Energy efficiency is one of the key benefits of using LED lighting. But there are plenty of other reasons to incorporate LEDs into retail stores, Sally Lee, applications marketing manager for Osram Sylvania, told attendees at the session, “Spotlight on LED: Getting the Dirt on Rare Earth Minerals.”
Small, inherently directional LEDs are a great candidate for highlighting merchandise, Lee said, and their enhanced brilliance and product appearance result in increased sales. She cited a 2007 Costco study, which determined that jewelry appeared to be of higher quality under LED light and resulted in higher sales compared with fluorescent lighting.
In other advantages, the long life of LEDs can reduce maintenance costs and help support store image. Also, most LEDs emit no UV light, which reduces damaging effects on materials and merchandise.
“And the color mixing of LEDs can bring a retail space to life with a dynamic and dazzling array of colors,” Lee said.
Refrigerated displays are one of the top retail applications for LEDs.
“This is a big area because LEDs perform better at cold temperatures,” Lee said, who added that the lower heat of the lamps also lengthens the shelf life of foods.
Signage and illuminated advertising are also well suited to LEDs. Used in these applications, LEDs offer such advantages as consistent brand image, lower maintenance and energy costs, design flexibility and ease of installation.
The use of LEDs in recessed downlights also delivers significant benefits, including the ability to capitalize on the directional light of LEDs to improve system efficacy.
Solid-state lighting is also playing a major role in retrofits, according to Lee. She said that there is not an application in retail today without an LED choice.
That is not to say, however, that LEDs are a silver bullet. LEDs are heat-sensitive and produce less light and fail early if not thermally managed. Also, lamps with the same specifications may have inconsistencies, making it difficult to match one lamp to the next.
“LEDs are still expensive on a first-cost basis compared with traditional choices,” Lee concluded. “But because of all of the advantages — both short- and long-term — I truly believe that it’s the best energy choice you can make.”