Lighting showrooms are in a sweet spot. They have the LED knowledge that can make electricians’ jobs easier.
Technology has become a game-changer for every aspect of the lighting industry. Over the many decades since Thomas Edison’s invention became mainstream, incandescent lighting hadn’t changed all that much. When low-voltage systems became popular, only a modest learning curve was required. Now that solid-state lighting has moved to the forefront of so many industries – from automotive and electronics to signage and now residential lighting – the amount of knowledge that is required is staggering. And since that technology keeps on changing due to continuous breakthroughs, it’s hard for lighting professionals across the board to catch up.
At last month’s American Lighting Association (ALA) Conference in Nashville, several lighting showroom owners (who started out as electricians and still run a thriving electrical business) reported that for the most part, electricians haven’t had much opportunity to learn more about LED technology. Lighting showrooms, on the other hand, have an increasing amount of LED education available that has come about through Webinars provided by the ALA or by having a manufacturer send a rep to offer product knowledge (PK) training or CEU-accredited seminars on the latest LED developments.
Most electricians have schedules that are already fully booked, with no extra time to block out for learning the latest developments in LED technology. They are also on the road most of the time, which presents even less opportunity. To help both their retail customers and local electricians, some LED manufacturers host Lunch & Learn events at lighting showrooms.
For example, Colorado-based lighting company American Lighting built a “Mobile LED Light Lab” – a modified tractor trailer-turned-lighting-showroom on wheels – that tours the country, offering on-the-spot LED lighting education on its residential, commercial, and specialty lighting products and the applications for each. The trailer is such a popular tool that its travel calendar is planned out months in advance.
Lighting showrooms are an ideal venue for learning about breakthroughs and developments in LED lighting. First of all, most retailers already have designated lighting labs that demonstrate the differences in color temperature, beam spread, and light quality among a variety of light sources. Adding LED to the mix is a natural progression. Lighting showrooms also have ready access to manufacturers’ reps who can conduct training.
The lighting retailers who attended the ALA Conference revealed that they have cultivated good relationships with their local electricians and have consistently partnered on projects.
The arrangement is mutually beneficial. If the electricians want to learn about LED technology, they come to the showroom for advice. For smaller firms that can’t afford the time or manpower it takes to learn about LED technology, having a qualified lighting partner with that expertise gives the electricians confidence when discussing plans that utilize solid-state lighting in residential or commercial projects. In turn, the retailers feel comfortable referring those electricians they have trained when clients want LED lighting installed in their homes.
Each partner ends up bringing additional business to the other — and when it comes to LED, the price tag is higher than installations involving incandescent sources. Sharing that LED knowledge and forming these strategic partnerships is essentially a win-win for everyone involved.