Cheap for cheap sake

Bali 4th April 2013

My discussions with local suppliers here in Bali brought up another interesting approach to lighting sales. One of the suppliers I interviewed openly professed the strategy to buy cheap. Never mind if it fails, rots away or needs replacement. His sales’ pitch was that it is still much cheaper to buy the same fitting 2-3 times, than spending a lot of money for an expensive fitting. Basically saying that his fittings are about 3-4 times cheaper than the sort of quality/ performance level we would specify. I guess it keeps his business going and you would be surprised how many property owners fall for that pitch! Pay $25 for a down light now instead of $100 (save $75) and you can reinstall failing lights up to four times without spending more money. Sounds good, no?

What the whole approach fails to identify is the related peripheral hassle and frustration. Besides the obvious fact that the lighting effects are unlikely to be achieved due to poor performance and quality, there is a host of issues that are related to the “cheap” lighting, many of them related to public safety and security. As a property owner of a public space, you have the responsibility to make sure your premises are safe! Having fittings with poor electrical qualities that can easily break or damage pauses a both a maintenance as well as a public safety hazard. Most of the time owners that go for the cheap fittings are also likely to follow through with cheap installation contractors…I don’t have to spell out to what that leads!

I need to clarify that I am not professing that high quality expensive fittings are the only solution. Taking cars as a metafoor, the fittings have to be road worthy and comply with basic safety norms. A Suzuki Swift can be as good a solution as a Mercedes Station Wagon when it comes to going from A to B. However comfort, drive experience and quality will be totally different. The thing that they both have in common is compliance to safety and security. The same for lighting. Cheap is great and acceptable as long as it complies with basic safety. Unfortunately the cheap for cheap sake types are not…

Light Watch 4-58: Lighting is very much about the effects and moods that it produces, that is what affects our performance and arouses our human/ visual interest. Many suppliers seem to forget that and only look at technical specifications and price. Some effect images from Google…

04. April 2013 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: light watch, lighting and culture, lighting and the economy, lighting standards | Leave a comment

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