I’ve been to enough weddings in my time to notice something they all share in common –– the happy couple always makes the rounds during the reception to the various tables to say thank you and give hugs.
Yet have you noticed that quite often, the more distant relatives are usually away from the “circle of trust” of immediate family? By the time they get to the last few tables to greet the final guests, it usually involved the groom explaining to the bride what sort of relationship he has with these guests.
“Honey, this is Bernard, my bowling buddy back in sophomore year of high school, and this is his mother Olga –– her lasagna is to die for.”
After the pleasantries, the couple flees back to the refuge of the center tables where moms and dads clink glasses and try to squeeze in stories of their wedding days.
Okay, so that may not be the clearest depiction of LIGHTFAIR, but with so many manufacturers focusing on the LED market, there were many rounds to be made. The layout of the show features two main aspects.
First, there's the “floor” –– where hundreds of LED manufacturers, agencies, and supporting institutions from all over the world showcase their latest lighting innovations and updates. This is truly like a lighting-centric fair, with the opportunity to “step right up” and have your questions answered on almost anything lighting-related.
Then there are breakout classes focused on more specific, detailed lighting topics. These range from educational classes that further aid lighting certifications to sessions focused on retail environments and light improvement. I was able to walk the showcase floor for a full day, so here are a handful of the takeaways I was able to amass after walking 14,119 steps.
LED lighting is continuing to improve in all areas
With the introduction of LED lighting years ago, there were a lot of questions –– “Is there any room for improvement? Isn’t LED the best lighting technology available?” Lighting manufacturers have been working tirelessly to improve their LED technology, and that was as evident as ever at this year's LIGHTFAIR.
One of the things I saw from major brands like Philips and Sylvania was an improvement in lumens per watt (LPW), or efficacy. This advancement basically maximizes light levels using as little energy as possible. LPW is the key measurement utility companies look at when determining rebate offers.
LED lighting is improving every year, which means there is a need to be more selective and educated on any lighting project you are considering.
Lighting controls are becoming an even bigger focus
There was a big emphasis this year on lighting controls, especially on their integration with wireless technology to communicate with other systems. I saw a lot of foot traffic at one particular lighting manufacturer who was showcasing a parking lot LED pole head, that also had built-in security fixtures. It was able to act as a security camera and react to daylight levels to turn on the outside parking lot lights when the surrounding sunlight was inadequate. It would then report this security data back to the cloud for record retrieval, all while providing crisp, white light to illuminate a large parking structure or lot.
I was also introduced to the coming attraction of LED lamps that will have built-in dimming, sensing, and cloud integration, all without extra wires or cumbersome hardware which were often previously required for dimmability.
I ran into one of the principals at one of our contractor partners, and when I asked him what he was excited about seeing, his response was, “Honestly, I’m here to look at the controls.” The advancement of control systems was definitely a big focus for many manufacturers at this year’s convention.
There are still a lot of similarities between the majority of the lighting manufacturers
There were some very intriguing things that I saw this year –– from an LED T8 that acts as its own emergency backup (no more expensive emergency ballasts to purchase), to color-changing flat panels, and troffers that allow users to control the “look” of the lighting above their cubicle.
However, the majority of the lighting manufacturers were all touting similar things –– higher CRI, “whiter” light, longer warranties, better stock, etc. With so many options to consider, a decision as simple as choosing between LED wall packs may feel like a nightmare.
It’s okay to “be choosy” when it comes to your LED project. Consider the major brands, their track record, and remember to align yourself with companies that will support you when you do have issues. (For more on this, you can check out this video.)
LIGHTFAIR 2016 was a great chance for us at Regency Lighting to explore how we can better serve our customers in the coming year. We look forward to assisting you and guiding you as your valuable lighting partner.