Grocery Applications

Last Update: March 12, 2012
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Grocery Design


In recent years there has been a trend in the larger supermarket grocery stores to provide a variety of value and specialty products to appeal to a broad range of customers. The lighting design must support this balance of value and high quality, while also minimizing energy use. With the increased public interest in sustainable and “green” design, daylight, energy efficient lighting, and lighting controls are not only tools for reducing energy bills, but are also tools for marketing.


Toplighting strategies can be applied throughout most supermarket grocery stores with single story plans. The general merchandise areas are illuminated with a uniform layout of low glare tubular skylights. With a one to one spacing to mounting height ratio, the merchandise is uniformly lighted with quality daylight. Providing uniform illumination is important when trying to incorporate control strategies that conserve energy by lowering electric light levels in response to daylight availability. Other toplighting strategies, such as roof monitors, or linear skylights can provide visual interest to specific areas, such as produce or point of sale.


The ambient lighting system supports the character of each individual area. Uniform lighting with higher ambient light levels demonstrate a value conscious product offering. Reduced ambient lighting with accent lighting indicates an area with specialty products. To help lower the energy consumption of the store, it is important to select luminaires for the ambient lighting system that can be integrated into the control strategy. Linear fluorescent luminaires offer both dimming and on/off switching options for energy saving controls. Dimming daylight controls are preferred to provide a smooth and imperceptible variation of electric lighting that does not disturb customers.

Accent Light

Track-mounted metal halide accent luminaires are the main source of accent light in the grocery store. Metal halide was chosen because it is an energy efficient source that also provides a strong punch of directional light.  Although the actual lamp being used is efficient, ASHRAE 90.1-2004 specifies the way in which track lighting is to be counted in all energy calculations: 30 watts per linear foot of track run. For this reason, the length of track used was kept to a minimum and only located at feature display locations. In general, these feature display systems include the entire produce section, gondola end-caps, and free standing display tables for fresh goods (bakery, cheese, meats, fish, etc.). In the near future, LED may also be considered for accent lighting, but the majority of LED products are not yet comparable to metal halide for this application.

Perimeter Lighting

Brightness is created around the store perimeter by lighting wall surfaces, signage, and other aesthetic or way-finding features. A mixture of fluorescent and metal halide sources can be used to achieve a variety of brightness and focus. Soon, LEDs may also be considered for perimeter lighting. Currently LED technology must be carefully evaluated for reliability and cost is often too high to be considered for use on a large scale.

Decorative Lighting

Decorative lighting can be used to focus customers’ attention and support the individual character of specialty service oriented areas, such as the Deli and Bakery. Compact fluorescent and LED sources provide energy efficient alternatives to incandescent and halogen.

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