Lighting Basics

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Lighting Basics


Lighting is misunderstood and under-utilized in most retail environments. Changing or
adding to your existing lighting can make an overnight difference in your store. It can
draw customer attention to specific products and it can encourage greater sell-through of
your products.

What kind of lighting is used at retail?

Merchandise needs to be seen to sell. An effective contrast in lighting is needed between the merchandise and its surroundings. Your merchandise needs to be brighter than anything around it.

Fluorescent light provides ambient light. It is a good overall light source. Look into the fluorescent lighting that best replicates daylight. Use it to light the interior spaces and aisles of your store.

Incandescent light sources provide a warm, more specifically focused light—spotlights and floodlights, for instance. This type of lighting is more flexible and can be used on tracks or in recessed cans. Use it to highlight product on your walls, in your display windows, interior displays and your cash/wrap counter.

Low voltage light is basically incandescent but with some advantages. It provides sharp, white light and highly directional lighting. It is usually coupled with well-designed track fixtures that can be used to enhance your store interior. MR 16 lamps are often used with low-voltage fixtures. Low-voltage lighting requires a transformer (which is often built in to the fixture). It needs good insulation and ventilation. Use low-voltage as you would other incandescents to highlight display and wall areas.

Natural light is the best lighting you can use. It's free, absolutely accurate in color rendition, and gives great interest to store interiors. It's not as available or as predictable as the other forms of lighting, but use it as an ambient light source whenever you can.


Which should I use?

Most retail stores will use incandescent, fluorescent, low voltage, or natural light sources. Rather than choose just one of these sources, use a combination of them for best results. For example, using fluorescents will give you ambient light. Combining them with low voltage enables you to vary the light levels and project light on particular areas.

Where can I find the lighting I need?

Your local lighting store personnel will actually help you design a lighting plan in return for you purchasing lighting from them. Take advantage of their expertise. Attend retail trade shows like GlobalShop where lighting firms have booths and can demo their products for you.


How much does lighting cost?

The cost varies according to where you buy it. But here's an idea of how the different sources stack up.

Fluorescent light is moderate in cost. The newer color balanced lamps cost a bit more but have a longer life. Fluorescent light is inexpensive to operate and energy costs tend to be low.

Incandescent light is moderate in cost because of the simplicity of its fixtures. However, the life of the lamps is short. Incandescent light is more expensive to operate because of its relatively short life, heat generation (you'll have additional air conditioning costs) and low efficiency.

Low voltage light costs more but lasts longer and burns cooler so energy costs are reduced.

Natural light is free!

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