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Lessons learned at Lighfair: What contractors want

By Misty Byers, Editor, tED magazine

Lightfair is bigger than ever—at least it appears that way.

According to lightfair.com, the 2012 show features more than 500 exhibitors situated on more than 200,000 net square feet in the Las Vegas Convention Center (the number of exhibitor’s at last year’s Philadelphia show fell short of that number—at a reported 474­—but broke attendance records; time will tell if the same will happen this year as well).

I spent much of my day Wednesday on the show floor—meeting with exhibitors, touring their booths, and collecting product information. As one might imagine, there is a lot to learn at Lightfair—especially when it comes to figuring out what your contractor customers are looking for.

Below are a few of the takeaways I took away with me yesterday; and be sure to check back tomorrow for more lessons learned from Lightfair 2012.

Contractors want to save time.

Manufacturers are creating retrofit solutions that save time—and therefore money. Leviton, for example, has launched Zipline, a linear fluorescent lighting fixture retrofit solution that utilizes an integrated ballast and lampholder in a self-contained assembly unit that greatly decreases components and wiring points necessary to retrofit existing lighting fixtures for use with energy efficient lamps.

This effectively removes the most time-consuming installation processes—wire connections and socket installation.

Likewise, Lutron Electronics’ Maestro dual voltage occupancy/vacancy sensing switch makes it easy to incorporate occupancy/vacancy sensors into any building’s energy‐savings strategy.

The switch works with either 120V or 277V applications and with many different lamp types—simplifying the selection process. And because it is installed the same way as a light switch or dimmer—no additional wiring is required—the installation processes is fast and easy as well.

Contractors want satisfied customers.

LED technology is the future of lighting—but no one wants to pay a premium for a product that doesn’t live up to the hype. To help, the back of every new light bulb package now includes a “Lighting Facts” label, providing information about lumens (brightness), energy cost, life expectancy, light appearance (warm vs. cool light), wattage and mercury content.

Mandated by the FTC, the label is meant to standardize how companies in the lighting industry convey light bulb features, allowing consumers to quickly make comparisons between bulbs and bulb technologies.

GE is taking its packaging a step further.

Consumers have equated brightness to watts for decades, but in true lighting terms, this gauge isn’t accurate. Watts are merely the measure of electrical energy used to light a bulb. A lumen is a measure of the bulb’s brightness. Simply put, the higher the lumen number, the brighter the bulb. To ease the transition for consumers used to shopping by wattage, GE packaging will include not only lumens-to-watts comparison on the front of each package, but also colored backgrounds that represent different levels of brightness modeled after the natural cycle of daylight, from sunrise to sunset.

Contractors want convenient solutions.

When distributors can offer their contractor customers a product that can be installed virtually anywhere, easily, and with no re-lamping required, customer loyalty is virtually guaranteed.

Cooper Lighting’s patent pending Lumark Crosstour Floodlight Accessory Kit easily attaches to the Crosstour 10W, 20W and 30W LED wall-pack luminaires, converting them from wall-mount fixtures to floodlights. Offering a low-profile and rugged construction, Crosstour is an all-in-one universal product.

Likewise, Juno Lighting’s Retrofit LED Downlight Trim Modules and the Retrofit LED Eyeball Trim Modules provide a simple solution for upgrading existing standard 6-inch recessed downlights to efficient LED illumination.

The modules are equipped with screw-base whip adapters with quick-connect plugs that screws into 6-inch housings equipped with a medium base socket. A quick-connect plug allows for installation of the modules in dedicated 6-inch Juno new construction or remodel housings via hard wired quick connects.

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