The 4 Pillars of Lighting your Retail Space
Lighting goes beyond just making a space bright and visible. Today’s retail environment gives consumers such a wide range of products to choose from, that store owners really have to go out of their way in order to make their wares stand out. From drawing customers in to setting a mood for when they are in your space, these are the five pillars to guide you in illuminating your retail space.
There are four different lighting categories you’ll need to consider before you dive in on the design. Accent lighting, which is meant to highlight certain products by giving them more visibility and accentuating their shapes. This is great for drawing eyes to new or special edition items, and it gives your customers a good focal point during their browsing experience. Accent lighting provides a great balance of form and function.
The second type we need to look at is Task Lighting, and as the name suggests task lighting is meant to light up the parts of your store used for a specific task or purpose. The first place that usually comes to mind is the cash register, where all transactions are processed. While task lighting is absolutely essential for any retail space, how it is utilized varies based on the store itself. A clothing shop for example would need task lighting for their fitting room area, meanwhile a cosmetics shop would use task lights for their demo and application area.
Ambient Lighting, while third on the list is arguably one of the most important types of lighting for a retail space, as it will be the main source of lighting for your store. Although ambient lighting needs to reach every corner of your space, the key is to find the right balance so that it does not overlap with your Task and Accent lighting.
Lastly you have your Decorative Lighting, while it may appear to play the least essential role of the four types of lighting, decorative lighting still plays an important role in illuminating your retail space. Not to mention the fact that decorative lighting has the broadest definition, as it encompasses anything that is there purely for the sake of aesthetics. Typically more high end retail spaces, whose products appeal to a more artistic demographic tend to go the extra mile with decorative lighting, as being aesthetically pleasing is a core aspect of their brand.
Once you have figured out how you want your retail space illuminated, the next step is to decide how bright you want your space to be, and which color tone you think would be the most effective. In the lighting world brightness is measured by lumens, which is an important unit of measure to know, as it will help you convey to your contractors/designers exactly how bright you want your space to be.
Choosing the perfect tone is equally as important, once the optimal brightness has been established. The Tone of a lightbulb is measured in Kelvins (K) and essentially dictates the color temperature of the bulb. A higher Kelvin bulb will emit a cooler color, whilst a lower Kelvin bulb gives off a much warmer tone. By operating on a scale between 2,000-5,000K retail owners will have an abundant choice of colors to choose from to effectively showcase their products.
There are a few things to consider when it comes to picking which type of bulb you want to use. From durability, strength, energy consumption, color range, and price, each bulb type provides their own strengths and weaknesses.
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFL) provides the most energy efficient solution, at a mid-range price. While it can provide the full range of colors, CFL bulbs are typically used for task lighting or general ambient lighting. The strength of the bulb isn’t generally considered suitable for aesthetic lighting.
Halogen lights on the other hand serve as the other half of what CFL bulbs provide. Despite having a low life-span (1-2 years) Halogen bulbs are great for accent and decorative lighting purposes. The strength of the bulb can deliver crisp color on the entire range of colors. The trade-off with Halogen bulbs is that they are cheaper than CFL bulbs.
LED bulbs are the most versatile of them all. Although they tend to be the most expensive, they can be used for all retail lighting purposes, from decorative to functional. LEDs can compete with CFL bulbs with regards to energy efficiency. They can display colors just as well as Halogen bulbs, and they can last between 2-6 years. LED bulbs are the most expensive of the three however, it justifies its price by lending itself to every facet of the lighting process.
There are over a dozen different types of fixtures each with their own purpose. The graphic above illustrates the different types of fixtures and how they project light through a specific space.