What To Consider When Hiring a Contractor for a Commercial Lighting Project

What To Consider When Hiring a Contractor for a Commercial Lighting Project

Do you have an upcoming commercial lighting project in the works? If so, you’ll need to find a commercial lighting contractor that can do the job. Finding the right one for your project is crucial and there are many factors that you’ll need to consider.

This article will emphasize the importance of expertise, project management, product quality, and customer service in ensuring a successful lighting installation. By addressing these key considerations, businesses can ensure they partner with a contractor who meets their needs for efficiency, aesthetics, and reliability in commercial lighting solutions.

Assessing Contractor Expertise

Although it would seem obvious, one of the most important things to consider when looking for a contractor for a commercial lighting project is their level of experience. A contractor with a high level of experience in these types of projects will have specialized knowledge of lighting solutions.

To begin, you’ll want to look for a contractor with a proven track record in managing lighting system installations, repairs, and maintenance projects. Experience matters, especially in the dynamic LED lighting industry.

But it’s not just a contractor’s ability to demonstrate their experience in the field. They will need to possess knowledge of some key aspects of lighting installations that are often overlooked.

Local Lighting Codes and Ordinances

Of particular importance is their familiarity with local codes and ordinances. Codes and ordinances will vary depending on the location of the installation. For example, some municipalities have light spillover restrictions or minimum lighting requirements based on your project, and a good contractor will be able to understand these requirements and how to comply with them.

Product Rebates

Many local utility companies have rebate programs that can substantially reduce the cost of LED lighting systems. For example, if the light fixtures that are installed meet a minimum energy efficiency requirement, you will be eligible for a rebate. A good contractor will take this into account when it comes to fixture selection.

Technical Terms

An experienced contractor will be familiar with technical terms such as lumens per watt (lm/W), correlated color temperature (CCT), color rendering index (CRI), and BUG rating—all essential for choosing the right LED lighting system.

  • Lumens per watt (lm/W) is an efficiency metric that can be used to compare different light fixtures. It describes the effectiveness of a light source in relation to the electrical energy that is converted into visible light. It shows how much electrical power (W) has been converted into luminous flux (lm). The higher the value, the more efficient the light source.
  • Correlated color temperature (CCT). Color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K) and determines the color of light emitted. The higher the Kelvin, the whiter the color temperature. This is often expressed as the warmth (yellowish) or coolness (bluish) of the white light. There are three main types of color temperatures: soft white, neutral white, and cool white. Soft white is generally around 2700K and 3000K, neutral white is around 3500K and 4100K, and cool white is around 5000K and 6500K.
  • Color rendering index (CRI). CRI is a numerical measure of the ability of a light source to display the colors of different objects faithfully when compared with a natural or standard light source. It is represented on a scale of 0-100 (100 = natural sunlight). Light sources with a high CRI (80 or more) are desirable in color-critical applications.
  • BUG Rating. BUG is Backlight, Uplight, and Glare. Backlight (B) is the light focused behind a fixture, uplight (U) is any light focused above the horizontal plane of the luminaire, and glare (G) is the amount of light radiated from the luminaire at high angles.

BUG ratings are given a value between 0 and 5. A lower value (closest to 0) is the most desirable. BUG thresholds are defined by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) and are enforced by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).

Evaluating Project Management Capabilities

A contractor's approach to lighting project management can impact the project's success.

Key project management skills to look for:

  • Risk management: The ability to make decisions that minimize downsides and maximize upsides.
  • Cost management: The ability to have awareness of costs to keep the project from exceeding its budget.
  • Planning and forecasting: The ability to determine the best possible roadmap for a project for it to succeed.
  • Leadership: The ability to guide other stakeholders through the necessary processes to achieve the best results.
  • Communication: The ability to be the main point of contact among different stakeholders involved in the project.
  • Time management: The ability to manage timelines and deadlines efficiently.

Quality of Lighting Products

It’s important to purchase high-quality lighting fixtures and components. Product quality has a significant effect on longevity and performance.

At the minimum, luminaires should be UL or ETL listed. This certifies that a luminaire has been independently tested for functionality and safety.

Additionally, LED lights can be DLC-listed. The Design Lights Consortium is a non-profit group that sets standards for commercial-grade lighting. DLC-listed luminaires can be eligible for rebates from local utilities which helps to save on costs. An LED luminaire that is DLC-listed meets a minimum of performance criteria in three areas:

  • Light distribution (including lumen output and efficacy)
  • Light color/quality of light
  • Longevity

Customer Service and Communication

The role of effective communication is critical to project success. Through effective communication between client and contractor, you can outline expectations for customer service before, during, and after the project. It’s important to know ahead of time what to expect and what the proposed timelines will be.

Cost Considerations

Understanding quotes and pricing structures will help to understand how the seller is approaching the market.

A sales quote is a document that states a price for goods and services. Some quotes are fixed and might have comprehensive item-by-item breakdowns. Other quotes might specify a rough estimate for a project. These types of quotes allow for variance in either direction, but the expectation is that the actual cost will not vary significantly from the original estimated cost.

Make sure you know what you’re paying for and your manner of payment. This way, there are no discrepancies in payments and no delays in services.

Another cost consideration is balancing budget constraints with quality requirements. You’ll want to get the optimal value for your allotted budget.

A pricing structure is a set of strategies an organization uses to drive its products into its given market. These strategies are sometimes revised to adapt to the customer, their needs, and market demands. The most common ones are as follows:

  • Market Penetration - Pricing products lowest compared to other competitors to gain penetration and anchoring in the market. Profits are low but this is offset by potential large sales volume.
  • Price Skimming - Introduce a product or service with the highest possible price and slowly reduce the prices over time. Sales and profits are generally lower but are fixed.
  • Psychology pricing – There are a few variations of psychology pricing:
    • Marking a $200 product as $199 is psychology pricing. The feel of the price is lower with a lower starting number is the technique used. This gives the customer a feel of the product being priced lower than the others.
    • Discount pricing offers lower prices for a limited time. The strategy here is that the customer who has come intending to buy the discounted products buys other products as well.
    • Give one product free with the purchase of another.
  • Premium Pricing - The price tag for a product is higher than all competitors. It is used to reflect the superiority and/or uniqueness of the product.
  • Economy pricing - Products are priced affordably when compared to competitors’ products. The lower economic segment is the target for these products. The quality may or may not be compromised in the case of these products. Some companies have variations of products under the same portfolio.

Checking References and Past Projects

It’s important to review a contractor's previous work and client testimonials.

Check their online and offline reputation. Speak with references provided by the contractor and fellow business owners who have used their services in the past. Learn about their experiences working with the contractor.

Conduct online research to assess their reputation.

Certifications and Compliance

It’s important to know if a prospective contractor has the necessary certifications and standards of compliance in commercial lighting.

Check if the contractor you are considering is certified by a reputable industry body or is a member of an industry association. To become a certified contractor or a member of a reputable association, a lighting contractor must demonstrate their expertise.

Members are expected to keep up with industry trends. They must commit to lifelong learning and upgrade their skills and knowledge. When you hire a certified professional, you can rest assured that you will get your money’s worth.

Ensure that the contractor is certified by a reputable industry body or is a member of an industry association. These affiliations demonstrate their commitment to quality and professionalism.

Warranty and Post-Installation Support

Another important aspect to consider is the warranty terms and support services that are offered by the contractor. You’ll want to know what they can (and can’t) guarantee.

You should also ask about the electrical contractor’s additional services. Examples include predictive maintenance or 24-hour services for emergency troubleshooting.

Leveraging LightMart's Expertise and Solutions

Partnering with LightMart for your commercial lighting project can provide access to top-tier lighting products. Our knowledgeable staff has a great deal of experience with lighting projects of all kinds and can recommend contractors in your area. Contact us today!

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