Uncovering the Secrets of Commercial Fixture Pricing

Here’s a topic that architects and engineers, and anyone who’s ever specified or purchased commercial lighting products can relate to.

Why is it so difficult to get pricing on commercial grade products?  When designing a project that needs to be brought in on-budget, it’ impossible sometimes to know how much the desired product will cost.  The lighting industry persists in using an antiquated, multi-layered system of sale and delivery that ensures that new, innovative products are priced higher to recover development costs, at least until others produce a similar product.

There is some logic involved, although the logic is based onseveral confounding issues:

  1. Many contractors and suppliers persist in demanding the lowest cost products, since they don’t think the customer cares about quality and performance.
  2. Mfrs of new and higher quality products resist publicizing prices to avoid others undercutting their price and taking away market share.
  3. Manufacturers often copy each other’s products.  Even though the products may look similar, they may not be equal in quality and performance.   It sometimes takes a knowledgeable lighting pro to tell the difference, at least before the fixture is installed and the difference may be more obvious.
  4. Once a type of product is manufactured by enough companies, it becomes a commodity with a typical price point, and these products become ubiquitous.

I am often called to look at lighting installations where inexpensive, but energy efficient products were installed in locations that demanded a better shielded and better looking luminaire.   Sometimes these products were installed for little or no cost by an energy service company or efficiency program.

As the old addage goes, “You get what you pay for”.   Paying a little more often gets you a lot more in benefits, and an installation you’ll be happy with for many years.

LED Outdoor Lighting Comes of Age

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LED streetlighting.  An easy way for utilities and communities to save on electrical consumption and $$$’s.

This is the reason that of all LED uses, outdoor lighting took off the fastest.  Many of the luminaires are made in the USA – so federal funding from ARRA (American Relief and Recovery Act) were well spent by many communities on their streetlighting facilities.

Benefits include:

  • Significantly reduced maintenance
  • One for one replacements save roughly half the energy used
  • LED directional light source places the light where it is needed.
  • Wide light distribution provides lower contrast than other light sources, which improves safety.
  • Costs continue to come down as higher efficacy LED sources are developed, and fixture design improves.

Light/Space/Design is currently working with Lebanon, New Hampshire in upgrading its streetlighting and outdoor area lighting.   An open public informational meeting is planned for June 19th.  Contact Lebanon Town Hall for details.

Using Solatubes to add top lighting in classrooms

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This post was inspired by a story recently told to me from a friend who is working with architects in the renovation of a school building.   When asked to provide daylighting in classrooms that otherwise had no windows, the architect suggested solar tubes, otherwise known as SDD’s for Solar Delivery Devices.  Good idea!

However, these classrooms where on the first floor of a 2-story building, and only one SDD was proposed for each classroom.  This would not work out very well.

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Rather than spend rather a lot of money going this route, there are excellent ways of providing simulated daylight in interior spaces.  Since the diffusers from the solar tubes look a lot like light fixtures anyway, one might even take the simulated ones for real.

Here are two photos of other architect’s projects where SDD’s were well utilized.

Designing with new light sources, where to start?

A lighting blog for designers and as well as those who enjoy shaping their environment.  Is there room in the blogosphere for such a thing?   Do business and home owners want to know more about lighting beyond the energy savings potential of CFL’s and LED’s?

When I go to retail lighting stores and big box home stores, and even to wholesale lighting distributors, it seems like lots of folks are scratching their heads about what seem to be expensive choices in new lighting sources.   Why is there such a difference in cost from the old standards which may no longer be available.  And where can you even get new products that you may see in magazines but are not available in local stores?

Yes, energy efficiency is important.  Even more important, however, is how lighting allows us to feel and perform as we occupy a space.  How does the color of light affect the mood?  How do lighting controls allow us to adapt our environment to our needs?   Can one make up for a lack of daylight with artificial lighting, and still have a space that feels right?

Its a new world of lighting out there.  Lets make this a great meeting place to talk about it.

DJ -The Lighting Lionness