A Different Light

Jay Jensen is national sales director, Everbrite, LLC, Greenfield, Wis.

Chain Store Age editor Marianne Wilson spoke with Jensen about this rapidly evolving technology. 

To date, what has been the primary use of LED lighting in retail stores? 

The primary applications of LED lighting have fallen in the areas of accent lighting and displays. Because LEDs provide the ability to mix colors and are a very directional light source, they have offered designers with options to create interesting display environments with a highly reliable light source that is virtually maintenance-free.

Is that changing? are there other uses that retailers should be taking advantage of when it comes to this technology? 

Yes. Many retailers have now made the switch from neon to LED in their channel letter sets and other outdoor signs. Typically, the upfront costs are slightly higher but are quickly offset by the annual energy and maintenance cost savings, along with potential upfront installation savings. Typically, the payback is within the first year or two and continues to decrease. In many cases, the payback is immediate. This upfront investment in LED will commonly result in thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the sign. The same switch has already been made for many interior applications such as lightboxes, displays and some downlighting applications.

What do you see as the single biggest advantage of LEDs in the retail environment? 

LEDs provide the industry with dramatic energy and maintenance savings over traditional lighting systems. This can yield dramatic cost savings over the life of the system. High quality red LEDs are rated up to 100,000 hours. White LEDs continue to improve, and many are rated up to 50,000 hours.

Additionally, many systems are backed by manufacturers’ warranties up to three to five years, in some cases including labor. However, understanding the products and how they are implemented into specific applications is the key to long-term success.

If you could give retailers some advice regarding LEDs, what would it be? 

Not all LED systems and components are equal. There are now many LED manufacturers, with varying degrees of expertise, offering varying degrees of quality and system reliability. The key is to select a system provider that understands the specific application for which the LED will be used. For instance, color temperature of white LEDs is often a major consideration when evaluating/selecting an illumination package for channel letter signs. The color temperature of the white will affect the colors in the face of the sign and can mean a brand’s image is upheld, or the image varies dramatically from brand standards.

Additionally, life of the LED is much more critical in this type of outdoor application than it is for a temporary display. Partnering with suppliers that understand the applications and have the ability to select the appropriate systems, specific to each application, can result in significant cost savings for the retailer.

What type of products does Everbrite specialize in? 

Everbrite is one of the largest national manufacturers of outdoor and indoor signage, displays, brand identification products and LED lighting systems for a variety of market segments. Everbrite is the only national signage company with a dedicated Technology Center that specializes in research and development of LED lighting components and systems. Through this resource, we support a lighting technologies division, producing commercial and specialty lighting applications across several industries. Additionally, we provide training and educational sessions for many of the largest brands in the world.

How can Everbrite help retailers with their lighting needs? 

Everbrite is uniquely positioned to assist retailers with a comprehensive site analysis of their lighting and identification components, both interior and exterior. We can work upfront with a brand on choosing the appropriate systems for each specific application. Everbrite also has the ability to work with an existing program to assess and recommend any upgrade and/or retrofit opportunities. We work with all facets of the brand, from design through construction and maintenance, to continuously provide retailers with the appropriate LED solutions to meet their specific branding requirements.

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