Halogen, incandescent, fluorescent, LED: Such words can sound like a foreign language to a new store owner or an established retailer looking to upgrade their space. The lighting industry has trained its spot on LED, or light emitting diode, but myths about the technology’s limitations linger in the wider world. We thought we’d give you an update on what’s available in LED today.
We recently spent some time with Environmental Lights, a leading source for sustainable, energy-efficient LED lighting products, to get some illumination on the subject.
While LED lighting often presents greater upfront costs, the savings of installing it don’t take long to realize. Every visual merchandiser or store manager knows well the manpower required to change a bulb or two, and because of that might opt to replace all of them at once, flickering or not, for the sake of efficiency and to avoid dragging out the big rig ladder again. In addition, LED is cool to the touch. While all light sources generate heat, LED’s relatively low heat emissions ensure stores’ energy bills drop immediately and substantially following a retrofit.
With no glass filament to protect, storage and transportation is a far less delicate matter, which also benefits store owners and trade show folks. LED bulbs can last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescents.
“Lighting is the final touch to a store, the final detail,” Stacy Brown, Environmental Lights’ marketing director, said. “The last thing you want is lighting that makes your diamonds look yellow versus white.” She noted that many retailers put lighting too low on their priority list or neglect it altogether.
LED bulbs can fit into any standard lighting fixture, and Environmental Lights works with retailers and contractors to help them determine the right replacement options. If you aren’t sure which LED product will replace your fluorescents or halogen track lighting, just ask.
Color and temperature
A common misperception about LED lighting is that the color or temperature of the bulb are static. Not true! While the original LED bulbs cast bluish glow, that old technology has been improved. Today’s LED lighting has color tune-ability. Even better? You can order a sample kit from Environmental Lights to test out the color in your environment.
Versatility and dimming
“The functionality and creative ability with LED lighting can be a huge design element,”
Brown said. Consider the flexibility of light bars or strip lights, which can brighten walls or shelves and thereby decrease the need for heavy-duty overhead lighting. Lighting then can be layered to produce the most efficient system, with direct lighting where it’s needed most. Environmental Lights launched its High CRI LED strip light at Global Shop 2012. It has a color rendering index or CRI over 80. Such a high CRI is not found in most LED strips, which measures color accuracy on a scale of 0-100. A higher rating provides greater illumination and helps consumers correctly identify colors
Dimming is another option in LED technology that was not available initially, but is now.
In addition to providing tax breaks for switching to efficient lighting, many local areas reimburse businesses for changing to more energy-efficient lighting or provide incentives for retrofitting. So if you’re thinking of making a lighting change, contact your local utility or Chamber of Commerce. You might find that even if you are leasing space, the change pays for itself between such an incentive and energy savings, not to mention the sales growth that a well-lit store can generate.
SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright
is the founder of Merchandising Matters,
which provides visual merchandising and
marketing support to the outdoor retail industry.
Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
with questions, ideas and suggestions.