Convenience of LED

by Katie Lee

How one convenience store chain’s tedious and costly maintenance plan was made simple with new LED lighting solutions.

By Amit Bhojraj

Like most convenience stores, “convenience” can come at a price when it comes to lighting maintenance. With 21 food and petroleum stores in the local Phoenix area, Eric Seitz, owner of 4 Sons Food Stores, Inc., was no stranger to the high costs of keeping his properties lit.

“I was growing tired of the maintenance and expense involved with our lights and I wanted to lower the power bills at all of our locations,” Seitz says.

That’s when Seitz contacted Treve Gibson, owner of DemandDrop, a leader in grocer and petroleum installations, about upgrading his existing lighting to a more efficient lighting solution that wouldn’t alter his current lighting plan. He recommended Cree, a market-leading innovator of lighting-class LEDs and LED lighting.

“We worked together to create a phenomenal cost-saving solution using LED lights,” says Gibson.

LTG 4Sons Petro CaveCreekAZ Upgrade 033015 051 mrSolution

If you plan it, savings will come. Interior and exterior lighting upgrades were to be completed over time. With multiple locations of various sizes and layouts to upgrade, Gibson developed a plan to upgrade two to three locations per month.

“Each location has strict lighting rules and the existing lighting plans were already compliant. The luminaires saved us time, because they worked great as one-to-one (or less) replacement solutions. So, we didn’t have to redesign the entire lighting plan,” says Gibson.

Throughout all of the stores, the canopy lighting was transitioned from 400W metal halide to high-performing canopy/soffit lights, which allowed Seitz to reduce the number of luminaires needed. LED wall packs were used to replace 175W metal halide fixtures. For stores with car washes, the wall packs or canopy/soffit luminaires were used.

Inside the stores, 12W downlights were used to replace 32W CFL fixtures, and the high lumen troffers replaced 3-lamp fluorescent T8 fixtures. Some of the new luminaires provide 90+CRI to make merchandise colors and brands pop at 4,000 Kelvin.

“I was skeptical about reducing the color temperature because I’ve always used 5,000 Kelvin at my stores, but it worked — the lighting is so much brighter and uses less energy,” says Seitz.

In some locations, 2-lamp fluorescent T8 bulbs were easily switched to LED with upgrade kits — using the existing housing allowed for reduced fixture waste.

LTG 4Sons Petro PhoenixAZ Upgrade 033015 003Benefits

Switching to LED lighting has yielded an impressive ROI that leads to significant energy savings and an overall pleasing outcome for 4Sons and its customers.

By upgrading its light fixtures to LED luminaires, 4Sons Food Stores, Inc. was able to save $1,500 to $1,800 per month per location on energy costs — about one-third of the energy bill. In addition, each location saves thousands of dollars annually on maintenance costs since the LED lights chosen are virtually maintenance-free for 10 years. For example, the Cave Creek, Arizona, location is estimated to save $3,500 in annual maintenance costs. By upgrading, each location was able to secure between $8,000 and $16,000 in utility rebates. In Cave Creek’s situation, the payback was brought down to 1.7 years.*

LTG 4Sons Petro PhoenixAZ Upgrade InteriorThe cost savings doesn’t end with the lighting upgrade. “The money we have saved on energy and maintenance costs from the lights allowed us to install programmable thermostats,” says Seitz. “Since LED lights generate less heat than traditional lights, we were able to adjust the set temperature allowing us to keep the c-store comfortable, while our HVAC system uses less energy. The temperature change really pays off since it can be 115° or higher in the summer.”

The benefits of LED lighting do not end at cost savings. 4Sons Food Stores, Inc. is also benefiting from the crisp white light that creates excellent visibility and an inviting, safe atmosphere — which are obvious advantages to c-store properties.

“Our stores are so bright now that they bring in customers from the highway,” says Seitz. “Neighboring stations end up getting lost in the dark and we stand out in the crowd.”

“LED lighting helps customers feel safe and secure late at night,” adds Gibson. “The lighting is very comfortable. It’s bright, but not piercing to the eyes. Plus, the interior LED lighting helps make the store merchandise and displays pop without being overbearing.”

Seitz sums it up: “We are very happy with our decision to upgrade the lighting in all of our locations to LED lighting. From the crisp white light to the energy and maintenance savings — it’s a win for us.”

* Payback and energy savings are based on the national average electricity rate, recommended maintenance schedule, and typical maintenance costs over common assessment periods (application life) for Cave Creek, Arizona, location. Payback calculation also includes a rebate received from Arizona Public Service Company.


— Amit Bhojraj is a segment marketing manager of Cree® Inc., a Durham, North Carolina-based innovator of lighting-class LEDs, LED lighting and semiconductor products for power and radio-frequency (RF) applications. Cree’s product families include LED fixtures and bulbs, blue and green LED chips, high-brightness LEDs, lighting-class power LEDs, power-switching devices and RF devices. Cree® products are driving improvements in applications such as general illumination, electronic signs and signals, power supplies and solar inverters. For more information, contact [email protected].


— Email the editor at [email protected]. This article originally appeared on the cover of the June/July 2015 issue of Retail Facility Business magazine.

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