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Connecting the Dots, Part II

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Connecting the Dots, Part II

End-users discuss the degree to which they’re actually using the “bells and whistles” of their connected LED lighting systems.

 

Color tuning, daylight harvesting, asset tracking, remote monitoring, scene control, dimming, energy metering, and LiFi are just some of the impressive and beneficial features available in today’s connected lighting systems. But are end-users actually getting the message and capitalizing on these features?  Some are… though for many, energy and cost savings still remain the primary driver behind their investment decision.

In this second part of a special two-part series, two businesses that recently installed connected LED lighting systems discuss the advanced features they’re actually using and their motivation for investing in this technology.

Profiles in Courage

Ken Allen, Chief Engineer for a leading Colorado-based property management company, admitted that he and his team were ahead of the curve when they first began pursuing the installation of LEDs about eight years ago. “After attending seminars offered by our local utility, Xcel Energy, we started installing LEDs in the elevator cabs of our properties based on their ability to save energy and reduce maintenance,” Allen said. “Two years later, around 2013-2014, and with help from Ted Lunn, an energy specialist at Colorado Electric Supply (CES) (www.cityelectricsupply.com), we converted 2,900 lights in our parking garages, stairwells, machine rooms, and public spaces to linear LED tubes.”

“Most recently, and also with support from CES, we upgraded the tenant spaces within one of our highrise buildings in downtown Denver with an LED system that incorporates daylight harvesting and occupancy sensors,” Allen said of a connected system that involves flat-panel LEDs and control products from manufacturers Lutron and Vera. “We’re a LEED Gold building and wanted to maintain that designation through products and practices that support sustainability.”

According to Allen, “our tenants and owner love the system and its adjustable light levels. They like that the lights are on automatic sensors and the fact that they’re not always having to replace lamps. And because the building design features expansive open space with a lot of light, they love the ability to maximize daylight; in most cases, they don’t even notice that their light is dimming.”

Thirteen hundred miles to the east, the owners of Don Wood Automotive also invested in a connected LED system when constructing their new dealership in Rockbridge, OH earlier this year. “We wanted to build a nice facility and understood that lighting plays a huge role in that, especially when it comes to promoting cars in our showroom,” said general manager Tanner Wood. Working with Athens, OH-based distributor State Electric, they opted for a system featuring 50 of LEDVANCE’s recently-introduced SYLVANIA SMART+ Edge-Lit 32-Watt panels with Leviton switches, which enabled them to control the lights in the showroom and change their color temperatures based on the color of the cars being highlighted or the amount of daylight available.

“Our lighting system is working great and we love to change the colors based on the weather, the time of day, and the season,” Wood said. “On a dark and gloomy day, for instance, we can experiment with the lighting to get the look and feel we want, and the process couldn’t be simpler. I can change the color right from an app on my phone – I just modify a few settings and sliders and it changes automatically. It’s easy, just plug and play.”

A Smart Investment

While these progressive customers are enjoying some of the advanced capabilities offered by their connected LED lighting systems, they admit that those features weren’t necessarily their primary motivation for investing in the system in the first place. “For our properties, energy savings and low maintenance are key,” said Allen, “and we’re finding that some manufacturers are offering a better warranty – 10 years instead of five – which is also important to us.”

While Wood noted that his dealership’s new lighting system “is so easy to use and is really serving our needs,” he agreed that certain features were more critical than others when they made their investment decision. “The energy savings are awesome and were our main goal; all of the other stuff is extra,” he said. “I think that our system offers other features, such as the ability to program lighting by zone if we wanted to, but we haven’t fully investigated that and I don’t necessarily feel the need to explore the intricacies of the whole system,” he said. “I’m not sure that me taking the time to mess around with the lights will necessarily sell more cars,” he laughed, “though I might tap into other features of our system if someone did the research for me and told me how to use them.”

Given the openness of end-users like Don Wood Automotive, distributors should absolutely take note of the opportunity to guide customers through connected lighting systems because more and more businesses are investing in them.

In the property management arena, for example, “we may have been a bit ahead of the curve,” Allen confirmed, “but other big buildings are definitely investing in connected lighting systems for the energy savings opportunities they deliver and as a way to attract tenants in today’s competitive market.”

Connecting the Dots, Part I

Distributors discuss the extent to which connected lighting is truly penetrating the contractor and end-user markets.

Read more

 

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Susan Bloomis a 25-year veteran of the lighting and electrical products industry. Reach her at susan.bloom.chester@gmail.com.

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