This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the All LED Lighting site may go dark at any time. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.


Walmart Moving Its Stores to LEDs

The world's largest bricks-and-mortar retailer is moving big to LED lighting in its stores, replacing fluorescents with GE Lumination IS series lamps around the world.

We mentioned last fall that Walmart opened a "supercenter" in Ohio that was lit entirely with LEDs. This store in South Euclid, Ohio was intended to set the blueprint for the company's new construction, in this country at least.

Now Walmart has announced it is embarking on an energy-saving plan that goes far beyond just new US supercenters. On the way to its goal of saving 20% in energy costs by 2020, the company is converting some existing stores to LED lighting and opening new ones in the mold of South Euclid in the US, UK, Asia, and South America. See the sidebar for a capsule of this year's plans.

The main contribution to energy savings will be the area lighting, now supplied by fluorescent tubes in most stores. Overhead fixtures account for 90% of the energy expended in lighting the stores. The efficiency of the existing fluorescents varies; some newer stores feature the latest T5s, which are quite economical. Yet the replacements, GE Lumination IS series suspended LED luminaires, beat even these recent fluorescents. And they will last far longer of course, saving on maintenance costs.

Walmart says that the payback time for the LEDs to be installed in 2014 varies from 2 to 5 years, and the new lights will be from 15% to 60% more energy-efficient, depending on what is currently in place. Even in the newer US supercenters with the most efficient fluorescents, savings will run to $34,000 per year per store.

Large as this just-announced upgrade program is, it's still a drop in the bucket of Walmart's operations. The 133 new and upgraded stores to get LEDs in 2014 represent just over 3% of the 4177 US stores (as of the end of 2013), and only 1.4% of the worldwide total of over 10,000.

Walmart has enjoyed a long partnership with GE, beginning with refrigerator-case lighting in 2005 and continuing with parking-lot lighting in 2009. The two companies have teamed on (relatively) efficient halogen lamps, as we noted last fall. And of course Walmart stocks GE's LED incandescent replacement lamps alongside its own house brand.

None of the accounts I read gave even a ballpark estimate of the dollar value of the LED upgrades and new installations in 2014.

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