‘What’s immediately on the horizon is a period of time in which we’ll see an Indian summer for retrofit lamps,’ predicted Nick Farraway of Soraa. ‘Then it will be more about integrated fixtures. It’s because the technology is moving so fast and it’s due to economies of scale. It’s easy to upgrade and you can’t do that in a fixture.’
Saima Shafi of LED Eco Lights added that end users are ultimately driven by cost and also noted a ‘great appetite’ for LED retrofit products. ‘There’s a compelling argument to an FD,’ she said, noting too the need for ‘extensive trialling’ and ‘comprehensive performance-based guarantees’ to ensure clients are happy with the end result.
Farraway agreed that manufacturers have a responsibility to end users in terms of transparency, but he also pointed out that there is a need for end users to trial products in order to help offset any risk when it comes to the implementation of new lighting products. ‘We’ve seen a lot of creative marketing from companies big and small. In a market of rapid change there are opportunities and there are cowboys,’ he said. ‘People do what the legislation says and no more. It’s a case of buyer beware during this period. As an industry we haven’t made it simple or transparent enough.’
He added that the industry was in something of a ‘myopic state’ – chasing after LED due to efficiencies while sometimes forgetting about quality of light. ‘We’ve forgotten about quality of light in our pursuit of energy savings – we’ve set aside good lighting practices we used to adhere to,’ he warned.
Of course no one product ticks every box for every purpose, but Shafi added that it was about ticking as many boxes as you can. ‘Customers come to us as their traditional lighting schemes are causing them problems. There are advantages and disadvantages to LED just as there are to traditional lighting,’ she said. ‘But our customers seem to think LED answers many of their problems.’
Phil Cross of Philips noted demand from segments maturing into LED such as retail and offices spaces. ‘Retail in particular is becoming viable,’ he said. ‘It’s outstripping other areas in terms of growth. But now it’s about what you can add on top of efficiencies.’
The panel agreed that the industry is going through a period of fragmentation, with established companies fighting to defend their market share whilst big new entrants such as Cree and a number of small, innovative players are quick on their feet. ‘There will be a big change in terms of landscape – there will be different names – Asian companies like Toshiba, Samsung and Panasonic are the ones that immediately come to mind,” predicted Farraway, who also noted American companies becoming more international and change “on a scale we’ve never seen before.’
But amid all this talk to change there’s a need to sit back and take stock, warned James McKenzie of PhotonStar, who pointed out that market penetration for LED is still only 5 per cent. ‘We haven’t started yet,’ he said, ‘but LED is coming fast’.