By October 29, 2015 Read More →

What does the future hold for lighting wholesalers?

Simon Blazey, Strategic Solutions Sales Manager at Tridonic, examines how the lighting market has changed in the last decade, what wholesalers can learn and where they need to be focusing their energies to maximise on the latest opportunities.


The last 10 years saw rapid change throughout the lighting industry. In the first few years of this century a walk round any city in the UK would have shown you a series of refurbishment projects where the traditional fluorescent lighting solutions were being replaced by what at that time was the new solution – LED. This was the first step as people started to grasp the efficiency benefits of LEDs.

Since then, there has a been a year on year incremental improvement in terms of lumens per watt but in the next few years this will inevitably plateau. So what can electrical wholesalers learn from this rapid transition and what lies ahead?

Many have been surprised at the speed with which the market has changed and LED technology has gone from being the new, innovative solution to the ‘go to’ choice for light in both refurbishment and new build projects.

Electrical wholesalers will no doubt have seen this reflected in their own customer enquiries. In the last five years the electrical wholesaler will have seen a shift in demand of stock levels, with conventional control gear in decline whilst at the same time seeing an incremental increase in the demand for LED control gear.

But looking ahead there are still opportunities and application developments to come for the lighting market.

New world 2.0, which has the Internet of Things (IoT) at its core, will be the way ahead. The latest estimate from experts is that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.

This seemingly unstoppable growth, is partly being driven by ever improving speeds and capacity for connectivity and the realisation that every element of our lives can be linked to improve our day to day to experiences.

Information is going to be the key and the idea that every individual light luminaire can become a source of data opens up a myriad of opportunities and applications that would probably have been unthinkable just 10 years ago. This connectivity will be facilitated via an RJ45 connection and wil one day be powered over Ethernet, better known as POE. But how and why will lighting have this key role?

Well think about it for a moment; lighting is ubiquitous, you are guaranteed that in almost every house, building or street in every city around the world, lighting in some form or another will exist and in new world 2.0 it is this all encompassing presence that will enable luminaires to form a cohesive network for both smart sensors and devices.

An additional contributing factor to the changing role of lighting is the way we now live our lives with smart phones and the internet being the greatest contributor to providing data in a meaningful way. The explosion of apps into all our lives, both professionally and in our leisure time, is now firmly fixed in the lighting world.

There are now readily available commissioning tools that can be down loaded as in app form for lighting systems such as DALI, which allow an engineer to completely commission a system from his tablet or smart phone, sometimes without even visiting the site.

So what must the wholesaler start to consider to optimise this opportunity?

This new phase of lighting developments is a real opportunity for the wholesaler to add value to products they supply. By understanding the real potential of the data that can be derived from a luminaire alongside the more traditional consideration of the lumens, efficiency, wattage, efficacy and mA, the wholesaler will be able to answer the inevitable additional questions and ensure the right choice also in terms of connectivity. This is particularly valuable as we will in time see IT wiring installers working alongside or even in place of the more traditional specialist electrical installer.

The role of the electrical wholesaler will always have a place in the construction industry. The transition over the last decade within the industry whilst more rapid than anticipated has allowed for knowledge to be shared and understood across what is a complex market. However, this latest evolution may bring some challenges in understanding the parameters and installation guides of the future.

If managed correctly the opportunities presented by these rapid and relatively recent changes in the function and role of lighting will provide those of us in the market that are prepared to embrace change with a unique and hopefully profitable opportunity.

Lighting managed correctly in the coming years will not only illuminate our physical environment but the data and information that it may be able to provide will illuminate our planning, management and behaviour in ways that we are only just starting to imagine.