How to Light

How do I prepareHow to Light: Lighting specification for an international roll-out programme?

Our high streets are changing, and this is happening all around the world. The change is being driven by adventurous retailers, their outlets being of all and any size, wishing to create a common visual appearance and a common customer experience from the streets of New York to the streets of Mumbai. If you walk into a store you can feel The Brand. Driven by Brand Managers and Marketers, it falls to the Design team to create a global identity, capable of overcoming the challenges of making the approved design ‘fit’ into physical space all over the world.  

Retailers tend to take one of two approaches to new styling programmes. These market-driven design concepts are either tested initially in a discreet outlet away from the glare of publicity, to allow for tweaking and re-working of less successful elements, or else the design is developed behind locked doors in company warehouses, for it to be unveiled at a flagship site to great acclaim. With luck, the client will have chosen a site for the first project that is typical of the estate and the roll-out programme will attach seamlessly to the original design specification. But there is one vital aspect of a roll-out programme that cannot be resolved within a single site, because many clients are looking at a global roll-out programme. And for a roll-out programme to succeed, those responsible for the specification have to understand the complexity of standards and technical demands that every country or region will require be met.

Here are just a few of the simpler variances that will be met when a design specification crosses national and regional boundaries:

-Some countries work with imperial measures, others use metric;

-Mains voltage varies between countries, sometimes even within a single country.

-Cable core colours within luminaires may differ

-Control solutions, including dimming protocols, may have to be changed to suit local preferences

-Installation criteria may be different, such as the infamous requirement in the USA for enclosures around recessed downlights that has caught out so many European manufacturers in the past.


In general, we can say that all of the changes required by local standards and legislation occur in the ‘out of sight’ componentry. Lighting performance need not be affected – so there is no question of the design concept being compromised, but the entire installation can be condemned if the luminaires do not comply with the standards of the countries where the fixtures are headed.

Here is some of the documentation that you’ll need to know about on if you’re taking product into other countries:

China: since 1 January 2017, all products shipped into China must comply with the new CQC updates outlined in the Luminaire Standard GB7000.1-2015

USA: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulation contain requirements for testing and approval of all lighting product. Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements are controlled by the Federal Communications Commission (FC). Energy efficacy is dealt with by the Energy Star programme.

Europe: All products need to carry the CIE Mark. There are also mandatory requirements for safety, EMC and optical radiators.

UAE: The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) has introduced standards for interior lighting product.

Working in a global marketplace calls for a different approach to specification. Design-led equipment schedules need to evolve to take account of local conditions. Once the master plan is in place and the Retailer has selected the optimal route to supply, it’s here that the expertise is really needed –  when you need someone on the team who really knows their stuff. Retailers undertaking this kind of work understand the need for flexibility within their design programmes and accept that change can improve the process if it brings the project to completion easily and without trauma.


 The success of Brand and control of project Time are valued higher than simple adherence to specification or an initial cost plan.  Amerlux today has changed its business to support customers’ international endeavours and have a team deployed in key locations around the world to develop new relationships and to seek out new ways of doing business.

To assist in this process, Amerlux has an international division that is on hand to assist in any changes that may be needed when luminaire specifications cross national/regional boundaries.


This question was answered by Gethyn Williams –  Regional Director for EMEIA at Amerlux LLC