More Sensible Than Ever: LED Lighting

Photos courtesy of Fulham Manufacturing

Georgetown, the third-oldest city in South Carolina, is lit with antique-style street lights, but the 150-watt high-pressure sodium lamps are laborious to maintain and change. To brighten the Historic District while reducing the maintenance demand and bill (by about 80 percent), the city is going with LED lamps.

The benefits

“LEDs can cover every type of traditional light,” said Rich Rattray, technical sales manager, LEDVANCE. “For example, now we even have LED specialty lamps and bollards. Important for contractors to realize that, if they did a job a couple of years ago and there wasn’t an LED solution for a certain part of it, now is the time to revisit those.”

There is another attractive characteristic of an LED lighting system: control.

“An important trend for contractors is LED controllability,” Rattray said. “For the most part, everything LED can be controlled, whereas in the past it had been less consistent. LED have gotten more efficient and have a smaller size and less weight.”

In addition to those longstanding LED benefits, new, sophisticated options include matching the lights to human conditions.

“A technical trend is a growing desire for human-centric lighting [HCL], also called white color tuning, where the white light temperature varies over 24 hour day to match the sunlight outside the facility,” said Russ Sharer, VP of global marketing for Fulham, a manufacturer of LED lighting components. “Just like 0–10 [volt] dimming became a requirement for commercial spaces very quickly, we anticipate that a large percentage of sites will want HCL as they look to move their facilities from LEED alone to emerging healthy building standards.”

An emerging technical strength is the integration of lighting with power metering, which is of interest to many as residents and facilities managers seek ways to reduce their overall energy bill with sustainable lighting.

“We are seeing a significant increase in the number of projects where the contractor or the energy services company profits from a percentage of energy reduction,” Sharer said. “This is pushing energy (or power) metering down to the fixture level, so a building can be fine-tuned to maximize energy reduction and generate additional profits for the contractor.”

Connected lighting

ECs should know about connected lighting.

“Challenge the status quo by using new technology to easily retrofit a space to offer dimming and customized controls,” Rattray said. “Think about how being able to offer voice control can help entice current and new customers.”

Ease-of-use retrofit products are in demand.

“Up until now, wireless lighting control systems have been fairly complicated and unapproachable for the light commercial customer and can be complex to install and manage for the customer,” Rattray said. “Many customers don’t require advanced solutions that can link into other building automation systems like HVAC, fire and security, along with the capability to manage satellite offices. The hardware, installation and maintenance can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and isn’t necessarily scalable for all applications.”

ECs should help prospects understand the ease of upgrade and the energy benefits. It will reduce their time of installation and cost.

“They can also offer consumers the option of upgrading their homes to a smart home, which is growing in popularity especially with the growth of smart speakers like Amazon Echo,” he said. “Customers can retrofit private offices for customized control, create flexible lighting plans in open-space environments that can adjust with the space as needs and requirements change, configure scenes and occupancy modes in conference rooms to make meetings more productive, enable lighting levels and color-tuning control for educators in classrooms, and create dynamic and colorful scenes in bars and restaurants.”

Beyond cities such as Georgetown, facility owners and lighting users of all categories also benefit from LED lighting.

“By becoming more familiar with wireless connected lighting products, contractors can help future proof their business,” Rattray said. “The lighting industry is breaking new ground with LED technology, with wireless controls being the next big thing for contractors.”

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

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