4 Innovative Ways Retailers Can Use LEDs

grocery market produce counter

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are beneficial to nearly any business. However, the retail sector can gain the most from their easy installation, increased energy efficiency and lifetime cost savings. LED lighting can make all the difference in retail areas that experience high traffic, need greater proactive loss prevention measures or require consistent energy usage monitoring.

Lighting options
Consider the last time you stood under a bright light for a long time and felt the heat emanating from it. Chances are it was a traditional-style incandescent light bulb. Such older technologies, also including high-intensity discharge lamps, tend to generate a lot of heat, making LEDs a viable alternative.

For retail stores, this is an important factor to consider when upgrading or retrofitting lighting applications, as LEDs operate at lower temperatures to reduce cooling costs. LED lighting can be applied for indoor and outdoor retail applications and comes in several styles, colors and sizes to factor in the design aesthetic for retailers. By changing out bulbs or replacing old fixtures with new LED fixtures, customers can take full advantage of the potential for LEDs.

In addition to their design appeal, LED lighting replacement bulbs, especially those that are ENERGY STAR®-certified, offer longer lifespans than compact fluorescents or incandescent lighting resulting in reduced maintenance costs.1 They give off less heat and use 25-75% less energy than alternative bulbs, which lowers overall utility costs.2

Retail applications
As LED technology evolved in recent years, the use for these energy-efficient lighting products spread to encompass almost every type of retail lighting space imaginable. From clothing stores to grocery stores, back-of-the-business settings to consumer displays, LEDs can now be used to illuminate nearly every aspect of a retail business.

    1. Retail displays. Lighting options can more effectively highlight a retailer's high-traffic areas and products to increase brand visibility. In fact, one of the main reasons LED lighting adoption continues to grow among retailers is its directional capability. Whereas CFLs and incandescent lamps spread light and heat across a wide area, LEDs can be aimed at specific areas or products because they are directional light sources. This makes highlighting certain products and drawing customers' attention to them much easier. In fact, LEDs reached an installed base of 11.4 million lamps in 2012 (about 4.6% of the total directional lamp sockets), an increase from 2010, when LEDs had an installed base of less than 1%.3

      To demonstrate just how far the technology has progressed, PG&E partnered with the California Lighting Technology Center to educate retailers on LED technology and help them better transition to such energy-efficient lighting.4 The Lux retail vignette showcased such lighting options as PAR38 and MR16 replacement lamps, commonly used in track lighting.

      Retailers must also consider such principles as color temperature, color rendering and efficacy when applying directional lighting to retail displays. High-performance LED bulbs and fixtures offer better color rendering, reduce glare and increase visibility due to an improved lens design, which helps make retail displays more attractive.

      Because product displays are constantly illuminated throughout the day, retailers should consider pairing LEDs with dimmers. Dimming light bulbs, for example, can reduce their wattage and output, which can help retailers save energy and create the right atmosphere for customers.5

    1. Aisle settings. Most retailers understand their shoppers and can sum them up into two groups — those who come in with a list and need well-defined aisles to more easily find exactly what they came for, and those customers who don't mind strolling through a store for hours. In either case, it is vital for retailers to make each customer feel invited.

      LEDs can better help illuminate such high-traffic areas as retail aisles for better traffic flow. Retailers can consider LED pendant, strip and high- and low-bay fixtures that are qualified by the DesignLights Consortium to help improve lighting quality and output and better illuminate aisles.

    1. Case illumination. Food displays, often found in produce aisles, or case lighting are some of the areas that can best benefit from specific lighting applications. In grocery stores, LEDs can better highlight refrigerated or frozen food products for consumers and significantly reduce both the lighting and refrigeration loads for the retailer.

      For example, supermarket chain Safeway Inc. was able to cut its lighting energy consumption by 50% after it worked with PG&E on its lighting retrofit project.6 This project made its refrigerator case lighting more energy efficient by upgrading its T8 lamps in a row of freezer cases to LED lighting. The retrofit lowered the power demand of the lighting case system by about 43% to produce projected energy savings of more than 8,800 kilowatt-hours per year.

  1. Exterior areas. While HID lamps are common in lighting parking garage structures, updated fixtures that use LEDs provide better lighting for high visibility, improved efficiency and long life — key components for such outdoor applications. Beyond energy savings and aesthetical improvements, LEDs can also reduce light pollution and complaints from neighbors.

    In combination with motion detection equipment, LED technology can better secure the safety of retail employees and customers because of its instant output, eliminating such effects as long restrike and warm-up times. Other exterior areas that LEDs can better secure include high-traffic pathways, parking garage elevators and outdoor stairwells

LED retail installation
Commonly-applied LEDs provide long-term savings and come in various design alternatives that present opportunities for retailers to illuminate particular brand-name items for increased sales potential. Additionally, energy-efficient LED lighting products and rebates from PG&E help significantly reduce the upfront costs for retail implementation. Retailers can utilize PG&E's on-bill financing program for their energy-efficient retrofit projects and benefit from zero interest and loan terms of up to five years.

A lighting contractor or designer can best aid retailers who look to install LEDs for more energy-efficient retail lighting. They can also provide further information on specific LED rebates and incentives to help retailers save on costs. "The Complete Guide to Working with a Lighting or HVAC Contractor" eBook from PG&E helps retailers assess their current system to better understand how LEDs add to the visual and ecofriendly appeal of their environment.

Referenced in article:

  1. Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  2. Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  3. U.S. Department of Energy
  4. California Lighting Technology Center
  5. U.S. Department of Energy
  6. Pacific Gas and Electric Company