The LED Era Has Arrived

Lighting technology continues to expand with new products and systems that will benefit commercial and residential markets. Lighting has become smarter and easier to integrate with other systems in homes, buildings and facilities around the world. LED lighting is the vanguard of such technology—it is brighter, cooler, cost-efficient and sustainable with a lower carbon footprint.


McLaren Health Care, based in Flint, Mich., plans to save $1.6 million per year in energy costs from its recent installation of LED lighting and significantly 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 hospitals. The $6 million project took five months to complete.


The next three Super Bowls—Minneapolis in 2018, Atlanta in 2019 and Miami in 2020—are slated to use LED systems that enhance the spectator experience from the stands and illuminate halftime shows and other spectacles in the entertainment venue. The installations are expected to lower operating costs and energy consumption by as much as 75 percent. There are other benefits, as well.


Sustainability and style


From sustainability to style, architects and lighting buyers seek lighting that is effective, economic, convenient and stylish. The lighting in a facility or home not only brings a better quality of light, but it also comes with a control system for greater benefit.


Wireless controls, specifically, bring more options and choice to a facility manager or homeowner. It can do this 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, New York. “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 Trend Force. Economic forces will continue to drive market expansion, energy incentives and customer demand for better lighting to enhance lifestyle. This includes connected homeowners seeking style and convenience.


“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.”


ECs should recommend and select lighting systems that interact seamlessly with all of the various components of a home.


“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,” Prestigomo said.


Lighting with purpose


ECs with a mind open to innovative lighting systems must understand the importance of integrating with other complex systems—such as building control systems—with which the lighting will work in unison. A first order of business is to understand the customer and end-user’s goals and objectives. Customers have different budgets, objectives and 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 understand the importance of integrating new controls with other systems in the facility. Today’s complex lighting systems are quite capable of networked with other systems that help control energy consumption, provide light where and when it’s needed, and ensure a safer and better facility.


Steady advancement


LEDs, solar-powered lighting and other lower-cost sustainable solutions—
wireless and automated—are being installed in commercial and residential facilities. Advanced lighting systems add value, but value takes time to be realized. Its adoption depends on manufacturing cost, customer budgets, energy incentives and the demand for better lighting. 


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

About the Author

Jim Romeo

Freelance Writer
Jim Romeo is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, Va. He focuses on business and technology topics. Find him at www.JimRomeo.net .

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