Lighting technology has become smarter and easier to integrate wirelessly with other systems. The vanguard of lighting technology, LEDs are brighter, cooler, cost efficient and sustainable with a lower carbon footprint.

With its recent LED lighting installation, McLaren Health Care, based in Flint, Mich., will save $1.6 million per year in energy costs and reduce its overall carbon footprint. LED equipment was installed in more than 5 million square feet of parking lots, hallways, waiting rooms and staff centers in 11 of its hospitals. The $6 million project took five months to complete.

The next three Super Bowls, scheduled for 2018 in Minneapolis, 2019 in Atlanta and 2020 in Miami, will use LED systems that enhance the spectator experience in spectacular ways. The installations are expected to reduce operating costs and lower energy consumption by as much as 75 percent at some facilities.

Sustainability, style and convenience

From sustainability to style, architects and lighting buyers seek lighting that is effective as well as economic, convenient and stylish. The lighting within a facility or home brings a better quality of light and comes with a control system for greater benefit. Wireless controls, specifically, afford a flexible system that offers more options and choice without breaking a buyer’s budget.

“The cost of wireless technology has been coming down, and we’re seeing more and more manufacturers offering integrated wireless controls with their fixtures,” said Mark Fisher, senior sales consultant, ABM Electrical and Lighting Solutions, Pleasanton, Calif. “Many of the large fixture manufacturers have either developed their own controls solution or acquired an already established controls company. Others have chosen to partner with various control companies and will install those third-party systems in their fixtures.”

The LED lighting market stands at about $30 billion, according to researcher TrendForce. Economic forces such as construction trends will continue to drive lighting advancement further. Connected homeowners who seek style and convenience are a significant portion of this market.

“Electrical contractors should be aware of the evolving expectations that homeowners have for their home, especially as the younger and more connected generation begins to purchase their first homes,” said Phil Prestigomo, director of industrial design and user experience, Legrand North America, West Hartford, Conn. “They are increasingly seeking features throughout their homes that add ease and refinement to their lifestyle, and this especially holds true for lighting systems. Automated or remote access capabilities are highly desired upgrades to a home’s lighting system and are gaining popularity thanks to the peace of mind and convenience they deliver to homeowners.”

Prestigomo said ECs should recommend and select connected and home systems that interact seamlessly with all of the components of a home.

“Whether a smart system like Alexa, diverse platforms from iOS to Android, or hardware like switches and control interfaces, [it] is essential to ensuring that homes keep up,” he said. “As an electrical contractor, staying informed of new developments and aware of the landscape enables you to professionally and reliably offer the best recommendations on lighting technology to your customers.”

Lighting with purpose

Contractors with a fresh mind for innovative lighting must understand the importance of integrating such systems with other complex systems, such as building controls. A first order of business is to understand their customer and their end-user’s goals and objectives. Each customer has a unique budget and objective as well as different needs.

“There are many things to consider when recommending new lighting and controls systems,” Fisher said. “Most importantly, make sure you really understand your clients’ requirements and goals.”

When choosing controls, ECs need to question the importance of integrating new controls with other systems in the facility. Today’s complex lighting systems can be networked with other systems that help control energy consumption, provide light where it’s needed and when it’s needed, and ensure a safer and better facility.

Steady advancement

LEDs, solar powered lighting and other lower-cost sustainable solutions—both wireless and automated—are being installed in commercial and residential facilities everywhere. Advanced lighting systems add value, but such value takes time to realize. Its adoption depends on manufacturing costs, customer budgets, energy incentives and the demand. Thomas Edison established the Electric Illuminating Co. of New York was in 1882, but by 1925, only half of the homes in New York had electric lights.

Edison once said, “Good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.” For ECs that are prepared with knowledge and the application of the best lighting technology, opportunity awaits.