Should I Buy LED Lights from a Distributor, Manufacturer Direct or a Lighting Solution Company?

Considering a commercial lighting project?

Not sure if you should purchase your lighting from a LED lighting distributor, general contractor (GC), direct from a manufacturer or a lighting solution company? There are a lot of options to source the lighting product for your facility, but which route is the best for you? The answers vary and depend on the particulars of your lighting needs. Here’s a quick look at the three most common approaches:

1. Purchase your Lighting Through your LED Lighting Distributor or General Contractor

You can put this responsibility for your energy-efficient lighting to the distributor. They typically represent only one major manufacturer or will put the lighting out to bid to a few other manufacturers that they may have a relationship with (regional or national). In either case, the management falls to a single point of contact. The distributor will manage the inventory, delivery, change orders and invoicing. You’re likely to pay for this service but if pricing is not the most critical factor you should consider this route.

Working with a general contractor tends to be the best route for new construction (ground up). The GC can be a single point of contact because they are managing the entire project.

If you are considering either of these routes, there are a few things to watch out for:

  • Quality control can be an issue. A GC or LED lighting distributor will often attempt to obtain the lowest cost product from the lowest-cost provider. It is critical to have standards or specifications that require a minimum level of performance.
  • Lighting performance can be an issue. With buying from a GC or distributor your product selection may be minimal. Is the product they are purchasing the right product for the environment the lighting is being installed?
  • Product selection can be an issue. You may find that most distributors will represent one of the major brand manufacturers of which they have had a long-standing relationship that they don’t want to jeopardize. When purchasing from a GC you will typically find they use a distributor which will also result in less product option choices.

2. Purchase your Lighting Directly from a Manufacturer

When considering this option you may be likely to save money avoiding the general contractor’s mark-up. Typically, a manufacturer will discount the product to the general contractor, but the GC’s mark-up is an unknown. If you are considering GE, Sylvania or Phillips, those manufacturer’s will be going through a distributor. They will not disrupt their supply chain.

If you’re considering purchasing direct from an Independent Manufacturer quality is extremely important. Look for personnel with CLMR certification from the American Lighting Association. This method of bringing product to market is most common with overseas product manufacturers or organizations providing private label.

Also, be sure the product has all the required testing and fact check any specification and performance claims (all of which should be available from independent testing facilities, or other UL or DOE approved testing facilities.

3. Purchase your Lighting Through a Lighting Solution Company

Another option you have is to purchase your product through a lighting solution company. Typically, distributors represent specific manufacturers narrowing your options of product. You will have more options going the distributor route, but product options will still be limited because they typically represent only one of the big three manufacturers so you’ll be limited to the line of that manufacturer.

If you are looking to have the most options in choosing product for your facility or LED project, a Lighting Solution company maybe your best option. There are several advantages in working with a lighting solution company:

  • A Lighting Solution company will manage product implementation start to finish
  • They will have broad expertise in lighting choices available on the market because they are close to the various companies with the lighting
  • A lighting solution company can recommend and specify lighting requirements to set a single standard
  • Many manufacturers will only sell through distributors, so you increase the product choices because they are not committed to any brands
  • A lighting solution company can manage the product recommendation, procurement, delivery and installation

Conclusion

In conclusion, although there are pros and cons to each option, we believe purchasing through a lighting solution company like Action Services Group will be the best source of information in the lighting industry, and the best way to source your lighting if you are looking for a full turn-key solution. We are product-neutral and will focus on the right product for your desired outcome rather than being limited to a product manufacturer. Only in the cases when you’re working on a ground-up construction project should you consider working with a general contractor. In the event you are doing a retrofit or lighting conversion in an existing facility then a lighting solution company like Action Services Group is your best option. Contact us today to learn how we can help your organization.