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Change is brewing in the lighting industry

By Posted on September 10, 2015

The upcoming Michigan Advanced Lighting Conference that will take place in Lansing, MI on October 29th will highlight some of the very exciting and monumental shifts that are taking place in the lighting industry right now. Whether you use lights to highlight retail products on your shelf of you’re a contractor that installs lighting, here are some changes to look for in the near future.

Monumental pricing drops for LEDs
If you’ve walked the lighting isle at Home Depot or Lowe’s recently, you may have noticed that pricing for standard 40 or 60 watt equivalent bulbs are down significantly. In fact, this past week I saw a two-pack for $5. Yep, just $2.50 a bulb. Last year, LED bulbs were in the $6-$8 range and definitely in the $9-$10 range two years ago. So what does this mean? First, the time to buy LED is now. The financial value proposition just makes sense. Second, we’re going to see a significant uptick in market penetration. Many of the major research institutions, such as Navigant Consulting that conducts work for the Department of Energy’s Solid State Lighting program, have predicted increased market activity to occur, and these pricing signals may help produce the predicted results.

Controls, controls, controls
LEDs are intrinsically controllable, and this has produced a flourishing sector of controls companies bringing new, innovative, and affordable concepts to market. These companies are unleashing new use cases and brand new business models. I authored a previous blog post about this exciting environment but there is even more activity now. NextEnergy will feature a session at the upcoming Michigan Advanced Lighting Conference featuring Adam Gouda from Clarus Lighting & Controls and Navigant Consulting’s Jesse Foote, both experts in the industry. The Department of Energy will also host a Connected Lighting Systems Meeting focused event later this year in Portland, Oregon. These events are emblematic of companies bringing new “controls” technologies to market. Two companies/products helping to define the outdoor space are TwistHDM’s Limelight product for parking structures and Illuminating Concept’s Intellistreets product. New controls solutions are also bringing new business models to life in health care and retail. Just check out Bytelight, which combines controls and lighting to incorporate indoor location-based services into the retail market. Whether it’s outside lighting or using controls to bring new functionality to the retail space, things in this space are changing, fast.

Low voltage and power over ethernet
Another shift that will be highlighted at this year’s conference is the emerging “low voltage” or “Power over Ethernet (PoE) plays. Companies such as Nextek Power Systems, Igor, LumenCache and Cisco are developing and delivering new solutions that will make building owners think twice about how they wire their buildings. Since LEDs require less wattage, it’s possible to power lights through lower voltage systems. All of the companies listed above are doing just that and these solutions have huge implications. Now, you don’t have to run higher voltage wiring through your building to power up the lights, what’s the impact? First and foremost, safer and more affordable installation costs. Not to mention spaces that are easily reconfigurable. The other significant thing going on here is that these new solutions are running power and data over the same cable. And while I don’t think we’ve quite unpacked the potential here but it is pretty exciting. So let’s put some sensors on those light fixtures and let the data flow. This is a significant shift that will impact everyone from building owners to contractors. Building owners will need to know that these new solutions are available and our installation crews are being required to work in an increasingly data rich environment.

If you’re interested in learning more about all these exciting changes, make sure to join us at the Michigan Advanced Lighting Conference this year to take all in: new technology, new business models, new markets, and new ideas to improve the spaces where we live, work and play.


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