LED Lighting for Showrooms
Car showrooms are the perfect example of where lighting – and most importantly the right lighting, can make the biggest difference in ensuring the customers have a positive experience. It has been proven that the way a retail premise is lit - both the merchandise on sale and the space in which they are housed, has a definite effect on the bottom line. Therefore it is absolutely essential that you pay as much attention, if not more, to your lighting installation, when setting out to create a car showroom that your customers, your staffs, and your bank manager, will be happy with.
Showroom Lighting Objectives
Creating the right atmosphere for any retail premise is vital, and that is never more the case than in car showrooms – due to the size of the sales area, and the size of the potential purchase. You need your customers to feel relaxed, to feel that they want to stay longer, to peruse the catalogues over a coffee.
They also need to be able to see the vehicles displayed in the best way possible, with the richness of the colours, the full shape and form of the bodywork evident.
Having the correct lighting addresses both of these issues. In order to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere, one of the most important considerations is the colour temperature of the lighting. The appearance of the light is expressed in terms of temperature and is measured in Kelvin (K). For white light, these range from warm (up to 3700K), to neutral (3700K to 5000K) up to daylight (5000k and above). By using lighting classified at the lower end of this scale you will instantly create a more relaxed, inviting ambience. This, in turn, will lead to the customers staying longer.
The other aspect of lighting you need to be aware of is colour rendering. This is expressed on a scale from 0 Ra up to 100 Ra with 100 giving the best, most natural and realistic results. By choosing lighting with a rating of as close to 100 as possible (>80 Ra ) you will really bring the vehicles to life. Good colour rendering brings out the depth and body of the paintwork, and also makes it easier and more beneficial to have coloured cars in the showroom. Before, there was the temptation to have mainly black or silver cars, but by adding the full range – and showing them off in their full glory, you are adding to the spectacle of the showroom, and the experience of the customer.
Showroom Lighting Spaces
A showroom is a complex space, with many different areas all with their specific role, function and lighting requirements. It is important each and every one of these is addressed.
The company branding and logo need to be visible from afar. This is achieved using spotlights. Downlights can then be used to provide task lighting for the front desk, that are able to provide sufficient illumination for the customer and receptionist, while being compatible with the computer monitor.
Here the aim is for a subdued, relaxed atmosphere, that is separate from the ambient lighting of the main showroom. Individual downlights provide a pleasant, less intense light, while decorative lighting features can also play a part, depending on the design of the showroom.
Colours and Paintwork Display
This is where the colour rendering is absolutely essential, as it is here that the customer chooses the interior and exterior appearance of the vehicle. It needs to look as faithful to the appearance when it is on the road as possible. Downlights or track lights are best used in this instance. With the former, it is essential there are enough to eliminate all shadows.
Downlights, bulbs and strip lighting should be used to provide the optimal ambient lighting for the showroom itself. By using multi–directional point-like sources and a combination of diffuse and directional lighting (uplighting and downlighting respectively) you will bring out the true shape and beauty of the vehicle, as both light and shade will be brought into play. The vertical walls of the showroom should not be neglected, however. Use wall washers or uplights to light the walls, and make it appear each car is part of the whole showroom experience. It also means that there are no dark areas, and makes for easier orientation. As a general rule, the rear wall should be twice as bright as the ambient lighting.
To highlight a new arrival or speciality vehicle, accent lighting should be used, via a combination of spot and track lights. Keeping in mind, however, the need to create depth with the use of light and shadows.
Glare is caused when there is a significant difference between the source and the background light or when a strong light is reflected off the shiny polished surfaces of the vehicle or the displays. All these could be an issue in a showroom, and can have a negative impact on the customer’s experience. To eliminate glare, you should think about where you’re placing the fixture, and use light fittings that come with fewer high-output LEDs or have a large number of evenly spread lower-output LEDs. The use of uplighting is also a good way to reduce glare, as is making use of daylight.
A uniformly lit space is more comforting to a customer, as it eliminates dark spaces, and means they are able to read and discern all the details on display without effort. Uplighting is an important and popular technique that helps provide a high level of uniformity. This is achieved by reducing the contrast between the light source and its surroundings. It also has the benefit of lighting vertical surfaces such as signage and displays, while reducing both glare and shadows. The amount of uplighting that is used depends on the desired effect. A high percentage or total use of uplights gives a very diffuse light resulting in an open and airy feel to the showroom. Reducing the amount of uplighting used, to between 20 to 40 percent, has the effect of bringing the customers’ attention onto the goods displayed, without leaving the ceiling too dark.
Car showrooms are large well-lit spaces. The lights are turned on all day, and many have at least some lighting on at night as well, meaning it makes up a large part of the cost of running and operating the showroom. That is why energy efficiency is incredibly important when it comes to the choice of lighting. It is also why LED lighting is such a good option, as they use around 80% less energy than traditional lighting methods. They also come with extremely low maintenance costs.