3 Rules of Thumb for Indoor LED Lights in Quick Service Restaurants

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One of the questions we get asked a lot by our quick service restaurant customers is:

What kind of indoor lighting offers the best energy-efficiency and financial return for my business?

Indoor LED light bulbs are appealing for their high energy efficiency, and they’ve come down in cost significantly in recent years. We work with quick-service restaurants every day to help them find the highest-return savings opportunities in their businesses. Based on our experiences we can offer you these rules of thumb to help you evaluate your opportunity with indoor LED lighting.


Rule #1: It’s Easier being Green

If your goal is to make your restaurant as energy-efficient as possible, LEDs can greatly reduce overall lighting usage. A single LED light bulb lasts about 50,000 hours, compared to just 1,200 hours for an incandescent bulb, and uses one-third the power (watts) per unit of light generated (lumens). That means it takes just 20 watts to replace a 60-watt incandescent.


Rule #2: Fluorescent Bulbs are Now Fair Game

While the incremental energy gain is smaller when moving from fluorescent to LED lights, it’s now easier and more cost-efficient than ever. New LED lamps make it easy to integrate with tubular fluorescent ballasts, a conversion that once required professional installation. As a DIY project it’s easier to consider upgrading to more modern, more aesthetically pleasing and more efficient LED lights.


Rule #3: Remember Lighting is a Small Piece of Your Electric Bill

Converting to LED lights typically can save a quick-service restaurant $35-$50 a month, with a payback period of 12-18 months. If you do make the switch, however, it’s critical to reinforce good habits with your employees. We often seen total lighting consumption increase when customers switch to energy-efficient light bulbs because employees figure it’s not costing as much to leave the lights on.

For most quick service restaurants, lighting is typically only about 15 percent of the total electric bill. PlotWatt can help you optimize your total electricity usage.

Register for PlotWatt’s upcoming Ask the Energy Analyst live, online Q&A event on Thursday, Oct. 29, and get our free calculator to assess the savings opportunity for your quick-service restaurant location.


Marco Loeffke is an Energy Analyst at PlotWatt; as such he spends most of his time converting customers’ energy data into actionable, energy-saving insights. Marco holds a BSE in Electrical and Computer Engineering, a BS in Economics, and a BA in Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University.

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