When it comes to being innovative, light tower manufacturers have been very busy indeed. New products introduced this year feature an alternative power source, LED lighting and a second generation of performance and value, among other advances – all destined to bring a host of advantages to end users.
Hydrogen fills a niche
One light tower breaking new ground is the H2LT from Multiquip. Powered by hydrogen fuel cells and featuring plasma lighting, this unit was first introduced to the public last fall, and made its formal debut at this year’s World of Concrete.
“We started to think about developing a light tower that uses an alternative energy source back in 2008,” recalls Torsten Erbel, Multiquip’s vice president product management, engineering and customer support. “The demand for alternative power sources is growing for underground applications, indoor work and use in residential areas where noise and pollution issues are a concern. After looking at more traditional power sources, we asked ourselves, ‘How about hydrogen?’”
After nearly two years of R&D, the company introduced the EarthSmart H2LT. “Hydrogen fuel cells provide a tremendous alternative fuel,” says Erbel. “Hydrogen is abundant and the fuel cells are not only extremely efficient, they are also virtually pollution free. The use of hydrogen fuel cells and plasma lighting allows this unit to provide 68 hours of runtime.”
He points to other benefits, like the cost savings compared to traditional power sources. “There’s a projected 86% cost saving after 10,000 hours of operation vs. diesel power and 21% after 2,000 hours,” he indicates. A large part of these savings comes from reduced maintenance costs and the escalating cost of fuel.
Not to mention the benefits that plasma lighting brings to the table. “Eight plasma lights provide 23,000 Lumens per light,” Erbel explains. “The bulbs have a 50,000-hour lifetime and they are 50% more energy efficient compared to traditional 1,000-watt systems.”
With a price tag that is three to four times that of other light towers, Erbel admits that the H2LT isn’t for everyone. Yet, when you put a pencil to operating cost savings, environmental benefits and certain federal and state tax incentives, the unit can fill an important niche.
“One question that always comes up is the availability of hydrogen,” Erbel notes. “The hydrogen cylinders feature a nozzle that is identical to the one used on fuel cell vehicles. Currently, there are approximately 200 hydrogen filling stations around the country, along with local fuel supply outlets that offer hydrogen. The number is only going to increase as the use of vehicles and equipment powered by hydrogen fuel cells become more common place.”
Terex Aerial Work Platforms recently introduced two battery-powered light towers also designed for special applications or where pollution can be problematic. The AL 5L and AL 4L feature LED technology that, in combination with batteries, eliminates engine noise and emissions, while lowering operating costs and improving performance.
The light towers have four panels, each with 100 individual LED bulbs offering 50,000 hours of runtime. Chad Hislop, Terex associate product manager, asserts, “This not only gives them five times the life of metal-halide bulbs, but LED bulbs also emit a more focused light than metal-halide bulbs. [That] means more light on the jobsite with less glare and light pollution. They also have instant on/off operation. And not having a filament makes LED bulbs less susceptible to vibration and breaking.”
The AL 4L is offered with batteries only, while the AL 5L comes standard with an 8-kW generator for charging onboard batteries. It can also be used to charge up to three battery-operated AL 4L light towers.