You have just gotten your keys to your new apartment. Or you are in the midst of refreshing your existing home. Perhaps you are already at the stage of being chased down by your ID/Contractor to provide the lightings for installation.
More often than not, many new homeowners end up with less than ideal lighting effects as they failed to plan and budget early, especially since lighting installation normally occurs near the tail end of a renovation process.
Buying lights may be a challenge given the wide range of choices and the need for some basic electrical knowledge. So let us help you make the first step by sharing some tips to get you up to speed since it isn't something that you do very often.
What's the latest in the market? 2018, that is.
Fluorescent, incandescent, energy saving. Not sure what they are? Worry not, we are in the era of LED. Don't know what these 3 letters stand for? It's ok, just insist on LED, for anything else is just what your parents bought when they got their first home.
Colour changing, 2 tones, multi tones, etc. For that little extra premium, you now have the option for smarter lightings, that can also be supported by mobile apps or further integration into a smart home.
Yes, lighting has evolved from being an electrical product to an electronic device that has its place in the limitless world of IoT.
Colour Temperature changing via mobile app (Video):
Lighting control by Voice Command in a Smart Home integrated light system (Video):
When to buy them?
It's good to start early, shop around if you must, so as to give yourself a little more time. It involves some planning and much effort when it comes to shopping for lights for your own home, especially when you don't have direct control of your renovation schedule and have a date set to move in.
Who knows, you might be able to take advantage of time limited promotions when you plan your purchase early.
(above - example of promotion discounts from Threecubes Singapore)
Try not to wait till the last minute when panic sets in, as that will leave you little time to explore. Never too early, but only too late.
(At Threecubes, we offer our customers the flexibility to make minor changes to the orders before delivery, so they are able to place the order early yet not worry about needing to change it nearer to the delivery dates.)
Where to buy them?
Let us take a look at the few available options. Do note that all most if not all lightings sold in Singapore do not include installation, unless otherwise stated. If they do, it's better to do your due diligence to ensure the prices are not being marked up excessively.
1) Buy from IDs/Contractors
IDs and contractors at one point tried offering their own "in house" lightings by importing "cheap" lightings from China but they soon realised that the post sales support needed to support these untested products just wasn't worth their efforts when the products failed to perform.
Some IDs also offer to accompany their clients to their regular lighting partners but with the advent of internet and the transparency that came along with it, consumers now are encouraged to shop on their own if they like to ensure they get the best deal. Most IDs nowadays would be glad to just offer pointers and suggestions.
2) Lighting Shops -
There was a time when we think of places like Balestier and Jalan Besar at the mention of light shops. But when Internet brought us Google, with the click of a button and a few key strokes, we now can find any lighting shop just about anywhere. Besides, who would want to walk the entire stretch of road, drenched in sweat to only find all the shops offering the same designs.
That said, there are still many pluses to purchase from a physical store.
- You get to see the actual items. Sometimes things do not appear as they would in pictures. Size does matter here. It's not something you buy frequently, so unless you have a good sense of spatial intelligence and a good appreciation of dimensions, it's probably good to see the actual thing, otherwise you may end up with an oversized pendant lamp (relative to your dining table) for example.
- You get to ask questions. Do you know what kind of lights for which areas, how many watts and lumens is sufficient for a bedroom? How do you effectively light up a specific area? How do you replace the light when it blows? Because each house is different in design and space planning. Because you ain't just buying a fridge. Once the lightings are installed, it's not something you would consider replacing yourself. Sure, you can do all the research you can online, but the shop assistant can offer you advice based on their most current experience and feedbacks from their customers. It's also a good chance for you to have a feel of the customer service level of that particular shop, which could help you determine if you are comfortable to engage them for your purchase.
- Warranty & Repair. Any decent shop should offer at least 3 months warranty for the items they sell. Having a physical store will offer you a fuss free post sale support down the road.
- Quality and Standards. Though not a certainty, shops with a physical front tend to have a certain degree of accountability and adherence to industry standards and regulations. (MELS & Safety Mark)
- Change of items (Returns). There are times, when what you received may not be correctly packed or may have arrived damaged. Also, there would also be instances when only at the time of installation you realised something you bought isn't going to work, or that the dimensions ain't right. Dealing with a shop would mean it is easier for you to get it replaced/changed when you need it urgently with the least hassle.
All that said, there are many "traditional" electrical-cum-lighting shops, which count many electricians as their customers, are more accustomed to supplying electrical supplies and generic lightings to these regulars. So do not expect too much sharing and advice from a design perspective. It will hugely beneficial for you to understand some jargons and the lingo of trade when talking to these veterans. Basically, you will have the best experience when you walk in to such shop, already knowing what you need, else you may leave the place a tad disappointed.
These shops have been around since grandpa's time, while very experienced, what they carry may be a little dated. Since lighting isn't exactly a "glamorous" industry to begin with, many of them are still being operated by the "old timers" as their children are either not keen to take over the trade or they have other interest to pursue which probably explains why the shop looks almost the same as they were during your grandpa's time.
There are new shops that sprung up in the last few years, promising up to date designs. Many came and went, however. We couldn't help but notice many of them seem to be owned and operated by foreign hands. There are also many others claiming to be "factory direct" which never failed to amaze us. Some went on to claim that they are selling at factory prices even when they are distantly related to the manufacturing source.
3) Online (Only) Lighting Shop -
Many of us have purchased something online. Although based on industry figures, online retail sales only form less than 10% of all purchases. Surely, this figure will continue to rise. Having a comprehensive online store encourages price transparency, allows customers to view and study products without having to contend with the traffic, queue and our unforgiving weather.
Many of us are not unfamiliar with online marketplaces like Lazada, Qoo10, Taobao, and many of the online only shops. It is really not that difficult to open an online store, post some nice pictures and start selling, even if they are not the authorised retailer or seller recognised by the manufacturers. Most of them boast the selling point that because they do not have a physical shop, they are able to price their products cheaper than most retail shops. But that also means they do not offer the advantages associated with physical stores we mentioned earlier.
And in an era of online reviews and ratings, paid advertisement, it is fairly easy to get visibility on the internet as long as one is willing to pay.
With vouchers dangling, rebates and cash back offered daily by these major platforms, it is tempting to simply click, make payment, sit back and just wait for your orders to arrive. If only it was that simple. You see, you are not just buying a piece of appliance like a kettle or toaster where you can simply order another one to plug and play. Many light bulbs and fixture available online are usually of a lesser know brand, some term them "in house", or simply no brand at all. Most only provide basic information like wattage (which by the way, is not an accurate measure of brightness). For example, a 7w bulb 2 years ago can only match the brightness of a 5w bulb today. Further more, one would need to understand how bright (lumens), what beam angle is required to effectively light up an area.
For those reasons we have discussed above, we at THREECUBES believe that having an online store while maintaining a physical shop will help us to better serve the needs of our customers.
In fact, we made it so simple for you that if you drop by our store, view the products, and decides to buy it later, no problems, we will send you a direct email link to complete your purchases when you have decided to do so.
Stay tuned as we continue to cover more topics related to lightings for your home in Singapore.
In the meantime, find out how easy with the help of online reviews and paid advertisement can get a non existent business on top of web searches.
How to Take Advantage of Us at THREECUBES So You can Save $$$(under construction)
Buying Lights Online & Avoid being "Scammed" (under construction)