In the Beginning There Was Light(ing)

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celebrateHappy New Year.  And with a new year comes 2017 predictions.  This year, at least at this time, there appears to be some economic optimism in the air. Whether it’s sustainable given that the economic and regulatory reforms that are projected will take some time, who knows.

While we’re in the process of theorizing, conjecturing, and seeking input from others regarding our ideas on the trends that will accelerate profitable growth for distributors and manufacturers this year, we do know one thing that will drive growth for contractors, distributors and some manufacturers this year … it will be the continued lighting dynamic driven by LEDs and now merging into “connectivity.” The pushing of the lighting boundaries can represent opportunities for distributors.

Whether it will be lighting retrofits, LEDs in new applications for new construction, expanded adoption of lighting controls, the emergence of PoE (and whom will benefit through its sales and installation), support by utility programs, the potential for LEDs to be involved with IoT and IIoT and much more, there is much going on in the lighting space.  When you consider the relatively brief time period since LEDs have gone “mainstream”, to the point that consumers are familiar with the terminology and at least have rudimentary understanding of its core benefits (longevity and energy efficiency).

Much has changed in lighting and more will be changing in the next few years as new bulb-review-on1applications are developed and conceived. To provide some perspective we reached out to a friend who is going on his 34th year in the lighting industry, Wendell Strong (click here for his LinkedIn profile).  He’s been a lighting specialist, a distributor and works now for a LED manufacturer who is heavily involved in PoE.  He’s been involved in developing lighting training programs and has been certified as a lighting specialist … and heavily involved in NAILD.

He’s writing a three part series for us on where he has seen, and is seeing, lighting going.  He’s titled his trilogy “Insights into the World of PoE Lighting Technology.”  Part 1 – In the Beginning there was light…

With over 30 years of commercial lighting experience, I can honestly say for the first time we are really starting to innovate as an industry. That will catch some off guard and stir some lively conversations.

Perspective being everything,  it is important to note in our advanced society with all of our bells and whistles of technology, it was just over 100 years ago that most work was being done by open flame light sources. Sources that inherently created more heat than light. Hard to believe when you first recognize the truth.

Incandescent and its close cousin halogen are both still with us. The former surviving nearly every attempt to kill it off, and the later still growing in market share today.

Fluorescent, a 1940s lighting technology, is still the lighting technology of choice for most buildings in the US and has quite possibly “over matured” as lighting source if that is possible.

HID sources continue onward as the workhorses of outdoor lighting and industrial spaces, but do to their natural inability to control them well are giving ground to SSL/LED sources more rapidly.

Ah, LED the saving grace of lighting technology. High efficacy, long life with gradual lumen depreciation and what do we do have with it?  Treat as if it were like all other light sources and operate on AC high voltage systems that have also been around for 100 years or so.

Of course, SSL/LED is much different and much more disruptive as a technology than any of us actually realized early on. LEDs don’t want or need AC high voltage as in their native state LEDs are low voltage direct current devices.

As low voltage direct current devices, LEDs turn on and off rapidly and dim smoothly with no negative effect on their rated life, in fact both actually extending their useful lives. LEDs in their natural state “want” to be controlled.

Voila. We have never had a light source with such characteristics before. All we have to do is apply what the LED “wants” from the power source and we can eclipse 100 years of legacy control at the same time. It is literally a new dawn of lighting. We can expect and deliver far more benefits to the workplace than ever before.

Wendell is the GENISYS PoE Lighting Manager, Innovative Lighting.  Click here for some info on their PoE offering and they have a new website dedicated to Genisys coming very soon.  In speaking with Wendell they have implemented many PoE implementations (we’ve been doing some research on the topic.) Click here if you’d like to email him.

For electrical distributors, lighting will continue to be a revenue driver and it is expanding its reach through connectivity.  The question becomes, and it has always been for LEDs, as a distributor you can:

  • treat lighting as a project to be quoted
  • provide nominal support through limited design, be a rebate submitter and similar and maybe have some lighting specialists to help salespeople and customers
  • you can jump in and market it to create demand, positioning yourself as a resource (and yes, some advertise to generate business, some have staff devoted to the space) and offer installation services through your customers … and maybe even call on the specifier / architect market to be a resource
  • and some are combining the above and hiring lighting control specialists, commissioning installations, understanding how lighting is getting involved with IoT and IIoT and trying to retain an understanding of the “leading edge”. And perhaps some of these distributors will also call on the datacom market so that the LED lighting revenue doesn’t “leak into other channels.”

There are lots of opportunities. The question becomes, what is your vision for your market? For your company?

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Supporting manufacturers, distributors and others in the electrical channel with accelerating growth through business / channel strategy, marketing development and customer-focused market research. We generate "ideas that deliver results."