Let’s make this interesting

Unsurprising fact of the month: concern over poor quality is one of the main factors holding back growth of LED lighting.

Unsurprising fact of the month: concern over poor quality is one of the main things holding back growth of LED lighting. That’s the conclusion of an EU consultation, results of which were published earlier this summer.

Any lighting buyer knows there’s no shortage of big, bold claims from LED manufacturers about how their products perform. Harder to find are the companies that will put their money where their mouth is.

But when they do, it seems to pay off. This summer has seen a ringing endorsement of robust LED warranties in the form a huge order of LED downlights from Next. One of the main beneficiaries was UK manufacturer Projection, a company that sets great store by its promise of no noticeable colour shift and a maximum of five per cent lumen depreciation across an installation over five years. As part of the Next deal, it upped that to seven years.

Projection’s guarantee was clearly enough for the clothes retailer, which (after extensive tests and trials) has ordered tens of thousands of the company’s products to retrofit dozens of stores. As one of the UK’s top fashion chains, this is not a business that can afford to get the lighting in its shops wrong.

Projection isn’t the only company taking this approach – as technology allows lighting products to last longer, warranties of five years or more are beginning to provide an antidote to the unprovable claims of zillion-hour lifetimes.

Dialight is now offering a 10-year full-performance warranty for some of its LED high bay fittings. The deal doesn’t yet come as standard, but it’s still a significant step.

Warranties don’t solve everything, of course – the buyer still needs to check the small print and put the processes in place to claim against a warranty should the need arise. But they do help build trust. And when persuading customers to embrace a technology that still has a high upfront cost and an air of uncertainty about it, trust is going to be crucial. It’s how deals get done.

A glance at the list of major retailers that are dabbling, to differing extents, in new lighting technology shows that the industry is at a turning point. The opportunities for those companies that can win the trust of specifiers and end users, are vast. On the other hand, lighting providers that fail to win trust will be lucky if they – let alone their products – are still here in 10 years.

History repeats itself

The first electric lighting seen in Europe – that used carbon arc lamps known as Yablochkov candles – was installed at the Grands Magasins du Louvre in Paris in 1875.

How hard is it to turn the lights off?

It’s 2.35 on a Saturday morning. I’m in a van, driving around the deserted streets of Whitehall.