Legrand: An Innovative Approach to Lighting Controls

For the past four years, Legrand has been developing an innovative approach to lighting controls and aesthetics.

Legrand Home Automation

Imagine being able to relocate kitchen outlets in a snap, without having to do any rewiring or hiring an electrician. That is just the type of solution that the engineers at Legrand set out to create. “The entire program was four years in development, and we had to create a number of new technologies to get there,” explains Mario Gonzalez, vp/marketing for the new Adorne™ line.

In order to find that formula for success, there was a  lot of collaboration with design and engineering teams in France and Italy.  “We were using global resources to develop the line,” Gonzalez says. “It’s designed for the North American market and countries where UL listing is necessary.” Right now Adorne is available in the U.S., but it will be rolled out in Canada during 2013.

Residential Lighting: Legrand Home Automation

Re-engineering the Wheel

“We felt the simple and most popular interface is the on/off switch, yet when we looked at the market there wasn’t a lot of innovation,” Gonzalez explains. The toggle switch was invented back in 1908 and the paddle was invented in 1968 – but not much has happened since.

Legrand conducted focus groups comprised of homeowners, interior designers, lighting designers, architects, and contractors.  A broad segment of the market was asked to test out all of the options that Legrand was investigating.

“We wanted to bring very unique interfaces, but also wanted to bring something to the market that was better – not just different,” Gonzalez comments.

 

Among the options that made the cut are the sofTap Switch, which is similar to the movement used on smart phones and tablets; a Wave switch that activates with the move of one’s hand; a SensaSwitch motion sensor that turns lights on when people enter the room, and off when they leave; the Push switch, which an ultra-modern push button; and a Whisper Switch, which is a cross between a traditional toggle and a paddle.

In addition to implementing cutting-edge switch technology, Legrand’s team began honing in aesthetics. Once again, the focus groups were tapped to suggest some out-of-the-box finishes that would hold great appeal for their clients. This resulted in faceplate options such as Wenge Wood, French Oak, Black Mirror, Mirror White, Brushed Stainless, Black Leather, Dark Burnished Pewter, Oil-Rubbed Bronze, Aged Brass, Antique Nickel, two custom plates that can accommodate wallpaper or fabric, plus fashion colors such as Russet, Turquoise, Moss Gray, Lichen Green, Plum, Cherry, Honey, Felt Green, and Titanium.

Undercabinet 2.0

Undercabinet lighting has been around for a few decades, but except for changes in light sources – from fluorescent to halogen, then xenon, and now LED – not much changed in its primary purpose and usage. Just as with its approach to switchplates and controls, Legrand decided to expand the possibilities.

“We wanted to create a modular system and offer a lot of flexibility,” Gonzalez states. “When it came to developing undercabinet lighting, we wanted to provide a flexible way to offer power distribution. The solution came out of the research we did; this system makes it easy for people to relocate [outlets]. It snaps into the device without having reconnect the wiring.”

Gonzalez points out that in today’s designer kitchens, the backsplashes are very clean. “When people remodel, they are spending a lot of money on the materials they use, like tile,” he says. “People hate to put holes in the tile [or stone].  People we surveyed in the focus groups said they wanted a way to make the holes go away and they wanted the flexibility to be able to move [things] around. The idea of being able to move outlets at will was a very strong desire.”

Once the concept of a modular system was decided upon, the next challenge was to implement those devices that the focus groups said were the most helpful. In addition to the expected offering of puck lights and linear lighting, Legrand’s modular system offers USB ports, outlet modules, control boxes with paddle dimmers, a digital music kit, a mobile phone kit, and a tablet cradle, a nightlight, a portable flashlight, and a pop-out outlet among other amenities.

The company developed two modular systems to appeal to both the higher-end lighting showroom client as well as the DIY home center customer. One is a direct-wire version that completely eliminates the needs for outlets in the wall.  The other is a plug-in version that allows people to retrofit and plug the system into an existing outlet.

Most of the products carry a lifetime warranty, with the exception of a handful – such as the music system and video intercom – that have a 5-year warranty.

The Importance of Training

Every lighting showroom that is brought into the Adorne program undergoes an extensive training system. “We take the opportunity to take the showroom staff through our comprehensive Web site and show various configurations to show their clients,” Gonzalez says. “We also have a project specialist on-hand who can spec out a project for the showroom, and we can do project take-offs.”

For the DIY audience, there are how-to videos on the company’s Web site to walk them through the process of installing the system.

“We’re very happy with the placements and the interest we’ve received in the program,” Gonzalez notes. “We’re talking to all lighting showrooms about the line. There are compact, fully explanatory consolidated display units for lighting showrooms to feature on their selling floor.

Legrand has been generating consumer awareness in the product by doing direct-to-consumer print advertising campaigns in prominent shelter magazines in high-end metro areas as well as ads on HGTV.

A comprehensive wireless control system will be launched in the first quarter of 2013. It uses an existing wireless infrastructure in the home and is remodeling-friendly. “There’s no need for an electrician, unless you want to install it in an area where there is no power available,” Gonzalez explains.

“In short, we felt it was time to rethink a lot of the paradigms that the industry has. We wanted to bring out a fresh product that would break new ground in a lot of areas,” he affirms.

Legrand will be showing the Adorne line – plus give a sneak peek of the wireless system –  during the International Lighting Market at the Spectrum showroom in the Dallas Market Center.

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