NATIONAL REPORT—To add ambiance to a restaurant, bar or other area of a hotel, sometimes all that’s needed is a little candlelight. Whether fueled by wax and wick or liquid fuel, candles encourage a relaxing, stress-free atmosphere. As common and accepted as traditional candles are, few hoteliers may realize their true costs—from both a financial and environmental perspective.
When wax candles burn down, they typically are thrown away and add to waste disposal costs—from the hotel to the landfill. Just like automobiles burning gasoline, candles using liquid fuel strain the environment. Energy is consumed through processes used to generate the oil, and pollution is created as well. Burning candles also fill the air with smoke particles. These can be troublesome to individuals with asthma.
If not wax or liquid fuel, what is a better option in terms of cost and environmental impact? If you have visited trade shows around the country in the past couple of years, you may have seen candles or other types of portable lighting powered by light-emitting diodes (LEDs). These portable lights offer many benefits compared to traditional fire-burning candles.
First of all, where there is smoke, there can be fire. LEDs give off no heat, flame or smoke, eliminating the possibility of fire or injury. LED candles also last much longer than wax or liquid fuel-powered candles. According to Smart Candle, a provider of LED candles based in Bloomington, Minn., a votive wax candle’s life span is typically 15 hours. One using liquid fuel will burn for 40 hours. An LED candle using a rechargeable battery, however, can last up to 10,500 hours.
Three Power Options
Thanks to a tiny computer chip, Smart Candle’s portable lights flicker just like a wax candle flame. Other vendors such as Ledtronics Inc., Torrance, Calif., also offer flickering LED candles. They can be powered in three different ways. Smart Candle’s LR44 button battery line, for example, provides in excess of 20 hours of flickering light, whereas the AAA battery line provides in excess of 50 hours. Rechargeable candles, which can be recharged approximately 700 times, provide up to 15 hours of light from an eight-hour charge.
“The cost savings can be significant,” says Jeff Miller, vice president sales for Smart Candle, who adds that a restaurant operation with 48 tables can save $2,000 to $6,000 a year.
Rechargeable candles require a charging block and power adaptor. Up to 48 candles can be recharged at one time per adaptor. Twelve-pack charging blocks can be connected to one another to facilitate the 48-candle charging. An on/off switch is located at the bottom of each candle.
LED candles are ideal for restaurants, bars, hotels, outdoor settings, holiday occasions and to provide light during power outages. Smart Candle’s rechargeable Platinum Series of lights are available in different colors and one candle type changes colors as it flickers.
In addition to traditional pillar, votive and tealight candle replacements, LED technology is also being used in more dramatic lighting such as chandeliers and 74-inch-high liquid lights. Mood lamps and other decorative lighting is also available with LEDs.
Savings for LED candle users can be immediate. According to Miller, the cost to run LED candles is 2.4 cents per hour compared to four to five cents for wax. Miller says he is currently working on a program for 2007 that will enable users of his company’s candles to properly dispose of batteries used in rechargeables.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.