This week on the Bright Ideas series presented by Acuity Brands®, Catherine Bruce is joined by two guests who can help shed some light on the rise of switchable technology within the lighting industry: the Director of Indoor Ambient Lighting, Andrew Banovic; and the Director of Indoor Residential Lighting, Brad Dobbs.
WHAT IS SWITCHABLE TECHNOLOGY?
A lot of people in lighting may have noticed more products on the shelves of their local home center stores or of their electrical distributors with the option to change color temperatures and brightness with a switch.
By using advanced components like LEDs, drivers, and switches, manufacturers are able to create a single SKU that can then meet a wide range of performance specifications once it’s sent out into the world.
WHAT KINDS OF SWITCHABLE TECHNOLOGY ARE AVAILABLE?
There are three main switchable performance specs in the market today:
- Color Temperature (CCT)
- Combination (Switchable Lumens and CCT)
Switchable lumens allows users to adjust the lumen level of the fixture based on its application and its mounting height.
Color switching allows users to adjust the color temperature (CCT) to warmer or cooler colors, depending on the setting or the facility’s purpose. Think bright blue-white light versus warm amber colored, not purple and pink.
Lastly, some switchable technologies offer a combination of the two previous options. Certain fixtures can utilize both color and lumen switching, and that makes a really big impact: like reducing 5 or 10 SKUs to one.
HOW DO SWITCHABLE PRODUCTS IMPROVE THE CONTRACTOR EXPERIENCE?
Having lighting fixtures that allow for color and/or lumen switching in the field will improve the contractor’s overall job experience in two major ways. First, because there are fewer SKUs varieties to need in stock, the likelihood that the product is readily available when the contractor needs it is greater.
Second, it allows for adjustability in the field. So if a contractor’s customer wants to increase the brightness or change the CCT after installing, all it takes is a simple flip of the switch – versus having to order new products, take down the previous ones, and reinstall the new.
WHAT ABOUT BENEFITS TO THE ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTORS?
Even just at first glance, switchable technology holds some major advantages for distributors. Two of the largest costs in their business are the price of their inventory space; and the cost of their inventory itself.
Since switchable products reduce the need for more SKU counts, a distributor who replaces their inventory from static to switchable can maintain their usual service levels while reducing inventory by 30-50%!
That reduction in SKUs not only helps eliminate stale inventory, but also means that their inventory turnaround is going to improve because they don’t have to choose between as many product options for each order.
Additionally, distributors could see a reduction in the number of returns to a theirf acility. The majority of returns in the industry are the result of misidentified color temperatures, or mis-specified lumen packages. Even though these problems may not have been caused by the distributor, they often have to spend time and money to make things right for that order. They have to find a place to put the returned product; and then fill out the paperwork to send it back to a manufacturer, or to repackage and resell it later.
With switchable products, a large portion of those returns can be eliminated, because both color temperatures and lumen packages can be adjusted in the field by the contractor.
HOW ARE CONTRACTORS REACTING TO SWITCHABLE PRODUCTS?
Some contractors were initially skeptical when switchable tech first came on the market. However, the more they’ve used it, the more they see its benefits.
Normally, before placing an order, contractors have to go out to a job site for the first time to conduct an initial inspection where they count the number of fixtures; determine the color temperature and lumen output that are needed; etc.
Sometimes contractors rely on building owners to provide that data, but it’s not always accurate… and they may not realize it until the fixtures are delivered to the job site or installed. As noted before, this could mean the wrong number of fixtures, wrong lumen requirements, or CCTs. Which could mean the contractor has to rip the fixtures completely out of the ceiling and start over, which can be extremely costly.
So overall, from a contractor’s standpoint, switchable technology can save them a lot of time and money by eliminating extra site visits and expensive do-overs.
Fewer reinstallations also means that contractors will be able to fill their schedules more accurately. Not only are they going to save time on Customer A on Monday, but they’re going to be able to give an accurate date to Customer B on Wednesday and Customer C on Friday, because they know that they’re not going to have to go back to any job site multiple times.
Ultimately, switchable technology is going to allow a contractor to make their customers really happy by fine-tuning their light fixtures for the exact application, and getting it done on-time when they scheduled the appointment.
In fact, some electrical contractors already make a habit of keeping some extra switchable units on their trucks at all times; allowing them to say yes to the customer the first day they meet them. It’s a great way to streamline business and really delight their buyers.
Visit acuitybrands.com to learn more about some of the various switchable technologies available on the market today. Next week, the Bright Ideas series will return to answer the question: what is high-performance lighting?
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