Sneak peek into our perspective
The annual dealer-exclusive Lightfair trade show did not disappoint this year. If you aren’t familiar with this event, it is the lighting industry’s showcase for new technology and products (the most well-lit public display of efficiency that the world has ever seen!). Normally invitations are limited to distributors, architects and lighting designers, so just in case you were not in the that group, we thought we would give you the inside scoop on what we saw in 2015!
The star of the show
In recent years, LED lighting has taken center stage at Lightfair. Not this year! The star of the show in 2015 was Smart Lighting Controls. These Smart Controls give the user the most advanced lighting control options with the tap or swipe of a finger on most any smartphone, tablet, or enabled wireless device.
(Smart lighting controls are still emerging as big players on the lighting market, making our list of big advancements in 2015: '5 major lighting developments of 2015.')
Timers, sensor, dimmers, color changes, location in a store marketing messages… All in the lighting system controlled from the palm of your hand. We are talking moving way past simply determining when your lights go on and off. Because lighting is powered and is everywhere someone needs to see, manufacturers and retailers are partnering on creating content served to your cell phone that is specific to the product you are viewing (imagine Amazon meets Macy’s in real life). Product specifications, comparisons and reviews triggered by the your GPS enabled phone communicating with the lighting system. #mindblown
Newbie LED manufacturer warning
Like the previous two years, 2015 also presented a truly overwhelming mass of new manufacturers racing to stake a claim for a piece of the booming LED industry. While one could argue that there has never been a problem with having a variety of choices, too many choices can lead to risk. Just because a product is an LED or it is less expensive than the alternatives from the larger lighting patriarchs does not mean that it is the best choice.
Newer companies are not as stable as the ones that have commanded the industry for decades. Larger companies have stood the test of time while pioneering the once uncharted expanse of LED technology. Because of their experience, they can continue to push the bounds of development while holding true to their warranty and quality claims.
Need help with vetting a lighting manufacturer? Check out our downloadable checklist, '9 questions to help choose the best lighting manufacturer.'
Let's say you're skydiving for the first time, and you are given the opportunity of choosing the instructor to guide you to the ground. One is a young and energetic looking person with a bright yellow colored body suit and a parachute that has a flat screen TV somehow built into it. The other is not quite as epic. This person’s equipment is minimal (almost boring).
If I were choosing based off of the way these "instructors" look, I might be tempted to go with the one with the flat screen. Let’s be honest.
After further questioning, though, we discover that the one in the yellow suit is not actually an instructor, but an adrenaline-seeking newbie. We also learn the “boring” instructor; despite the shortcoming on “flare” is a certified instructor with thousands of successful jumps who may as well have invented the parachute.
LED technology has been around for a while, but it is still a relatively new technology. With this in mind, the safe and hassle-free route to take when choosing a lighting retrofit product or manufacturer would be to stick with the “big dogs” in the industry. If you find something that a new manufacturer makes that is completely unique and you have to have it, make sure you test it in a space before pulling the trigger on a large install. Our rules of thumb…
- Go with the proven unless they don’t make what you need.
- Move slow and make small investments with unproven technologies or manufacturers.