By Bob Ingram
All areas of supermarket lighting are undergoing changes as new technology is introduced and adapted.
Light-emitting diode (LED) technology continues to evolve in efficiency and application since its invention 50 years ago by a General Electric scientist.
"Today, LEDs are touching virtually every fixture in the grocery store, and many supermarkets are looking for a total lighting solution that incorporates LEDs and more traditional lighting fixtures," says Heather Wilson Coode, vertical manager, retail and hospitality, at GE Lighting, Nela Park, East Cleveland, Ohio.
In addition to LEDs, Anshuman Bhargava, product manager for LED and integrated systems at Bridgeton, Mo.-based Hussmann Corp., sees other significant innovations in supermarket lighting as intelligent lighting controls for accent and refrigerated display cases, color management, adjustable light throw and distribution, adjustable lighting intensity and dimming, plug-and-play connectors, and adaptors and brackets for fast and easy installation.
Randy Dollar, VP of market development at Universal Lighting Technologies in Nashville, Tenn., points out that LED fixtures can reduce energy costs of lighting by up to 85 percent, depending on the type of lighting currently in use, and that they also last up to twice as long as fluorescent lamps.
Dollar says the latest generation of automated lighting control systems can provide payback periods ranging from as little as six months to 36 months, especially if a technology is chosen that doesn't require expensive rewiring. He notes that wireless systems are available that communicate with lighting fixtures over existing power lines and allow retailers to take advantage of a wide range of energy-saving practices.
Coode says: "There is greater emphasis now being put on LED lighting for horizontal refrigerated cases. In particular, we see customers looking to illuminate their dairy, produce, meats and seafood with LED lighting versus traditional fluorescent lighting."
LED refrigerated display lighting systems that exhibit a higher CRI (color rendering index) help to bring out the colors in packaging, she observes, noting that this year, GE introduced its next generation of horizontal lighting with the GE Immersion RH20 LED system, which can save grocers as much as 77 percent in energy costs when replacing traditional T12 high-output fluorescent tubes.
According to Coode, GE Immersion LED lighting systems are the most popular with the company's grocery customers, because of their faster payback period and savings in energy and maintenance. Food City, which operates stores in Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee, recently installed GE Immersion RV40 LED lighting in 7,400 display case doors in 89 stores, a move expected to save the Abingdon, Va.-based grocer more than $300,000 annually in lighting costs.
GE also provided energy-efficient LED technology to Lufkin, Texas-based Brookshire Bros. for a facility-wide lighting update encompassing in-store, parking lot, exterior signage and refrigerated case fixtures, which the company expects will reduce annual operating costs by more than $235,000.
Examples of the Brookshire updates include retrofitting 210- and 270-watt GE Evolve LED Area Lights in parking lots, including company headquarters, for an annual electricity savings of more than $14,000; 60 percent energy reduction in refrigerated cases with GE's Immersion RV40 LED lighting; replacing 75-watt halogen lamps with longer-life GE 10-watt PAR30 LED floodlights in wine displays; and enhancing the exterior appearance of stores with GE Tetra LED Lighting Systems, delivering up to 80 percent energy savings and providing more uniform light compared with traditional fluorescent and neon options.
West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee is the primary supermarket customer of Universal Lighting Technologies; the company's DCL Control Systems are now the standard lighting control systems for all new Hy-Vee stores, saving the retailer $6,000 to $7,000 per location, according to Dollar, who notes that DCL Control Systems were recently introduced to Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spartan Stores as well.
Dollar says that with DCL, supermarkets can take advantage of daylight harvesting, occupancy sensors and time-of-day scheduling, and that they may qualify for rebates and incentives from local power providers.
Bhargava says Hussmann recently launched its new EcoShine II LED light product family, which provides maximum energy savings and optimal light distribution for reach-in doors, multiple decks, walk-in coolers and specialty refrigerated merchandisers.
"The ultra-slim-line design of the LED lights create an invisible light source easily integrated into the door frame and case mullions so that it doesn't obstruct the shopper's view," he says. "Our EcoShine II LED lights are available in warm white and natural white, and provide a high 85 CRI, which brings out the natural colors in food products, especially meat, deli and seafood. With these lights, product temperatures are 2 to 3 degrees cooler, therefore allowing more consistent product temperatures within the display zone. Depending on the application, EcoShine II LEDs provide an energy savings of 57 percent to 71 percent versus T8 fluorescent lighting."
According to Bhargava, key focus areas for supermarket lighting products in the future will include intelligent lighting controls for accent and refrigerated display cases, color management, adjustable light throw and distribution, adjustable light intensity, and waterproof, moisture-resistant LEDs.
"LED is certainly the future of lighting in supermarket applications," Dollar adds. "In the long term, I believe controllable — dimmable — LED will allow supermarkets to further build upon the energy-saving measures that many have already put in place. With that said, controllable fluorescent lighting is still a low-cost, energy-efficient light source with several years left as a good supermarket solution, based on ROI."
Coode says that, in the future, supermarkets are going to see a lot of growth in both indoor and outdoor LED lighting. "We are very excited about our new and improved Evolve scalable LED Area light for parking lot lighting that is slated to be unveiled later this fall," she notes, adding that this new generation is more energy-efficient, offers more lumens to make it brighter and is thus more efficient overall, with a better lumen-per-watt figure.
GE's latest indoor LED technology is on display with its Lumination LED Luminaire fixtures, Coode says. This technology places LEDs on the edge of light fixtures and uses advanced optics to diffuse and push the light outward, distributing it evenly throughout the entire fixture.
"We are seeing this technology being used to create LED lighting troffers for ceiling lighting applications. The troffers resemble a ceiling panel and can be used to replace traditional fluorescent tubes in ceilings," she says. "We're also seeing more retailers completing comprehensive lighting system updates, similar to Brookshire Bros., to establish models of energy efficiency in their stores. Our customers really see the value of updating systems, either with new fixtures or retrofitting old fixtures, to take advantage of energy and maintenance cost savings. Ultimately, this makes them more profitable and creates a better shopping experience for their customers."
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