The Lowdown on LED Lighting

Bill Plageman, VP marketing, Amerlux Lighting, Fairfield, N.J.,

Some call 2011 the year of the LED lighting revolution, and that isn’t far from reality. There is no question that the industry has started to move closer to mass adoption of LED lighting solutions as prices stabilized, and as the industry promoted the energy gains to be made through LED installations without sacrificing lighting quality.

Chain Store Age talked with Bill Plageman, VP marketing for Fairfield, N.J.-based Amerlux Lighting, about trends in LED lighting and whether the product is gaining real traction among retailers.

What trends are you seeing in terms of how retailers are lighting their stores? 
The clear trend is LED accent lighting. Many, if not most, retailers understand the importance of accenting merchandise, but couldn’t do much of it in the past due to energy restrictions. Now, with LED, there is a real — and quantifiable — return on investment. 

What would be the primary reasons for a retailer to move to LED lighting?

Energy reduction is one of the main reasons for the move to LED, but what retailers are finding to be even more valuable is the reduction in maintenance costs. In most cases, the savings in maintenance make a move to LED lighting a no-brainer decision for a retailer.

Do you find that most retailers are lighting their stores as efficiently as they can?

Unfortunately, the Department of Energy is making it difficult for retailers to really gain a full understanding about how best to light their stores, both efficiently and effectively. How retailers light their stores and what products they use are key, but the DOE can actually be an impediment to the process, as it puts far more importance on cutting energy costs, with less concern about the quality of the light.

What should a retailer’s considerations be when trying to save money without sacrificing light quality?

What retailers should be looking at are the design intent and what type of beam and intensity are required to sell their products. The Center Beam Candle Power (CBCP) is often overlooked. By putting their focus on the CBCP, retailers could potentially use less wattage and still provide better color and generate a higher level of product attention when lighting their stores.

With so much buzz about LEDs, do you think that LED lighting will ever be used for general lighting in retail stores? 

Yes. It will take some time, but I do believe that LED will be used in retail as general lighting, especially since retailers prefer to avoid a “patchwork” lighting effect. Most retailers prefer the visual uniformity that comes as a result of a single lighting technology. 

However, today, if you run the numbers, LED just doesn’t provide the ROI when compared with LED systems. T8 fluorescent systems are less expensive than an LED system and are extremely efficient in lumens per watt and life. 

What role does LED play toward creating sustainable stores?

Because retailers can no longer afford to over-light stores, sustainable retail environments will eliminate light waste by lowering unnecessary light levels — and LED plays to that by directing light precisely where it is needed in order to highlight product and direct customers through the stores.

As well, the ability for retailers to digitally control their LED store lighting allows them to dim and color-adjust as needed, saving energy while maintaining the quality of the light. 

What new products and projects do you have in the pipeline? 

While we have many new products in the pipeline, Amerlux is more about providing solutions to retailers. The LED product today may not be the LED that the retailer needs to solve its design requirements. Amerlux has been more successful in working with the retailers in providing lighting solutions that targets their specific needs. In fact, many of the Amerlux products that are now considered to be our standard have emerged out of solving real-world lighting issues. We understand that one light doesn’t fit all.

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