Today on the Bright Ideas series by Acuity Brands®, we’re wrapping up the last of our segment on lighting for industrial spaces. Catherine Bruce is joined by lighting and electrical distributor John Temple, a Division Segment Manager for Lighting at 3E.
In recent episodes, we’ve discussed trends in the lighting industry that have led to many small or new companies entering the market and selling lower-priced import products that may not always meet ANSI standards for industrial fixtures. Many facilities purchasing these cheaper lights may have no idea of how quickly they may fail, or how the warranties may not cover what they need.
WHAT ARE SIGNS OF A HIGH-QUALITY INDUSTRIAL LIGHTING FIXTURE?
When it comes to industrial facilities, John recommends name-brand lights from manufacturers that have been around longer than their warranties, with built-in surge suppression and a higher ambient temperature rating of 50º or 55ºC.
Try to find a manufacturer who’s already tested the fixture for the type of environment where you might be using it, he suggested. For example, it might be prudent to opt for a sealed product instead of an open one. Some unsealed fixtures might get misapplied in a very dusty environment and could fail quickly simply because they fill with dust.
So if you can find products that have already been tested beyond just surge protection or temperature, all the better.
WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON REASON FOR INDUSTRIAL LIGHTING FIXTURE FAILURE?
According to John, the most common cause of failure that 3E sees nowadays, especially in industrial environments, is heat.
With the propensity for industrial facilities to have little or no air conditioning in their massive spaces, and with the heat from the machinery rising up to the metal ceilings that may also be in direct sunlight, fixtures sold with a maximum ambient temperature of 25ºC just aren’t going to cut it.
3E isn’t swayed by a lower price tag. They focus on standards and quality, tested, proven-performance products. They stress the importance of ambient temperature when selling light fixtures for industrial applications.
In John’s lighting industry history, when he has seen customers purchase cheaper products from new players, there have been some lighting failures. In some of those cases, the manufacturer of either the driver or the fixture does not honor the warranty because according to the light’s listed ambient temperature rating, the fixture was misapplied.
WHAT ARE SOME OBSTACLES TO RESOLVING A FAILED LIGHTING FIXTURE?
One of the risks of buying fixtures from a lesser-known company on the market is that the manufacturer may change their name or go out of business before customers can report a failure or request that they honor the warranty.
That’s a major reason why John and his team at 3E avoid Limited Liability Corporations when it comes to sourcing these lighting fixtures. LLCs could fold up shop any day and be protected from future claims, so those three little letters after the company title are a red flag.
In either case, be it due to the lighting manufacturer no longer existing or just refusing to replace the fixtures because of how the warranty is written, a resolution has to come from somewhere. Oftentimes, unfortunately, the electrical distributor will end up caught in the middle.
In such cases, the John has known distributors to pay out of pocket to replace all the fixtures or reimburse the customer for their losses. While that’s not a legal necessity, it’s often vital to maintaining a customer relationship and reputation.
WHAT DOES AN ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTOR LOSE OR GAIN FROM THE BRANDS THEY STOCK?
Companies like 3E work with Acuity Brands because they know the products are well-tested. They’ve had over 30 years of teamwork together, and they’re certain Acuity Brands will always stand behind their products. Responding to issues with swift, helpful customer service can make a big difference. And besides: the more reliable the lighting manufacturer, the less frequent such problems tend to be.
Conversely, dealing with less-established lighting companies tends to give him a bit of an uneasy feeling. New product lines from second or third-tier manufacturers have to jump through a lot of hoops to get approved before 3E will stock their products. And even then, he generally only prefers to do that if they’re offering something 3E can’t get with any of their already-approved vendors.
The skepticism is necessary, given that the risk of selling low-quality fixtures could result in having to replace said fixtures at their own expense. 3E has a reputation as a reliable company, associated with high quality and dependability. They don’t want to risk their good name just to save a few dollars on the front end.
To find out more about the pitfalls of choosing low quality industrial lighting fixtures, visit lithonia.com/lowqualitymanufacturers.
Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get every new episode, blog article, and content offer sent directly to your inbox.