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LED powerhood could help F1 teams cut their energy use

Formula 1 pit teams could cut their energy usage with an LED system designed to be more reliable than traditional garage lighting.

UK motorsport supplier Showtrax this week unveiled a powerhood — the overhead lighting gantry in race boxes or garages — based on LED ceiling panels that use one-third of the energy of traditional fluorescent tubes.

The firm hopes this powerhood, which isn’t prone to failure during transit like existing fluorescent models, could help motorsport teams reduce their carbon footprint as the industry starts to give environmental issues more recognition.

Developing the LED powerhood meant overcoming several engineering challenges, said Steve Edwards of OCG Lighting, which worked with Showtrax to finish the product.

‘Showtrax originally tried to retrofit with LED tubes, these fulfilled a need but were not an optimal solution,’ he told The Engineer.

‘The tubes were primarily made of plastic and at 6ft they tended to sag in the middle, rendering a pipe clip necessary. Light output from the tubes was poor and tended to be blue-white instead of white-white.

‘The OCG Lighting edge-lit panel offered Showtrax far superior light output and proper daylight output. The colour render index (CRI) from the panels is very high, ideal for mechanics working with intricate diagrams and electrics.’

The project also meant re-engineering the metal frame to fit the LED panels into the powerhood without fundamentally changing its structure.

But the extra space created by the much thinner LED panels made it easier to install the supplies of electrical power and pneumatic air that powerhoods are expected to provide.

Showtrax is now considering the possibility of installing sound systems, computing systems and tyre-warming equipment in the canopy as a result of the extra room.

Readers' comments (12)

  • Pah, I wonder what percentage of an F1 team's energy useage over a year is the "powerhood".

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  • Can't wait to see a commercial application of this lighting method in offices to replace fluorescent lighting.

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  • The first and obvious two I can think of are Snooker Tables and Operating Theatres particulary which is where "cold" light would be much appreciated.

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  • This would result in an insignificant reduction in the carbon footprint. Also, what footprint was left in the developing of this powerhood ? And for it`s delivery + maintenance ?

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  • 'Day light' fixtures have been on the market for quite a while now, Aura Corp (UK based) provide a filter based system which utilities standard fluorescent tubes. A large percentage of their trade is for surgery and healthcare premisses. The LED based system obviously utilities less energy in a smaller form factor.

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  • I find myself rather intrgued as to whether the cradle to grave impact of the LEDs, along with their projected lifetime power consumption, has been considered. It makes all the difference between an actual step forward and misleadingly grabbing the headlines.

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  • LED's do have a carbon manufacturing footprint, but their extended life and durability negate this when we consider the carbon footprint of a flourescent tube. Take a look at the chemicals inside a flourescent tube, and just how fragile they are as well as what they can leak when broken.

    LED's have another suberb advantage, they work at low voltages which makes them safer, also easier to integrate into PV systems which also work at low voltages. This negates having many cells stacked into modules, having many modules stacked in series to produce higher voltages, and a transformer to convert it to mains voltages. Each of these phases has a loss.

    LED systems can be integrated into existing electronics and have a wide range of applications. Only a few years ago a hospital built a connecting structure of glass and we replaced some of the panels with PV panels. Security was an issue, so we zoned the lighting system so at night there was only ambient light in lower use areas. and they were monitored by movement sensors. As you walked it turned on three zones in front of you, but extinguished all but one behind you, and was integrated into the security system. Each zone had its own battery which was charged from the PV panels, and in one year it produced enough power to charge and run the system with no mains input. When power was lost the system still worked, and due to the design the batteries produced sufficient power to run the system at full power 24/7 for around 40 days. At night nurses working there carried emergency alarms, one was activated and security were on the case, she saw her potential attacker as the light sensors detected him and lit up the area in which he was standing. She had time to unlock a room and lock herself in, and she contacted security, who called the Police, they duly arrived. Security tracked his movements and directed the Police, they caught him. On other occasions security detected movement in other areas which were closed and locked, and the system caught a number of thieves.

    It is not all about carbon footprints and manufacturing processes, its about what can be developed as an integrated system for the benefit of others.

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  • These lights are primarily aimed at the commercial office market but have also received a lot of interest in the NHS and education sectors. They offer increased light output and significant energy saving when compared to traditional fluorescents whilst also reducing maintenance and waste costs. Whilst the impact on motor sport is small, every environmental benefit helps. Cradle to grave environmental impact is much less than fluorescent, especially when considering the manufacture process and mercury content of fluorescents. Reduced maintenance, improved light, reduced waste impact and improved functionality of the powerhood all played a factor in this project.

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  • "much less" means how much less? "Cradle to grave" impacts should be routinely quantified and published to enable informed assessments and balances of impact/utility to be made.

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  • I’m quite impressed by the idea that we could replace the whole home lighting system with a self-contained low voltage PV + battery system powering low consumption LEDs. Maybe we could ban mains powered lighting and put an end to kitchens with ten 50 Watt GU10s in the ceiling. However one problem with PV powered lighting is that in the UK most of the sunlight arrives in summer when we need least lighting so the PV area must be sized for the winter case.

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