Report from Hong Kong International Lighting Fair

HONG KONG—October 31, 2017.  Your humble editor attended the 19th Hong Kong International Lighting Fair and the second Hong Kong International Outdoor and Tech Light Expo, altogether the two shows attracted close to 69,000 buyers from 151 countries and regions, up 7% from last year. There were 2670 exhibitors from 38 countries and regions at the fair.

If you are interested in commodity grade product, this is probably the best show in the world.  However as our industry moves to more profitable, smart LED lighting, China seems to be moving almost as fast.  The number of control companies at the show was staggering. Fulham had a very nice booth and I was pleasantly surprised by their focus on IoT.   I had always thought that controls could be the big differentiator between the US market and BigChinaLED, but after this show that may not be true.  Soon, I may be writing about BigChinaControls! 

The Philips exhibit was interesting in that it was a very small booth hidden away on the third floor and only displaying drivers.  In talking to their team and thinking this through, it made perfect sense.  At this show, their goal was to sell their drivers to the manufacturers, so it made perfect sense to only display drivers and not luminaires.

I kept looking for that one product to write about, but didn’t really see it.  Those technology break-throughs are still reserved for Light & Building and LIGHTFAIR.  However, I did see some very cool things from Sengled.  Their salesman explained that retailers love Sengled because their products encourage consumers to upgrade their lighting, before they burn out.  With long life LED, retailers  miss those recurring sales.  Sengled uses the mobile phone business model encouraging customers to upgrade based on new features instead of when the phone breaks.  So many of the Sengled sales are actually replacing featureless LEDs.   In addition, they have a ring doorbell cam that is much better than the industry-standard, as you simply screw in a bulb and don’t need to wire a new fixture. Last, he explained that the Amazon Echo,  Alexa is a game changer because people don’t want to pull out their phone to control their lights, they want to use voice, or motion.

Speaking of motion, Vaxcel displayed their Instalux motion-controlled under-cabinet light that was pretty cool.  Motion control is nothing new, but Instalux controls their color tunable light with the swipe of the hand. 

I visited a Chinese manufacturer who private labels for Acuity and it was humbling to see the reach of our humble report.  They had heard about Acuity Brands Lighting President Mark Black’s retirement from reading EdisonReport—and it was only a few hours after we posted the news.  They showed me a few great looking Acuity branded fixtures and when I pulled out my phone to take a picture, two of their people almost tackled me.  I could take pictures of anything in their booth except for the Acuity fixtures.  In addition they were very forthcoming about pricing—except for the Acuity fixtures.  It was refreshing to see a Chinese company that, for the most part, respects their private label agreements.

Min Tong, CTO of Shanghai Feilo, is one of the most connected people in all of China and he invited me to dinner with associates of ten other leading companies.  The talk was fascinating and covered a broad range of subjects, but most was off-the-record.  We did agree that I can publish the consensus that IoT will be great for our industry, but it has a much slower adoption rate than it should.  No consensus as to why.  Also,  one dinner guest discussed his 170 LPW streetlight and as the wine flowed through the evening, it got up to 190 LPW.