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Lightfair Revisited

Lightfair Revisited

Two industry experts reunite to look back on Lightfair 2018 and share their hopes for Lightfair 2019.


Last May, lightED tapped two industry veterans – Dennis Jessop, lighting product manager for Minneapolis-based Viking Electric Supply (www.vikingelectric.com), and Evan Regenstreif, president of Los Angeles-based lighting specialty distributor Regency Lighting (www.regencylighting.com) and Chatsworth, CA-based full-line electrical distributor AllSale Electric (www.allsale.com) – to share their impressions of Lightfair 2018, North America’s largest annual lighting trade show.  Eight months later, we’ve reassembled the duo to find out whether the products they saw introduced at last year’s show did indeed materialize, what innovations stood out most to them, and what developments they’re hoping to see at Lightfair 2019 taking place this May 19th-23rd in Philadelphia.


lightED:  Eight months after you attended Lightfair 2018 in Chicago, do you remember a lot of what you saw?  What stood out to you as the most prominent product, design, concept, or trend you saw there?

Jessop:  I do remember a lot of what I saw, and it wasn’t so much the new fixture configurations but the new methods and opportunities in control that stood out to me.  New LED fixture designs utilizing smaller-source packaging are allowing greater emphasis to be placed on the style of the fixture rather than on more efficient ways to get light out of the fixture.  Overall, I was most impressed with the ability to control fixtures for more than just energy efficiency.  The ability to increase comfort and productivity through light levels and color is a very huge benefit associated with the use of LEDs.  In addition, the flexibility of Bluetooth as well as the use of a gateway that, in most cases, isn’t proprietary allows for different manufacturers to be combined on a project, providing a complete control system for the application. The Zigbee protocol, mostly used outdoors, can be a great addition to an outdoor control scheme.

Regenstrief:  Quite honestly, not much stood out to me from Lightfair 2018.  We continued to see major investments in lighting controls, IoT development, and product expansion among suppliers’ portfolios.


lightED:  Have you seen any of the products introduced at the show on the actual market and are you happy with their performance (e.g., do they perform as promised)?

Jessop:  I’ve had the opportunity to see many of the products and technology introduced at Lightfair on the market.  Some of the products introduced were more specification-based items and our ability to experience those is dependent on the projects where they’re specified.  So far, however, the products I’ve seen are performing as promised.  In some cases, there’s been technology that’s not new to the electronics industry, but new to lighting; that technology has proven itself in other areas of IoT and is shown to be a nice addition to the lighting industry.

Regenstrief:  We’ve seen many of the products now hitting the market, particularly in the diversity of manufacturers’ product portfolios.  This past year at Lightfair, we saw many of our supplier partners expand their lines and continue to invest in development.  At this point, I’m pleased to say that the products we’ve procured have performed as promised.


lightED:  In this new world of LED lighting, do you feel that trade shows like Lightfair are as effective or have as much impact as in the past?  What are the biggest benefits of these shows to you and your firm?

Jessop:  The developments we’re seeing now aren’t as dramatic when seen in specifications or data sheets; light output is measured differently than with previous sources and these products need to be visually experienced for the full impact – e.g., you need to see the effects on what’s being lit and experience the ability to control where light is hitting an object to fully understand it.  Greater energy savings are realized not only because of the efficiency of the LED light source, but also because they’re able to better direct light and reduce the amount of wasted light.  Lightfair allows attendees to experience these new technologies and products up close and in person and to see technology that we may not have even thought of or knew that we needed.  In most cases, we’re also given the chance to talk to a representative of the design team responsible for the innovations.  Ultimately, Lightfair is the opportunity we need to experience these innovations in as deep a format as we’d like.

Regenstrief:  In my opinion, these shows continue to be effective and add value.  However, we do continue to see new shows that are tailored to addressing specific needs.  Regarding the impact these shows have, we believe that it’s dependent on what you put into them.  If you don’t have a game plan and set a schedule ahead of time, you’ll most likely walk away overwhelmed by the sheer size of some of these events.  But we still believe that these shows are great opportunities to connect with your customers, spend time with your suppliers, and unite your team members around a unified product strategy.


lightED:  What do you hope to see this May at Lightfair 2019 in Philadelphia and why?

Jessop:  I hope to see continued improvements and flexibility in control as well as smaller packages containing the light source itself.  We need to move beyond the size and shape of fixtures that were designed to hold light sources in the past — we no longer need four and eight square-foot packages because LEDs don’t require that area to properly provide ambient light.  The electronics we’re dealing with in today’s world will allow us to put light into areas we had difficulty covering in the past.  Control will allow us to do this while still saving energy.

Regenstrief:  This year, I’m hoping to see further development within the user-friendly control space.  Commissioning continues to be a hassle for many large projects, so as we continue to see wireless controls and accessible, easy-to-use commissioning become more common, more customers across the country will want to take advantage of the efficiency and benefits they provide.

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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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