By Jeff Gatzow | Optec LED Lighting
Car dealerships use a lot of illumination. While these lights serve a dual purpose of attracting potential customers and as a 24/7 security system, they devour energy, which is the third-highest overhead expenditure for dealerships, so reducing electricity consumption is a major consideration. By living and working sustainably, dealerships can reduce costs, increase their brand recognition, and attract more customers.
Including this extensive use of lighting, auto dealerships consume on average more energy per square foot than a typical office building: using about 110 kBTU/sq-ft compared to prime office space at 93 kBTU (source: National Automobile Dealers Association). This can mean thousands of dollars in energy costs for the typical dealership each year.
Chevrolet and Sustainability
Chevrolet’s dedication reaches further than compliance with the law to encompass the integration of sound environmental practices into business decisions. Guided by environmental principles, the company considers the environment throughout all aspects of their business, from supply chain, to manufacturing, to the vehicles on the road. These are the principles that help frame Chevrolet’s planning and decision-making for the company’s future.
Love Chevrolet | Columbia, South Carolina
Love Chevrolet is a family owned business that was established in 1961. Love Chevrolet is a member of the Love Automotive/RV Group that also represents Buick, GMC Truck, Mitsubishi, Hino Trucks and multiple RV brands.
As a customer-focused and forward-thinking business, Michael Love, president of Love Automotive/RV, is always looking for ways to reduce costs and increase operational efficiencies while promoting sound sustainability practices. To that end, Love Chevrolet recently completed a LED lighting upgrade.
In a one-for-one replacement, (148) 1,000W metal halide (MH) fixtures on the dealership’s primary and secondary sales lots, back lot and driveway were upgraded to 120W, 240W and 300W LED area light luminaires. Additionally, (100) 400W MH fixtures were upgraded to 120W high bay LED luminaires in the service check-in area and service bays, and (25) 400W MH fixtures were upgraded to 70W low bay LED luminaires in the detailing shop. Also retrofit were nine 250W MH fixtures to 60W LED wall packs and (18) 400W MH fixtures to 90W LED canopy lights in the primary sales lot.
This replacement is reducing the dealership’s electricity energy consumption by almost 50 percent. Prior to the LED installation, the monthly electric bill was $14,270, since the upgrade the monthly bill is averaging $7,000, while also increasing the foot candles – light on the ground, and the light uniformity increased.
The previously installed MH fixtures would regularly burn out. However, at the cost of $50 to $70 each light plus labor hours the dealership delayed repairing them until sections were poorly illuminated because they needed to rent a bucket truck to change lights. Unfortunately, as soon as a group of lights were repaired, other fixtures would burn out – the dealership never experienced all fixtures working at the same time. Also, as the lights aged, the quality of light decreased causing different color lighting in various areas. Now, the new LED luminaires are virtually maintenance free and come with a five year warranty.
“These lights make our inventory show better and stand out more from the street,” said Ben Hoover, general manager Love Chevrolet. “Additionally, we anticipate these new lights will last three times longer than the old fixtures and, the best part, eliminate maintenance and the need to move cars to accommodate the rented bucket trucks to change out the burned out lamps.”
The automobile dealership industry, like many businesses, typically only has one chance to make a positive impression with the customer, so it’s important to show products as best as possible. The luminaires’ uniform lighting eliminates dim areas between lamp poles, improving the automobiles’ vibrancy.
The new LED lights have also made a tremendous difference in the service drive and repair shop. On the first day of installation, only one out of five rows of lights was able to be mounted. Yet those fixtures alone made a dramatic improvement and clearly showed the distinction between the two technologies. The LED luminaires provided brighter illumination without any shadows, which the technicians noticed it immediately.
“The upgraded luminaires deliver crisp, uniform illumination across the shop floor, detail bay and parts department,” said Mark Williamson, service and body shop director. “Additionally, the service technicians previously used fluorescent drop-light bulbs to see underneath the vehicle, these are now almost eliminated with the addition of the LED lights, which have improved technicians’ productivity, safety and morale.”
Customers also have noticed the difference in the service drive area, and have positively commented on this and inquired about the changes.
After seeing the product, learning about the energy savings and SCE&G EnergyWise incentives, and determining that the dealership would have only a two year ROI on the $250,000 total investment, it was an easy decision to retrofit. The LED luminaires provide consistent light levels, reduce hazardous waste disposal and provide dramatically more efficient light distribution than the MH fixtures.
“When we looked at the energy savings we’re getting, and that it’s really the right thing to do for the environment, it’s just a win-win for everybody,” Hoover explained.
”These lights absolutely provide the level of illumination we were looking for to make our location bright and secure,” Michael Love, president of Love Automotive/RV said. “And, as the guy paying the bills, I’m impressed with the tremendous energy savings and payback. My only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner.”
About the Author
Jeff Gatzow is national sales and marketing manager, lighting with Optec LED Lighting. He has worked in the LED luminaire industry for more than 10 years, and prior to this he worked in the illuminated signage/brand identity industry. Truth be known, the brightest lights in his life are his wife, daughters and new puppy, Honey. Gatzow may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.