Illustration 60886103 / Kheng Ho To / Dreamstime
Photo 226496518 / Mohd Izzuan Ros / Dreamstime
Illustration_60886103 / Kheng Ho To / Dreamstime
Illustration 60886103 / Kheng Ho To / Dreamstime
Illustration 60886103 Kheng / Ho To / DreamsTime
Photo courtesy of GE Lighting
Ewweb 4348 801ewltgaz1 1024

Learning Lighting

Feb. 5, 2018
Electrical Wholesaling’s picks for the best resources available to keep pace with the technological transformation of the lighting market.

While the speed at which the lighting industry is moving to LED lighting from an era of illumination based on incandescent, fluorescent, HID, metal-halide, halogen and low-pressure sodium lamps is indeed mind-blowing, perpetual change has always been part of the very fabric of lighting.

In his quest to develop a commercially viable incandescent bulb, Thomas Alva Edison and his team of researchers tested hundreds of materials and reportedly spent $850,000 in today’s money over 14 months before coming up with a carbon filament in 1879 that helped an incandescent lamp last 14.5 hours. Over the years, Edison continued to test various materials to pump up the lamp life (sound familiar?). He found a bamboo filament that lasted longer than carbon, and that was the industry standard for a while, at least until folks found that tungsten filaments lasted longer than bamboo. By the 1920s, tungsten filaments were the industry standard according to an article in Wired magazine. The steady march of progress to ever-more efficient lighting continued. Fluorescent lighting was first introduced to the public at the 1939 World’s Fair, and during the 1940s evolved to the point where it was three times more efficient than incandescent lighting and eventually totally transformed interior office lighting.

With LEDs providing dependable light exponentially longer than incandescents and three to four times longer than fluorescents in some applications, we are in the midst of another total technological transformation in the lighting industry. Fortunately, the industry has plenty of resources to help lighting pros keep up with all of the changes. In this article, Electrical Wholesaling’s editors offer their picks for the best lighting education resources.


An A-Z listing of all of the new terminology you will need to learn to understand what’s happening with LEDs and solid-state lighting is beyond the scope of this article. But many lighting manufacturers have good online resources available. Here are some examples:; Eaton; GE; and WAC Lighting.

When you need more technical insight than just terminology, don’t forget to check in with your core lamp, fixture and ballast manufacturers, as well as great resources like the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; DOE’s Solid State Lighting Program; and Illuminating Engineering Society (IES). And if you need a quick-and-easy overview on the history of the light bulb, check out the DOE, “History of the Light Bulb”.


The lighting industry is blessed with a good group of trade associations that focus on helping their members learn about the new age in lighting. Here’s an A-Z listing of the lighting trade groups and government programs that we think have the most to offer to electrical distributors, reps and manufacturers.

American Lighting Association (ALA)

Dallas, TX

2018 event: Sept. 24-26, Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC

The American Lighting Association represents the residential lighting and ceiling fan industries in the United States and Canada. Its membership includes lighting and fan manufacturers, showrooms (retailers), manufacturers’ representatives and designers.

Design Lights Consortium (DLC)

Medford, MA

The DesignLights Consortium (DLC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the widespread adoption of high-performing commercial lighting solutions. It works with utilities and energy efficiency program members, manufacturers, lighting designers, and federal, state and local entities.

DOE Solid State Lighting Program

2018 event: Jan. 29—31, DOE SSL R&D Workshop, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, Nashville, TN; other events throughout the year.

The mission of DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) program is to create and sustain American leadership in the transition to a global clean energy economy. Its vision is a strong and prosperous America powered by clean, affordable, and secure energy.

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

Looking for info on utility rebate programs and state and local incentives for lighting, renewables and other energy-efficient electrical equipment? Look no further than DSIRE. This database has always been Electrical Wholesaling’s editors’ favorite place to get updated information on utility rebate programs.

Illuminating Engineering Society (IES)

New York, NY

Annual conference: Aug. 9-11, Westin Boston Waterfront Boston; other events throughout the year.

IES is the oldest lighting trade group and standard association in North America. Along with publishing LD&A magazine, IES develops lighting standards, researches new lighting technologies, provides training for members, and offers plenty of opportunities for professional development and networking.

interNational Association of Lighting Management Companies (NALMCO)

Ankeny, IA

2018 event: Oct. 7–10, Omni Hotel Orlando Resort, ChampionsGate, FL

NALMCO members manage and maintain the lighting systems of property owners, stores and other end users. The trade association provides education on lighting technology, business management and utility rebate programs and a certification program.

Lighting Controls Association (LCA)

Rosslyn, VA

The Lighting Controls Association (LCA), run by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), educates the professional building design, construction and management communities about the benefits and operation of automatic switching and dimming controls.

National Association of innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD)

Princeton Junction, NJ

2018 event: Feb. 13-16, Westin Mission Hills,

Rancho Mirage, CA

The National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD) focuses on helping its members drive lighting innovation through education, conferences, industry awards, networking and sharing of best practices. Founded in 1977, NAILD’s mission is to provide its members — lighting distributors — with tools, resources and opportunities to grow their businesses profitably.

National Lighting Bureau

Shepherdstown, WV

The NLB is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1976 to educate lighting decision-makers about the benefits of High-Benefit Lighting. The NLB is sponsored by professional societies, trade associations, manufacturers, unions, utilities, and agencies of the federal government.


While many manufacturers have invested in training facilities at their headquarters locations, Electrical Wholesaling’s editors have had the chance to visit many of these facilities over the years or have heard these facilities stand out from the pack.

Acuity Brands Lighting Center for Light & Space, Conyers, GA

Eaton Source Lighting Education Center, Peachtree City, GA

GE’s Institute at Nela Park, Cleveland, OH

Hubbell Lighting Solutions Center, Greenville, SC

LEDVance Sylvania LightPoint, Wilmington, MA

Philips Lighting Application Center, Somerset, NJ

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY


The two biggest trade shows in the lighting industry are Lightfair and Light + Building. Elecctrical Wholesaling’s editors have heard good things about the Strategies in Light trade show but haven’t had the chance to attend it yet. As mentioned earlier, many lighting associations have trade shows for their own particular niches.

Light + Building

March 18-23

Frankfurt, Germany

Lightfair International

May 8-10

Chicago, IL

Strategies in Light

February 13-15

Long Beach, CA


There’s no shortage of good print and digital publications and websites that offer lighting information. Here’s where EW’s editors go to learn more about the market.

Architectural SSL magazine

Well-written deep dive into solid-state lighting.

LD+A (Lighting Design & Accessories)

Published by the Illuminating Engineering Society with a focus on the design side of the industry.

LEDs Magazine

Solid reporting on the more technical side of LED lighting.

SSL Postings – Department of Energy

Great email on current lighting trends from Jim Brodrick, DOE’s SSL Program Manager.

To subscribe: [email protected]

EnergyWatch News email newsletter

It’s always interesting to hear what lighting veteran Bill Attardi has to say about the latest in lighting.

Illumination Insider email newsletter

A little shameless self promotion. Illumination Insider is published twice a month by Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Construction & Maintenance magazines.