Project Red Light
White light is a combination of all of the colors in the visible spectrum, and humans see these colors separated as a rainbow by a prism. An object appears to us a certain color because it reflects that color light. For instance, a strawberry appears red because it reflects the red component of a white-light source. If the white light source doesn’t contain a lot of red light, the strawberry appears dull because there’s not enough red light to reflect into our eyes. While early LED adopters received energy savings, the red-light content in these early white-light LEDs was almost nonexistent. Today’s quality LED fixtures don’t have that issue, but why should we settle for an average amount of red light in our light sources? If grocers have more red-light content in their white-light sources, they can make red objects appear oversaturated and enticing. LED technology gives us the opportunity to present that strawberry in the best possible light.
LED technology is widely available to adjust the color content of white light, called color rendering. The light sources in screw-in lamps and new LED fixtures make it easier to implement in retrofits and buildouts. The lighting industry has traditionally used CRI to help quantify the rendering ability of light sources. CRI was riddled with issues from the beginning, and manufacturers found it easy to cheat the system, making customers believe that they would get a light source with excellent color-rendering ability. It didn’t make objects appear saturated or attractive, however.
With the advent of LED sources and the ability to tune the color content of white-light sources so well, the lighting industry developed a new metric called TM-30 to measure and describe how the light source renders colors all along the color space. Specifying a light to improve the appearance of a specific color is a relatively new option in the lighting design industry. It’s recommended that a lighting designer knowledgeable in color rendering and TM-30 be involved in specifying light sources to ensure that the color boosting is optimized for the application.
LED fixtures are highly efficient and can dramatically improve energy efficiency, saving energy and maintenance costs compared with fluorescent light fixtures. Between the energy savings, reduced maintenance and improved color rendering, a LED lighting remodel can dramatically change the operation of a grocery store.