Lighting spend in supermarkets is colossal. Industry data reveals that lighting can consume up to 30% of a store’s electrical energy load, with bright, welcoming lights required to draw shoppers in and lead them along the aisles. From accent lighting enhancing fresh produce to casement lights in freezer sections, supermarket lighting performs many specific functions, and with many stores now opening 24 hours a day, energy spend on lighting can be constant.

EyeNut-1Within these parameters there are, however, clear opportunities to reduce lighting levels. Not all parts of a supermarket need to be lit at 100% all hours of the day – even if they are open 24 hours. Unoccupied stock rooms don’t need to be lit and any natural daylight coming into the store lowers the need for artificial lighting at certain times of the day.

The manual operating of lights can be somewhat difficult to sustain for a measured energy saving approach in a busy retail environment. Using controls to achieve this is far more effective, offering up to 80% savings when used in conjunction with the latest LED technology. Controls will also reduce supermarkets’ CO2 emissions as the government tightens up on targets and accountability. Disappointingly, however, in spite of these sound economic and environmental arguments, figures show that only 25% of all the controllable lighting that is currently sold in Europe is actually linked to any kind of control.

The big stumbling block appears to be the limitations of existing control technology. Applied retrospectively, the necessary rewiring generally makes systems expensive and disruptive to install. Commissioning of controls in both new and retro schemes demands the expensive services of a specialist engineer.

These problems can now be consigned to the past thanks to an innovative new indoor lighting control and monitoring technology developed by UK company Harvard Engineering, world leader in the design, development and manufacture of control products for the lighting industry.

Revolutionary web-based control

EyeNut, Harvard’s ingenious invention, launched in November 2013, is already changing the future of indoor lighting controls. Web-based and wire free, it is simple for any professional electrician to install and can be applied either retrospectively to existing lighting or installed in new schemes. It offers proven savings of up to 40% on top of the benefits that are gained by a switch to LED lights – desirable though not mandatory for these controls. The technology can also be linked to all kinds of sensors – presence detectors and daylight sensors for instance – and individual or groups of lights can be dimmed to ensure that only necessary amounts of energy are expended.

Huge opportunities for supermarket chains

Uniquely, and crucially for supermarket chains, multiple stores can have their lighting controlled and monitored from one computer hub. This is the first time that this has been possible and the opportunities it opens up for supermarket groups to save energy are huge. The control centre for several stores could be managed in-house or in the cloud by Harvard to ensure minimum energy spend while maintaining necessary lighting levels to boost sales and provide a safe working environment.


EyeNut is adapted from technology developed for LeafNut, Harvard’s innovative market-leading technology for outdoor lighting control and monitoring which has been deployed in flagship projects across the globe and is currently being incorporated into Transport for London’s £10.9 million lighting upgrade. Like LeafNut, EyeNut is web-based using GPS and radio frequency identification (RFID) to operate lights individually or in groups. Up to 500 light points can be managed from a single gateway via a robust, secure ZigBee wireless mesh network.

With no limit to the number of gateways or devices this is why, for the first time, it is possible to operate lights for multiple buildings or multiple sites from one single computer hub to make effective energy and maintenance savings.

Data monitoring and analysis

Comprehensive levels of data monitoring and analysis are possible using EyeNut. Users are able to monitor the performance of lights throughout the system, collect energy consumption data, see the dim status of each light and predict lamp failure. Reports can then be exported into Microsoft Excel or PDF -particularly useful given forthcoming mandatory energy audits. By 5 December 2015, every large enterprise in the UK will, by law, have to undertake an energy audit which must be repeated every four years, in line with the European Union Energy Efficiency Directive.

One of the most time-consuming processes in setting up traditional lighting control systems is adding each light to the network. The new technology allows luminaires to be scanned in very simply using an RFID scanner and these lights are subsequently clearly visible on the dashboard, where they are mapped onto an imported image of the building layout.


The dashboard gives an overview of the system, showing key data with quick and easy visualisation. Personal control can be allowed with different users having access to different features within the system.

System integration

The technology is compatible with other control gear such as time switches and photocell sensors which ensure that lights only come on at a level necessary to augment natural daylight. It also connects with passive infrared (PIR) detectors to switch lights on and off or dim them, depending on occupancy. The system integrates with existing building management systems to collect occupancy data and with fire-alarm systems so that lights respond to emergency situations.

Users can easily create logical lighting groups and control and manage schedules through EyeNut’s profiling feature. By implementing a number of indoor lighting strategies simultaneously, such as daylight harvesting, dimming, time scheduling and scene setting, a supermarket’s energy costs and carbon footprint can be significantly reduced.

Saving energy is one of the simplest ways for retailers to increase profits. The Carbon Trust points out that, even though energy costs may only be a small percentage of turnover for retail businesses, reducing them can directly increase margins. A 20% cut in energy costs represents the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales.

Savings in store

A 4,500m2 department store, part of a multinational chain, was one of the first retailers to look at the potential of EyeNut, which could help the store make a 40% reduction in energy bills, in addition to the savings generated by using LEDs.


EyeNut would be installed alongside an already existing LED lighting installation – easily achievable given the wireless nature of the technology. A number of lighting control strategies would also be adopted within the store – all managed from one central computer.

Sales floors would be divided into zones, separated by aisle areas. Within each of these zones, ambient lighting, central accent lighting and perimeter accent lighting of vertical surfaces could all be controlled independently as can lighting on aisles, stairwells and entrance areas. Occupancy sensors would be installed to measure footfall by floor and zone and accent lighting could be selectively dimmed or increased.

The profiling feature would enable accent lighting to be switched off and ambient lighting to be dimmed during cleaning and stocking. Windows would also be installed with daylight sensors so that window lighting can be dimmed or switched off in sunshine.

Two-year payback period

Managing the network through the ‘dashboard’ screen which shows all the light fittings on a layout of the store, would allow the store to access data reports on lamp status and energy, helping to reduce maintenance costs and put the store in control of their energy spend.

It is estimated that following the first three months of operation electricity consumption would be reduced from 330kWh a day to 1,500kWh. This would represent a 40% energy saving achieved on top of the savings resulting from using LEDs, indicating that a rewarding two-year payback on the store’s investment. With such savings so easily achieved, if the multinational retailer decided to install the technology across more of its stores, these could easily be managed through multiple sites on one system to maximise their savings.

Easy to install, commission and retrofit, EyeNut could be the technology that finally makes lighting controls mainstream for retailers, delivering significant savings while maintaining the best possible customer shopping experience.

Harvard Engineering is a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of control products for the lighting industry with over 20 years’ experience. Their latest product, EyeNut, is an ingenious wireless control, management and monitoring solution for indoor lighting which was named Controls Innovation of the Year at the Lux Awards 2013. Judges described EyeNut as ‘a sophisticated system in an easy-to-install and use package’. All products are UK-sourced and manufactured at the company’s Yorkshire headquarters.

Tel: 0113 383 1000


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