Smart sustainable lighting essential for new home builds

by | Mar 17, 2022

Smart and sustainable lighting essential for new home builds 

Smart lighting

Smart and sustainable lighting remains on-trend and has grown the general lighting market share by 30 per cent in the last 12 months, according to HBT Business Manager for Hardware/Construction, Rita Niforas. 

This growth is impressive when considering annual growth of the light segment was just five per cent five years ago. Ms Niforas points out that the majority of this growth is attributed to LED lighting because it is 80 per cent more cost-effective when it comes to powering homes and businesses. 

“While there is a bit of an investment required when purchasing LED products, the return on investment over the time of operation, which is five to ten years, is well worth it. I think the increasing trend within this space is a combination of people staying at home throughout the pandemic and wanting to upgrade their lighting to more user-friendly options, or upgrading while renovating or building. If consumers are building a new home, they now incorporate the cost of economically viable lighting – such as LED – into the cost of construction so then it does not seem like such of an outlay in investment,” Ms Niforas said.

Despite the upward trend for LED there is still some resistance from the aging population, according to Ms Niforas, who says older customers often do not purchase LEDs because they have used halogen bulbs their entire lives.

“It seems older customers also like the look and feel of halogen lights. They are cheaper to purchase initially which is quite the drawcard for them. I think eventually the Australian Government intends to phase out all halogen lights, a program we hope will be implemented next year beginning with an import ban of halogen products. In saying this halogen lights could circle around the market for some time yet as older generations continue to use them.”

“While some HBT members do try to encourage older customers to purchase LED lights by educating them on the low power usage of these products, we have found some customers are open to it and some are not. Several years ago, the Federal Government implemented a program to transfer Australian household lights to LED and this has also been the case with apartment blocks including the Chevron apartment block in Melbourne. Government incentives encouraging the use of LED is ongoing, alongside consumer education,” she said.

The rising popularity of energy apps detailing electricity usage of a home or business are also encouraging the replacement of halogen lights with LED because the apps motivate consumers to seek ways to reduce power. 

“Smart phone apps are really leading the way in helping consumers understand their energy use and where it is coming from. After spending so much time at home throughout the pandemic, obviously, our energy bills rose which is when a lot of questions were raised around reducing lighting costs,” she said.

“Smart lighting is at the forefront of consumers’ lighting purchases because it is such a clever way to light up the home via smart apps or home automotive hubs. It also allows end-users to easily create an ambiance within the home through options such as cool light versus warm light, which can be changed depending on where you live. In warmer states, homeowners are most likely to utilise a cool white light which is brighter to the eye but creates the feeling that you are in a cooler house. In states like Melbourne, warm lights are used in bedrooms and living rooms because it is more of a yellow light and creates the perception of a having a warm, cozy feel in the home,” Ms Niforas said.

Healthy sales within the electrical fittings, lights and accessories space are set to continue, with Ms Niforas pointing out that there were 70,000 new single dwelling permits issued for new single housing developments in Victoria alone in the past 12 months– not including attached homes.

“It is for this reason that we expect to see a huge rise in the smart lighting area as well because it presents an opportunity to upgrade and create a really beautiful ambiance within the home. An on-going housing crisis in New South Wales will also see the need for around 300,000 homes to be built in the coming years. As these new developments go up, builders will be far more efficient in the way they install and use lighting, with product usability expected to drive the category for some time to come,” she said.

Marketing of the electrical fittings, lights and accessories category in-store has also evolved substantially over the years, according to Ms Niforas who says HBT members know that when done correctly, visual merchandising allows the consumer to find exactly what they are looking for, while also educating them on LED and smart lighting – leading to an increase in sales.

“Having a decent, full range of bestsellers is so important. It is also important to guide consumers into purchasing a product that is more sustainable, while also saving them money on their power bills. Visual merchandising is making sure you have a really good display no matter how big or small that can be done really well. Enlist the services of your suppliers’ merchandisers to do this for you, including good calling cards and point of sale material that encourages the use of new technology,” she said.

“One major retailer I know is planning to cease all sales of fluorescent globes – a category that currently services around 4000 of its customers. This retailer does expect customers to either purchase fluorescent lighting elsewhere or shift to purchasing LED lighting. In this case, the retailer is making the decision on behalf of the consumer with the risk of losing them because they are so determined to sell lighting that is sustainable and ecological,” Ms Niforas said.

Lighting trends

Trends within the light bulb space are also evolving, as bulbs are used as a feature within certain areas around the home.Consumers can easily add an industrial look to the home just by changing a bulb to a flame tip or spiral filament, Ms Niforas points out, while the use of coloured bulbs are also aesthetically pleasing and create a different look and feel as well.

“It is just a really easy cost effective way to create something that is fun.”

When it comes to electrical finishes most metals are on-trend at the moment with HBT members seeing a lot of brushed bronze finishes coming through stores as well as matt black continuing to be quite popular despite being around for some time.

“When homeowners design or update their home, they want their finishes to match and create a unified look. If a sink has matt black tap wear, the consumer might also want linear light fixtures which will match back with the tap wear. I have also noticed a lot of bronze finishes in sink wear so this again relates back into electrical fittings as well,” she said.

“Bold statement pieces as well as layered pieces are also expected to remain popular, particularly when combining ceiling lights with a  floor lamp and a table lamp. We are also seeing big, bold centre pieces in places such as hallways and people are not afraid to use statement pieces within their homes and create a wow feature.”

“This might mean that a bedroom with a coastal theme has a simple ceiling fixture with glass pendants or lamps placed around the room to create a softer, elegant look. Interior designers are also now matching the old with the new so if there is a clean, modern space they might add a chandelier feature to add a bit of depth creating a room that is both contemporary and elegant,” Ms Niforas said.

Market competition

While competition amongst major players within the electrical fittings, lights and accessories market has always been fierce it has become more intense amongst major players who offer advanced technological solutions particularly. Ms Niforas says this has in-turn seen major players increasingly invest in research and development so they can continually release the latest and greatest advancements to the market. 

“There is so much product in the market there is always the question of what major players advertise first, because they have to market a product they believe will achieve a good response from the consumer in an intensely competitive DIY market,” she said.

“Consumers are also price-savvy which is why suppliers are looking at introducing entry-level Wi-Fi products to this space – to try and be more competitive while also trying to find that point of difference to cater to their market,” Ms Niforas said.

“For now, excitement within the category remains in the smart technology space. The more smart product purchases move from the early adopter right out to the mainstream consumer, the more accessible these products will become,” Ms Niforas concluded.