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Smart Lighting Controls Are Going Mainstream

As a true partner with electrical contractors, it is our responsibility to educate our clients about new products and technologies. Our goal is to provide insight that will empower electrical contractors so they will have more options, opportunities and projects. This knowledge sharing underscores the fact that Paramont EO is more than a full-service electrical distributor. We are a forward-thinking problem-solver that helps electrical contractors maximize profit by creating custom solutions to meet their needs for every job. To ensure they win every day, we strive to communicate and facilitate training on industry trends they can monetize. For example, smart building controls—specifically lighting controls—are picking up momentum across the marketplace. We’ve been educating electrical contractors about commercial lighting controls for years, but today, lighting controls are moving into residential buildings and mainstream homes. It used to be mainly showcase spaces, entertainment venues, high-end offices and restaurants that put in advanced lighting packages. But now, the rest of the market wants in, and with new entry-level options, pricing is no longer the obstacle it once was. There are good reasons for this new demand. Lighting controls can save energy and money that could flow to the bottom line. Lighting can account for more than 60 percent of a facility’s electrical bill in some industries and 40 percent of its total energy bill. When you factor in increased loads on cooling systems and more required luminaire maintenance, the total cost could be higher. The energy consumption of U.S. commercial buildings is projected to increase 22% by 2035, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Keep in mind, commercial buildings experienced an annual energy consumption rise 69% from 1980 to 2009 because of advancements in technology and manufacturing. Lighting was cited as one of the drivers. The Energy Star program reports that 30 percent of the energy consumed by commercial and institutional buildings is wasted because it is inefficiently or unnecessarily used. However, lighting control strategies can produce 24% to 38% savings in building operational costs, according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study. And that’s why Paramont EO and our retail lighting division, Crest Lighting,  started hosting “Smart Builder Nights” in our New Lenox and Chicago facilities, four years ago.

Smart Builder Nights Educate Electrical Contractors on Electrical Supplies

In 2018, we began hosting Smart Builder Nights for commercial contractors and residential contractors. At the time, the concept of smart buildings wasn’t on many people’s radar screens, but we saw its potential to include lighting—usually the last piece of the puzzle for electrical contractors—into the forefront along with the other building systems. We also saw the financial benefits for our customers. So, we started offering educational evening classes where we’d bring in one of the top lighting control manufacturers to talk about the strengths of their products, along with various applications. Of course, as an electrical contractor’s partner, we also provide the whole picture to better educate. For example, electrical contractors who have received our education could go beyond what has been specified on projects and provide better options to their customers. Each of the lighting systems have great features, but each have nuances that make them better or worse for a particular application. This kind of knowledge is part of Paramont EO’s and Crest Lighting’s value-add. For electrical contractors, buying lighting control packages from Paramont EO allows them to mix and match all the best components with the confidence that each element is compatible and optimal for a given use case. Most major retail stores only sell one to two big-name solutions that generally work so-so for most projects, but often have many features that are irrelevant or don’t perform as well as they should. For a truly custom solution, we work with electrical contractors to select the ideal controls and add-in components to produce the right amount of control, ease of installation, desired integration and optimal performance.

Updated Showroom Features Lighting Controls, Electrical Supplies

Recently, we augmented our showroom in New Lenox, Illinois, to showcase the four big brands in lighting controls: Lutron, Leviton, Acuity and Legrand. Our revamped showroom now includes a Smart Home Experience Room, which takes visitors through control scenes with lighting, transitioning from bedroom to living room to kitchen and dining space. You can manage everything remotely using a tablet, phone or a smart home device like Alexa. Our Smart Builder Nights, which we are starting back up again in March, will be held at the showroom because the visuals help us communicate the key lessons involving high-tech electrical supplies. (Electrical contractors are now able to request a specific night.) In addition to teaching, sometimes we are able to coach our customers into creating more financial opportunities for themselves. Let’s say that an electrical contractor is working on a condo buildout and the lighting packages aren’t specified. If he recommends a WiFi dimmer switch and installs it in one unit, the owner is going to want more. If the contractor advises the owner that by putting the same dimmer switch in all the units, for a couple dollars more, the owner could market the building as “smart and energy efficient.” That would help the owner sell the property faster for more money. Also, when it comes to the dreaded three- and four-way switch wiring, smart controls can significantly cut down on the time it takes an electrician to get the lights working as desired. In the case of renovations, wireless controls can be used to avoid having to cut holes and run new wiring in many cases. Either way, the contractor is saving time which makes the job more profitable and more likely to finish ahead of schedule. And guess what? That owner will remember that electrical contractor. Sure, the owner can hire any electrical contractor to wire up the switches, but you’re the guy who made him more money. You will be remembered for future projects. That’s how you monetize knowledge passed along from Paramont EO. According to US Lighting Trends, opportunity is ringing right now for multiple dwelling units. “While single-family households may prefer buying their smart appliances piece meal, one device at a time from mass merchants, there is a sizable sales opportunity for lighting distributors who partner with property developers and managers,” writes US Lighting Trends Managing Editor Linda Longo. “According to recent research, the multifamily smart home market is in its early stages, making it a great time to jump in. The Smart Home Opportunities in Multifamily Properties study by Parks Associates revealed 27% of MDU residents surveyed have smart devices provided by their landlord or property owner.” Elizabeth Parks, President of Parks Associates, concurs: “One-half of consumers who have property-provided devices use them daily, so many stakeholders will find a receptive market in MDUs. New investments to improve onboarding and the user and property management experiences will further heat up this sector.” For years, we have made it part of our mission to enlighten electrical contractors about new trends so they can adapt and capitalize on the opportunities. The trend involving the lighting controls move into the residential space, in part on the commercial side and on the homeowners’ side, is just the latest bit of valuable market insight from Paramont EO. For more than 50 years, our family-owned electrical supplier has built its business to better serve contractors with a 125,000-square-foot, fully stocked and loaded warehouse to boast one of the largest electrical supply inventories in the state. We offer more than 50 time-saving services that range from kitting and staging to onsite job trailers, around-the-clock on-time deliveries to repair services and project management to reduce contractors’ expenses. Our locations may be in Chicago, Woodridge and New Lenox—but our knowledge is everywhere throughout Chicagoland. If you’re an electrical contractor who wants to increase your profit margins, Paramont EO is an electrical supplier built for you. Contact us today—or request some training on lighting controls.

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