Uncovering the Secrets of Commercial Fixture Pricing

Here’s a topic that architects and engineers, and anyone who’s ever specified or purchased commercial lighting products can relate to.

Why is it so difficult to get pricing on commercial grade products?  When designing a project that needs to be brought in on-budget, it’ impossible sometimes to know how much the desired product will cost.  The lighting industry persists in using an antiquated, multi-layered system of sale and delivery that ensures that new, innovative products are priced higher to recover development costs, at least until others produce a similar product.

There is some logic involved, although the logic is based onseveral confounding issues:

  1. Many contractors and suppliers persist in demanding the lowest cost products, since they don’t think the customer cares about quality and performance.
  2. Mfrs of new and higher quality products resist publicizing prices to avoid others undercutting their price and taking away market share.
  3. Manufacturers often copy each other’s products.  Even though the products may look similar, they may not be equal in quality and performance.   It sometimes takes a knowledgeable lighting pro to tell the difference, at least before the fixture is installed and the difference may be more obvious.
  4. Once a type of product is manufactured by enough companies, it becomes a commodity with a typical price point, and these products become ubiquitous.

I am often called to look at lighting installations where inexpensive, but energy efficient products were installed in locations that demanded a better shielded and better looking luminaire.   Sometimes these products were installed for little or no cost by an energy service company or efficiency program.

As the old addage goes, “You get what you pay for”.   Paying a little more often gets you a lot more in benefits, and an installation you’ll be happy with for many years.