Slow Down in Commercial LED Upgrades
And how to move to the next step
The solid-state lighting market has seen a downturn in business activity from mid-2017 through the current period. Regionally, this downturn can be analyzed more closely which in turn can help the decision makers get a feel for market expectations but more importantly help them forecast what they can expect for the remainder of 2018 and into 2019.
First it is fair to say that any upgrade from existing old technology lighting to the newest generation of solid-state lighting can be accomplished with total cost fully recovered within two years from energy savings alone. Two years seems to be the bar that the decision makers are focusing on in the New England Region. What is certain is that a proposal that offers payback in less than two years has not the impetus to encourage decision makers to move forward. Drilling down into the facts to determine why these commercial and industrial businesses are not upgrading is no easy task.
There is not one single consensus in the industry as to what has slowed the adoption of Solid-state Lighting. Because when you offer a product or service to a company that would immediately realize a positive impact on multiple aspects of the financial position of the company and it is put on hold without specific reasons it can be puzzling. It can be very puzzling for a sales team to not be able to close a deal and at the same time cannot find a reasonable objection.
So here is the path that we think is followed to arrive at the yes or no decision to do an LED upgrade.
First, business is growing strong, so managers are deeply focused on getting new business, improving the efficiency of the ongoing operational activities, bringing in more employees, tools and equipment to service the growth. Lighting takes a back seat. Understandable.
Second, the solid-state lighting industry has expanded very rapidly over the last five years creating more than just a little confusion as LED lights are a high-tech product. Managers will not make purchases without due diligence and the task to really get a handle of LED can be daunting to the uninitiated. It is understandable that a “wait and see” approach happens. Should we wait for better prices and better technology?
Third, not only are managers being exposed to newer and more efficient lights on a regular basis but perhaps even more important they are being exposed to numerous wireless options, white tunable lighting, remote access to control lights, and so on. Studies showing the impact lighting has on people and lighting used as a network adds to the confusion and generally enough information is now available so that an expert is needed to consult on an upgrade design for anything other than the basic “replace the fluorescent tube” approach.
Fourth, Many LED upgrades have been completed over the past five years so data is available to inform whether the new technology lived up to it’s initial promises. The short answer is yes, they have but not without problems. The biggest problem that has caused some LED fixtures to fail has been an issue with components. And the component that has caused most all failures is the capacitors used in the drivers. That problem was resolved during 2015 and 2016 and the newer generation of lights are working perfectly.
These four points demonstrate why lighting upgrades could be stalling in the design/review phase. As mangers try to figure out which direction to go in they need to feel comfortable that they are upgrading their business with best option available within budget. The smart manager is thinking if these lights are going to be with us for 10 years I don’t want to strand additional potential savings in the future.
The decision process has suddenly gotten much easier in 2018. It’s like there is only one direction to go to install a lighting system that takes advantage of the newest generation of lighting and controls and future savings. The choice should be a Networked Controlled Lighting System that mimics natural light.
Consider this approach:
1. LED products must have a minimum warranty of 5 years and the expectation that they will perform flawlessly for 100,000 hours or more. The warranty should be one that is simple to use.
2. Pricing must be low enough that the upgrade cost is recovered in energy savings as quickly as possible……with a networked controlled system you can even design for payback in one year if your lights are on for extended periods.
3. The system must be wireless eliminating the need for potentially expensive wiring and switches and electrician charges.
4. The system should be simple enough that owners, facility mangers and maintenance people can install the product just as if they were replacing fluorescent tubes. Plug and Play applies here.
5. The products and system should be modular. This allows for segmented installations……one room this week……. one area next week or next month…….and so on.
6. The designer/supplier should be able to provide a design, schedules, cost analysis, rebate incentive processing, user training and support and more to make the upgrade seamless and consistent.
7. The system should be networked with low energy Bluetooth Mesh, which is simple to manage and has tremendous flexibility in the services it provides. Install a Networked Controlled Lighting System………easy and affordable.
8. The network system must be future compatible allowing you to use the network for many different reporting and tracking exercises that all growing businesses rely on.
9. An upgraded lighting system must perform the same as natural light does. Plus, it needs to be user friendly to allow for creating certain ambient conditions required during certain activities like conferences and research periods. No more one-person controls and troubleshoots the gateway.
10. The last item we list here is perhaps the most important. Lighting must be tuned to the rhythms of people. It must be like natural light. To attract and keep the best employees they need to work in an environment that is supportive of good health and that they look forward to entering each day, often for extended periods. A tunable networked lighting system is the least costly and provides the highest return of any infrastructure in the business.
Contact lumens For Less, Inc to learn more details and options that are available from the newest generation of lighting and wireless controls.