They adorn our Christmas trees and illuminate our auto headlamps. Now, LED (light-emitting diode) lights are making their way to the dairy barn.
David and Amy Petersen, owners of Majestic Manor Dairy, a 120-cow registered Holstein enterprise near Davenport, Iowa, became interested in LED lighting for their farm in 2009. “We were in the process of remodeling our kitchen and found for the first time high-quality, bright, white LEDs for the under-cabinet lighting,” explains David Petersen. Always a conservation-minded producer, Petersen began researching the availability of LED lamps to replace the less-efficient fluorescent lamps in his parlor and freestall barn. It was a process that took almost four years.
“I could find 4-foot LED lamps, but we needed 8-footers, and I did not want to incur the additional labor and expense of replacing the fixtures along with the bulbs,” he says. The breakthrough in his search came last summer, when he was touring a cottage cheese plant in Carbondale, Ill., and noticed the facility used 8-foot LED lamps.
An inquiry led him to Zeus LED, Inc., a Carbondale-based start-up owned by David Wilson. An electrical engineer by training, Wilson became interested in LED technology in college and started the company in 2009. He holds several patents and works directly with a manufacturing facility in China to produce LED lamps according to his specifications while following Underwriters Laboratory (UL) standards.
The switch to LED
After thoroughly quizzing Wilson, Petersen was convinced that he had found a reputable supplier and purchased 70 LED lamps to equip a total of 35 fluorescent fixtures in his free-stall barn and parlor. In the parlor, they replaced T-2 linear fluorescent bulbs, while in the free-stall barn, they replaced T-12 high-output (cold-start) fluorescents. The parlor light fixtures called for pin-style connectors. The freestall barn needed wedge-style connectors. Wilson was able to supply both.
Petersen’s local electrician replaced the bulbs, a process that was a simple as changing the light bulbs and unhooking the fluorescent ballast in each fixture. The task took about 15 minutes per fixture, and Petersen couldn’t be happier with the results.
“The light is very clear and bright, and it has more of a ‘spotlight’ effect versus the ‘floodlight’ effect of the fluorescents,” he says. Wilson explains that fluorescent bulbs emit light from 360 degrees, and it is directed down from the fixtures. LED lights, on the other hand, emit 120 degrees of light and send it straight out, which results in more direct lighting while drawing less power. Beams of LED-generated light also can be angled to specifically illuminate select areas, such as walkways and feed alleys.