See the (New) Light

by Katie Lee

How to modernize and cut the cord of old-fashioned lighting: Metaphorically speaking, it’s time to replace your rotary phone with a smartphone.

By Perry Levin

In a time when both innovation and economic incentives of quality lighting — both LED and solar lighting — are growing exponentially, many businesses are just beginning to realize some of the initial cost benefits.

As longevity, sophistication and technical advances grow, the industry is slowly transitioning to a service industry. Today’s focus is more on the most efficient lighting for each use. With acceptance comes the ability to differentiate quality products by benefits and incentives. In time, the utility of LEDs and solar energy will be compared to moving from a rotary phone to a smartphone.

Quality LEDs are recognized as the most efficient lighting solutions. They consume less energy, resulting in savings of 20% to 40%. In addition to energy costs, operating overheads are also drastically cut, including required inventory and the time and efforts for maintenance and repair. Quality LEDs have a lifetime at least twice that of the existing lighting being replaced, allowing savings well beyond the life of existing lighting. Indirect benefits are reduced air conditioning cost. LEDs run at 60 to 65 degrees ambient temperature, which is about 60% of the heat of existing lighting. (The amount of savings depends on variables such as the type of HVAC and individual ceiling heights.) Incentives can include Investment Tax Credits for solar LEDs, tax benefits from IIRS #179D and segregated depreciation schedules. Additional incentives depend on state, local and, in various areas, electric companies. In terms of the environment, LEDs actively reduce greenhouse gases. As LEDs only emit very low quantities of IR and UV radiation, they minimize damage to heat-sensitive goods.

Technology has been the foundation of progress and has made us more efficient. It has been a springboard to lower costs and greater profitability for business. The difficulty with innovation is adapting it intelligently so that it functions in a way that insures the maximum benefits. Over many years, lighting has become a commodity business. Today’s marketplace is the result of decades of a mass market retail base that traditionally valued brand and price with little focus on quality or value. Currently, the benefits of the latest lighting innovations have begun to be recognized. Replacing existing lighting with quality LED or solar lighting is beginning to find the degree of acceptance that its benefits would lead one to believe possible. Purchasing patterns, previously developed, are shifting to accommodate a more enlightened customer base.

Innovative results and quality products performing the intended tasks over longer periods of time are being recognized and creating demand. Knowledge of the characteristics and superior components result in greater acceptance, and use. The important attributes become known, and increase acceptance. The transition is taking place and the consumer is the beneficiary.


— Perry Levin is partner of LED AMP Energy, which has worked with major manufacturers to create lighting applications for its clients. Clients include property owners, retailers and restaurant tenants who use lighting as a background to enhance ambiance and contribute to brand identification. For more information, visit

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