Lighting expenses in swine facilities

The past couple of days I’ve been doing some comparisons on lighting options for swine facilities. As part of the comparisons I’ve had to examine our current lighting expenses in our research barns.

All of the swine industry is currently moving to compact florescent bulbs. The most common bulb I see being used in the ‘jelly jar’ fixtures in swine units is the 23W Greenlite spiral bulb. Our experiences at SVC Research is that we replace approximately 50% of these bulbs every year.

In addition to the cost of the bulb there is also a labor charge involved in the bulb replacement and a replacement expense for the broken ‘jelly jars’ that get dropped during the replacement routine or that get damaged/broken in other ways during the year. I estimated this at 10% of the fixtures/year.

Assuming we have the lights on for 2 hours/day in a wean-finish site and our electric cost is $0.10/kWh, it is costing us $3.71 per light fixture per year in electricity and replacement parts. If you have 2 rows of lights on 20 ft spacing in a 240 ft long grow-finish facility, this is 22 fixtures and your yearly lighting expense is about $81.61. While this is a small part of the operating expense in a facility it can be among the most aggravating since burnt out bulbs make pig observation difficult and you never seem to have a replacement on-hand when you want/need it.

In a sow unit where the lights are commonly on for 16 hours per day versus 2 hours/day in wean-finish, the operating cost is $15.47 per fixture.

Not included in the above computations is the disposal issue of CFL bulbs. Because they contain a very small amount of mercury the correct disposal method is to take the bulb to a recycle center or a collection point operated by your electric supplier. However I know a lot of bulbs end up on the farm junk pile, in the burn barrel, or in the land-fill.

3 thoughts on “Lighting expenses in swine facilities

  1. Mike,
    I came across your article regarding lighting in hog buildings. I own a specialty lighting company in southeast Iowa. I’ve done a lot of research similar to what you’ve outlined in your article. Many growers in this area use CFL’s and/or 100 or 150 watt incandescents for lighting. I’ve sold thousand of CFL’s in the past and have very little success with durability in hog buildings. They simply don’t operate well in that environment.

  2. Mike,

    I suspect the bulbs have a short life because they (their electronic ballasts) overheat in the enclosures. At least some of the off-the-shelf CFL’s specify non-enclosed applications. Maybe we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by using exposed-application bulbs in protective enclosures? Not that we’d want to go the way of the poultry layer barns and leave CFL’s out in the open to get hosed down twice a year…. I don’t have a good answer for the short life problem.

    Thanks for the article. My best wishes to you.

  3. We had been using 22w quad tubes in farrowing until the price went to nearly $10/bulb and life went from several years to several months. This was due to an unavoidable brand change. We are now using 23w CFLs that give us about 50% more lumens, cost about $2.70 and last about 6 months on average. Our supplier (an independent lighting contractor) claims CFL life is declining everywhere and he has 100w CFLs enclosed without problems. Regardless, we are better off now. Also, he picks up our used bulbs when delivering new.

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