New Technologies Sheds a Light on Mobile Light Tower Innovation
Manufacturers offer a variety of mobile light towers with options that allow workers to choose exactly what they need, regardless of the job site. In recent years, technology has shifted the market towards mobile light towers that are more environmentally friendly, safe and provide a greater return on investment. End users also aim to maximize uptime so the longer the light tower can run before refueling, the better.
One of the most prominent trends in the light tower industry today is the shift from metal halide lamps to LED lighting. While customers have been slow to adopt LED bulb light towers, a few people have started requesting them in recent years.
While manufacturers agree that LED light towers have several advantages over metal halide light towers, the biggest advantage is fuel efficiency, says Eric Massinon, business development manager at Chicago Pneumatic. Because LEDs require less power than metal halide lamps, they provide better fuel economy, making the total cost of ownership much lower.
Cost of Ownership Benefits
According to Erin Brown, senior product specialist at Doosan Portable Power, customers will see a return on their investment between six months and one year after switching from metal halide to LEDs.
“This is where it saves,” he says. “LEDs use half the fuel. They're more expensive, but the payback to the end user is the amount of fuel needed to run the light tower."
To put the differences into perspective, Massinon says Chicago Pneumatic offers a 6kW light tower with a 100-liter fuel tank, providing 4,000 watts of metal halide lighting for 50 hours. However, after turning off the metal halide bulbs for the LEDs, the tower runs for 150 hours.
"Same 100-liter fuel tank, but triple the runtime," says Massinon.
A metal halide bulb must reach a temperature of several thousand degrees before it can work, meaning it can take up to 15 minutes to reach full power. LED bulbs, on the other hand, do not require intense heat to work. They can be switched on and off instantly, providing customers with a more efficient lighting solution.
"Metal halide lights take a while to warm up to full brightness," says Massinon. "When you turn them off, users have to wait for the lights to cool down, sometimes up to 10 minutes, before they can turn them back on."
Massinon adds that metal halide bulbs are more vulnerable to breakage if they are not cooled before the tower is moved.
"Metal halide bulbs in stationary applications can last 6,000 hours or more," he says. “However, in portable mobile light towers, life expectancy is often much lower depending on how the tower is handled, as heat weakens the bulb. There's no way to tell how long it will take."
An LED bulb typically guarantees 10,000 hours of use at full light output, while metal halide bulbs lose 50 percent of their light output in the same time frame.
Brown expects all light towers to be superseded by LED lights in three to five years. Manufacturers are also developing systems to improve safety when operating their light towers.
Solar Power, Light Towers With Battery Options
Manufacturers are also developing battery- and solar-powered light towers to help reduce environmental impact on a construction site.
Depar Enerji's battery powered mobile solar light tower is fully powered by lithium ion batteries and is charged directly from a grid or portable generator supply units, meaning it produces zero emissions and uses zero fuel.
For example, a customer wants to prevent any spills or fuel leaks where they are operating these light towers. That is, customers interested in such an innovation where there is no risk of burning any fuel or diesel fuel in the workplace can opt for mobile solar light towers.
The tower also operates quietly and helps prevent noise pollution on site.
Solar powered light towers leave no carbon footprint as they charge by capturing sunlight with maneuverable solar panels and storing electricity in a battery.
"Solar mobile light towers are also best for use in remote locations where trucks are difficult to refuel," says Jeff Hock, Wanco's vice president of operations. “If you have solar panels to catch the sun, the unit will keep running for a long time without having to worry about fuel trucks doing oil changes or maintenance.”
Most solar towers are powered by photocells, which are sensors that detect light and allow the towers to open and close autonomously.
“A lot of times you can set it and forget it,” Hock says. “Most solar towers open automatically and turn off when the sun rises. There are no operators who have to come and turn it on and off.”
Hybrid light towers have solar panels and a backup diesel generator. When the solar energy stored in the battery pack runs out, the diesel backup generator starts up automatically. This helps to continuously supply energy to power the lamps while simultaneously charging the battery pack. The generator will turn off automatically when the battery is fully charged.
Innovations in the mobile light tower segment have given end users more opportunities to create a safer and more efficient workspace. As technology improves, manufacturers will continue to shift their offerings to more modern options. Contact us for a mobile light tower offer that suits you. Feel the difference in quality and efficiency by working with Depar Energy, the leading mobile light tower manufacturer in the sector.