What Auto Dealerships Should Know About LED Lighting Today


“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” ~ Henry Ford (attributed)

Henry Ford may not have actually uttered those words, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from quoting it when they unveil an out-of-the-box idea.  In Ford’s time, there were probably a number of buyers who invested in faster horses, some of those may have even been satisfied initially. But, in the long run, the more ambitious technology changed the world. We’ll talk about why our low-voltage LED technology begs this example in a bit, but for now, let’s talk about some of the unique considerations for LED lighting in car dealerships.

Here are a few key things to know about LED lighting in auto dealerships.


1. Updating Your LED Lighting Can Reduce Your Energy Bill by 30% (over conventional lighting)

If you’re still using conventional lighting (metal halide, florescent) then you’re long overdue for major savings in your electric bill.

In a report from 2006 from Energy Star and the NADA, it was shown that auto dealerships use more energy than a standard business office. This makes sense, when you consider the power necessary to create a commanding showroom. According to that report, auto dealerships use 110 kBTU per square food, versus just 93 kBTU for an office space1. Lighting generally accounts for about 35% of a commercial spaces energy bill, and it’s likely closer to 40% for an auto dealership with a showroom. So, making a lighting switch is a great start to reducing that energy bill.

You’ve probably already heard that lighting upgrades usually pay themselves in a short time. That time is typically less than a year. That’s just one more reason not to wait to make a switch. If you’re interested, here are a couple real world examples of savings from conventional to LED lighting in two customer energy audits.

2. Energy Efficiency Standards are Tightening

If you’ve been waiting to make the change, you might want to consider making the change sooner than later, as energy efficiency standards are tightening quickly. You’re likely to have more options if you make the switch before those regulations are enforced.

That said, LEDs offer the most flexibility and are the most efficient of the lighting options today. New energy standards may require more sophisticated lighting controls, as they do in new California Title 24 legislation. You’ll be ahead of the game if you select an LED  lighting system that can manage daylight harvesting, occupancy sensors, and dimming. These all appear to be common new requirements that you’ll see in the near future.


3. If You’ve Already Gone to LED, a Simple Update May Solve Common Issues

We’ve entered the age of LED. And like any technology that’s being widely adopted, improvements are being made all the time. The LED lights of 2010 were great for their time, but with such rapid development, they are no match in terms of brightness or light quality to their 2014 counterparts.

If you invested in an LED lighting system in 2010, the good news is those 2010 bulbs or fixtures should be providing you with substantial energy savings. But you might find that some of those 50,000 hour lights have failed several thousands of hours before they should have. You might also wish you had the warmer quality lighting you see in newer renovations. Take heart, you are not alone.

If you’ve already made the switch to lighting to LED, then you should already be seeing significant energy savings. But if you made the change just a few years ago, you might be finding some of the following:

  • Color shift – some visible color differences from fixture to fixture
  • Premature failures – if you purchased in 2009 or later, all lights should still be working
  • Quality differences – LEDs in other spaces appear warmer, brighter than yours
  • Jittery dimming – very distracting and sometimes, unusable.

The good news is, if you made those changes a couple of years ago, you’ve likely already made up the cost in your energy savings. Give yourself credit for all the money you’ve saved after making the switch. But, if you’re not satisfied with what you have, a simple LED update can help you maintain or increase your energy savings, while eliminating the problems you’re experiencing today. And, an update can add a wide variety of options that you didn’t even know were possible. Fully automated lighting scenes, color changing lighting, lighting effects, lighting control from a smart phone or tablet, and remote management to name a few.


4. Studies Say Lighting Can Improve Customer’s Perceptions of Value and Satisfaction

You always want to leave your customer feeling like they had a positive experience when they leave your dealership.  Lighting plays a very large part of the subconscious buying experience, and studies2,3 that focus on retail environments have shown that light can actually make people feel that that their experience took less time, and was more pleasurable and satisfying.

Lighting can also promote a sense of comfort, or excitement in your customer.  With an experienced lighting designer, you can light for excitement in your showroom, and comfort when it’s time to make the deal.

FYI, a LumaStream sales associate can help you create a lighting design that meets those criteria. We will work with a builder, architect, specifier, electrician, or anyone who makes your lighting decisions. It’s all included in our service. When we say service, we’re not just giving lip-service. We provide the following with any major project:

•    Lighting design, drawings and renderings
•    Photometric plans
•    System engineering
•    CAD production for lighting and low-voltage plans
•    Retrofit architectural fixtures with low-voltage LED engines
•    Lighting scene and control system programming
•    System commissioning
•    End-user training
•    Standard 5-year warranty
•    Remote troubleshooting



[Photo :Photometrics of an auto dealership showroom designed using LumaStream’s turnkey lighting system]


5.  Customizable Lighting Scenes Catch the Eye and Drive Traffic

Earlier we mentioned that there are a number of new functions that upgrading your LED system can bring to your dealership.  We’d like to talk about one in particular that we believe might appeal to the marketing folks.

Custom lighting scenes can be programmed to do just about anything you want them to do.  And for the purposes of a business with a highly visible showroom, we think this presents a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of a new energy efficient lighting system.

Here is one example of a color-changing lighting system done for the Chihuly Gallery in St. Petersburg, FL. They create scuptures in glass that have vibrant colors. This color changing window reinforces the brand identity and attracts attention from passers by.



We can design lighting scenes that automate your lighting throughout the day for efficency and ease of management.  AND with that same system we can also create a dynamic lighting display that will catch the eye of drivers-by with a festive Halloween lightning similuation, or a 4th of July red, white and blue exterior walls. We can create any color, to any fixture, and make it flash, fade, or sparkle.

A LumaStream sales person can work with you to develop creative lighting scenes for your business, all of which can be updated with new ideas when they come. That’s a nice bonus from a lighting system that also should lower your energy bill.


Faster Horses |  High Voltage Power and LEDs

Let’s start with a question.  If LEDs are a native low-voltage technology (and they are) then does it make more sense to power them using high-voltage power, or low-voltage power? Would you send more electricity to the light than it needed, or just send it the amout of power it requires?

If you said, send low-voltage power, then we are of the same mind. That’s how we do it here at LumaStream. What the other folks do is send high-voltage all the way to the fixture, then use electronics inside the bulb to switch drop that power down to something those poor innocent bulbs can handle. They’ve gone with faster horses. We’ve created a new engine.  You can click around our site and learn more about our technology and it’s advantages. Or you can call one of our sales representatives today and ask for a lighting quote today.


Get a free lighitng quote for your dealership!


Sources and Resources

1. “A Dealer Guide to ENERGY STAR® Putting Energy into Profits” Energy Star and NADA Report – 2006
2. “Retail design: lighting as an atmospheric tool, creating experiences which influence consumers’ mood and behaviour in commercial spaces” ~ Quartier, Katelijn (et al) – 2008
3.  “Lighting in retail environments: Atmosphere perception in the real world” ~ PJM Custers MSc (et al) – 2010