LEDs Are Getting Ready for the Spotlight (Technology Review)

LED lights illuminating this Walmart parking lot in Guatemala City have cut energy needs by half. (Photo credit: Walmart)

LED lights illuminating this Walmart parking lot in Guatemala City have cut energy needs by half. (Photo credit: Walmart)

Nearly half a century after their invention, light-emitting diodes are moving into the spotlight for businesses looking to save energy.

In October, the Chili’s restaurant chain announced plans to outfit 827 restaurants with 125,000 LED lamps—an installation that the company claims will save up to $3.7 million per year and mark the largest LED rollout in the United States to date. Best Buy, meanwhile, has pledged to install 35,000 LED lamps in place of halogen bulbs for digital-camera displays and high-end audio and video showrooms. Walmart, which devotes one-third of all energy in most of its U.S. stores to lighting, now uses LEDs to light freezer cases, jewelry displays, exterior signage, and hundreds of parking lots and recently began introducing the technology for general lighting on the sales floor in a pilot market. “Everything at some point will switch over,” Charles Zimmerman, vice president of international design and construction for Walmart, predicted in an interview.

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