Rockin' Retail Lighting

By Curt Harler | Aug 15, 2003




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Hollywood may be the only place where “the look” is more important than it is in retail lighting. Out front or indoors, there are several new technologies available to provide splashy yet economical lighting for stores and businesses.

“The biggest issues are design of the fixtures and how they perform. There is a huge move to aesthetics,” said Cruz Perez, vice president of sales at Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting (, Simi Valley, Calif.). He sees a strong trend toward brass, stainless and copper fixtures. The green patina of aged copper is popular, but there are practical reasons for some changes.

Contractors find their customers want rugged fixtures. “We see a big push to composites,” Perez said. Their newest line uses a material called Ryton-4, an injection-molded, fiberglass-reinforced polymer. While it looks like plastic, it is far stronger. When tapped, it sounds like metal. It is UV-stable and is slower to melt than aluminum.

“It has great performance and looks stylish during the day,” Perez said.

The electronics are the same as with traditional fixtures. However, the components are somewhat higher quality, using a better fixture with brass insert and stainless screws. The shroud, body and base all are modular and replaceable if damaged.

This extra quality and flexibility may add 12 percent to 14 percent over the cost of a die-cast aluminum product, but it provides an escape from the square-box design and allows for custom designs.

There are retailers taking advantage of new design trends and new bulb technology to create great looks.

A rockin’ show

LED technology from Lumileds (www.lumileds. com, San Jose, Calif.) was used by lighting specialist Tryka LED Ltd. to light the outside of a new night club. The M Club and Bar wanted to build customer traffic and knew it needed creative, dynamic effects get it.

Developed as an additional element to the overall M Club launch, the LED-based external lighting project was designed around the building. Glass windows at the front of the club provided a basis for the dynamic LED lighting system. The project uses the Tryka Strip Module 36 in two different lengths—22 strips at 1200mm and 34 strips at 1700mm. In total, 2016 Luxeon LEDs, 672 each of red, green and blue, were used to light the external fascia of the M Club.

By using a standard silver film over the interior of each window, together with a sealed ‘light box,’ Tryka created a dramatic effect. The smooth, evenly lit surface captures the light and allows greater control and flexibility in the lighting effects possible. A diffuser was used over the LEDs to soften the output. The lighting effects were achieved by connecting the system to a standard DMX-based controller. A Martin Light Jockey system, used in the main club and bar areas, was utilized to control the frontage lighting solution. Using the emulator software, the system was preprogrammed by PSD Electronics. Looped and animated into a wide range of sequences, the show lasts around 20 minutes in total.

LEDs retain 98 percent of their brightness after 3,600 hours and generate at least 70 percent of their original light output at 50,000 hours of operation in typical conditions. Luxeon achieves this lumen maintenance by avoiding use of epoxy.

Energy savings with LEDs are significant. Incandescent bulbs have an energy efficacy of around 10 lumens per watt, while halogen ranges typically from 15 to 25 lumens per watt. The Luxeon LEDs in white run 25-30 lumens per watt. Red Luxeon has an efficiency of around 50 lumens per watt, currently the most efficient LED available.

More savings

Buy ballasts that carry the EnergyStar program logo. EnergyStar fixtures carry a substantial rebate. “EnergyStar rebates can amount to almost the full value of the fixture,” said Brian Wald, CEO at Fulham Co. Inc. (, Los Angeles).

In addition to the hefty rebate, an EnergyStar product will save the user 20 to 40 percent in operating costs, depending on the light level in the room. “Lamps use 15 to 20 percent less wattage for the same lumens,” Wald explained. “Add an approved ballast and you find substantial savings.” Their WorkHorse ballast, for instance, is among EnergyStar-listed products.

EnergyStar products typically are available from retail outlets and big box home stores.

Inside shops

Contractors looking for an inside alternative to halogen lighting can check out the Xenon undercabinet lighting from Kichler Lighting, (, Cleveland, Ohio). It uses an 18W bulb that provides light equivalent to a 20W halogen.

Better yet, it runs at 55 C, rather than the 90 that is typical of most halogens. “It’s not cold, but much cooler,” explained Jim Jones, director of channel planning. The overpowered light does not have the orange tint typically associated with a Xenon light. The bulbs have a 10,000-hour life, versus 2,500 for halogens.

While the Xenon is nice, Jones is more proud of the ease of installation. “You can do a half-day installation in half an hour,” he claims. Credit the termination box on the units. Contractors simply feed stripped wire into the 1-by-2-by-5-inch box on the back of the fixture and the termination is complete. Where the time savings mount up, however, is in daisy-chaining multiple fixtures. Up to 10, three-light fixtures can be linked with a simple, computer-style cord system that saves opening every box in the run. EC

HARLER, a frequent contributor to SECURITY & LIFE SAFETY SYSTEMS, is based in Strongsville, Ohio. He can be reached at 440.238.4556 or [email protected].


About The Author

Curt Harler, a frequent contributor to SECURITY + LIFE SAFETY SYSTEMS, is based in Strongsville, Ohio. He also can be reached at 440.238.4556.





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