Design Perspective: The Potential Pitfalls of Selecting Online Decorative Lighting

Just “google it.”  A term we have used for quite some time now to be synonymous with getting a {correct} answer to any questions our wildest dreams can fathom.   “What is the coolest car in the world?”, “ Who invented wine?”, “What is this itchy bump on my ankle?”…This list goes on and on.  Sometimes Google has the 100% correct answer, sometimes google has AN answer but it’s accuracy is suspect, and sometimes Google doesn’t have the answer correct at all.  Point being, some searches are better fit for Google than others.  {Enter thesis statement here} → Google, Bing, the open world wide web is not the best way to search for decorative lighting.  {End thesis statement}.  So, why shouldn’t I google “decorative light fixture” or “trendy lighting,” or “rustic European modern gothic lighting,” for example?  We have reasons why you shouldn’t.  Good reasons.  We’ve seen and heard it all.  Now we want to share.

  1. 1. Google searches (or any search engine searches for that matter) will likely elicit results from online retailers. Typically, anytime you google a product description, google automatically assumes you are in the market to buy it.  Although the search may bring you pictures of your dream fixture, BEWARE!  There are many other aspects you must take into consideration before adding it to your project’s lighting fixture schedule.  Let us explain!
  2. 2. California Title 24 Compliance. There’s this thing in California called Title 24.  Its an energy CODE, which means our buildings must be COMPLIANT.  Many times, decorative lighting found online does not comply with California Title 24.  Why would the online retailers care?  Their products oftentimes are manufactured overseas, shipped to the US and stored in a warehouse somewhere where there is cheap rent, and shipped to the consumer from there.  No one at the said “online decorative store” knows anything about Title 24 compliance, nor do the likely care.  Be careful.  Selecting the wrong fixture during design and not vetting it’s Title 24 compliance can lead to headaches as you get further into the process and can cause you to have to scramble to find an alternative at the last minute.
  3. 3. Backorder/No longer available. The dreaded backorder.  When you googled it, the fixture you and your client fell in love with was “in stock” and “on sale.”  Well we all know the project life cycle these days.  Project cycles can span months, and even years depending on budgets, timelines, etc.  So When you picked the decorative light fixture in 2017 for the project that is being built in 2020, no wonder why the fixture is no longer in stock, on sale, or moreover even available!  Or in today’s current situation with the global pandemic, there is that much more uncertainty on who is able to ship what, when it will get there, and where it is coming from!  Risk I am for sure not willing to take!  Either of these scenarios force you as a designer to go back to the drawing board to search for that needle in the haystack, decorative fixture, from square one.  More time you will need to spend on the design that you likely did not bill for on the front end.  No one likes to work for free!
  4. 4. Not UL, ETL, or CSA Listed for use in the USA. You know that Rustic, Euro-Modern Goth fixture you googled?  Its available….In Europe!  But with the magic of the internet, there are no territory line boundaries!  Beware of the “CE” Listing.  Yes, it is a listing of the product meeting the health, safety, and environmental requirements that ensure consumer and workplace safety, but only in the EU.  This listing does not translate over to USA standards.  Only products with a UL, CSA-US, ETL or any other NRTL Listing to US standards are capable of being used in the USA.  I have had a few instances in my tenure as a lighting manufacturers’ representative where the non-USA compliant fixture selected was on the fixture schedule throughout the entire, year-long, design process and the fact that it was not listed to US standards was not realized until submittal review, which oftentimes is too late for a project timeline.  This is definitely something you want to make sure you have covered upon selection the first time!
  5. 5. This decorative fixture looks nothing like what I saw on the website! Yep, you picked the winner light fixture.  Its going to look perfect with the finishes you selected and its going to blend right into the aesthetic of the space – it is actually going to be the “cherry on top” of your masterpiece.  Or is it?  You do your due diligence to select the fixture online with your client, the fixture gets ordered through the procurement channels, the electrician installs the fixture, and your client goes through the space during the big reveal and asks what that fixture is?  Pictures don’t always speak 1000 words.  When you select online decorative lighting, you oftentimes are flying blind.  You don’t have the luxury of reviewing finish samples or any samples for that matter.  You’re rolling the dice and the outcome could result in disappointment to your client and more work for you on the back end to make it right for them!
  6. 6. The fixture showed up in a million pieces, now what do I do? The answer to this problem may vary from website to website.  You may have had stellar experience in problem resolution with a particular website.  However, you also may have had quite the miserable experience as well.   Remember most of these online decorative sites have no vested interest in your project, preferences, project timeline, or personal relationship.  They just want to sell as many fixtures online as possible.  Churn and burn.  Getting a post-sale problem solved after the fact can prove to be a nightmare for you and  your client alike.
  7. 7. If it’s a decorative fixture I found online, it must be the least expensive. This is a complete myth.  Even if it’s a reputable manufacturer that you find via a google search or website retailer, the pricing they have to use is a suggested retail price.  There may be instances where you can work through your rep channel and get the same fixture for a lower cost!  In this case, you can always ask your rep!  But the price is the price online – and who really would you call from the online retailer in the first place?  Sometimes its beneficial to have friends in the business that you can rely on 😉.

Now that I’ve given you some major pitfalls with specifying decorative fixtures you found via online retailers, I would be remiss to not provide alternative solutions for you that will take the guess work out of your decision while hitting the mark on your design intent!

  1. 1. Consult with an SDLA lighting rep! Yes, pick up the phone and call, text, or email any of us!  Reps like us at SDLA have a whole arsenal of lines to offer assistance with and we know the lines like the back of our hands.  We will be able to take your vision and point you in the right direction with product options that will meet the budget, aesthetic, timeline, and quality you and your client expect.  And we have access to SAMPLES.  A whole warehouse full of samples.  Finishes, actual product samples, something to review before you take the leap and make the decision on this important aspect of your project!
  2. 2. If you can’t help yourself from “shopping” online for decorative lighting, don’t fret! We have put together our own version of “pinterest” on our website called our SDLA Inspiration Gallery.  This way, you don’t have to know exactly what you’re looking for, rather you can browse the gallery of inspiration photos and pick the ones that jump out at you!  We continue to update it weekly with new products from our best-in-class manufacturers.  Simply go to the website, peruse the hundreds of decorative lighting fixture application shots, click on ones you like and get the spec at your fingertips!

SDLA Inspiration Gallery

Author, Brian Rhea, is the Principal of Specifications at San Diego Lighting Associates.  He has been in the lighting industry for 19 years, having spent most of his career working for 2 major lighting manufacturers in both product development and regional sales management.  He has a B.S. in Marketing from Miami University (Oxford, OH), is an NCQLP LC Professional, is a certified AIA CE Provider, and is an active member of the San Diego IES Chapter. 

Meet The Team: Nick Chapman

He hikes, he bikes, oh, and he’s one of our newest team members! Nick Chapman joined our team just over a month ago as an Inside Sales Specialist ensuring our clients get the best lighting estimate for their unique spaces. While Nick isn’t on the job, he’s spending time with his four kids and traveling the world! He enjoys being engulfed in other lifestyles, learning new languages and trying new foods from all around the world. He even tried guinea pig in Peru this past year. While he loves learning from those in different countries, he’s also enjoying learning the ins and outs of his new role with our Inside Sales team. Now, let us learn a little about him!

Q: How long have you been in the lighting space?

NC: I’ve been in lighting for quite some time actually! Before working at SDLA, I used to be in the Navy where I worked with communications equipment for aircraft carriers. From there, I moved to Orange County, where I was introduced into the lighting world at Pure Water, working in their controls department. This led to my next transition as a controls technical support representative for Acuity Brands. After being on the customer service side, I’m very excited to be help on the front end in the design process!

Q: What is your day-to-day like as an Inside Sales Specialist?

NC: My role as an Inside Sales Specialist consists of assisting our customers in selecting the best solutions for the right job. I work on all project sizes but mainly focus on small to midsize jobs. My work takes the “rough” out of the estimate meaning I take and assess all the project information – ceiling heights, wall colors, furniture placement, etc. – then designate where the lighting should be placed around those specifications to meet customer’s desired light levels. Not only does this make for better overall design, this provides another level of service and value to our partners.

Q: What do you like best about the culture at SDLA?

 NC: I’m still brand new to the team, but it is already so different from the previous jobs I’ve had. Coming from a large corporate environment, here at SDLA, I feel more connected to the rest of my team because we are a much smaller group. Everyone sort of knows what everyone else is doing so we are quick to offer help where needed. This is especially helpful for me being that I am still the “new guy!” I enjoy getting a glimpse of the other departments because I get an inside look of the teams I can truly benefit from in the company, and where I can grow.

Q: What are you looking forward to most as an Inside Sales Specialist in 2020?

NC: For the New Year, I’m really looking forward to honing in on my new role! I’ve never worked on the specification side before, and I can’t wait to learn more in this area. Getting to know more about my coworkers and growing with them is also exciting. I always felt that it’s important to continue learning new skills so that the job never gets stagnant. Every building needs lighting, so figuring out how to accommodate those needs, whether in an office space, warehouse, or other environments, will be a challenge that I’m looking forward to.

Meet The Team: Daniel Molnar

Born and raised in San Diego, Daniel recently found his way to SDLA three short months ago! When he’s not collaborating with the rest of the quotations team in the office, he’s probably on a hike or at the beach spending time with his two sons! You might even find him on a mountain bike, or at Petco Park watching the Padres or reading a book from his library of new and classic horror stories. Now, let’s see how he hiked his way into the quotations team here at SDLA!  

Q: How did you get started in the industry 

 DM: My story is like many of my associates, in the fact that I too got started in the industry by a referral. However, my referral came from my wife. About 4 years ago, she had done some graphic and logo design for the previous lighting company I worked with, and that’s how my lighting career began. I also used to work with Kaitlin Aguirre at my previous job, so it was nice to see a familiar face as I started my new role here at SDLA. I then later came to find out that she too recommended me for the position. Thanks, Kaitlin!  

 Q: What is your day-to-day like in project quotations? 

DM: My job in project quotations is very collaborative. I work closely with the controls department along with the rest of my quotes team every day to ensure we are providing the best package to our customers. Working in a typical office, you wouldn’t think it would be convenient to collaborate with one another, however, our office space is very open, so it is easy to work together in teams. After working for FedEx and driving around for 19 years, it’s been a great transition into a different environment.  

Q: What are you looking forward to most as a project quotations coordinator in 2020 

DM: In 2020, I’m looking forward to familiarizing myself more with the team, growing within the company, and learning! Before coming to SDLA, I worked in distribution, again roles  that my other colleagues have been in. Now being on the rep side, I can say this will be a big learning experience for me to be educated on a new side of the business. I am excited for what’s to come, and I think when the nickname “new guy” wears off, I’ll know I’m truly settled in!  

Q: What do you like best about the culture at SDLA?  

DM: I love how laid back everyone is at SDLA. While our office environment is casual and we can crack jokes, we are also professional. Everyone here has a great sense of humor. I also really appreciate how helpful everyone is here. I’m thankful especially for Dan, Athena and Crockett because they have been and are so helpful with all of my questions! The way the departments are arranged here, I feel work gets done efficiently and effectively because each role is so defined and delineated. Everything here is so organized, and I feel I can work to my greatest potential. 

Meet The Team: Kaitlin Aguirre

After over three years in the lighting space, Kaitlin Aguirre joined our team just two months ago as a project quotations coordinator. When she’s not in the office, she enjoys time with her fiancé and close friends and is a proud dog mom of two! She loves to sing, as she was the lead singer of a former band, and never fails to unleash her competitive side in a game of Mario Kart! With Kaitlin’s previous expertise in the lighting space and fun living spirit, we are excited to have her as our ‘new girl’.

Q: How long have you been in the lighting space?

KA: I have actually been in the lighting space for a little over 3 years now when I moved to the San Diego area from Pennsylvania! I got started in this industry when one of my best friends moved to the area and got a job within the lighting industry. She got me in touch with some of her contacts and I ended up getting a job on the distribution side of lighting as a specification specialist. Now I’m on the rep agency side of lighting here at SDLA and I love it!

Q: What is your day-to-day like as a project quotations coordinator?

KA: Busy! One thing I enjoy about my position is that one day is never the same as the next. Because I manage and coordinate several projects at once, I am constantly talking and working with multiple customers and team members daily. As each request comes in, I analyze and determine how each job will be quoted to meet the needs of our clients. Since I used to work with SDLA in my former role as a customer, I was somewhat familiar with their procedures so that has helped me a lot transition into my role. It can be complicated sometimes because it is fast-paced, but being busy is something I enjoy.

Q: What do you like best about the culture at SDLA?

 KA: I love our entire team! Everyone here is so supportive and uplifting. There is never any question about if someone is willing to help one another here. Our group is like a family. Our principals also continuously show us that they care about all employees and staff as well. I have even adopted a nickname as “new girl,” so we will see when that starts to wear off!

Q: What are you looking forward to most as a project quotations coordinator in 2020?

KA: I’m really enjoying being so fresh to the company, but I am looking forward to learning in 2020. I am excited to learn more about our company, the manufacturers and distributors we work with. After settling in more, it will be great to look back at how much I have grown along with the team since I started.

Meet The Team: Chris Wilkey

With just one year in the lighting space, Chris Wilkey is making moves as a control field technician here at SDLA! When he isn’t moving from job site to job site, he’s either on a boat bass fishing or at his favorite golf spot in San Diego bringing his “A” game! Chris is a Navy veteran, where he was an intelligence analyst before joining the lighting industry. With his unique background, Chris has a new perspective to bring to our team!

Q: What is your day-to-day like as a control field technician?

CW: My day-to-day is a little unique in that I’m rarely in the office or the same place. I mainly visit job sites and meet with customers to help them better understand their lighting controls systems. When it comes to the lighting space, there are so many ins-and-outs that it’s important to grasp things such as the installment processes, being Title 24 compliant, and preparing for lighting certifications. It is my job to ensure all of our clients have a good understanding of these procedures.

Q: How did you get started in the lighting industry?

CW: Before I started here at SDLA, I worked on private yachts and through my dad’s network, I was introduced to Danny Cortez. Danny and I kept in touch for a while, and one thing led to another, and a position at SDLA opened up. Actually, quite a few of my team members know my dad through the industry, and word caught on quick that we are related. My dad and I have the same name, so some of my team members even call me Junior as a nickname!

Q: What do you like best about working at SDLA?

 CW: I like the flexibility I have here and the opportunity to navigate through different challenges. While I served in the Navy, I mainly worked underground. I eventually retired from the military and got a job working outside doing maintenance for a private yacht company; soon after, I transitioned to this industry. Now that I’ve transitioned, I enjoy working in a social environment, not knowing what the next day will offer me. I also like being able to travel around rather than work in one spot too.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the culture at SDLA?

CW: I love how we have a small team of like-minded individuals here! It’s the kind of environment where we have the same type of humor and we can joke around, yet we all stay committed to our work and know when it’s time to get serious. I love knowing that SDLA has my best interest in mind. In the Navy, I was just one of many, and here, I feel appreciated and that the company has my back. This is something I was never used to and never thought about, but now I feel confident that I am valued as an individual in my workplace.

Q: What has been your favorite project at SDLA so far?

 CW: My favorite project so far is the one I have felt most challenged with. We recently wrapped up a project for the San Diego Community College District. It was my most challenging project for a few reasons… Not only did it take us about 4-5 months to complete, but this was my biggest project that incorporated the use of a wireless system utilizing Bluetooth capabilities on a series of 8 buildings. Because this project was experimental, it was exciting to learn and reflect on the capabilities of the system. Plus, this was an interesting adventure for me in that this was a night job, so I worked from 6:00 pm-2:00 am. I can definitely say this project was one that I was happiest to complete because of how rewarding it felt to conquer that challenge.

Meet The Team: Athena Ramirez

Sunny San Diego native, Athena Ramirez thinks her hometown is magical. It may have something to do with her annual pass to Disneyland or the perfect weather year-round. When she’s not seeking thrill on the latest Disneyland ride, she’s hanging with her friends and family. Athena is the newest member of our quotations team and she’s an all-around team player! In fact, right when she started she was deemed the nicest girl in the office after covering Greg on the lotto pool. While we didn’t win the 654 Million, we sure won when Athena accepted the position at SDLA!

Q: How did you get started in the lighting industry?

AR: When one door closes another one opens. I was laid off from an alarm company and looking for new opportunities. My old co-worker had experience in the lighting industry, so that’s where she went looking when we left the alarm company. Once she was established, she was able to help me get a job at Crescent as a quotes coordinator. It was my first position in lighting and every day I was learning something new. I’m really thankful that’s where I ended up because I was able to get insight into so many different components of the lighting industry. And of course, because that opportunity led me here.

Q: What’s your day to day like in the office?

 AR: Quotes is fast moving, so when I come in the morning I know I have to be ready to work and make quick decisions for clients. I start the day by gathering all the jobs I have been assigned and double check that I have everything covered for each project. Whenever I have questions or challenging specifications to meet, my go-to guys are Crockett and Dan; I can rely on them for their help. Everyone here has been extremely helpful and supportive. There is nothing better than quoting a project from start to finish while learning something new in the process.

Q: Do you have a favorite/most rewarding project that you have worked on?

AR: The first week I was here I landed a job. Granted, it was a small job, but Danny went out of his way to come out of his office and acknowledge that it was the first job I landed for the company. He had everyone give me a round of applause and that was really rewarding to feel, so early on, that I was helping contribute to the team. SDLA took a chance on me and I’m excited to be a part of their success.

Q: What do you like best about the culture at SDLA?

AR: In my first month here, the time flew by. Everyone was so helpful in getting me trained and up to speed. It didn’t take long for me to see that this company is like one giant family. The way everyone treats one another shows that the principals value a family-oriented place.

Meet The Team: Stephanie Zamora

Life can be a lot like a complicated puzzle, trying to make all the pieces fit together. For Stephanie Zamora joining the SDLA team was just another piece to the puzzle, and we’re glad she’s such a great fit. Organization is a part of Stephanie’s DNA so she loves making sure the office is in tip-top shape. When she’s not greeting guests or helping with events, Stephanie is her son’s number one fan on the baseball field, and she enjoys sharing her love for Mexico and road trips with him. Working at SDLA for Stephanie is like visiting a whole new world. There is so much to learn and she’s excited to explore the industry. While Stephanie hits the books on lighting, are you ready to study up on our newest administrative assistant?

Q: What attracted you to SDLA?

SZ: When I heard about the opening within SDLA, a friend of mine who works for CED- a local electrical distributor- spoke very highly of the company and encouraged me to apply. He knew I was looking for a new start with growth opportunity, which made me excited to interview for the position. What really sold me on SDLA was how comfortable and natural the interview process was with Kristin. I felt welcomed and that I could talk to her openly about my experiences which echoed with the rest of the company.

Q: What’s your day to day like in the office?

SZ: Within the day-to-day operations, there are a lot of moving parts. This position really speaks to the strengths of my personality because I’m naturally very organized and I enjoy being orderly and detail-oriented, which comes in handy when opening the office each day and ensuring events go off without a hitch! Throughout the week I help coordinate product trainings and sales meetings, order and stock all supplies and sample materials, keep the warehouse organized, complete submittal packages, as well as manage incoming and outgoing shipments.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job and what has been the most rewarding thus far?

SZ: My favorite part about my job is how there is so much to still learn, and now when I am out walking around, the first thing I notice is the light fixtures- something I wouldn’t have noticed before being in this industry. What has been rewarding for me so far is how grateful everyone is. If I set up a lunch and learn for a visiting manufacturer, they are sure to give their thanks for having everything handled for them. The sales team appreciates anything I can do to help them and how quickly I try to work. I also work closely with the quotes team in order to send off submittal requests to our distributors; it’s rewarding to help them wherever I can.

Q: What do you like best about the culture at SDLA?

SZ: I’ve experienced a wide variety of jobs, looking for one that would be the right fit. SDLA has been one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, and the culture here contributes a lot to that reasoning. From day one, I’ve felt very welcomed and a part of the team. Everyone knows when to rally around a problem and when to celebrate someone’s accomplishment which creates a unique workplace. Since I’m so new to the lighting industry, I feel fortunate to have coworkers that are helpful and willing to teach at any moment; there is so much to learn, and I have great leaders helping me along the way.

Meet the Team: Jason Sprenger

At SDLA when we meet a great candidate, we don’t hesitate to make them an offer to join our team, even if we don’t know exactly what their title will be! When Jason Sprenger joined the team, we knew he’d be a great addition, but we didn’t quite know where to put him because his 23 years of industry experience qualified him for multiple positions here at SDLA. After spending about a week in quotes we decided to turn him over to the layouts team! When Jason is not working with the layouts team he likes to keep things low key. Born in Ohio but raised in Orange County, Jason loves the beach. On the weekends you can find him hanging with friends or taking his best pal to the dog park. Ready to kick back for our next meet the team?

Q: How did you get started in the lighting industry?

JS: I’ve always been intrigued by lighting and ever since I was a little kid I was fascinated with the industry. I got my start in the industry when I was pretty young, working in the lighting department at Home Depot then I went on to be a sales representative for Light Bulbs Unlimited. I was working for a distributor that SDLA was representing when I inquired about the job. I met with Kristin and Danny and was excited to accept an offer shortly after the interview. While I’ve been in the industry for 23 years now, this place has a been a breath of fresh air.

Q: What’s your day to day like in the office?

 JS: The lighting industry and lighting technology are always changing and innovating, so our job never stays the same. We always have new software to utilize or new solutions to offer clients. My day starts with a quote and the chance to create a layout for a project. Each project is different, so I could turn a layout around in a couple of hours or I could be working on the project for three weeks. Our team has an ASAP mindset so whenever we receive a project, we put our heads down and get started.

Q: Do you have a favorite/most rewarding project you have worked on?

JS: When I first started I got to work on a really rewarding project, right out of the gate. The San Diego Community College project was detailed and complicated. It was exciting to be utilizing new software that I wasn’t familiar with to lay out everything from the classrooms to garage lighting. When a college goes under a complete campus remodel it requires a lot of brain power and teamwork. It was very rewarding for our team to look back at the completed project because we all worked closely together to deliver the best solution for the job.

Q: What do you like best about the culture at SDLA?

 JS: What initially attracted me to SDLA was their reputation in the industry. The company culture is known to be unique and I’ve been lucky to experience the welcoming nature of this team. From day one everyone has been friendly and helpful. We are lucky to be led by principals who value learning opportunities and who never turn their back on the chance to help out their employees. I’ve worked for a lot of companies where they had this “sink or swim” mentality, SDLA could not be more opposite of that. The principals’ act as team fix it, they know there is always a solution and they won’t rest until they help you find it.

Meet The Team: Will Laws

Submarine Veteran, newlywed, and now SDLA controls technician, Will Laws has a whirlwind story to tell! After growing up in the desert of San Diego and doing “desert things” like off-roading and motorcycling, Will is a hometown boy who loves everything San Diego has to offer. After getting married, Will landed a job with Acuity Brands, traveling throughout the West Coast, the airlines being his commute. For SDLA, Will has limited his region back to his hometown, traveling to different job sites, are you ready to meet the man behind the wheel?

Q: How did you get started in the lighting industry?

WL: I also came from the mothership, Acuity Brands. I had a background in network security management and started working with Acuity in October. I got my foot in the door because their manager was a former Navy Submariner like myself. I was working in region one, flying up and down the coast and I was on a project for Acuity when I met Danny. After receiving a great impression of SDLA from that project, I was excited to join the team when they offered me a job back in March 2018.

Q: What’s your day to day like in the office?

 WL: The job involves a lot of hands-on troubleshooting and that’s my favorite part. When walking through a site you have to go through the process and trust it. I work most closely with the electrical contractors and Foreman on the job so there is a lot of important relationship building in my day-to-day. Whenever I’m on the site I’m positive, productive and helpful. If there is an opportunity to train the foreman/lineman or share my insight, I jump at the opportunity because it keeps SDLA in their mind for future projects.

Q: Do you have a favorite/rewarding project that you’ve worked on?

WL: I had the chance to work on the Kaiser Permanente project when they were having trouble with their backnet and LCD system. I was able to go in and solve the problem and leave that day with the system working to its full potential. Another rewarding project was with Zara, the clothing store. Their store lights had failed, and they had to close up shop, which meant that they were losing money as each minute passed. I came in late on a Friday and had the lights back up soon after. Their team was very appreciative. It’s always a great feeling to be the guy with the answers or solution, providing clients with the best product never gets old.

Q: What do you like best about the culture at SDLA?

 WL: SDLA may have the appearance of a stale corporate environment, with the cubicles and white walls but the people really add a ton of color to this company. The environment is very relaxed and welcoming and there is a ton of comradery. We have three principals, Kristin, Brian and Danny, who have an open door policy. I’ve never been timid to walk into one of their offices and ask a question or seek help. There is so much knowledge at SDLA and it’s always flowing.

When the Lighting Industry Meets the Farming Industry

Horticultural Lighting is the fastest growing segment of the LED lighting industry. Fueled by a continual rise in population, and availability of limited agricultural land, there is an increasing need for indoor grow spaces and greenhouses.

The “Horticulture Lighting Market by Technology, Application, Cultivation, Lighting Type, Offering, and Region – Global Forecast to 2023”  predicts the horticultural lighting market to grow from USD 2.43 billion in 2018 to 6.2 billion by 2023.

Traditional light sources, HID & fluorescent, have long been the trusted lighting solution for indoor grow facilities. However, with the advancements in technologies, LED grow lighting has erased early doubts and proven to be a vital and essential element in the horticultural industry.

Why LED grow lights?

In addition to significant energy savings, LED Horticultural Lighting provides growers with customization, modularity, and the ability to optimize plant growth and wealth. In a controlled indoor environment, LED grow lights produce higher yields for year-round grow cycles for plants, fruits, vegetables, flowers and legal cannabis.

An LED grow light system will generate the same or better illumination than a traditional lighting system, with less than half of the electrical energy input. With the reduced heat output of LED’s versus traditional lighting sources, the use of LED lighting will also help reduce the demand on the HVAC system, offering additional energy savings.

Where will LED Grow lights be installed?

Vertical Farming: maximize every cubic foot of a growing space by utilizing vertically stacked structures to grow products in a tight, controlled space.

Greenhouses: combine natural sunlight and artificial light, in addition to trapping humidity and moisture to emulate a true growing environment.

Warehouses: An artificial growing environment that relies on the complete system of lighting and HVAC to best reflect an outdoor environment.

With the increased demand for indoor horticultural farming, there will be an increase in demand for horticultural lighting design along with an array of questions.

• What are the important factors to consider when designing horticultural lighting?
• How do I calculate the quantity of fixtures and spacing required?
• What types of solutions are available for horticultural lighting?
• What trusted manufacturers provide horticultural lighting?

Traditionally, when we think about lighting, we measure a fixture by the lumen output and how many foot candles are needed on a work surface. But for plant lighting, the important values to consider are Photosynthetic Active Radiation (PAR) the measurement of usable wavelengths for plants from the fixture, and Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density (PPFD) the measurement of active photons per second measured at the plant. These are the components that are going to help provide a greater and more robust yield.

To help calculate the appropriate levels, our in-house applications team utilizes AGI32 to perform horticultural lighting calculations based on the needs of the plant/project.

Our leading manufacturer of horticultural lighting, SpecGrade LED, utilizes a modular system that allows for the adaptation of the fixture based on the needs of the environment, as well as interchangeable parts to upgrade the existing fixtures as LED’s improve and new technologies arise. Their modular fixture Linea can also be used as a side lighter offering a new angle on the growing process to increase yields. SpecGrade LED has successfully worked with Ohio State University to provide them with the LED grow lights to improve the growth of their plants by providing the correct stable levels of PPFD. To read more about it, see the link below.

Whether you are looking to learn more about horticultural lighting or are designing an indoor grow space, we at SDLA are here to help you through this process and support you through the life of the project. We have the knowledge, resources and tools to assist you with designing horticultural lighting for your next project, let us know how we can help you grow.

DLC Website

DLC – Horticultural Lighting

Case Study

The Ohio State University Case Study

Horticultural Lighting