Interview with Geoff Millward from Low Energy Dynamics: LED Lighting
Tell us a bit about yourself. How long has Low Energy Dynamics been operating for? What is your role at Low Energy Dynamics? What takes up most of your time?
It was in 2009, just after the 2007 GFC, when an old friend of mine suggested I join him in his new venture into LED lighting. He had just about lost his insulation business after 25 years because of the Pink Batts debacle. I was taking a break from building and developing which was going nowhere after the financial crisis so I took to it like a duck to water.
I would spend hours researching the different types of LEDs and scrutinising the manufacturers Because it was such a new concept, there were no experts to lean on so there was a lot of trial and error. I think we had half a warehouse of useless lights that eventually went for recycling. It was this that made me develop into an importer, lighting designer and salesman of LED lighting. It was essential because there was nobody to lean on – even electrical engineers were still coming to grips with the product and, even now, some are still dragging their heels.
My role today has not changed a lot, other than my old friend has sadly departed (and is probably still working on deals in heaven) which has left me running the business totally. It really is a lot easier today as most people are aware of LED and it doesn’t take hours or even days to convince people as it did in 2009. In fact, most of my time now is taken up consulting to aware businesses on how to improve their existing LED lighting and replacing poor performing LEDs (that they bought from someone else).
What is the best thing about working in your industry?
The best thing about working in my industry is seeing immediate results in both the light emitted and the lowering of electricity costs. I could tell many stories about brighter or more significant lighting but the best one would be the number of customers that went into a large supermarket and upon being met by a lighter, brighter ambiance all asked the question “have you had the whole place repainted?”. The store increased its turnover significantly because more products were catching the customers’ attention. As my old friend used to say “light sells”.
On cost savings, many customers have been surprised when they have saved more than even we predicted because the LED lighting dropped their peak demand charges.
Why should businesses be changing from traditional lighting to LED lighting?
There are three main reasons why businesses should change to LED from the old traditional lighting and, firstly, it’s saving on electricity, because of the efficiency of LED lighting and it will vary, dependent on the type of existing lighting.
The second reason is maintenance, because of the long lifespan of LED – in some cases, up to 60,000 hours. This means minimal call-out fees for electricians and no disruption to business while cherry pickers hang over machinery or petrol pumps, as the case may be. It really means that with an LED canopy light that is on from dusk to dawn, you can expect over 10 years service from that fitting with little or no attention.
An added bonus comes from the fact that LED gives out no UV light and so doesn’t attract insects and therefore spiders. It can actually reduce the times your canopy needs cleaning.
Lastly, is the far superior light that LED emits and the fact it’s directional, which means you aren’t paying for light leakage into a roof space or the night sky. You can point the light at your petrol pumps or the shiny bags of chips in your store.
What sort of savings should business owners expect?
As I said before, the savings in electricity can vary, dependent on the type of existing lighting. However, a general rule of thumb is a minimum saving of 60% of your electricity usage on lighting.
I do a small spreadsheet based on the changeover from old to new which highlights the difference between the different types of lights. This is a free service to ServoPro members. There are also added benefits, such as the canopy cleaning and also the reduction in air-conditioning costs in the shop by as much as 8%.
When business owners are looking into LED lighting, is there anything they should watch out for?
Just as in the Motor Industry it can be said that “oils ain’t oils”, well “LEDs ain’t LEDs” and there are many low-cost, poorly manufactured products on the market that everyone should stay away from. The manufacturers overseas in China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea are very good at glossing over the product they sell by stating Phillips chips or Osram, Cree or similar, but that doesn’t mean the whole product is a Phillips product.
The chips may well be from the named producer but LED light fittings are like a jigsaw puzzle with all the parts coming from different suppliers. The manufacturer is just the guy fitting the pieces together and only experience can tell you whether the pieces truly match. There are lemons in LED lighting – as I said earlier, we dumped half a warehouse full of them in the early days.
In your visits to service stations, where do you think independent retailers should be focusing their resources to maintain and attract new business?
I think when anyone approaches a service station and the shop attached to it, they really want to see a clean, bright facility. LED lighting can enhance that by shining the light where you need it and therefore putting the intensity on products you want to move.
In previous comments, I referred to large multi-national fast food stores that renovate and splash the cash and the light (with no consideration of the savings in electricity) merely boosting sales turnover by over 17%.
Is there any other advice you would like to share with independent fuel retailers?
I often go back to supply LED lighting to customers I spoke to two or three years ago who, at the time, were not quite convinced. Seriously, in that time frame, they would have paid for their change over already and most would probably have boosted business.