Now that occupancy sensors and automated lighting control panels are the de facto technologies in legislated energy savings, the prospects for industry-wide adoption of dimming are getting, well, brighter. The Lighting Control Association's “2004-2005 Dimming Study” found that 79% of lighting designers specify dimming systems in their projects, but that number could be even bigger if it weren't for a few obstacles.

Cost — Unlike some technologies, dimming products won't get cheaper with greater market penetration. And A. J. Glaser, president of LCA and HUNT Dimming, says that if a customer is scared by the price tag, it will be hard to complete the sale. “People typically see the value in the product or they don't,” he says. “If they just want the lights to go up and down, it's a hard sell to convince them they should buy anything more than wall box dimmers.”

Interoperability — End-user demand has made compatibility among products a priority, so installers have to respond. “The days where it's acceptable to have a system from Manufacturer X and have to only buy products from Manufacturer X are over,” Glaser says. “People want open protocols and want to be able to connect all of their controllable components together.”

Variation in performance — Not all building owners have the same dimming needs. Find the right fit for your customer, and you might find a sale. “A small church that gets used once or twice a week might not need a sophisticated dimming system,” Glaser says. “But a high-end hotel that operates 24/7 probably does.”