Keeping Up on Lighting Issues

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Lighting is a top priority of retailers across the board, particularly in today’s energy-conscious environment. New lighting technologies are available that offer viable alternatives for reducing energy, increasing productivity, improving the work place and contributing to a safe and aesthetically pleasing environment.

What do you see as the main trends in retail lighting? 

Owners are looking for smart lighting systems and are getting away from track. They are also looking to recessed or linear systems that beat code and quiet the ceiling.

At the same time, retailers are also looking for ways to present and merchandise their goods in the best possible “light” while still being ecologically sensitive in regard to energy efficiency and natural resources. For example, Acme Supermarkets and Albertson’s Supermarkets are starting to use LED track lighting that uses less energy, has negligible UV that can degrade product, and significantly reduces their maintenance costs while making the product look as good as possible for merchandising effect.

In specialty retailing, customers like Burberry and Michael Kors use low-wattage ceramic-metal-halide products from Amerlux that significantly reduce the energy consumption and heat in the store while improving the merchandising effect on the product. This makes the entire shopping experience for their customer base more enjoyable.

Energy efficiency has become a key priority for retailers. What role does lighting play? 

Lighting is key if it is used properly. There is a balance between which is right and which is acceptable. It is critical when using new technologies that maximizing the energy is key and not redesigning to meet the code.

What are the biggest mistakes retailers make with regard to store lighting? 

The biggest mistake is not being clear with consultant partners regarding where they want to be in terms of costs and payback as well as the overall lighting ratios of task to general lighting ratios.

How is Amerlux responding to retailers’ increased demand for more efficient lighting and interest in sustainability? 

We have met the demand by creating recessed and pendant linear systems that utilize the latest and most-efficient technologies and effective beam control as well as quiet the ceiling.

Apart from supplying lighting fixtures, how else can Amerlux assist retailers with their lighting solutions? 

We generally work with consultants, but we are there to help retailers wherever and whenever we can with cost analysis, code understanding as it relates to the specific environment and development of light fixtures that solve lighting issues.

Many retailers are focusing in 2009 on making their existing stores as energy efficient as possible. Are cost-effective retrofit solutions available? 

Yes. In fact, converting halogen/ incandescent lighting to more efficient sources such as LED and low-wattage metal halide is a great step in the right direction. Our Cylindrix series 20w metal halide can replace up to 90w incandescent, lasting three to five times longer, with LED—it’s 10 to 15 times as long.

What role do you think LED lighting will play in retail stores going forward? 

Metal halide in the retail store is still bridging the gap between halogen and LED. But LED is developing very fast. As costs improve, the value of LED to the retailer becomes ever-present. It should be noted that quality as it relates to LED is even more crucial, and controlling heat is paramount to the quality of the product.

Are there any national energy issues that retailers should be watching for in the coming months? 

Retailers need to be educated on the latest codes as they are ever-changing. Ashrae 90.1 and Title 24, just to name two, are requiring retailers to reduce power consumption.

What about building codes and electrical codes—are there any changes coming with regard to energy and or lighting? 

Not so much.

If you could give retailers one piece of advice when it comes to lighting, what would it be? 

Set realistic goals on budgets and be clear with your consultants as to what you are trying to achieve.