Restaurant Development & Design

MAY-JUN 2017

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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6 4 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 7 Form + Function LED Lighting BY PETER FABRIS, Contributing Editor L ight Emitting Diode (LED) lighting technology has come a long way and is developing so quickly that even lighting designers are hard-pressed to keep up. "There are many more options, and they're changing every month," says Brett Anderson, principal designer of New York-based lighting design firm Focus Lighting. Over the past several years, manufacturers have increased the vari- eties and features of these light sources while prices have fallen steeply. When you consider total cost of ownership and their ever-increasing versatility, LEDs are now the preferred lighting choice in many instances for commercial and residential use. The rapid acceptance of LEDs in the market marks one of the fastest technology shifts in human history, according to a recent report by Goldman Sachs. So, are LEDs a no-brainer for all restaurant fixtures today? Not necessar- ily. When lighting designers envision the interior of an eatery, they consider many factors, including type of establishment, operating hours, seating plan, desired ambience, cost and energy usage. All this considered, LEDs still fall short in the assessment of some designers in cer- tain applications — particularly when it comes to directly lighting dining tables. Nevertheless, LEDs are becom- ing the dominant light source for many new restaurants, and manufacturers are working to overcome the shortcomings that are stopping some restaurants from going all in. In fact, it may be just a few years before LEDs are the de facto solution for every restaurant lighting ap- plication. Here's what you need to know about where the technology is today and how to best use it. Plummeting Costs LEDs began to gain traction in the light- ing market around 2008. At first, they were too expensive for mass adoption, but manufacturers have worked wonders in less than 10 years. The price decline of LED bulbs is linked to what's known in the industry as Haitz's Law, which predicts that every year, the price per lumen (a measure of brightness) of an LED falls by a factor of ten. This is due to continual advances in research and development. That law has held up so far. Since 2008, prices for LED lightbulbs have dropped 90 percent. Standard 60-watt- equivalent LED bulbs now sell for as little as $2.50 (though other types of LEDs sell for considerably more). The cost declines have been so rapid that public perception lags behind the mar- ket rate. Many restaurant owners con- tinue to believe LEDs are cost-prohibitive. "We're still educating customers about the cost of LEDs," says Garrett Neal, principal designer, Ron Neal Lighting Design, based in San Diego. While there is a price premium compared with incandescent, fluorescent LEDs highlight the spines of old books at Yvonne's in Boston. Photo by Ryan Fischer.

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