I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Teschendorf, Market Development Manager, Eaton. The topic: trends in outdoor area lighting. I’m happy to share his responses with you here. The interview informed an article I wrote for the April 2017 issue of tED Magazine.

DiLouie: What are the top trends in the area lighting market?

Teschendorf: We are seeing the market adopting more of the energy codes across the country and subsequently adding some form of controls to their outdoor products. Whether it is something as simple as an occupancy sensor or photocell, up to a fully integrated, multi-functional, programmable wireless solution, the energy savings these products afford make it difficult to not include controls in every conversation.

The industry focus of outdoor luminaire design has been on increased illuminance and improved efficiency. The biggest concern with pedestrian scale LED luminaires is that they present distracting pixilated images and poor visibility.

DiLouie: How are these trends shaping demand for outdoor lighting products?

Teschendorf: Customers are seeing the value in controlling their high-wattage luminaires and the very attractive ROI they are realizing. The ability to conserve energy and reduce their electric bills speaks directly to their bottom line. Because today’s luminaires are highly efficient and performance-based, customers are gaining higher lighting quality at lower operating costs. The fact that some manufacturers can also offer greater visual comfort using newer optical technologies only enhances the overall experience and the demand for these products.

DiLouie: Generally speaking, how are these trends shaping design of outdoor lighting products?

Teschendorf: Projects, whether new installations or retrofit, are requiring integrating controls into the luminaire. The end user doesn’t want the added expense of running control wires back to a relay panel. The luminaires now come with 0-10v dimming drivers onboard, and then are fitted with either a sensor or a node that makes the luminaire a “smart” luminaire. The luminaires must be designed with the ability to accommodate these new controls.

DiLouie: Energy codes are increasingly requiring bilevel control for dusk-to-dawn lighting. How is this affecting demand for controllable outdoor lighting? How much of this is bleeding into the retrofit market?

Teschendorf: Because LEDs are instant-on, instant-off, and dimmable, they lend themselves perfectly to meet these new demands. Not only can the luminaires be bi-level switched, they can now be dimmed further to increase energy savings and increase the lumen maintenance as well. It is much easier to accomplish this in new projects where all of the attributes of LED can be optimized. However, if a customer is looking to replace a luminaire in an existing location, many of these control options can be integrated into the luminaire at the factory without any additional wiring by the contractor. This makes for a very attractive option for the retrofit market.

DiLouie: Several years ago, NEMA introduced a new standard control receptacle allowing new controls to be connected using a standard interface. What opportunities does this create for outdoor lighting? What implications does it have for the retrofit market? What implications does it have for smart cities?

Teschendorf: NEMA’s leadership in doing so provides a platform for the industry to develop around. It creates the ability for innovators to generate new value for customers as solutions reach the marketplace. For the retrofit market, it is one more reason to go ahead and make the switch to LED today. Knowing that your fixture has the ability to adapt or be controlled in the future as the outdoor lighting control industry continues to evolve is important. That is also a key implication for smart cities as municipalities have the flexibility to find new ways to service their citizens as those solutions emerge.

DiLouie: Several years ago, the Model Lighting Ordinance was introduced allowing municipalities to enact sensible outdoor lighting laws. How extensive has adoption been? How have lighting ordinances affected outdoor lighting product design and demand? What implications does it have for the retrofit market?

Teschendorf: The level of adoption has been varied across the country. Most of these requirements are based on the amount of light that escapes the luminaire in some uncontrolled manner. This uncontrolled light can cause light to enter regions where it is unwanted such as light trespass into a neighboring property or into the night sky. Manufacturers that have focused their efforts around optical performance to control this light have been the benefactor of this ordinance. Because the light source of individual diodes is relatively small, some manufacturers are able to capture and control 100 percent of the light being emitted, laying down light in a very precise manner.

DiLouie: Recently, the American Medical Association published guidance to communities installing LED lighting. Notably, that outdoor lighting should feature a warm CCT. What is your view of the guidance? What impact is this having on demand for outdoor lighting? What impact is it having on product development?

Teschendorf: Our director of optical design published a position on this to our informational and educational website, The Lighting reSOURCE (http://thelightingresource.eaton.com/features/2016/ama-report-on-led-community-lighting). In short, we believe that our customers need to evaluate a wide range of factors including light distribution, energy efficiency, recommended light levels and more in selecting the appropriate product. For customers who choose to prioritize the AMA’s guidance, Eaton have products available to meet that. In fact, most of our LEDs products already do meet their recommendations around being controllable, preventing light trespass and minimizing glare. Because of this, it has actually had little impact on product development aside from creating the possibility of a shift to more 3000K LEDs in our supply chain.

DiLouie: What protocols are used for wireless communication for outdoor lighting? What the pros and cons of each?

Teschendorf: The protocols in outdoor wireless communication seem to be growing seemingly by the day as private interests, industry groups and standards organizations all jockey for position to become an established market leader. We most commonly see ZigBee-based installations in the current market with the pros of growing market scale and improved functionality. Cons are the bandwidth and range limitations. Bluetooth, WiFi, Cellular, LPWAN/LoRa and others are worth monitoring as use cases will vary significantly enough to leverage different benefits in all of them. It is unlikely that one protocol emerges over the next five years for all use cases in the outdoor lighting industry.

DiLouie: There’s a lot for electrical distributors to navigate when it comes to outdoor lighting. When recommending a solution, what should distributors be looking for?
First, look to partner with a reputable lighting company. Look for a company that can offer full integrated solutions. There hasn’t been standardization in the controls arena to date and subsequently not all controls are compatible with all luminaires. Many distributors recognize this area of the business and have hired and trained an on-staff lighting professional to assist in the area.

Teschendorf: Second, understand the needs of the customer. Some customers may need a simple occupancy sensor that raises the light levels when someone is present and then reduces it again after a period of time. Others may want to have the flexibility to have either individual luminaire control or zonal control with the ability to push various lighting profiles out to the luminaires on the site. They may want to meter and/or monitor that site at any given time. Knowing how the customer plans to use the site will determine the amount of control they will require.

DiLouie: What can distributors do to ensure they are most competitive in the outdoor lighting market?

Teschendorf: Know how to compare various luminaires from various manufacturers. Don’t just look at comparable lumen packages but look at where those lumens are going and how they illuminate the project site. Some manufacturers are very good at doing “more with less” by the way they control the lumens exiting the luminaire. Many times by looking at the complete project, customers can reduce the overall amount of luminaires on a site by using a better luminaire. Some luminaires may be less expensive per unit but find they need more luminaires on the project to achieve the desired light levels.

Stay educated on the codes in their region – Title 24, ASHRE, etc. Know which products can be used to achieve the desired light levels, performance requirements and know the controls that are available. Manufacturers offer courses and resources to keep the distributors up to speed on products and trends. Reach out to your local lighting agent and request a training session.

DiLouie: If you could tell all electrical distributors just one thing about today’s market for LED outdoor lighting, what would it be?

Teschendorf: Don’t wait! LEDs have been lighting the outdoors for 10 years now and have been a proven light source in thousands of projects across the globe. Because LEDs have the ability to dim, be controlled and perform at high levels, they are a natural fit in order to adapt to the new codes that are here. We are really only scratching the surface at the possibilities of what controlled lighting can bring to the outdoor space. Controls will allow many more value propositions to be addressed than just the physical light itself.