Lights Out: How Integrators are Missing Opportunities in the Lighting Sector

With Commercial Integrator’s industry report showing that installers have little interest in offering lighting, the industry is leaving money on the table and allowing another industry to gain market share in the lighting sector.

George Tucker

A room is like a stage. If you see it without lighting, it can be the coldest place in the world – Paul Lynde

Lighting is an essential part of any infrastructure. Without it, any interior space is useless.

How a room, building, or space is lit can have a tremendous effect on the perception of viewers, the emotional state of employees and whether a space is conducive to creativity.

Architects and lighting designers pour over the type and color of the light, how it is dispersed and the fixtures used.

Let There be Light

Energy management and green standards put heavy emphasis on the efficiency, management, and lifespan of luminaire fixtures. The business of converting existing incandescent and fluorescent systems to LED is a booming sector as new laws limiting or banning less efficient methods kick in. 

Every major manufacture of controls systems offers a line of lighting dimmers, interfaces and energy management. Entire sections of the engineering departments are dedicated to creating and improving lighting lines.

Non-theatrical lighting shows such as Lightfair are reporting dramatic attendance and new shows like LEDucation are popping up with regularity. Control companies and integrators exhibit at all of these shows.

Dimmer and Dimmer

So, why does Infocomm not have a section dedicated to this profit sector?  We have trade show real estate dedicated to IoT, streaming technologies, and of all things, drones!  The only lighting called out is buried in the event staging section and this is generally theatrical/broadcast units. 

A bigger question is why integrators are not looking for this at the shows and making a call for it to be included.

CEPRO’s 2016 State of the Industry Report indicates that 64 percent of dealers offer lighting, Commercial Integrator’s industry report shows only tepid interest. Neither indicates installer interest as a growth potential. 

We are leaving money on the table and allowing another industry to gain market share.

Into the breech comes lighting companies who have stepped up their control interface offerings.  There is also the promise of network communication schemes which involve the use of lights and lighting systems to deliver all manner of content and data.  To say the modern potential of lighting systems is limited to bulbs is to be willfully ignorant.

Time to Flip the Switch

Opinions on our malaise seem to reflect much of what Craig McCormack stated in 2014—namely that the process is too labor intensive and requires a training and skill set not common among our technical staff. There is also the need to often work with a trade we are not accustomed to collaborating with and the associated union regulations.

While these are all real concerns, they do smack distinctly of integrators entry into networking devices.  All of the same lists of issues looking to be avoided are there, we dragged our feet and let another sector take control. Now “AV” is considered an adjunct of IT.

The commercial integration trade shows and the integration shops must improve our open outreach to the lighting and electrical industries. Let’s bring in these folks to our shows for a direct dialog and featured floor space, to answer questions and hammer out the protocol for installing these systems. 

In collaboration will come sales, service, survival.  Otherwise it might just be Lights Out!