Jim Uphoff, ETC’s fixtures product manager, talks to Installation about trends in the lighting market, the rise of LED and how to avoid errors in specifying.
To what extent has your part of the lighting market been affected by the growth of LED lighting?
The lighting market has been completely changed by LEDs. The addition of LEDs has affected power control, data control, data distribution and every other aspect of a lighting system. It’s a truly transformative and disruptive technology, and everyone has an opinion on whether LEDs are taking the market in a good direction or bad direction. It’s transformed how lighting designers and technicians work, and altered the way shows are planned out, budgeted and set up. From consoles to cable types, everything has been affected.
With the growing popularity of LEDs, the market is growing. If it continues to push in the direction that it’s heading, new facilities need to think completely differently about how they design systems and theatres – from the control side, power side, networking, wireless and all the things that go along with new technologies.
How much farther it will go is tough to pinpoint. It will change a lot. How it changes will depend on what the next new technology will be in the future.
How do you think the fixed-install lighting market will perform this year compared to last year?
With the economy coming back, there seems to be a lot of momentum and growth, not only because projects are being funded again, but also because there’s a big initiative for efficient lighting and changing to efficient systems. Places that require new equipment are being built, and existing venues are getting renovated as well, to achieve better energy efficiency. It’s created a new growth period for our company.
What are the main market drivers for you?
The green initiative is a popular trend for new-construction and renovation products. Many people are choosing to go in that direction because LED technology is getting better and more commonplace. At ETC, we’re focused on the quality of light, so when we introduce an LED fixture, we’re not just jumping on the LED bandwagon, but bringing to the market a product that is both efficient and provides professional-quality light.
What are the common pitfalls that people need to avoid when specifying, installing or using your products – and what advice would you give them?
While specifying, it’s necessary to look at what you’re buying and think about why you’re doing it. If you’re purchasing LEDs, think about what you’re going to gain from that technology versus traditional technologies. And make sure you’re analysing the criteria appropriately.
Assuming that one of the reasons you’re selecting LEDs is energy efficiency, you really need to look at how they perform and what their actual efficiencies are. You really need to know what the right method of evaluation is, in order to determine the quality of light you need. Consider how you’re going to use the LEDs: do you need colour, what kind of colour should it be, do you need white light, do you need patterns, do you need wash lighting, do you need high CRI, or do you need high TLCI? Also find out what the product’s lumens per watt ratio is, because it is a very important factor in determining efficiency.
It’s incredibly important to try out fixtures before you buy them. You need to compare them to fixtures from other manufacturers, and see how each performs in shootouts, to make sure that what you think you’re getting is really what you’re getting. You need to test the fixtures as they’ll be used in your installation under actual conditions.