector). If the booth utilizes listed components, and you can demonstrate that it meets the local and/or national codes and standards, you may find that this is acceptable to that local authority.
Royce Day is in industrial standards and product development at Global Finishing Solutions. Visit globalfinishing.com.
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