That’s why the proper choice of lighting is so important. While most owners do take safety and liability very seriously, they often undervalue the ability of the newest energy-friendly light emitting diode (LED) systems to create bright, clearly-visible environments that foster a sense of security and attract customers during evening or even early morning hours. These LED products are also ideal for cost-efficiently lighting areas that are often prey to theft and vandalism as well as reducing potential hazards such as fire and shock risks.

Furthermore, a well-lit wash is often viewed as “inviting” and “always open for business.” Some owners have even stated that customers actually thought their tunnels and related equipment looked new after the facility was retrofitted with the latest LED technologies. Consequently, many others have noted that dimly-lit locations that appear dark or unsafe from the street can result in customers that fail to visit any time of the day or night — circumstances that are never good for increasing car counts and profits.

In the past, there were few choices, which were predominantly specified by architects and engineers or even car wash owners, who were unaware about the latest LED lighting options. This included the installation of high-intensity discharge fixtures (i.e. metal halide) that tend to lose about half their light output midway through their lifecycles and generate heat that can “bake” residue from the car wash environment onto the hot lens. Another was the use of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which have been known to falter in severe applications, especially cold temperatures, and cause health risks if broken or cracked.

In contrast, LEDs have been around for decades, but only recently advanced enough to supply warm color values with heatless fixtures designed specifically for wet, harsh environments like car wash tunnels and bays. A great way to add flair and ambiance at price points that can pay for themselves within two years of installation, LEDs dramatically reduce energy consumption when compared to their traditional counterparts. For instance, LEDs do not burn out like typical bulbs, offering 10+ years of operation life, while still emitting up to 70 percent of its initial light output after this point. They also commonly use 60 to 70 percent less energy than metal halide and CFL bulbs.

Then, there are also the safety advantages supplied by UL-listed LED lighting. UL (Underwriters Laboratories) is a worldwide safety consulting and certification company that provides the UL Listing to products that have been tested against the organization’s set standards of safety and have been found to meet rigorous UL requirements. UL Listings not only help ensure that products are not fire or shock hazards, they also help to eliminate liability. Section 410.6 of the National Electric Code published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires that “all luminaires and lampholders shall be listed.” In addition, if non-UL equipment or products are caught on-site by government inspectors, the liability resulting from their use may fall directly onto the property owner.

Unfortunately, there are “pop-up car wash LED lighting manufacturers” that have haphazardly assembled and sold “quick-and-dirty fixtures” without bothering to subject the products to the testing of recognized organizations like Underwriters Laboratories. Buying from these businesses can then be risky since their efficacy claims are often unsubstantiated and the quality of their components and manufacturing processes is almost impossible to verify.

UL Wet Listed lighting offers car washes the highest safety value and should always be the first and only choice for reliable LED lighting products. This is vitally important for use in a wet chemical-laden environment such as a car wash. Non UL Wet Listed fixtures in these locations can pose significant shock hazards, especially when mounted to machines, tunnel arches, and other metallic equipment. These same conditions will also intensify the chances for fire. As of now, G&G LED is the only manufacturer of lighting designed specifically for the car wash industry that manufactures 100% UL Wet Listed products.

Another key designation is the product’s inclusion on The DesignLights(TM) Consortium (DLC) Qualified Products List (, which is an independent listing of “qualified LED fixtures that meet energy efficiency, color quality, and projected lifetime requirements.” Used to promote the latest quality energy efficient technologies, the DLC requires manufacturers to submit demanding industry standard test data on products as part of their applications. The purchase of DLC List products – the DLC logo can be found on spec sheets and other marketing materials — can then make car wash owners eligible for any available rebate programs offered in their areas.

In addition, reliable LED lighting manufacturers offer quality warranties accompanied by excellent customer service. This includes a limited 5-year limited warranty for products surpassing industry standards and manufactured within the U.S. under stringent quality-control conditions.

But again and most importantly, never risk the safety of employees and customers as well as the bottom line on lighting products that fail to display the proper certification for use in very demanding car wash settings. Without the UL label, there is no clear-cut indication of the LED fixture’s efficacy or even long-term durability in these harsh, wet and extremely hot applications. Choosing UL Listed products not only removes the guesswork, it also greatly diminishes the exposure to liability should tragedy strike.

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