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Spotlight on Lighting


Lighting is fundamental to any retail store, whether for setting a scene and influencing how a brand is perceived or even encouraging shoppers to make a particular purchase. However, if not managed correctly, it can be extremely expensive. In fact, lighting accounts for around 53% of all electricity consumption in a typical retail outlet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Typically, in-store lighting runs for prolonged periods of time, both during opening hours and after hours for re-stocking purposes. The challenge for stores is significant: Maintain appropriate and safe levels of lighting for staff and customers, while keeping energy costs to a minimum.

Seeking to improve the customer experience, cut operating costs and save energy in their chain stores, some of the nation’s best-known retailers have invested in innovative LED solutions. As a result, these companies have significantly reduced energy consumption during trading and non-trading hours. However, many retailers are still unaware that combining the technology with wireless lighting control solutions can achieve even greater savings.

Lighting control and management systems are beginning to be utilized across shop floors, resulting in reduced energy costs and carbon emissions. However, until recently, several issues had hampered the adoption of such lighting-control technology. Ease of commissioning and the ability to retrofit proved to be stumbling blocks for many retailers, with costly and disruptive installation processes being required.

Wireless lighting control solutions have changed the game. Being completely wireless, intrusions are limited, allowing for a simple installation and hassle-free commissioning process in any retail environment, reducing trading down time.

Reducing Consumption: There are clear opportunities to reduce lighting and, as a consequence, energy consumption across retail stores. By accurately monitoring and managing lighting profiles through a wireless control system, retailers are now able to gain an overview of their entire lighting portfolio — including energy consumption as well as areas for potential savings.

In a classic retail environment, for example, LED lighting remains at 100% during opening hours, even when not all areas of the store need to be illuminated. Unoccupied stock rooms, changing areas and areas where natural daylight comes into the store often do not require a reduced level of lighting or, in fact, any artificial light at all.

Relying on store staff to make decisions on lighting areas — even if dimming capabilities are available — is a tall order in a busy environment. Using controls to achieve this is far more effective. Wireless lighting controls allow managers to individually or collectively switch off or dim luminaires. In a retail environment, where certain areas of the store are not always in use, this is particularly beneficial.

Further mapping of a retail facility and monitoring of “energy hotspots” can allow for additional control strategies to be actioned — further enhancing savings. By grouping luminaires, switches and maximizing sensors for occupancy detection, lights can be dimmed or turned off completely when parts of a store are not in use. Meanwhile, in zones with natural light, LED fixtures can be dimmed to a lower output, leading to substantial reductions in energy consumption. Accent light can also be dimmed for mood lighting to set a scene.

New Solutions: New cloud-based, remote access, wireless control, monitoring and management systems for indoor lighting are now meeting the demand of retailers. Such systems give users the freedom to commission, configure and control lighting with multi-site control from a single hub. They allow retailers to wirelessly monitor and manage interior lighting across their entire range of stores all wirelessly from a single device. Through an intuitive graphic user interface, which can be accessed through the internet on a laptop, tablet or even smartphone, retailers can access a quick overview of any installation or multiple installations, across different sites. They can view key data including energy and cost savings, energy hotspots, as well as any potential lamp failures.

Usage patterns can be managed to enable the most effective energy strategy to be implemented. Luminaires can be switched or dimmed collectively, or individually, and scheduled to activate lighting when needed. Information on testing for audit tracking and energy hotspots can also be accessed.

The bottom line is that wireless lighting control systems open up significant opportunities for stores to save energy.

Antony Corrie is the president of Harvard Technology.

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