The Dealer Incentive for Upgrading Lighting


green light shaped like car

Fewer businesses have a greater appreciation for lighting than automotive dealerships, or at least those who pay the energy bills. According to Energy Star, auto dealerships use, on average, more energy per square foot than a typical office building.

For dealerships, lighting can represent up to 45% of their energy costs, which comes to a staggering $1.9 billion dollars annually, or an average of $111,765 across the 17,000 dealerships in North America. That’s approximately $50,000 per year towards lighting. At an average operating profit of 2.3%, saving 60% on lighting energy costs is equivalent to increasing earnings before taxes by 4%.

But the benefits of a lighting upgrade don’t stop at energy reduction. By upgrading lights from legacy technology to LED, fixtures need to be re-lamped less often which reduces maintenance costs and minimizes inconvenience. Additionally, LED luminaires can be specified for interior and exterior spaces in a number of Correlated Color Temperatures (CCT) with higher Color Rendering Index (CRI) values, which can enhance the visual appeal of merchandising on the showroom and sales lot.

There are of variety of other potential benefits to an LED upgrade as well, including a reduced form factor and Effective Projected Area (EPA), which can reduce the cost of poles (for new installations). The specialized optical systems used by LED luminaires have the ability to increase light levels on cars, but reduce light pollution (sky glow) and glare. LED luminaires are controls friendly, which allows for increased savings through dimming light levels where and when 100% output is not required.



A Northeastern dealership recently completed the construction of its auto dealership with outdoor LED fixtures. The project merges energy-efficiency, performance and styling to the automotive dealership market where lighting is critical for display of automobiles, high visibility and attraction of customers. The uniformity and distribution of the LED lighting installed was far beyond anything that could have been achieved with HID light sources and exceeded expectations of the project designer and facility owner. In addition to the exceptional uniformity and distribution, the higher color temperature value of the LEDs and the lack of ambient light from off-site light sources adequately compensated for higher traditional HID illumination levels.

Chris Bailey is the director of Hubbell Lighting’s Lighting Solutions Center. He is a LEED-Accredited Professional as granted by the U.S. Green Building Council, and a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES). For information on how your dealership can save energy and increase profits, visit: www.hubbelllighting.com/solutions/retrofit/applications/automotive/

Michael Bowen

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