LED, An Idea Whose Time has Come; A Conversation with LED Source’s Dean Ernst
To me, a conversation about lighting would normally draw a very big ho-hum. But LED lighting, I have learned, is groundbreaking and will definitely be a part of your future and mine.
I knew only two solitary facts about LED lighting before I talked with Dean Ernst, the director of marketing and social media at LED Source: First is that LED stands for light-emitting diode and, second, the really cool light I use on my video camera is an LED light. That’s it.
LED Source the company is a pied piper for the concept and a company that provides knowledge, product solutions, product management and unique financing for businesses across the spectrum including specialty flooring retailers and practically everyone else in the industry, and Ernst is the guru on this subject.
You can find everything you need to know about LED lighting by listening to an interview we did with Ernst. The following are some excerpts from the conversation we had with him that you may find interesting. You can find the complete three-part audio interview in the archives section on the TalkFloor.com website, which is also accessible via Floor Trends’website, floortrendsmag.com.
TF: Tell us about the technology and the history of LED lighting.
Ernst: LEDs have actually been around for a long time, in the form of that the little power red light that we see on many electronic devices. Over the years they have evolved into general lighting.
It started in entertainment and architectural lighting because of the colors that are possible for one to achieve with LED. Five to 10 years ago it started moving into the general lighting area to where we are today at a place where LED has actually surpassed the quality and efficiency of traditional incandescent and fluorescent lighting.
TF: Lots of people listening and reading this are showing carpet and other floor covering in showrooms—retailers, contractors, distributors, manufacturers and others. What about the brightness, the color rendering and the quality of LED lighting as compared to fluorescent and compact fluorescent lights?
Ernst: The quality and the color of lighting as well as the flexibility to dim lighting and, of course, the maintenance and energy savings are so important to business today in the way they contribute to the bottom line and to lowering overhead. These are some of the five to 10 key benefits of LED lighting.
Fluorescent lighting has had its place in the evolutionary process of lighting. In its day it created more efficiency because it typically lasted longer than incandescent lighting. Fluorescents were good at the time, but there are downsides, such as the environmental issue with the mercury inside the tubes. There’s also the heat they [produce] that is responsible for a loss in the light they generate, and that loss is somewhere between 80% and 90%.
A little known fact is the typical fluorescent light, the T12, has been phased out as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act that was implemented in 2007 (Editor’s note: This act was originally called the Clean Energy Act of 2007).
Many [people] are aware the standard light bulb is being phased out, but there are a number of additional [lighting] products that are being phased out as well.
TF: Customers entering a flooring store often have specific wants and needs in terms of the exact color [they’re seeking]. The type of lighting in a store can often skew the color of product samples in the showroom creating problems when the product is installed in the home. It seems floor covering in the home can look a great deal different from the color the customer saw in the store depending on the type of lighting. Is that an accurate statement?
Ernst: That’s absolutely correct. Most retailers showcasing product have track lighting, using Par 30 or Par 38 bulbs; they may also have MR 16 bulbs that provide focus lighting.
There are LED equivalents to each of these. The Par 38 bulb, which is a standard in track lighting, is 90 watts; the equivalent in an LED bulb would be 18 watts, which yields significant energy savings.
Looking at the quality or the color of the light. Many say LED light makes products “pop,” thus enhancing the presentation and increasing sales.
TF: You mentioned the maintenance factor. Can you expand on that?
Ernst: LED lights can last for 10, 15 or even 20 years depending on their use—that’s an amazing benefit from a maintenance and cost standpoint.
Many retailers have high ceilings that require bringing in special equipment to change bulbs. This means changing bulbs is often put off and that means the showroom frequently may have several burned out bulbs presenting a less than favorable environment. LEDs will not have to be replaced for 10 to 20 years.
TF: We can see the advantages in terms of longevity for LEDs, but I understand the upfront cost is a great deal more.
Ernst: LEDs absolutely cost more than traditional lighting, but as with many consumer products the costs keep coming down as well.
When we go into a particular location we do an energy evaluation defining the return on investment (ROI). Most retailers see a typical payback period…between two to three years. Then if you look at the longevity factor up to 20 years, depending on the application, the payback starts immediately.
So [an] investment up front reaps large benefits on the backend.
Editor’s note: There is great potential for LED lighting in your showroom, warehouse and office—or anywhere else. Ernst’s company, LED Source, has very unique financing available that can make a good idea an even better one. There’s a great deal more to this conversation than space permits, including more on LED’s potential and how LED Source can help. You can find the three-part conversation, “Dean Ernst, LED Source on the Savings of LED Lighting,” in the archives of TalkFloor.com or through the Floor Trends website at floortrendsmag.com/media/podcasts/2708.
We’d also love to hear your feedback of this and other conversations you’ve watched or listened to on the site, as well as any ideas of people or companies you’d like to see interviewed. You can contact either Dave Foster at email@example.com, or Matthew Spieler at firstname.lastname@example.org.