Commercial exterior lighting is a necessity for most small businesses. Lighted storefront signs indicate you’re open for business, while outdoor lights attract customers and provide security lighting for your property.
Traditional outdoor lighting, however, consumes a significant portion of a business’s energy use—nationally, outdoor lighting in the United States costs about $10 billion a year. Replacing traditional outdoor lights with modern lighted storefront signs and energy-efficient security lights can result in lower energy costs and increase your control over when and how outdoor lights operate.
By updating their outdoor lighting, a business can lower both its energy usage and its environmental impact. Switching to commercial LED lighting or CFLs cuts outdoor lighting energy costs by approximately 50 percent, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Small business outdoor lighting often uses high intensity discharge lights, or HIDs. HIDS are the oldest type of electrical lighting, and work by sending electric charges through ionized gases within the light bulb.
Often used to light large areas, HIDs are often present in areas such as garages and warehouses. As such, they are a popular choice for energy-efficient security lighting. And advantages of high intensity discharge lights include energy efficiency, plenty of light and long lifespans.
When purchasing HIDs, look for newer models. Older models may contain mercury or even Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), making them potential safety hazards should a light bulb break. The amount of light cast by HIDs also diminishes over time, unlike LED lighting, which provides consistent lumen output.
Energy-saving outdoor lights offer numerous advantages to small businesses. By switching to LED or CFL lighting, your business can see benefits from each of the following areas:
When choosing outdoor lights for your business, think about how and when your business uses lighting. Consider the following factors when you replace your commercial outdoor lighting:
Need some ideas for how to use your outdoor business lighting? Changing commercial outdoor fixtures allows you to make significant improvements to your business, including the following:
Often the need to conserve energy conflicts with the need for safety and security in the workplace. Energy-efficient security lighting satisfies both needs. By connecting spotlights to motion sensors, you’ll be able to light up the premises when needed.
By linking motion detectors to security systems, you can receive alerts when outdoor lights go off at suspicious times.
In addition to lighted storefront signs, energy-efficient decorative lights can be used to improve the appearance of your business’s exterior. Such lights are well-suited to restaurants, cafés and salons.
Looking to add some romantic ambiance to your business? Outdoor gas fire pits provide lighting while keeping customers warm. Fire pits are great additions to patios and garden areas.
Neon lighting was once the king of outdoor business lighting, but in recent years, traditional neon has largely been replaced with LED lighting. LED lights are brighter, longer-lasting and require less maintenance than neon.
An outdoor LED sign is a higher initial investment then traditional neon or incandescent lighting but pays for itself over the long term. LED bulbs have a lifespan of 25,000 hours or more, or 25 times the life of incandescent light bulbs.
Easy to install and requiring little maintenance, outdoor solar LED lights are increasingly popular with small businesses for lighting pathways. Solar LED lights are also used in freestanding lampposts or as security lights.
Solar LED lights convert sunlight into electricity through the day, storing power in batteries until nightfall. Many can provide light from dusk to dawn without increasing a business’s electricity bill.
Location is an important consideration when choosing solar LED lights. Lights must receive significant sunlight, which can be influenced by geographic location, season and local surroundings.
Check the “nightly run time” listing on outdoor solar lighting before making a purchase to see if the lighting system is appropriate for your setting. Nightly run times will vary depending on the season and how clear the sky is during the day.
Be aware that operating times in the winter will vary between 30 to 50 percent if the lighting system is not correctly sized for winter operation.
Time-controlled and solar outdoor lighting perform the same function—providing much-needed light at night. Depending on your business’s needs, one may be more appropriate than the other.
Time-controlled lighting has the advantage that lights can be programmed to turn on and off at different times of day. Time-controlled lighting often must be reset to reflect the change in daylight hours from season to season, although connecting smart bulbs to smart assistants and devices that provide sunrise and sunset times resolves this issue.
Solar lighting requires little input from small business owners—the lights come on when the sun comes down and go off when the light runs out of power. Some outdoor solar lights also have built-in timers that can be set to reflect a business’s needs.
The main drawback to solar power is whether the photovoltaic cell receives enough sunlight to operate for the required length of time. During winter, for instance, solar lights many not be able to store enough power to remain on all night.
Energy-efficient outdoor lighting offers opportunities for businesses to improve their properties’ appearance, reduce energy costs and provide better security for customers and employees. If you’re still using traditional LED, neon or HID lights, it’s time to make the switch. Your business will thank you for it!
Whatever your energy needs, we've got a plan for you
As a small-business owner, you know that making a profit has a lot to do with how you manage expenses. And utilities make up a big part of that overhead.
As the electric grid ages in the United States, there’s a revolution underway to make the old grid “smart.” Part of that leap is the mass installation of smart electric meters in American homes.