Lighting Focus: LEDs and Controls

From LEDs and controls to rebates and incentives, lighting presents retailers with a myriad of opportunities for savings. Chain Store Age spoke with Regency Lighting’s Judah Regenstreif about lighting trends and the potential for savings, in new stores and existing locations.

What are some of the major trends Regency is seeing in retail lighting?

The biggest trend in lighting right now is LED technology. LED lighting used to be very expensive, but it has reached the point now where the price point, return on investment, color temperature, lumen output and quality are all ready for many retail applications.

As an incentive, EPAct legislation provides tax benefits for switching to energy-efficient lighting. In fact, some legislation has also put efficiency standards in place that make some traditional lighting products obsolete. Additionally, rebates have increased this year from $4.5 billion to $6 billion for switching to LEDs.

What are some of the most common mistakes retailers make when it comes to lighting maintenance?

One of the biggest mistakes a retailer can make is to aim a fixture improperly. It sounds crazy, but pointing a fixture in the right direction can make a huge difference — it will determine whether or not you are lighting your merchandise or lighting an aisle!

Another important consideration is choosing a maintenance company that actually knows and understands lighting. All too often we hear of a maintenance company going into a retail store and/or restaurant and incorrectly installing/replacing fixtures, lamps and ballasts.

Additionally, wattages and Kelvin temperatures (colors) can get mixed up, creating a space that is inconsistent in appearance and that deviates from the original design intent. Regency has an advantage in these cases in that we started off as a lighting distribution company first, developing our expertise specifically in understanding all facets of lighting.

Why is lighting consumption so crucial to retailers’ efforts to conserve energy?

For retailers, the majority of their electric bill comes from their HVAC system and their lighting. If you’re trying to save electricity, you have to target your lighting usage to be able to save.

If you could give retailers one piece of advice with regard to their lighting, what would it be?

Don’t ignore the legacy stores. It’s very easy to be focused on new construction and making new stores more energy efficient. But switching to LEDS in just the legacy stores alone can produce savings of seven figures. We use a database of rates and rebates to show our customers where the optimal opportunities are so that their decision to retrofit is strategic and profitable.

Are retailers taking advantage of lighting retrofit opportunities?

We are doing more retrofits every year. The cost of LED technology was too high initially, but over time it decreased drastically. Now the cost of retrofitting has significantly decreased and the quality has significantly improved, which has doubled our number of retrofit customers in the past year.

How is technology impacting lighting?

Within the lighting industry, apart from LEDs, controls seem to be the next great frontier in lighting. I believe the real future is in connecting devices together over the Internet and providing mobile applications to simplify what we do every day — and eventually lighting manufacturers are going to figure that out. I think it’s only a matter of time before people find a way to blend all of these new technologies together. The four words that we keep hearing are: connected, mobile, fast and easy. These words embody the focus of where lighting technology is going.

How can Regency help retailers with their lighting needs?

Our whole philosophy is to become a trusted adviser to our clients. We spend a lot of time studying the technical attributes of a product and where it’s going so we can provide the best solutions.

Lighting has become increasingly complex, so we understand that it can be confusing. We know that our clients want something that is proven, so we only do business with proven companies and technologies and spend time obsessing about the details so they don’t have to. It’s important to us that we slow the process down just enough to help our clients make the right choices by answering all of their questions.

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