Today on the Bright Ideas series by Acuity Brands®, we’re continuing the conversation about industrial lighting with Tony Gineris, the Vice President for Industrial Lighting at Acuity Brands; as well as Jacob Palombo, the Director of High Bay Lighting.
Last week we discussed important considerations that industrial facilities ought to keep in mind when they’re thinking about purchasing new light fixtures. This week we’re going to address the changing competitive landscape for industrial lighting. Buying light fixtures in today’s world is a very different experience from just 4-5 years ago.
WHY DOES IT MATTER HOW THE INDUSTRIAL LIGHTING MARKET HAS CHANGED JUST SINCE 2016?
Less than five years ago, the lighting market was comprised of roughly five main players, and those brands made up about 90% of the market. All of those brands had fixtures designed specifically to meet the extreme conditions of industrial applications such as warehouses and manufacturing facilities.
Then, as the conversion to LED began to gain momentum, more companies began to enter the market… and some of them sold products that did not meet safety standards and guidelines. Many of these businesses simply import fixtures into the states, rebox, and rebrand them– without proper functionality for industrial spaces.
In 2016 these “import-and-rebrand” companies made up only approximately 6% of the market– but now they account for nearly 20% of it.
If you’re looking to purchase lighting for an office space, an unfamiliar brand at possibly a lower cost may not seem of concern. But in industrial spaces where your new fixture could fail quickly, well short of stated product lifetime, it should be a major concern.
Just because a fixture is being sold as “industrial-grade,” doesn’t mean it’s been extensively tested for an industrial environment. Since a lot of these import products are designed with cost savings in mind, their makers are eliminating many key features that could keep the fixtures functioning properly in the face of power surges or extreme temperatures.
The result? Early degradation, excessive light loss, and eventually failure.
CAN’T BUYERS JUST INVOKE THE MANUFACTURER’S WARRANTY IF THESE CHEAPER LIGHTS FAIL?
In theory, buying a less expensive fixture doesn’t seem like a bad idea if the product comes with a warranty. But there’s a chance that the company who manufactured and sold you those fixtures will no longer be around when issues surface. And even if they are still open for business, there’s a risk they will not respond or provide the customer support needed.
There is a fair amount of flux in the lighting market: companies coming and going, changing their names, exiting the market as quickly as they entered, and leaving consumers with no recourse when there are issues.
There are also examples of these “import and rebrand” companies wording their specification sheets and warranties in such a way to try and absolve themselves of any responsibility should a fixture fail under typical application conditions.
Some specification sheets may list that the fixture can withstand up to 50ºC ambient. But when you read the warranty, you could find that it is voided if the light is actually used above 35ºC ambient. Or the specification sheet’s temperature listing doesn’t match the sticker on the fixture– if the fixture is even marked at all!
We have also seen instances where warranties are capped, which can cause issues based on facility needs. Some warranties can be voided if the light is used for more than twelve hours a day (many manufacturing facilities operate 24/7). And though a light may be marketed for industrial spaces, its warranty may not cover power quality issues such as power surges that can regularly occur in industrial facilities. .
Then, of course, there’s the general life of the product versus the life of the warranty. The warranty may only cover one year of operation, though the fixture could in theory last for several years beyond that. What do you do, then, if your fixture fails just after that one-year mark? Or how do you know whether you should trust the guarantee of, say, ten years’ fixture life from a company that hasn’t even been around that long?
IS THE COST SAVINGS UP FRONT REALLY WORTH THE RISK ON THE BACK END?
Due to the extreme environments within industrial facilities, it is inevitable that fixtures will fail at some point– so partnering with someone you can trust is critical.
When it comes to industrial lighting, buyer beware– because the consequences of cutting corners can be severe. Failed fixtures can put workers at risk, and distributors who sold these fixtures may have to pay greatly out of pocket for the replacements.
Not only is that a massive blow to the wallet– it’s a massive blow to confidence and reputation. It’s always best to select a brand that has a proven track record, and who will stand behind their warranties.
Just remember: when it comes to high performance industrial light fixtures, if you find a low-cost option that seems too good to be true… it probably is.
To learn more about what goes into designing and developing a light fixture for industrial spaces, visit lithonia.com/industrial… or tune into the next episode of Bright Ideas, presented by Acuity Brands.
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