Solid State lighting (SSL), which includes LEDs, is fast becoming the lighting choice in many applications. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that SSL will displace all other lighting types within the next 20 years. The chief reasons for the shift to SSL are largely attributable to its ultra-energy efficient operation and its unmatched longevity, although there are other compelling benefits. With concerns over energy usage throughout the U.S. and the rest of the globe, SSL is becoming a good choice for the world’s lighting needs.
It’s no secret that the poultry industry, along with other protein producers, have often run into difficulties in the form of litigation or federal regulation of their operations due to environmental concerns. 
The ultra-efficient operation of SSLs produces substantial energy savings over traditional incandescent poultry lighting. If all broiler houses in the USA were to convert to SSL from incandescent there could be energy cost savings to the growers of $97 million per year, replacement cost savings per year of $5,625,000. In addition, there would be a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 590,000 metric tons normally created in the generation of energy in coal fired power plants. Since some SSLs can last years in poultry houses, this eliminates the waste stream of burned out bulbs which could number higher than 12 million incandescent light bulbs per year.
LED usage in poultry houses has been extensively tested, and the power savings has been verified by utilities.  Testing and further demonstrations has shown that there is no detrimental effect to the birds grown under LED lighting. In fact, the data suggest that birds grown under LED do at least as well and oftentimes better than those grown under traditional light sources.
Before a grower makes the investment in LED lighting he or she should be certain that the manufacturer offers lights designed specifically for the harsh environs of the poultry house in order to ensure proper function.
LEDs are changing the way business and industry views lighting. Unlike the past where a light bulb has been an expense to the business, the right LED is  now a  piece of equipment which can last for years in harsh conditions while offering consistent quality light over that period. In the broiler business a vacant socket or burned out light creates dark areas which can retard bird performance as well as create the expense of taking the time to replace the bulb. Imagine not having to change a light bulb in a poultry house for 7 years.
SSL is a choice for the poultry industry for the reasons stated, but it also holds other promising benefits. In its quest for energy efficiency, the poultry industry has begun to embrace the use of compact fluorescents (cfl) and cold cathode bulbs. While these cold cathode and cfl bulbs provide a savings in energy they contain mercury in both vapor and particulate form.  The EPA has established explicit procedures for evacuating humans and animals when a mercury containing bulb has broken. There are also specific requirements for the disposal of mercury laden lamps after they cease to work.  The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and most states environmental quality statutes require that the generator of  “universal waste” abide by the disposal and clean up regulations. SSL, on the other hand contains no hazardous waste and, due to its longevity, greatly reduces the waste stream of discarded lamps. 
The benefits of SSL have been tested and shown, and these bulb types offer the opportunity for the industry to benefit in many ways through their adoption. There now exists an energy efficient and mercury free alternative lighting solution for the poultry industry that can eliminate vacant sockets in the growing environment. Perhaps the overriding potential benefit is that the simple act of screwing in this new technology to existing sockets will ultimately put more money into the pocket of the grower, thereby strengthening the foundation of the poultry industry.
Chris Callahan is President at Next Gen Illumination, Inc.



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