Making sense of it all

Lighting buyers certainly don’t lack choice. That much was clear from the sheer scale of April’s Light + Building exhibition

But this doesn’t necessarily make customers’ lives easier – there is such a thing as too much choice.

As a newcomer to the lighting world, I was in at the deep end at Frankfurt, but I’m starting to pick up on certain recurring themes. The massive potential to save energy and cut costs. Excitement (or is hysteria the right word?) about new technology. Nagging questions about quality, the problem of new technology being missold and misapplied, and worries that retrofitting can turn out to be a bad compromise.

To be fair to manufacturers, they are trying to help. There were some amusing examples of products appealing not only to the rational reasons for moving to more sustainable lighting but also to buyers’ inertia and fear of change – like linear LED fittings that incorporate dark patches to imitate fluorescent light sources.

As Liz Peck of LPA Lighting says here, LEDs were oversold at Light + Building and there were some examples of utterly nonsensical performance data. Ian Dixon of Forge Europa is similarly irritated by misleading claims and half-truths from less scrupulous manufacturers (Letters).

Some companies want to position themselves as the voice of reason, making a point of being transparent and refusing to present product performance data in flattering ‘hero numbers’. This is to be encouraged.

Something else I sensed was a real appetite for frank and open discussion in the lighting world – information and case studies to cut through the crap. And there’s plenty to cut through.

Lux and, for international readers, our new sister title Lux Review, is where you’ll find this.

So as the industry changes, let’s make sure it matures. When we all meet again in Frankfurt in 2014, let’s make sure there will be more certainty about what lighting technology can do, what it can’t do, what it’s for and what it’s not for, and how to make the right choices. If we’re going to bang on about sustainability, we should realise that obfuscation and overpromising are not sustainable business practices. Customer goodwill, like energy, is a finite resource.

Of course, you could argue that customers will get the products they deserve. But which supplier would like to be first to say their customers don’t deserve the best?

That’s settled then. See you in 2014?

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