Budgets and bad experiences hold back LED adoption in Middle East

Lighting buyers in the Middle East are itching to go LED - but budget realities and bad experiences continue to keep their ambitions in check.

Like in the rest of the world, lighting users in the region have struggled to distinguish the hype surrounding LEDs from the reality. But one thing remains constant: they demand value for money.

Martin Valentine (pictured), who works as a lighting expert at the Municipality of Abu Dhabi, told Lux Review: ‘Clients are often swayed by the imagery and promises made to them, but these often do not correlate with the budgetary allowance. If this is not properly assessed during the initial project stages, then we have the common problem of either the design having to be watered down or the quality of the equipment compromised.’

Gary Turner of Complete Lighting Solutions, the Middle East arm of Swedish manufacturer Fagerhult, agrees, saying: ‘Clients may well decide to invest in the latest LED technology for their projects, but “nice to have” features like RGB or colour temperature change is a different issue.

'Often in the Middle East, lighting projects are designed twice: once with LED and then, when the cost is seen, another design is requested using traditional sources. We try very hard to educate our clients and give them all of the facts about LED products and not just the hype.’

Customers in the region are excited about LED lighting, just as they are for the latest flashy cars and high-tech gadgets, but many have had their fingers burned in past experiences with LED, either due to poor quality LED sources, temperamental controls or equipment failures - sometimes as a result of the region's climate.

These experiences, according to Valentine, have led customers to demand the best, but without being willing to pay for it. ‘There still seems to be a big issue in the design chain in understanding the cost of quality lighting design and equipment.’

It is more about being cautious with lighting, he says. ‘Culturally there are many people seeking some valid local experience, more proof of claims and testing evidence when confronted with something new.'