NATIONAL REPORT—When looking to slash energy costs, chances are a hotel operator will not think of signage first. However, with advances in light emitting diode (LED) technology, signage is not a bad place to start. LEDs offer an 80 to 90 percent energy efficiency gain, last much longer than neon and fluorescent lighting, and require much less maintenance.
Valley View, Ohio-based GELcore LLC, a joint venture of GE Lighting and Emcore Corp., is one vendor that offers LED systems for a variety of hospitality applications. Areas where their products can be used include outdoor and indoor channel letter signage, building borders and cove lighting. SloanLED, Ventura, Calif., is another vendor to consider.
LEDs come in different colors including red, white, red-orange, goldenrod, green, aqua-marine, sky blue, blue and white. Red and white are the brightest colors. Like Christmas tree lights, LEDs come in strings of from two to eight LEDs per foot. Depending on the style of lighting, power supplies can be self-contained or remote-mounted.
“The reason hotel operators are interested is because they typically are using neon, which uses a lot of energy, requires frequent maintenance, and is high voltage,” says Ryan Rodau, product manager, signage and architecture for GELcore LLC.
Rodau says LED lighting brightness is comparable to that found in neon and fluorescent signage.
“In regard to installation, it is pretty easy,” he says. “We prefer to train the installer. We also have our own field service technician who can help. It is less complicated than neon. There are fewer components. It is a quicker installation.”
LEDs are perfect for new installations but older signage can be retrofit with the energy efficient systems. Rodau says it is worthwhile to replace existing lighting with LEDs.
“The biggest advantage is in the maintenance savings,” he says. “It costs a lot of money to have someone come out and replace a sign’s lighting. What we found is that new installs have a faster return on investment. You are able to catch most of the labor costs at the beginning.”
From a disposal standpoint, LEDs do not contain mercury, which benefits the environment. Before investing in LEDs, be sure to check with your local or state government and/or utilities for rebate programs. Money may be available for signage.
Hilton Hotels Corp. recently selected GELcore’s Tetra LED lighting system as its new-construction specification for red channel letter lighting and red border lighting. Marriott International Inc. also has made a commitment to use LEDs in new signage.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.