By November 2, 2017 Read More →

A guide to selling PIRs

Timeguard’s Managing Director, Andy Douglas, has some excellent advice for electrical wholesalers on how to help customers avoid setting themselves up for failure – especially when they are focused only on price.

“What’s the cheapest PIR you’ve got, mate?” That was said within earshot of a visiting Timeguard representative who only stopped spluttering when he heard the ‘right’ reply. “What’s it going to be used for?” said the man behind the counter. Phew!

But how often do staff just hand the customer what he asks for, especially in the 8am ‘rush hour’?

A few questions could avoid the installer getting egg on his face in front of the customer for installing kit which doesn’t work or which fails after a short time. You can be pretty sure that, when that happens, he’ll be blaming you for selling him a pup!

Checking on the application can also, of course, result in additional or higher value sales for you, so it’s win-win.

Make sure that your staff are well informed. Most of the specification information will be in your catalogue or available on screen for them. Some manufacturers, such as Timeguard, help by putting key information on the packaging as well or may provide you with point-of-sale displays. We realise you cannot afford to have your staff having long chats about what are relatively low-value items, so we’re suggesting just three key questions to help them to help the customer who is purely focused on price.

  1. What type of lights and what load?

You can probably assume these days that it will almost always be LED lighting, so make sure they know to pick a PIR detector that is specifically tested with and rated for PIR loads.

We’ve been saying for years how important this is. Surely everyone knows by now that LED lights have a strong inrush current and it is that which the PIR should be rated for, not the subsequent low running current. You don’t even need to do the maths, the specification should state what LED loading is acceptable (and we always reckon installers should add at least 10% for good measure).

The huge difference between ratings for the same PIR detector for halogen and LED still comes as quite a surprise to some people. Our new mini linkable PIR is rated for 1000W max halogen and just 250W max LED. Clearly 250W LED is plenty of light, but do be aware.

If someone is looking to switch at near the rating limit, it may beg the next question…

  1. Is it going to be straightforward stand-alone automatic switch?

If the customer is looking for very high LED ratings, it begins to sound as if a lot of lamps are to be switched – which should sound a warning bell. For instance, our top-selling 360 ceiling mounted detector has a maximum LED load of 150W, but we rate it for a maximum of 10 separate LED 10W lamps.

We are happy to rate it for five sets of LED lamps above 10W, right up to the 150 limit, if they must. This is because due to their physical size, lower wattage LED lamps (i.e. GU10 type lamps), commonly have very simple circuitry with surge protection and power factor correction omitted, this puts a massive strain on whatever is switching/controlling them.

Looking for a big rating might also mean that a big area is to be lit. So perhaps a single PIR detector will not be able to give the comprehensive detection field needed. Would multiple PIRs be better?

Maybe it would be easier – and less expensive – to be able to link a master and several slaves together? When these come fitted with cables and standard RJ11 plugs and sockets, huge amounts of time can be saved on both installation and set up.

  1. Where’s it going?

Will the detector be surface mounted on a wall, flush mounted in a standard ceiling aperture, or would a corner bracket help? How important are looks to the end user?

Do they need the option to mask part of the detector? What’s the room being used for and do they really need presence detection around desks or areas where people sit fairly still?

Indoors or out? Check the IP rating. If outdoors, might it be a good time to use an all-in-one floodlight with integral PIR detector? Lots of older outdoor lamps have seen better days and become corroded. Why not replace them with something more efficient and modern or more resilient to our weather.

All this might give you cause to give your stock list a health check. The stuff that would have fitted the “cheapest you’ve got, mate” probably shouldn’t be there at all. Branding is still the best assurance of fit-and forget (not to mention sell-and-forget) quality.