Lighting hazardous environments like chemical plants, fuel processing facilities, and dusty grain operations with a high risk of fire is tough. The lighting fixtures in these locations need to be very tightly sealed, making maintenance costly.

Which is why Digital Lumens, an intelligent lighting company focused primarily on the industrial sector, thinks that smart LEDs are the perfect option for these locations. 

Digital Lumens just released nine new types of LED fixtures for hazardous locations where high-intensity discharge lamps and high-intensity florescent lamps dominate. Because the company's LEDs last for up to 107,000 hours and dramatically reduce the heat output of standard designs, this new line of products can potentially cut maintenance costs in hazardous facilities.

Bringing new technologies into critical environments can be slow. Companies with high reliability and safety concerns are not always receptive to new products. But Joe Adiletta, a senior product manager at Digital Lumens, says features like the ability to slash maintenance costs and provide new levels of controllability are attractive to customers.

"Companies in this sector haven't been able to treat lighting as a platform before," said Adiletta. "These locations haven’t really had a cost-effective controllable solution offered to them in the past. As we talk to them, they're surprised in terms of functionality and payback."

The Digital Lumens LightRules platform marries software, building controls and LED fixtures to create a granular and customizable lighting system. Each fixture has a small computing platform with sensors that allow it to take in local conditions and push that information to a central management platform. Individual luminaires then make decisions about how much light to produce based upon those conditions.

The LightRules platform goes beyond lighting. It's often the first "smart" system in a building, opening up new monitoring capabilities for facilities managers. And Americans are changing their lighting habits.

Recognizing the data potential for large retail environments, Digital Lumens has also developed new products for big-box stores and grocery chains that use high-intensity discharge lights.

"Data gathering is really interesting to these customers. One of the things the system can do is relay occupancy patterns, which becomes important in retail environments as they analyze traffic patterns and customer behavior," said Digital Lumens marketing director Allison Parker.

Last July, Digital Lumens announced it had developed 500 large-scale LED projects, growing its portfolio by 150 percent in 2012. With some customers reducing lighting costs by more than 90 percent, the company says it's now saving $25 million a year for its portfolio of customers.