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LED Lighting for Retail Environments

April 12th, 2017 by cassiel

Compel Whole Foods BannerLEDs are enhancing retail environments with four main factors: Energy & Quality, Cost & Maintenance, Increased Sales with Visual Appeal, and Extended Product Shelf Life.

Energy & Quality

Compel Flex in CoolerIt is common knowledge that LED lighting saves energy over fluorescent bulbs with much lower watts and less wasted light. But what is not as well recognized is that LEDs are not all created equal. Quality LED fixtures, will save money over time, provide a long-life span, be more reliable, plus they will have a robust and proven manufacturing process. The first step in attaining quality LED fixtures is the process of sorting the diodes, called binning. The tighter the binning the more consist the color, intensity, and performance of the LEDs. Attaching the LEDs to the circuit boards is also critical for quality. This is achieved with a process called Surface Mount Technology (SMT). This process picks and places the diodes on the board. Both factors have high effects on the quality of the LEDs and performance of the fixture. Heat dissipation is also a factor for the life and performance of LEDS. LEDs do produce some heat even though it is much lower than fluorescent or incandescent bulbs, it is still important to control heat within the fixture to preserve the life of the LED. Energy management considerations for the fixtures should also be reviewed for compliance with commercial energy codes and standards.

LED vs Fluorescent ROICost & Maintenance

A commonly misunderstood conception of LEDs is that they are significantly more expensive than fluorescents. While their initial purchase cost may be more, an LED fixture will pay for itself in energy savings, reduced maintenance cost, and most importantly, increased product sales.

Increased Sales with Visual Appeal

Retail environments have long appreciated the value of lighting for displaying merchandise in the most appealing way and creating an instore atmosphere that conveys the desired brand image. This is sometimes more art than science, but there are some lighting basics that can help when specifying LED lighting for display lighting. Color Rendering Index (CRI) and Kelvin are two powerful factors in lighting that should be understood to determine the correct lighting product to specify for different situations.

Color Rendering Index (CRI)

CRI is a rating scale up to 100 that indicates the ability of the light source to portray the true color of an object. The closer to100 the light rating is the more an object’s color, will appear as it would in nature. It will have depth and vibrancy while a lower CRI rating will give objects a washed-out, dull appearance.

Color Temperature (Kelvin)

Kelvin is the standard international unit of thermodynamic temperature of light or in layman’s terms the rating of the light color. White LEDs are binned and rated from warm white (2500K) to cool white (6500K). Similar to CRI, Kelvin temperature can play a role in how colors are perceived. Warmer white colors (below 3000) will cast a yellow-white color which will improve reds and oranges, but dulls blues and gives white and green objects a yellow tint. On the other end the cool white (6500+) will boost blues, but dulls reds and conveys a bluish tint to white and green objects. For best overall color appearance, 3000-4000K is recommended as a neutral white so it will enhance most colors at the same level.

Annual Savings LED vs Fluorescent Case A study conducted by The Lighting Research Center confirmed that 88% of shoppers preferred the look of a LED case over a fluorescent case. LEDs Magazine took this study a step further and evaluated the sales on a fluorescent case versus an LED case. The results of the study are shown below.

LEDs are often specified for retail applications due to their long life and reduced energy usage. But what if they could extend the shelf life of store products? A study conducted by Kansas State University found that the use of LED lights in refrigerated meat cases could extend the shelf life of some meat. Raw meat will discolor relatively quickly in a refrigerated case due to the exposure to oxygen and UV light. While a discolored meat may not be expired or rancid, the perception to the average consumer is that it’s past its prime. Meat Case Because of this perception, retailers must discount or dispose of product, and are unable to sell it at full price, reducing their already tight margins. Since LEDs do not give off UV light, the discoloration process is much slower than it is with fluorescent lights, which do give off UV light. In addition to color retention, LEDs also keep refrigerated cases colder which aids the compressor in keeping the case at the optimal temperature for food preservation.

LED lighting use in retail displays continues to grow in popularity and is quickly becoming the accepted norm. For more information on LED Retail Display lighting click here.

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