Don’t be part of the 50%

When it’s time to expand your warehouse, do you ask the local handyman to give you a quote or do you call an architect to have them create professional plans?

When you need to upgrade your IT servers, would you let your forklift dealer step inside your server room to give you a quote or do you call a professional IT services company to help?

When you need a new roof, do you ask your local uniform company if they can give you a bid on a new roof or do you bring in a professional roofing company?

The answer to these questions is fairly obvious. But for some reason when it comes to upgrading lighting, which affects 100% of the people that work in your company, consumes about 20 to 40% of your energy bill, and dramatically impacts safety, security and productivity, many companies have no problem buying from anyone who says they can sell LED fixtures regardless of that vendor’s expertise in the lighting industry. The local forklift dealer tells you they now sell lighting. Great, let's get a quote. Your maintenance manager has a friend who used to sell mortgages but now sells LED lighting. Terrific, bring him in.

It’s no wonder that over 50% of the people we talk to who have already converted to LED lighting are unhappy with the results and are experiencing more outages than they expected. One of the newest trends we are seeing lately is a concept that I call “re-retrofitting.” That means replacing cheap, failing LEDs that were installed less than five years ago with new, high-quality industrial-grade lighting that is the right solution for the company.

Unfortunately, this is a trend that is getting worse, not better. And the number one cause of these issues is that customers are buying from people that do not understand LED technology. These vendors are only selling on price and financial models. It used to be that the plant electrician could address any lighting needs you may have. Replace a lamp, easy. Change out a fixture, no problem. The challenge with today’s LED lighting is that LEDs are more similar to IT technology than traditional light bulb technology. An LED is actually a semiconductor device so even electricians don’t understand it. We now have to deal with special optic patterns, detailed thermal management strategies, enhanced efficacy, L70/L80/L90 forecasts, TM-Reports, Miliamp conversions, etc. It is not that simple anymore.

So that brings up the question: when it is time to retrofit your lighting, who do you buy from? The simple answer is a professional lighting company that has real experience working on similar projects for at least 5 years. Most importantly, that company needs to have an LC or someone with a similar certification on staff.

LC? It’s short for Lighting Certified. Never heard that before? Of course not, because so few people in the lighting industry invest time in education. LC is a certification from a non-profit group called the National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professional (NCQLP). It was created as a baseline standard for knowledge covering the entire scope of the vast lighting field.

To get the certification of LC, you need to pass a rigorous four-hour, professionally proctored test. The source material that you need to study from comes from a 1,300-page lighting handbook and another dozen or so manuals and guides ranging from 10 to 100 pages. In order to even take the test you need to have multiple years of real-world experience in lighting. They will NOT let just anyone take the test.

An LC has a vested interest in creating the proper long term solution for you. Most LCs are not in sales. They are consultants. They love lighting and they learn and read about new lighting technologies every day. They will run the project through a full technical site analysis, create any photometric designs, and ensure that what is being proposed will work for you now and well into the future.

So the next time your company needs to negotiate a contract, call your lawyer. And the next time you are ready to upgrade your lighting, call an LC.

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