LightFair 2012 Report

June 1, 2012
Wireless control of LED lighting systems hit the aisles in a big way at this year's LightFair.

The 22nd annual LightFair was dominated by new LED light sources and lighting fixtures, but new wireless lighting control systems that control LEDs and more traditional lighting systems caught the attention of many attendees at the show in Las Vegas, Nev.

The show's popular LFI Innovation Awards, which kick off LightFair each year, gave attendees an early look at some of the new wireless control systems that would be on the show floor. Several of the 34 entries in the lighting controls category offered wireless control of lighting fixtures, including nWiFi Wireless Solutions from Acuity Brands, Conyers, Ga.; Owlet Wireless Control System from Schreder Lighting, Addison, Ill.; the LeafNut Wireless Lighting Control System from Venture Lighting International, Streetsboro, Ohio; and the wireless High Bay Occupancy Sensor from Steinel, Bloomington, Minn.

CAST Lighting, Hawthorne, N.J., won the coveted Most Innovative Product of the Year Award for its Perimeter Lighting product, a 7W 24V LED luminaire that provides lighting along perimeter fences in large areas for military, temporary lighting and other applications. Other big winners in the 2012 LFI Innovation Awards, which attracted 228 entries, were: Design Excellence Award — Fin Light 5/8-inch LED lighting system from Sensitile Systems, Ypsilanti, Mich.; Technical Innovation Award — Warm Dim LED Downlights, Juno Lighting, Des Plaines, Ill.; and Judges' Citation Award — Definity Motion Activated PAR 30, Lighting Science Group, Satellite Beach, Fla. As expected, the awards competition was loaded with LEDs. In the Conventional Lamps, Retrofit/Replacement LED Lamps category there were 33 LED entries, and the other product categories also had dozens of LED entrants. It was interesting to see some well-known lighting names in the electrical market standing with the many boutique lighting companies that won awards. Among the category winners were Cooper Lighting, Juno Lighting/Schneider Electric, Lutron, Philips and Sylvania.

Exhibitors are clearly committed to LEDs as the future of lighting, as very few lighting manufacturers did not have LEDs on display. John Strainic, global products general manager, GE Lighting, Nela Park, Ohio, told media members at the company's annual press luncheon that GE Lighting continues to spend the majority of its R&D budget on solid-state lighting and that the company believes LEDs will grow from 15% of all lighting sales today to 70% by 2020.

He also said one of the challenges of marketing LEDs is that because solid-state technology is changing so fast, LEDs often only have an 18-month life-cycle before they are obsolete. That will present stocking challenges for electrical distributors used to the long shelf life of traditional lighting products.

Although LEDs clearly dominated LightFair again, one marketing executive said LEDs “account for 90% of the talk but only 10% of industry sales.” Indeed, there were plenty of examples at the show of how traditional lighting systems still have their place in the industry. For instance, in its 35th Annual Source Awards, Cooper Lighting, Peachtree City, Ga., at least one of the winning lighting designs used traditional lamp sources (see photo).

Show organizers had not released attendance figures at press-time, but the word on the show floor was that attendance was expected to top the 23,709 who swarmed LightFair in Philadelphia last year. Preliminary information on exhibitors also point to a solid show, with 500-plus exhibitors utilizing more than 200,000 net square feet of show space, roughly the same as last year. Next year's LightFair will be held in Philadelphia, April 23-25, 2013.

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. 

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