Simplifying Lighting Selection

When updating lighting fixtures in facilities, a lighting configurator helps make the process easier for facility management professionals.

By Alyssa Stone

lighting controls
Photo: Adobe Stock/ Khunatorn

With the latest introduction of LED technology, specifying the ideal lighting system for a new construction and remodeling project can be a daunting task. Just in the last 10 years, low-voltage LED linear lighting, or LED lighting that distributes light over a longer, more narrow area than traditional LED lighting such as recessed downlights, has increased in popularity substantially.

In today’s world, the split between traditional recessed luminaires and linear lighting in new construction applications is a lot closer than one might imagine—only 55% of interior lighting budgets are spent on traditional luminaires while the remaining 45% is allocated towards linear lighting. With all the benefits that linear lighting brings to the table, flexibility, in-field customization, performance, ease of lighting control, and efficacy, one could wonder why traditional luminaires still take the lion’s share of lighting budgets.
One of the main reasons lighting professionals occasionally shy away from specifying linear lighting is the fear of missing a key component in the laundry list of items needed to create a linear lighting bill of material—power feeds, drivers, compatible dimming systems, splices, jumpers, and mounting channel.

The list for a simple facility remodel can suddenly be composed of 10-15 different SKUs. Unraveling a misquoted or incorrectly specified project is often an uncomfortable, and occasionally expensive, conversation many lighting professionals would like to avoid having with their customers, which leads to many of those professionals staying in their comfort zone with the traditional luminaires they have been using for decades. To have linear lighting sales overtake the sales of traditional luminaires in the commercial space, the onus is on the lighting manufacturers to make the ordering process as simple as possible.

Specifying Process For Success

To make installing linear lighting easier, facility managers can turn to a lighting configurators to help. One tool developed for this type of specification is the ACE lighting configurator, which specializes in linear lighting for commercial spaces. The lighting configurator offers a simple step-by-step guide to walk lighting professionals and facility managers through the lighting project, asking straightforward questions such as which color temperature is preferred, and how many feet of linear fixture is needed for the application. Made to be used by beginners and seasoned lighting specifiers alike, it assures that a lighting professional and facility manager has a complete list of materials for a beautiful linear lighting installation.

Using the linear lighting configurator is simple. To start a bill of material, the user decides if they would like to custom cut their fixture to their exact specifications, or if they would like all components delivered in bulk, to be customized in the field. Once that is decided, the ACE system delivers a few more questions about the project, such as “Is the lighting being installed indoors or outdoors?” and “Will the installation environment be dry, damp, or wet environment?” Also, the lighting configurator asks if the facility would like its system to be a simple white-light lighting application, or if the project would like something more complex, such as tunable white or offering color changing.

More Than Just Fixtures

Any lighting professional who has specified a linear lighting bill of material list knows that creating a parts list doesn’t stop at just the fixture. Once a user selects the perfect linear fixture for their application, the lighting configurator goes further, inquiring how the end user would like to control their lighting, such as user-friendly electronic low voltage (ELV) dimming systems for white light applications or hardwired DMX controls for a color changing project.

Once the control protocol has been chosen, the lighting configurator calculates the wattage for the project and suggests the appropriate low voltage power supply best suited for the fixture and control protocol specified. If the project at hand requires a more complex control system, such as a control system for RGBW (red, green, blue, and white) color changing tape light, the lighting configurator will help calculate how many receivers and controllers are recommended based on the number of zones, run lengths, and desired control features. From there, the lighting configurator assists in choosing a proper mounting channel and automatically calculates how many pieces of that channel are required for the project, before jumping into a selection of any additional accessories one may need to complete an installation, such as in-wall rated wire or cord covers.

The ACE lighting configurator has assisted lighting professionals in creating close to 300 unique bills of material. While the system is currently focused on the specification of LED tape light applications, it will be used in the future for many different linear lighting applications such as LED neon fixtures, 120V tape light, seasonal lighting applications, and more.

Stone is the Electrical Distribution National Sales Manager for American Lighting (americanlighting.com), a manufacturer of LED lighting solutions, located in Denver, CO. With over 10 years of electrical and lighting experience, Stone brings a wealth of product knowledge and industry expertise to her clients after holding positions in technical support, lighting quotations, inside sales, and outside sales.

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