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Show and Tell

Show and Tell

Lighting manufacturers review the recent “LEDucation Trade Show & Conference.”


If you’ve been in the lighting industry for a while, you’re well aware of Lightfair, North America’s largest annual lighting trade show and a tradition in the lighting industry since 1989. But how familiar are you with LEDucation?

Presented by the Designers Lighting Forum of New York and held annually in New York City every March, where it draws nearly 300 exhibitors and over 6,000 attendees from around the globe, the two-day LEDucation Trade Show and Conference is billed as “the ultimate marketplace for solid-state lighting innovations.” So what role does LEDucation play in the lighting industry today and how does this LED-centric event stack up against Lightfair, its 30-year-old “big brother?”

Following, lightED caught up with two key exhibitors at the recently-conducted 13th annual iteration of LEDucation held on March 17th-18th at the New York Midtown Hilton—Rich Rattray, commercial engineer at LEDVANCE, makers of SYLVANIA general lighting in the U.S. and Canada, and Brendon VanCampen, senior sales director at Lutron Electronics—for their impressions of this year’s show and how they feel LEDucation compares to Lightfair.


lightED: How long have you been participating in LEDucation and why do you feel that it’s valuable to attend and/or exhibit at this show?

Rattray: We’ve been an active supporter of the show since the beginning. It’s amazing how quickly this show has grown, but of course LED continues to change everything in the lighting world. We feel that LEDucation provides a tremendous platform for manufacturers, specifiers, distributors, and end users—both national and regional—to connect, network, listen to engaging speakers, and see the latest technology. Being held so close to Lightfair, you can also see some glimpses of what’s to come at that show.

VanCampen: Lutron has been attending LEDucation for 13 years and we’ve strived to strengthen our presence at the show each year we’ve attended. We believe that LEDucation fosters important communication between designers and manufacturers that’s critical to the advancement of the lighting industry. The strong attendance of both exhibitors and design professionals alongside the panels and presentations featured throughout the show have provided valuable insight into industry trends and emerging opportunities.


lightED: In your opinion, what were the highlights of this year’s show in terms of interesting new products, seminars, and trends you witnessed?

Rattray: All of the seminars were excellent, but there are two that I want to highlight. The panel discussion on “The Era of Smart Buildings: The Internet of Things and the Adoption of Power over Ethernet” was great, as it discussed real-world applications of this innovative new technology and addressed the pros and cons of this type of lighting system. It was extremely helpful given that the panelists were people who’d played a hands-on role in designing, installing, and commissioning one million square feet of these systems in New York City; the panelists answered all of the questions asked and offered recommendations for customers who were considering installing this type of lighting system in the future. In addition, the seminar entitled “Deciphering IECC, ASHRAE 90.1, and Title 24, Part 6: Lighting and Lighting Control Requirements” summarized what’s become tough to keep straight as energy efficiency standards with overlapping requirements have been introduced. The presenters were very knowledgeable and did a great job of summarizing the complex world related to the control requirements needed to meet current energy efficiency standards.

VanCampen: We saw a lot of great things at LEDucation this year. To us, the highlights of the show were the observations we made about in-fixture technology trends and our interactions with the lighting design community. Vendors showcased a wide array of fixtures that continue to enhance the quality and dynamism of the light they produce, something that greatly interests Lutron as we strive to create the right environment with human-centric lighting solutions. We also highly valued our interactions with the lighting design community and found the panel presentations especially helpful, most notably the panel that focused on how to maximize the value of the time we spend with our lighting designer customers. These types of insights are invaluable in our never-ending quest to build meaningful relationships with our customers.


lightED: Though LEDucation attracts 6,000 attendees (about a third of Lightfair’s annual attendance), it’s quickly gained traction as a highly-targeted and productive show to attend in the LED arena. What do you feel makes LEDucation an appealing show to participate in?

Rattray: LEDucation is a mini-Lightfair. While manufacturer booths at LEDucation are smaller than at Lightfair, that’s a positive, as it requires manufacturers to prioritize the products they want to show. This is an advantage for LEDucation attendees too, who are able to easily see the best products rather than having to sort through a large booth. Sometimes at Lightfair, there are so many attendees that booth tours commonly include 10+ people, and specific questions are more difficult to address. By contrast, interaction with manufacturers at LEDucation is more intimate, which makes it easier to have in-depth conversations.

VanCampen: LEDucation is a very focused, intimate show. It allows for more effective and clearer communication with both the design community and fixture manufacturers, which allows us to build strong relationships and get valuable insight into how to best address the needs of our customers. Lightfair, on the other hand, is a gathering of every participant in the lighting industry and serves as a better high-level snapshot of what’s happening in the industry as a whole. We believe that both shows serve an important purpose to all who attend.


lightED: Based on your experience at LEDucation this week, what development(s) are you most looking forward to seeing in the future within the LED industry?

Rattray: The product development I’m most interested in pursuing is Power over Ethernet and how it can bring true benefits to the end user. The fact that one million square feet of this technology have been installed over the past year in New York City (with another 1.5 million square feet in the works) shows that it’s definitely a technology to keep in the forefront.

VanCampen: We’re excited about the industry’s push towards smarter and more fully-integrated solutions. Lutron has invested in both wired and wireless digital solutions that connect both the indoors and the outdoors to offer control of entire buildings and campuses. We’re very encouraged by the growing smart capabilities of the fixtures showcased at LEDucation each year and look forward to seeing how the capabilities of those fixtures, and the technology inside them, continue to evolve. It’s great that Lutron’s goals align so well with the goals of the fixture manufacturers and lighting designers that attended the show.


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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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