Driven by the growth of LED lighting, changing energy codes, and the operational advantages of connected control, smart lighting is big business. By 2030, the global smart-lighting market is projected to reach $94 billion, creating the perfect opportunity for contractors to differentiate their services and increase revenue, while bringing value to customers.
Whether your focus is on commercial buildings, private homes, or the combination of both in the high-growth multi-family or multi-use markets, customers are looking for solutions that deliver connectivity and convenience, safety and security, and energy and space management.
Here are five top tips to help you take advantage of this opportunity:
1. Start small. Smart can be fast, simple, and accessible.
We often associate smart-lighting only with large-scale projects, but it can also be as easy as adding wireless and “smart-ready” controls to a single room or space. Off-the-shelf, in-stock products are readily available, easy to use, and install in just minutes. Look for starter kits that bundle everything you need in a single package. The best place to start is often in your own home. Add an in-wall occupancy sensor and wireless remote in your home office or a lamp dimmer and wireless remote in your living room and go from there.
Once you become comfortable, you’ll feel more confident recommending control options to your customers. As with your own introduction to these products, starting with a single room or space gives the customer a chance to experience the advantages of smart lighting control – and can often lead to integrating the solution throughout their job.
2. You don’t have to be an IoT expert or a network specialist
It’s easier than you think to add smart technologies to a job.
With wireless solutions, setup takes just minutes, and there is no complicated network wiring required. Residentially, smart lighting controls can integrate seamlessly with Alexa and Google voice assistants, Ring doorbells, Nest thermostats, and others. This allows you to build custom solutions that can be controlled using apps and smart remotes that are becoming increasingly commonplace, familiar, and even expected by many homeowners.
In commercial properties, smart systems can provide data that makes it easier to understand how a space is being used, and then facilitate simple adjustments that save energy while increasing comfort and improving space use. As your clients appreciate the value of smart lighting control, you have a tremendous opportunity to include these systems on more projects, adding features and capabilities when time and budget allows.
3. Invest in “smart” now to streamline future improvements.
These simple solutions work well in standalone applications but are also the ideal foundation for smart systems that can be expanded at any time without complex programming. When you start with the right smart-ready components, you open the door to high-value repeat business – add a connected hub at any time to create a centralized solution that allows you to access the system via smartphone apps, dashboards, and local controls.
Smart, innovative lighting and shade control systems introduce your customers to the benefits of these solutions. They offer a future-proof investment that expands to meet changing needs and continues to get better over time. Cloud-connected systems ensure that updates are continuous and seamless — just like the software updates in the other smart devices they use every day.
4. Look for online training to help you stay up to date as technologies evolve.
There’s always something new in tech, so it’s crucial to stay up-to-date and be an advisor to your customers. Online, on-demand training is often available at no cost, making it easy for you to learn on your own time and at your own pace. Take advantage of robust, no-cost courses to make the most of smart-system opportunities. Look for sessions that focus on the complete ecosystem of smart lighting and control technologies—intelligent shading systems, HVAC integration, plug load and motor control, etc. to make the most of your business opportunity.
5. Embrace smart lighting to add value and grow your business.
As an electrical contractor, smart lighting systems will help you increase your project’s value without increasing time on the job. And because you are not constrained by wiring and fixture layouts, you can design wireless, connected systems that easily accommodate changing customer expectations and needs over time. Smart, connected, and wireless control is the future of the lighting and controls industry and the best way for contractors to give their customers flexible, adaptive, future-proof solutions.
Brendon Van Campen, senior sales director at Lutron Electronics Co., Inc., is responsible for all Lutron commercial sales for North America. Brendon joined Lutron after an eight-year career with the U.S. Army. He has a BS in electrical engineering from Lafayette College in Easton, Penn.