When business is good, everything seems to be going right. It can be hard to break away from routine. And why would you? Everyone is busy, the pipeline is filled with projects for the foreseeable future, and you’re making a profit.
But when it comes to exploring new technology and business opportunities, it may be time for some integrators to take off their blinders. Being busy right now doesn’t necessarily translate to being busy in five years. Electrical contractors are adding low-voltage divisions to their lineups. IT companies are developing a better understanding of AV and physical security. Don’t be so busy that you inadvertently give someone else the opportunity to step in and learn your trade.
By experiencing and interacting with new technology, you’ll understand all the options available to your organization in terms of new revenue streams and innovative ways to address end-user challenges.
When we listen to integrators talk about why they haven’t explored Power over Ethernet (PoE) lighting as a new offering – or even as a technology to simply learn more about – the answer we often hear is: “We’re too busy – and business is good.”
The Industry Needs PoE Lighting Experts
PoE lighting is a good example of a technology that also gives integrators the chance to become the leader in a world that desperately needs one.
Most of the lighting industry doesn’t understand lighting control very well yet. “Many people in the lighting industry think control is a new concept and that what happens at a rock concert is magical,” says Harry Aller, CTO at Innovative Lighting. “Because PoE lighting sources power over an Ethernet cable and isn’t high voltage, the electrical trades haven’t fully jumped on board yet, either.”
Architects, engineers, designers, and end-users are likely aware of PoE lighting, too, but haven’t learned to fully appreciate it – or the true benefits behind it. This gives integrators the opportunity to step forward and lead the way.
According to Market Research Future, by 2023, LED lighting is expected to grow to $105 billion. What portion of that will be PoE? No one knows for sure. But there’s no doubt that this is a huge market.
New Capabilities of PoE
From conference and huddle rooms to private offices, there’s a big push for individualized, customized spaces that boost productivity and comfort.
You’re already the expert on the other technology that relies on PoE inside those spaces: AV, videoconferencing, security, etc. Why wouldn’t you want to be the expert resource for the rest of the technology, too?
In many cases, integrators already have to work with electrical contractors as their AV and security systems are integrated. Instead, you could be the one to give end-users all the benefits of network-connected lighting systems: dimming, individual fixture addressability, occupancy sensing, daylight harvesting, and white light color tuning.
“Almost anything that’s a low-voltage, DC-powered device requires some type of communication,” says Aller. “If you look around your office, almost everything falls into that category. If a device requires those two components – power and data – why wouldn’t you use a single PoE cable to provide them?”
In late 2018, IEEE 802.3bt – the 90W Power over Ethernet (PoE) standard – was ratified. You can now carry up to 90W of electricity over a single category cable to power devices like wireless access points, surveillance cameras with PTZ features, LED lighting fixtures, and large display screens (the list goes on).
PoE lighting may not be the right fit for every integrator – and that’s completely okay. But it’s important to embrace new technology, evaluate it, and stay on the cutting edge. Whether or not you decide to take it on as part of your portfolio is your choice. But make sure you at least take the time to learn what it is – and the opportunities it offers – before you make a decision either way.