Farm Lighting Systems: Learn how to keep the lights on, literally

In a press release on March 21st, 2021 the US Census Bureau deemed “National Agriculture Week” the 21st-27th & National Agriculture Day on the 23rd. We are celebrating farmers by posting loss prevention blogs all week.

Lighting systems on farms have many different applications. They provide security, a safe working environment, assist in creating a stable environment for livestock, and can be used to support the growth of plants. Although incandescent bulbs are generally less expensive, fluorescent, HID and LEDs use significantly less energy to operate. Over the lifetime of the bulbs, money saved on electricity will more than cover the cost of the more expensive bulbs

A major offender: DUST

Remember, over time, dust will collect on the lamps and the fixture reflectors and diminish output by a significant amount. In dusty environments like farms, it is important to clean lighting fixtures and lamps when dirt causes a noticeable depreciation of the light output. Other common failures can be easily mitigated by taking proper care of equipment before the problems occur.

Lamp sockets wear out from age and can burn contacts by replacing lamps while energized

You can prevent burned lamp sockets by always de-energizing the lighting circuit when changing the lamps. Make sure to avoid shock hazards and electrical arcing by always replacing lamp sockets that have broken housings or shells. Prevent loss of light by verifying that the spring contact pressure of the socket-to-pin connection feels strong. Replace sockets with weak spring contact pressure.

Lamp ballasts can burn out due to old-age

Prevent the continued unexpected loss of light on older populations of fixtures by considering full fixture replacements rather than ballast replacements. Prevent long delays in getting the lights back on by keeping a supply of spare ballasts on the premises for each type of critical fixture used. Extend ballast life by converting older magnetic ballasts to newer electronic ballasts.

Lighting circuits can overload and trip the circuit breaker or blow fuses

You can prevent loss of light output from fixtures due to lower supply voltage by not allowing more than 50% loading of the circuit breaker capacity. Easily stop light output flickering or dips by keeping lighting circuits separate from farm power circuits. Lighting circuits are considered continuous loads by the NEC and therefore generate more heat in the wire and conduit. Prevent shortened conductor insulation life by never overfilling the lighting conduits with wires beyond the NEC maximum fill tables.

 Light switches or controls can become worn from frequent use

Avoid arcing at switch locations by replacing old worn out light switches when “arcing noise” or flashes are experienced. Avoid constant nuisance switch replacements in older establishments by “group replacing” all switches of similar age frequency of use. Prevent wasted energy and security issues by inspecting, maintaining, and/ or replacing defective photocell, motion switch and timeclock activated lighting equipment.

Underground lighting circuits, splices, and conduits can become compromised

Avoid loss of lighting power from digging and site work damage by maintaining a record of where underground lighting conduits are located and traverse the property. Prevent underground lighting short-circuits by always using proper NEC burial depths, wiring methods, and materials for water-resistant underground lighting wiring. Maintain the exterior pole site-lighting installations to ensure effective grounding by following all National Electrical Code grounding and bonding requirements for pole-mounted fixtures.

Other loss control tips to consider:

  • Never exceed the wattage rating of the fixture.
  • Replace broken light fixture guards or domes to prevent nesting birds or insects from entering the space directly around the light bulb (potential ignition source).
  • Areas for hay or similar combustibles should have properly rated NEC light fixtures with protective domes around all bulbs.
  • The use of extension cords for lighting circuits that will be on the ground in walkways or that penetrate walls or doorways must be avoided. Extension cords are intended for temporary applications.
  • Lighting circuit conductors should be routed in NEC approved wiring methods based on the conditions of use and occupancy.
  • Light fixtures must be properly supported based on the fixture weight of the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Want more information like this delivered straight to your inbox? Click the “Follow” button on the bottom of the screen and enter your email address.

© 2021 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. HSB makes no warranties or representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the content herein. Under no circumstances shall HSB or any party involved in creating or delivering this article be liable to you for any loss or damage that results from the use of the information contained herein. Except as otherwise expressly permitted by HSB in writing, no portion of this article may be reproduced, copied, or distributed in any way. This article does not modify or invalidate any of the provisions, exclusions, terms or conditions of the applicable policy and endorsements. For specific terms and conditions, please refer to the applicable endorsement form.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.