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State of the Solid-State: RAB and Kichler Execs Weigh In

State of the Solid-State: RAB and Kichler Execs Weigh In

By Diane Duenez

The LED market has rapidly matured in a way not seen with other lighting products. It also holds great promise as a tool for manufacturers and end-users to take advantage of its benefits, including long lifetimes and consistent output, for applications well beyond outdoor and indoor lighting. We recently spoke with Ross Barna, CEO of RAB Lighting, and Tony Davidson, CEO of Kichler about the challenges and opportunities provided by solid-state lighting at this still-early stage of adoption and usage.

 

Q&A with RAB’s Ross Barna:

Ross Barna, CEO of RAB Lighting

lightED: Has the explosion of the lighting market in recent years surpassed your expectations?

Barna: It’s been an exciting decade being at the forefront of the explosive growth in LED lighting. We’ve been lucky to live through this time period and if I had to predict it all in 2007 I doubt I would have expected how much change would take place in the industry landscape.

lightED: What will be the key drivers in the US lighting market in the near-term (between now and 2020)?

Barna: Over the long term we’ve seen utility rebate play a large role in accelerating adoption and I expect rebates to become less of a driver as utilities move their programs to focus more on advanced control systems. I expect the biggest drivers of the market will be a mix of cost reduction with a new wave of innovation in terms of features and performance of product.

lightED: What does the future hold for light and connectivity?

Barna: The future of connected lighting systems is bright! We are already seeing strong adoption of our system in the market and the industry is still early in the learning curve. The next few years we expect to focus on educating the channel as our product offering grows. I’d say we can expect controls to be a significant factor in most lighting systems by 2020.

lightED: How can distributors build a stronger relationship with designers and contractors to use the best light in the correct situations?

Barna: Education will continue to be critical for the distributor both in terms of keeping their team up to date and also in terms of bringing value to the customer.

lightED: How will price impact the future of lighting?

Barna: Price will continue to come down in terms of $/lumen which will make it both easier to sell lighting but harder to keep competitive inventory on the shelf at the distributor. In addition, I expect to see manufacturers who have the best capabilities for product development and managing costs will win out over those who have mediocre capabilities.

lightED: What do you think the capabilities of light may one day become?

Barna: I hope that as lighting becomes more capable and enabled with technology it also becomes simple and blends into the background… it should work effortlessly.

 

Q&A with Kichler’s Tony Davidson:

Tony Davidson, CEO of Kichler

lightED: Has the explosion of the lighting market in recent years surpassed your expectations?

Davidson: It has moved much faster than we anticipated.  It’s gone beyond my expectations of 5-7 years ago and there are a lot of new players in the market.

lightED: What will be the key drivers in the US lighting market in the near-term (between now and 2020)?

Davidson: The primary driver will come in LED.  It will come in multiple phases and looks but manufacturers will imbed more LED technology.  Distributors and contractors will need to learn and install more LED.  The homeowner will need to learn a new language of light.  The next three years will be a proving ground in experimenting. I think you will see a lot of untested product out there.  This will result in a big shift moving forward.

lightED: What does the future hold for light and connectivity?

Davidson: The Department of Energy predicts that by 2030, 75% of all lighting will be LED.

lightED: How can distributors build a stronger relationship with designers and contractors to use the best light in the correct situations?

Davidson: As light has changed, so has the design of light.  Designers are now using a wide range of products to deliver their projects and presentations on what they are trying to accomplish. Sales people within the distributors should take lighting and design classes and seek out the manufacturers who are willing to educate.  The distributor who does this will win the business.

lightED: How will price impact the future of lighting?

Davidson: A number of low quality options are being offered and that meets that first cost expectations. The first costs are going up but the maintenance is going down.  We see the consumer paying more for LED but distributors are working with the contractors to help explain to “Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner” as to why they are paying more.

lightED: What do you think the capabilities of light may one day become?

Davidson: I’m beginning to hear that LED will ultimately carry communications.  Radio frequency is almost at capacity. LED has as ready source of electricity making lighting a vehicle of communication to the rest of the world.

 

 

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