After a slow start, LEDs now have the output and specs for the demanding retail sector. Ray Molony reports

The retail sector has been relatively late in adopting solid state technology. Small wonder: store owners are the most demanding purchasers of lighting. For them, performance and price are all – not maintenance, the traditional ‘killer application’ for long-life LEDs.

All that is changing. The latest wave of precision LED spotlights are delivering for retail clients in the key metrics of colour, colour rendering and output.

English manor house

For instance, in Hobbs’ flagship in Covent Garden, London, LAPD Consultants was able to use LEDs to illuminate an interior design based on the quintessentially English country manor house. It had to provide optimum illumination and be energy efficient.

Additionally Hobbs wanted to create a slightly different look to each of its stores. The first is in Regent Street and takes on the identity of ‘the coach house’. Other themes, such as the ‘grand entrance’ and ‘library’ are followed in Covent Garden.

Hobbs lighting sketch

At Hobbs, the barrel vault is washed by LED tape

‘It was important to encourage customers to explore the basement level of the stores so emphasis was placed on vertical movement through the store,’ says Simon Thorp, senior designer at LAPD. The implementation brief included concealing the lighting wherever possible using narrow beam sources, putting a priority on low energy consumption and very little glare, reducing light levels to create a more dramatic environment, using LED to illuminate the feature details, restricting downlighting to the overhead beams and lifting the low ceiling height in the basement using a subtle wash across the barrelled ceiling.

Also, the changing room areas had to be lit to provide a domestic feel with a favourable balance between shadowing and vertical illumination.

LEDs were immediately considered as a solution to the challenge in the basement, where soft, warm uplighting had to be delivered in a limited space. ‘We wanted to include atmospheric uplighting to the barrel vault ceilings, but couldn’t use fluorescents due to space restrictions,’ says Thorp. ‘We looked at LED modules and chose Osram’s LinearLight Flex modules based on cost and performance. As well as providing significant energy savings, the modules inject the perfect light into the application and achieve the desired soft, warm and uniform lit effect.’

To eliminate colour variations between each LED, FineWhite versions of the modules – which use LEDs from the best ‘bins’ were used.

All-LED flagship

Benetton is another retailer experimenting with LEDs and has developed an all-LED flagship. The 1,600 square metre outlet is on three floors and has 12 windows that let in a significant amount of daylight. The 16W Reggiani Lucel luminaires deliver stats comparable to halogen MR16, which Benetton has used in the past: 800 lumens, CRI 90, 3000K. The big difference is of course, life, now up to 50,000 hours.

All-LED Benetton

The all-LED Benetton store has an installed load of 17W/m2

In the areas where there is a false ceiling the 16W recessed Mosaico Luminaire and the 16W Varios adjustable projector – both from Reggiani – are installed on recessed track. All the fittings use the unique Ios Luce system of interchangeable reflectors which can produce different beam distributions. These include very narrow, narrow, medium, wide and mira (long and narrow beam). In the windows, illumination on the mannequins is provided by wall-mounted Reggiani Ladders with four 16W LED with adjustable optical compartments. The store, in Padua, will be assessed to gauge customer reaction with a view to a roll-out across Europe.

The 16W Reggiani Lucel LED luminaires deliver up to 1,000 lux

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