I recently had the opportunity to interview Travis Bouck, Business Leader, Outdoor Lighting, Cooper Lighting Solutions for an article I wrote about outdoor lighting trends for tED magazine, the official publication of the NAED. Transcript follows.
DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for commercial sector outdoor lighting?
Bouck: The overall market is strong relative to 2020, but still off compared to pre-pandemic levels. This year, we are seeing strong growth in a few sectors, including warehousing, data storage and processing, outdoor sports facilities, and municipalities.
DiLouie: What are the top trends shaping how outdoor lighting is used, and what effect is this having on demand for specific types of lighting equipment? What are the most popular markets and applications today?
Bouck: At a high-level, we are seeing a move towards de-urbanization and an increase in the use of outdoor spaces which is driving activity outside of city centers and accelerating a long-term trend towards walkable communities and more outdoor living and working, in general. This trend is visible in the residential market of course, followed closely by retail, grocery, and other supporting sectors of the economy.
The pandemic has been an opportunity for our end customers and specifiers to re-think their workflow and space utilization. Changes such as these take time to impact specifications, however, we anticipate an increase in exterior wall, pathway, and area lighting as people move outdoors for leisure as well as work.
DiLouie: What are the top trends in outdoor area luminaire optics, drivers, and LED sources, and what effect is this having on product capabilities and designs?
Bouck: Our customers are increasingly demanding superior visual comfort including optical designs to provide users with a pleasant outdoor luminous experience by minimizing glare and eye strain. Some luminaires will trade off optical performance for visual comfort, but a well-engineered optic should do both.
Our customers also recognize that energy consumption per site is the metric that matters – not lumens per watt. Our goal is to deliver superior optical distributions that maximize the usage of every watt and provide specifiers with options to direct illumination where it is needed most for their application.
DiLouie: What are the top trends in outdoor area luminaire aesthetics? Is the size of the LED source influencing available options, including even classic designs?
Bouck: In outdoor aesthetics, round fixtures are re-emerging in trend to eliminate harsh lines, ease in installation, and to draw consistency with interior spaces.
DiLouie: What are the top trends in how outdoor area luminaires are controlled, and what new capabilities is this offering?
Bouck: Sensors and receptacles are of growing importance as specifiers need the ability to help clients upgrade into the future to remain code compliant and stay current on new capabilities. Increases in code enforcement have heightened the need for occupancy detection and building management systems.
DiLouie: What do you see as emerging trends, such as IoT, WiFi, LiFi, and other capabilities going beyond illumination?
Bouck: As outdoor social and workspaces are growing, such as outdoor offices, restaurants, and parks, the need for wireless communications systems such as WiFi and LiFi may grow to meet the demands of users in those spaces.
DiLouie: What’s next for outdoor lighting? What’s the next big thing? Where do you see outdoor lighting’s state of the art in five years?
Bouck: Solar outdoor lighting will expand from residential into commercial as the technology matures and the industry gets acquainted with these systems. The value proposition for Solar LED is strongest where solar irradiance is high, the cost of power is high, and specific incentives exist to offset costs. We anticipate there will be a market for remote lighting applications where the conditions above are true and the cost of power transmission is high. We also anticipate a Solar LED market for clients pursuing socially responsible technology and work environments.
Another area we expect to see grow is demand for lighting products that comply with the Buy American Act (BAA) and Trade American Act (TAA), given the likelihood of increasing government spending on infrastructure projects.
DiLouie: What are the main attributes of an outdoor area lighting solution that electrical distributors would be looking for? How do they confidently select a quality product?
Bouck: Electrical distributors continue to pursue products that are easy to stock from suppliers they trust and those with a history of reliable performance and comprehensive industry support. Selectable lumen output and color temperatures remain important as a way of reducing SKUs and distributor inventory. We see increasing emphasis put on optical performance, including lighting uniformity to increase the perception of safety spill light control. Distributors increasingly recognize that optical superiority delivers more uniformity and ultimately optimizes energy consumption per site – not just lumens per watt.