A Quick Lesson on Current Lighting and Technology Trends from an Industry Veteran
May was an exciting month for Illumetek. We traveled to Chicago for LIGHTFAIR, secured some exciting new partnerships and on-boarded a handful of new team members.
One of those new team members is someone I feel fortunate to introduce – Lisa Swienton – our Senior National Account Manager.
She’s an industry veteran who has built her 30-year career on one thing: delivering the best solutions for clients. And we are so happy to have her on our team.
Whether through energy savings, maintenance cost avoidance or aesthetics, her success has been achieved by cultivating relationships and partnerships, and aligning sales initiatives with business goals.
Leveraging strengths in design, sustainability, energy efficient technologies, government and public funding and an in depth knowledge of LED lighting and controls, she strives to significantly reduce energy costs while also enhancing the visual environment in any type of facility.
I was able to catch up with her after LIGHTFAIR to get her thoughts on the show, as well as on current lighting and technology trends.
After 30 years in the business, it’s interesting to hear her take on the state of the industry itself and where things are headed from here.
First, let’s get a feel for LIGHTFAIR’s environment – a telling sign of lighting and technology trends, and the industry as a whole.
Lets’ start with sheer numbers – of the 362 exhibitors at LIGHTFAIR, 287 of them were LED Manufacturers. That’s almost 80%.
While, yes, LIGHTFAIR is billed as “The World’s Largest Annual Architectural and Commercial Lighting Trade Show and Conference”, this statistic shows the manufacturing industry is incredibly over-saturated.
LS: It’s true – LED Manufacturer sales are down 30-40% yet the LED market is growing 25-45% per year. The market is so saturated by manufacturers, importers and fly by night companies. Which is incredibly unfortunate because it leaves many overwhelmed by choices with no real idea of what they should be looking at when choosing.
Additionally, many reputable, major players are merging and acquiring companies to meet the changing needs of technology today. Lighting manufacturers are acquiring control and IT companies in order to move forward with a compatible easily packaged products and systems.
WITH A SEEMINGLY ENDLESS AMOUNT OF OPTIONS, WHAT SHOULD DECISION MAKERS REALLY BE CONSIDERING WHEN SELECTING THE RIGHT PRODUCT?
LS: There are three main things that need to be considered. One is the warranty offered by the company, two is the breadth of the product line, and three is trust/confidence in the information they are receiving.
Facility and operations managers rely on lighting professionals to educate and support. They are incredibly busy and want to deal with the least amount of skews, manufacturers and warranties. By ensuring the quality of information being delivered to them, the better prepared they will be for these big decisions. However, and very unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there, which is where the trust and confidence factor comes in.
WHAT’S DRIVING THE DECISION MAKING?
LS: Energy consumption continues to influence many lighting design decisions – particularly as codes get updated and become tighter. Many in the industry anticipate stricter rules in the 2019 iteration of Title 24 that will go into effect on January 1, 2020, and facilities managers outside California would do well to pay attention to this update as the energy mandate could spread to other states. We will hear more and more the term “Future Proofing” – scalable control technologies we can install today keeping in mind future changes in controls, apps etc.
It’s still a bit of the ‘Wild West’ with respect to understanding what IoT applications will be launched and what sensor data will be required for those ‘must have’ applications. Preparing a building’s infrastructure for the unknown has some facility executives hedging their bets by installing an increased number of sensor technologies within their connected light management systems.
With that being said, I’d say these are some of the main driving forces:
- ASHRAE standards and government agencies are working to implement standards and tighter compliance rules.
- Utilities are stepping in and driving the sale of IOT’s.
- Moving forward, energy ROI alone will not be enough to convince the customer. The offering of smart lighting and IoT must be able to clearly showcase the vital importance of captured data as interest is developed.
Now that we have a general lay of the land, let’s get into some specific “hot topics” from the show floor.
In terms of lighting and technology trends, the exterior lighting market is poised for considerable growth in the coming years. Values at $26B in 2016, it is projected to grow at 13% per year through 2024.
Two of the main reasons? Increased safety and significant cost savings.
Greater light control allows for increased design flexibility and improves safety.
LS: LEDs are an inherently controllable light source and can be combined with highly crafted, individual optics that make light output and direction more precise. This technology allows designers to create a photometric layout to pinpoint light distribution and optimize the fixture. The net benefits include fewer fixtures, less energy consumed and more evenly distributed output.
Even distribution is particularly important outdoors due to safety and security concerns. No one wants to walk in a dark garage or parking lot, LEDs help solve that problem.
Additionally, because energy efficiency savings makes LEDs ideal for outdoor applications.
LS: In the outdoor lighting arena, LEDs offer energy savings of 50 to 90 percent compared to HIDs, the most common alternative. The energy savings are so great that outdoor LEDs pay for themselves in one to three years. Utility incentives further add to the attractiveness of the project.
Another cost savings inherent in LED technology is the reduced need for maintenance. Most outdoor lighting can’t be accessed without a bucket truck, and that kind of maintenance is expensive. LEDs are so much more efficient than HIDs and other metal halide bulbs and they last much longer. Many LED fixtures offer a (10) year warranty.
The light output of HIDs continually depreciates after installation, but for practical reasons, they cannot be replaced as soon as the light output begins to decrease.
HIDs are usually below 50 percent of the original light output once they’re replaced, which means they’re providing far less than the light levels for which they were designed, often creating a spotlight effect.
The lumen maintenance values of today’s LEDs are at greater than 95 percent after 60,000 hours – enough for over 14 years’ worth of nighttime illumination – and can be projected to maintain high lumen maintenance values long beyond that.
THE INFLUENCE OF LIGHT ON LIFE AND DECISION MAKING
LS: Light influences our lives in many ways including our health, moods, productivity, concentration, sleep cycles, decision making and emotions. With the adoption of smart lighting and IoT, lighting characteristics such as color, intensity and timing can automatically adjust to meet the needs of occupants.
For example, “In your kids’ elementary school, biometric sensors will track students’ alertness, subtly shifting spectrum to automatically boost their focus any time it starts to wane.” We call this Human Centric Lighting (HCL) it is a significant trend with interest and adoption rates growing, and the latest controls technologies are making it easier to implement. We will be hearing much about this moving forward, especially in LEED Building standards.
LS: A few products that stood out to me were:
Espen debuted a new Type B double ended T5 LED Tube. In the past the difficulty in retrofitting T5 HO fixtures was making the ROI work since the T5 is very efficient. I would need to actually see an install, but my initial thoughts are that this may open up opportunities in the commercial, industrial market segment. Here’s why:
- Works with either shunted or unshunted sockets (Labor savings)
- 5-year warranty
- Dimmable, instant on
- UL Listed
- DLC pending
- 80+ CRI 3000K, 3500K, 4000K and 5000K
- 25W (140 LPW)
The fixtures in Cree’s Arcadia System bring the sensation of natural light inside to improve the daily work environment in a variety of ways, and may be a great option for office buildings, schools, healthcare facilities.
- The color changing, 3-D form factors which mimics natural progression of the sky throughout the day from dusk to dawn
- The deeply recessed 2×2 design helps create shadows and light distribution much like one would experience from a real skylight
In terms of Industrial Lighting, Delta’s ultra-lightweight LED high-bay luminaires SBD/SCD series offer a stunning brightness of 22000lm and provide multiple options for wattage and lumen output when being coupled with Delta’s high-efficiency programmable power supply technology. These high-bay industrial luminaires are among the lightest in the industry, weighting just 3.5kg each. Their innovative Easy Grouping control feature allows for wireless remote control.
LIGHTING AND TECHNOLOGY TRENDS: WHAT’S NEXT?
Going Beyond Light
LS: Lighting is not just about light anymore, it’s all about data technologies such as LiFi (WiFi but using light) and indoor positioning, that tracks peoples’ position using LED luminaires and smart phones. Lighting products today are shaking up the industry as they are being used for completely different purposes other than lighting.
Smart Buildings and Employee Health
LS: The next generation of office buildings are smart, green, connected and designed to promote employee health and well-being. Lighting will play a very large role in supporting this trend. LED Lighting continues to save significant energy, further realized through dimming, sensors, scheduling and controls.
The IOT controls will additionally enable two-way communication between the lighting system and the illuminated environment, enabling the building to inform owners and users of it’s status and performance. A secure IOT platform collects insights from connected LED lighting, embedded sensors and IOT devices over the IOT connected system. Everything is going wireless, users will control by tablet and smartphone – no wires!
Retrofit TLED Lamps – What will happen moving forward? TLED Tubes are saturating the market. There are 2 lines of thoughts on this, either they will go away, as we see some majors moving toward this focus or they will be improved by adding value to these commodity products. We may start to see IOT, color changing abilities added or they may leave the market completely. Time will tell.