Electrical contractors can learn about lighting control and dimming systems that increase profitability while adding value through manufacturer training programs. For example, Lutron Electronics, Inc., Coopersburg, Pa., offers its “Earn and Learn” training program to electrical contractors and builders. “The residential electrical contractor has a huge opportunity as the sophistication of homes and lighting controls grows and customers demand the latest technologies,” said David Weinstein, Lutron’s senior sales manager.

Participants earn a “Contractors Success Starter Kit” for attending the course, which includes an assortment of lighting controls and dimmers. “We recognize how valuable the contractor’s time is and wish to both compensate them for that time, but also to demonstrate the value of advanced lighting controls, which include energy efficiency, extended lamp life, and flexibility,” he added.

During a one-day session, contractors first discuss the importance of dimming and the advantages of lighting controls for the customer. “We demonstrate that for the same amount of labor it takes to install a simple switch, a contractor can install more sophisticated controls that will significantly improve the bottom line,” Weinstein said.

After this overview, participants divide into smaller groups and attend various hands-on seminars. Topics include wall-box products that provide single-circuit lighting control, single-room lighting control systems, and whole-house lighting control systems.

The single-circuit control seminar covers lamp sources, installation methods, and solutions to common dimming scenarios. “Our goal is to teach contractors how to choose the correct product for the application,” explained Weinstein.

In the single-room lighting control systems seminar, contractors learn about the growing opportunities for installing systems that provide single-touch control for multiple zone and circuit applications.

During the whole-house lighting control system seminar, contractors are exposed to specific Lutron products meant to add value to the lighting they install. “For instance, Lutron’s RadioRA lighting control system represents an opportunity for the electrical contractor to install a radio frequency-based system that is expandable and flexible to fit the customer’s requirements,” Weinstein said.

In 2000, Lutron conducted nearly 60 “Earn and Learn” sessions and plans to continue scheduling classes in 2001 throughout the country. In addition, the company will present “Earn and Learn Express” classes in conjunction with its electrical distributor partners. “The ‘Express’ course is the same as the regular ‘Earn and Learn’ class, but is sponsored by an electrical distributor and held in its facility,” Weinstein said. Distributors that participate in the “Express” program increase their visibility and add value to their contractor customers.

“‘Earn and Learn’ with Lutron raises the electrical contractor’s awareness of the opportunities that exist to increase profitability and add value through the application of lighting control systems,” Weinstein said.

Lighting Control Institute

Lutron’s Lighting Control Institute (LCI) is aimed at both new contractors and established professionals in every segment of the lighting industry. Electrical contractors can stay at the forefront of lighting control technology and increase earning potential by taking up to 20 different courses. “Our product line is constantly evolving with advances in software and design technologies,” Weinstein said. “Attending the LCI lets contractors provide their customers with features that bring out the best of every lighting design.”

The “Fundamental Seminars” target those who are new to Lutron products or to the lighting industry. The “Residential Focus” course highlights the company’s broad residential product line, including basic wallbox products, and single room and whole home lighting controls. Sales and marketing tools and techniques are also discussed. The Commercial Focus concentrates on lighting controls for commercial spaces, and covers specification grade wallbox products and dimming panels, ballasts, and controls.

“Advanced Seminars” are designed for those contractors who need to refresh their lighting control knowledge and to advance their skills.

The “High-End Residential Seminar” is designed for contractors who specialize in this market and covers sales opportunities, installation methods, and the value of advanced lighting controls. “Hands-on sessions build knowledge of the company’s range of residential, single room, and whole home control systems,” Weinstein said.

The “Specification Seminar” is aimed at architects, electrical engineers, interior designers, or lighting consultants with an interest in lighting control systems. “This course emphasizes design and specification of architectural grade products, as well as architectural dimming systems and panels,” Weinstein said. Fluorescent dimming and energy management options are also discussed.

Lutron plans to continue to invest in training and education programs for the contractor market as technologies continue to change and advance. For more information, visit www.lutron.com.