Chili’s restaurant chain installs 125,000 LED lamps

Oct. 6, 2010
In what is claimed to be the largest US roll-out of LED lamp technology to date, Chili’s is installing LED lamps in 827 restaurants.
A number of restaurants and retail stores have jumped on the green bandwagon recently by installing LED replacement lamps to save money and improve the customer experience.

For example, electronics retailer Best Buy is installing 35,000 LED replacement lamps from CRS Electronics. Other examples include a complete retrofit of the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurant in Newtown, PA, while Osram Sylvania is supplying thousands of retrofit lamps to GNC stores (see Related Stories).

Brinker International, parent company of Chili’s Restaurants and Maggiano’s Restaurants, has recently installed LED lighting from Eco-story LED Lighting Solutions (Portland, Maine) as part of a re-lamp project in all of its corporate restaurants.

The project involves installing 125,000 LED lamps in the interior and exterior of all 827 corporate restaurants. Eco-story claims this will be “the largest US roll-out of LED lamp technology to date.” The project is currently about 80% complete.

After testing the technology in ten stores, Brinker determined its annual savings would be approximately $87.00 per store, per week. Over 827 stores, this equates to more than $3.7 million per year.

In addition to saving money, the LED lamps are also improving the look and ambiance of the Chili’s restaurants versus traditional lighting, according to Kevin Falconer, Brinker’s Senior Director of Design. “Our team studied LED lights for a long time and tested many makes and models, and we feel our stores look better now than before,” he said.

The lamps emit a warm-white light with a color temperature of 2700K, and are built using Cree XLamp LEDs. A variety of lamp types have been retrofitted, for example 4.9 W LED MR16s have replaced older lamps ranging from 30 to 50W, and 60W PAR20 and PAR30 lamps have been replaced by 6W LED products. Candle bulbs and indoor and outdoor globe lights have also been replaced.

Mark Shoemaker, co-founder of Eco-story, told LEDs Magazine that although this was a re-lamp project, some changes were needed to the load distribution. “Because the LED lamps are dimmable lamps and the existing fixtures had a minimum load rating, some of the circuits had to be tied together in order to increase the load,” he said.

Commenting on the design requirements of the project, Shoemaker said, “One of the cornerstones of our business model is the ability to customize and change our base product to meet customer needs. We were able to easily adapt our optical package to meet Chili’s design requirements.”

“This was a huge project with the most important goal of saving money while maintaining or improving light quality over traditional incandescent lamps,” added Bill Stauffer, co-founder of Eco-story. “The Chili’s stores look fantastic and the savings and ROI that Brinker will realize is simply amazing.”

Dallas, Texas-based Facilities Solutions Group (FSG) handled the distribution and installation for all the Chili’s stores.