In a retail environment, lighting is everything. Your choice in lighting can make or break the overall appearance of your venue and products. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), lighting accounts for 20-50% of all electricity costs. The following is a list of the five most commonly used types of lighting for retail settings, in order of least to most energy efficient lighting.
The incandescent lamp is the same technology invented by Thomas Edison in 1879. The Halogen lamp is a type of incandescent lamp. The Halogen produces a white light and is commonly used in recessed can features and wall sconces to highlight merchandise, art and architecture. It is also used in exterior lighting. This technology is simple, but inefficient.
Fluorescent lighting is most commonly used in overhead lighting and is up to four times more efficient than traditional incandescent lamps. There are two types:
- T12 Fluorescents: most popular, but least efficient
- Magnetic Ballast Lamps: low initial cost, but less efficient than electronic ballast models and are susceptible to flickering and humming as they age.
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)
CFL’s are fluorescent lights made in compacted form to use in place of traditional incandescent lighting. They come in a variety of sizes and are used in a number of applications. Energy Star Certified, CFL’s use75% less energy than incandescent lamps and can last up to ten times as long. Using a 32-Watt CFL in place of a 100-Watt incandescent lamp saves up to $30.00 in energy costs over the lifetime of the lamp.
T8 and T5 Fluorescent Lighting
The T8 system (one inch in diameter) and T5 system (5/8th inch in diameter) both offer better efficiency, brighter intensity and age better over time with less degradation in light quality. They are useful for lighting larger spaces and for general lighting purposes.
LED lighting and Induction Lamps
Light-emitting diode (LED) lights were originally designed as indicators on electronic devices, but today provide a practical and highly flexible option for lighting. They are the most highly efficient choice for lighting.LED’s are durable and extremely long-lasting. LED’s are used for accent lighting, exit signs and string-type holiday light decorating. Induction lamps are a fluorescent lamp that eliminates the most problematic component, the electrode; it produces light by activating the light’s gas fill with radio frequency technology. The life of an induction light system is upwards of 50,000 hours and the lamps are versatile and durable.
According to the SBA, there are several ways to upgrade your current system to make it more efficient:
- Substitute T8 fluorescents and electronic ballasts with T12 lights and magnetic ballasts,
- Use compact fluorescent instead of incandescent lamps, and
- Replace incandescent lighting with fluorescents altogether.
Knowing what type of lighting you now have in your displays is the first step in making your facility as efficient as possible. Once you have taken inventory, consider these suggested upgrades. Also consider Energy Star Certified lamps when choosing your lighting. With a few simple modifications to your current lighting set up, the savings in utility costs becomes a wise long-term investment for your business.
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