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LightFair 2014 Report

July 1, 2014
LEDs once again ruled the aisles at LightFair, but new digital lighting controls at the show gave visitors a glimpse of where the lighting world is headed, too.

Electrical Wholesaling’s editors haven’t missed too many LightFairs since it started up in 1989, and from everything we can remember this was the biggest and busiest yet. The booths were bigger and the largest ones, including Acuity, Cree, Osram Sylvania, GE, Philips, Cooper Lighting, Lutron, and Juno Lighting/Schneider, consistently had big crowds. Following are the biggest trends we noticed at the show.

Communication systems that remotely connect individual lighting fixtures are spreading throughout the lighting world. As fixtures are outfitted with LEDs and other solid-state lighting sources, IP addresses and GPS location devices, end users will be able to remotely fine-tune lighting control, color and maintenance, send messaging and public safety alerts and offer customized lighting levels. Interconnected fixtures are basically just a node on a computer network with their own IP address and GPS coordinates.  The systems operate via WiFi and other communications protocols. Exhibitors marketing fixtures with these capabilities included GE, Osram, Hubbell Lighting, EYE Lighting, Sensity and Cooper Lighting/Eaton.

LFI Judges Citation Award: Osram, for the TRAXON Debut, which creates personalized virtual reality spaces in dressing rooms with an intelligent media system working off a virtually unlimited palette of LED lighting options.

It’s nothing short of remarkable how fast LEDs have become a viable alternative to traditional lighting sources. In the best-quality LEDs the light quality is as good as and in many cases better than what you get out of incandescents, HIDs and fluorescents. As long as the low-cost, bad-quality LEDs from offshore manufacturers don’t pollute the market, the big players have a huge opportunity for these products down the road.

Three challenges to watch with LEDs. The big challenge for distributors will be adapting to the fact that once they retrofit a lighting socket with an LED they might not get the chance to sell another light for that socket for 10 years, because that’s how long LEDs can last. This will require them to develop a different business model, because so many wholesalers relied on the stock business of replacement lamps that provided an acceptable ROI every two or three years.

LFI Most Innovative New Product of the Year: Acuity Brands’ Open LED fixture, which utilize constructive occlusion to produce soft, comfortable illumination from a lens-free linear form.

The second big challenge is that while the LED chip that provides the light can last 10 years or even more, the lighting driver that powers it doesn’t always have the same life. This has an impact on LED fixture warranties and forces lighting pros to consider the source of the LED drivers.

The third issue we heard about at the show were the challenges in matching LED light sources with lighting controls. LEDs and lighting controls don’t always speak the same language, and if they can’t communicate, electrical contractors and other installers will get call-backs. Lutron is investing a ton in its LED Institute to test LEDs to make sure they can talk to its controls.

The winners’ circle. The LightFair Innovation Awards always give attendees a great sampling of the newest lighting technology launched into the market over the past 12 months. The products are judged by an independent panel of lighting professionals who select winners for Most Innovative Product of the Year, Technical Innovation Award, Design Excellence Award, and Judges’ Citation Award, as well as product category winners. This year’s competition drew 261 entries. The most popular product categories were: Conventional, Retrofit and Replacement LED Lamps (31 entries); Recessed Downlights (32 entries); Outdoor Luminaires (28 entries); Controls, Building Integration, Site Automation & Distribution Systems (24 entries); and Commercial Indoor Troffers (27 entries).

LFI Design Excellence Award: Hess America, for its Moon fixture, a contemporary slim profile LED bollard adds a unique visual element to pedestrian scale spaces.

The winners of the top awards were:  Most Innovative Product of the Year, Acuity Brands, for its Open luminaire, an indoor suspended LED fixture; Technical Innovation Award, Dicon Lighting, for its Cielux T80 LED Track Light; Design Excellence Award, Hess America, for its Moon LED bollard; and the Judges’ Citation Award, Osram, for its TRAXON Debut intelligent media system that creates personalized virtual reality spaces in dressing rooms. See photos of the winners on page 15.

A big award presented annually at LightFair is GE’s Edison Award, which this year was presented to Robert Shook, Maureen Mahr, Jennifer Curtis and Kimberley Corbett-Oates of Schuler Shook Chicago, for lighting the City Performance Hall in Dallas. The winning project was one of three Awards of Excellence finalists. The other finalists were lighting designs for a San Francisco-based global investment firm designed by BANKS|RAMOS Architectural Lighting Design, San Francisco; and for Herscher Hall at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, designed by Lam Partners, Cambridge, Mass. See the winning entries in a photo gallery at

Another much-coveted annual lighting design award is presented annually at LightFair by Eaton/Cooper Lighting, Peachtree City, Ga. In the 37th Annual SOURCE Awards national lighting design competition five professional awards and five student awards were presented.

The winner of the Professional Residential Category was Robert Singer and Associates, Basalt, Colo., and designers Robert Singer, Kim Quint and Jason Diaz for the lighting design of the Morningstar Residence, Aspen, Colo. The winner of the Commercial Category was Ross De Alessi Lighting Design, Seattle, and the design team of Ross De Alessi, Norm Spencer and Neil Reeder. Their winning design relit the Historic Museum of Natural History Restoration Hardware store in Boston.

Hazel Chang from Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C., won the student category for her conceptual lighting design restaurant project, titled “Light the Carnivore Restaurant on Fire.” Chang was under the direction of Jeanne Mercer-Ballard, associate professor of the Interior Design Program at Appalachian State University. Check out the photo gallery of the Eaton/ Cooper Lighting winners at

Next year’s LightFair will be held in New York, May 3-7, 2015.    

About the Author

Jim Lucy | Editor-in-Chief of Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing

Jim Lucy has been wandering through the electrical market for more than 40 years, most of the time as an editor for Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing newsletter, and as a contributing writer for EC&M magazine During that time he and the editorial team for the publications have won numerous national awards for their coverage of the electrical business. He showed an early interest in electricity, when as a youth he had an idea for a hot dog cooker. Unfortunately, the first crude prototype malfunctioned and the arc nearly blew him out of his parents' basement.

Before becoming an editor for Electrical Wholesaling  and Electrical Marketing, he earned a BA degree in journalism and a MA in communications from Glassboro State College, Glassboro, NJ., which is formerly best known as the site of the 1967 summit meeting between President Lyndon Johnson and Russian Premier Aleksei Nikolayevich Kosygin, and now best known as the New Jersey state college that changed its name in 1992 to Rowan University because of a generous $100 million donation by N.J. zillionaire industrialist Henry Rowan. Jim is a Brooklyn-born Jersey Guy happily transplanted with his wife and three sons in the fertile plains of Kansas for the past 30 years. 

About the Author

Doug Chandler | Senior Staff Writer

Doug has been reporting and writing on the electrical industry for Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing since 1992 and still finds the industry’s evolution and the characters who inhabit its companies endlessly fascinating. That was true even before e-commerce, LED lighting and distributed generation began to disrupt so many of the electrical industry’s traditional practices.

Doug earned a BA in English Literature from the University of Kansas after spending a few years in KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism, then deciding he absolutely did not want to be a journalist. In the company of his wife, two kids, two dogs and two cats, he spends a lot of time in the garden and the kitchen – growing food, cooking, brewing beer – and helping to run the family coffee shop.

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