Tops® Markets was considering a fluorescent T5 system for their new store in Geneva, NY, but the prospect of 70 percent energy savings and unsurpassed vertical light levels made a Cree® LED lighting system the logical solution.
Over the past 50 years, Tops® Markets has grown to be a leading full-scale grocery retailer in the northeast, operating 153 full-service supermarkets in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
In order to thrive in this competitive business, Tops leaders have had to experiment with ideas that were ahead of the times. Clearly, that spirit of ingenuity remains as Tops has integrated the latest in store lighting technology. So when it came time to select a lighting solution for the new store in Geneva, New York, who better to turn to than the leader of a lighting revolution — Cree.
Recently, Tops had been specifying fluorescent T5s for its linear aisle fixtures. According to Dan Jaszka, Energy Consultant for Tops® Markets, Tops has always been progressive in designing energy efficiency into its store. They had been watching LED technology progress for a number of years and when they heard about the Cree® CS18™ linear luminaire, they did a test installation in Buffalo, New York. The results were excellent, and Tops made the decision to go with Cree fixtures at the Geneva location.
The 51,364-square-foot store — opened in November 2012 — features major upgrades to the specialty departments, including floral, produce and bakery. And with the Cree CS18 LED luminaires and CR24™ architectural troffers, the new store features a major upgrade in lighting as well.
Supermarket shopping is a highly visual experience, and it is important for a retailer to show items in their true and most appetizing colors. Powered by Cree TrueWhite® Technology, the CS18 fixtures provide color rendering greater than 90. Ultimately, that means more colorful flowers, redder meats and more appetizing breads.
In selecting a lighting solution, Tops also needed a product that could deliver strong vertical light levels. Merchandisers wanted to keep a spacious feel down each aisle, and required fixtures to be mounted at the established 13’ height above the floor. “Having consistent light levels from top to bottom on the shelf has always been a concern of management,” says Jaszka.
Delivering up to 8,200 lumens, the CS18 luminaire produces light levels unsurpassed in the industry. This allows Tops to use their wattage more efficiently — meaning less power is needed to illuminate every level of the gondolas. Tops also chose the Cree CR24™ troffer to illuminate their pharmacy, rendering colors truer than fluorescents and providing exceptional light levels.
All this translates directly to considerable energy savings, as Tops stores are 24/7 operations. And since Cree luminaires are fully dimmable, supermarkets can benefit from even greater energy savings, especially during hours where they have lower shopper volume or are restocking shelves. Jaszka sums it up: “Not only did the Cree LED lighting product offer us 70 percent energy savings [over the current T5 fluorescent design], but there was no compromise in lighting quality or levels.”
In the supermarket industry, margins are critical. Installing the Cree products really delivered on the bottom line. Because Cree LED lighting is covered under a ten-year limited warranty and doesn’t need to be relamped like other solutions, replacing overhead fluorescent fixtures with efficient Cree LED lighting allowed Tops to save not only on their energy costs, but their maintenance expenses as well. According to Jaszka, “Maintaining light levels in the store is critical for Tops.” With the linear fluorescents, “…they have a serviceman coming to the store once a month…and the LED product will offer us seven to eight years without any maintenance whatsoever.”
“Payback is always important when we consider changing a certain specification, and the Cree product gives us a payback within two and one-half years,” says Jaszka. “The Cree LED lighting offers such a tremendous savings versus the fluorescent that it was a great selection to make for us.”
In selecting LED lighting, Tops was also able to take advantage of utility rebates. “The efficiency in LED lighting really was a deciding factor in selecting the specification for the store,” Jaszka says of the Cree solution, “and utility incentives available just made the decision that much easier to make.”
And back to those light levels… Improvements didn’t stop with energy and maintenance savings. With the exceptional vertical illumination and low-glare environment, the improved quality of light makes reading labels easier, especially for elderly customers. Jaszka is very pleased with the decision to go with LED lighting. “For any supermarket operator today, whether they are building a new store or doing an upgrade, Cree LED lighting is a must-do solution. It offers tremendous energy savings, great quality of light and is also fantastic in terms of maintenance avoidance.”
Tops is so pleased with the new lighting from Cree that they have a second store under construction featuring Cree CS18 fixtures and round interior pendants, with an additional three stores planned for 2013.
After 50 years, Tops still works hard to be ‘tops’ for their customers, and now this includes a top-shelf lighting solution from Cree.