Episode 26 – What the Watt? Lighting and Performance – with Craig Bowler
Lighting affects our performance and with lighting technology's dramatic advancements in the past few years, we all need to better understand it. It is cheaper to create long-lasting light now but could this mean too much of a good thing?
I invited Craig Bowler of Home Depot Canada to shed light (I couldn't resist) on this topic. Craig is in charge of purchasing lighting and through weekly in-store customer experience really has the pulse on both lighting solutions and customer experience.
In this episode, Craig and I explore the history of lighting and a bit of the evolution over the past 20 years. We explore what new lighting developments are on offer and how Home Depot Canada can help you understand what they are. We also explore where we think lighting ought to go. We hope to encourage important conversations useful for suppliers, customers, and especially those who are sensitive to light.
00:04:30 The evolution of lighting
00:11:10 General public awareness of lighting
00:14:45 The right type of light
00:16:30 The history of LED lighting
00:18:09 Upgrading lighting at home
00:24:30 Continually upgrading
00:26:30 Should lights be left on 24/7?
00:27:45 Light pollution
00:29:44 Keeping light pollution at a minimum
00:31:31 Making more thoughtful choices
00:34:39 Educating the consumer on lighting
00:38:29 Keeping it friendly for customers
00:42:32 Bright LED lights in cars
00:45:30 Home Depot Canada lighting selection
IMAGE CREDITS (see images on Youtube video)
Led lights - credit Clare Kumar
Adjustable lighting temperatures - credit Clare Kumar
Philips Hue - credit Shawna Friedberg
Circadian rhythm - credit Canva
Color temperature - credit Clare Kumar
Brightly-lit garage - credit Canva
Children in school - credit Canva
Flickering lights - credit Canva
Halogen light bulbs - credit Clare Kumar
Scale of kelvin lighting - credit Depositphotos
Hanging patio lights - credit Canva
Dyson light fixture - credit Clare Kumar
Clare wearing Nitehood - credit Clare Kumar
Times Square - credit Canva
Small town at night - credit Canva
View from Clare’s window - credit Clare Kumar
Motion-activated lights - credit Canva
Condo lobby - credit Clare Kumar
Map of Canada highlighting lighting preferences - credit Wikimedia Commons / Canva
Clare’s desktop - credit Clare Kumar
HappyLight® Lumi light therapy lamp - credit Clare Kumar
Home Depot Canada light boxes - credit Clare Kumar
Learn more about and follow Craig:
Highly sensitive executive coach and productivity catalyst, Clare Kumar, explores the intersection of productivity and inclusivity continually asking how can we invite the richest contribution from all. She coaches individuals in sidestepping burnout and cultivating sustainable performance, and inspires leaders to design inclusive performance thereby inviting teams to reach their full potential. As a speaker, Clare mic-drops “thought balms” in keynotes and workshops, whether virtual or in-person. She invites connection through her online community committed to designing sustainable and inclusive performance, the Happy Space Pod. Why? Because everyone deserves a Happy Space.
Believing that productivity is personal, the podcast is produced in a variety of formats so you can enjoy it in the medium you prefer:
Listen to the audio right here or on your fave podcast platform.
If you prefer to watch the video, check out the episode on YouTube.
If you prefer to read, please see the transcript below.
Ready to learn more, or want to find out more about coaching with Clare or hiring her for your next engaging event? Contact Clare here.
If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a heartfelt review as this will help other listeners discover the podcast. Please invite your colleagues, friends, and family to listen as well. Together we can design a more inclusive world where everyone can make their richest contribution.
And don't forget, everyone (including YOU) deserves a Happy Space.
Audio and Video Editing: To Be Reel
Production Assistant: Luis Rodriguez
Song Credit: Cali by WatR. from Pixabay
Craig Bowler: Lighting is personal. Lighting emits a personal response. To me, lighting is kind of like music. It really plays on the senses. You know, lighting can excite you. Lighting can put you in a bad mood.
Clare Kumar: You're listening to episode 26 of the Happy Space podcast. And today we're talking about what's new in lighting and its effect on human performance with Craig Bowler of Home Depot Canada. Welcome to the Happy Space Podcast, where productivity meets inclusivity and everyone gets things done. Hello, I'm Clare Kumar, highly sensitive executive coach, speaker, and your host. Studies show that diversity leads to better business outcomes. So doesn't it make sense to invite everyone's richest contribution?
Yet, too many people are invited to burn out or opt-out, and we are squandering talent. On this show, we'll explore a two part solution. Part one, cultivating sustainable performance, the individual design of work and life to preserve our energy so we can keep contributing. And two, designing inclusive performance.
The design of spaces, cultures, products, and services, which invite the richest participation. I hope you enjoy these conversations and find inspiration and encouragement for everyone deserves a Happy Space. You may have heard me talk about lighting over the weeks and months of the podcast and it's been something that I've had to pay attention to because a few years ago, I recognized that for me to see bright white lighting, and this was generally LED lighting, and I first recognized it in studio lighting in the context of a very dark, surrounding ambient lighting and just studio lights.
I realized that for me triggered a migraine, which really started me paying much more attention to the quality of light that I was surrounding myself with. I've always been someone who loves sunlight and really motivated to get a lot of light. So it wasn't getting light that was the challenge. It was around the time and the quality of light, the time of day and the quality of light and the context that I was in. So when I met Craig Bowler at the, there was a Home Depot media event. I was, doing a media tour and working with Home Depot and I got to go to their spring media event and meet a few of the people who work on the team. And I met Craig and we had in that room an amazing conversation and I knew right then given his expertise, his love of lighting and what it can do for us that I wanted to bring his insights to you.
So please, I hope you enjoy this conversation. We explore the history of lighting and a bit of the evolution over the past 20 years. We explore what new lighting developments are on offer and how the Home Depot can help you understand what they are. And we also explore some of where we think lighting ought to go. And I'm excited for the conversation that Craig is going to have with his suppliers. I'm excited to have, perhaps, ignited a spark and maybe where some of those conversations can go. I think that as highly sensitive people in particular who are sensitive to light, if we can be vocal about what our needs are and curious, perhaps we can invite more vendors and suppliers to give us what we need.
So please, without further ado, have an enjoyable listen to my conversation with Craig. Hi, Craig. I'm so thrilled to have you joining me today and for our listeners to tune into the importance of lighting in the way they shape their space, it contributes to a Happy Space in so many ways through well-being and also setting mood. And there's just so much I'm excited to talk to you about, in large part because my own journey with lighting has been around being highly sensitive and being, really starting to tune into it.
Because of health challenges, migraines in particular with LED lighting. So I've been really trying to do my best and learn and when I met you and we had a fabulous first conversation, I thought, I want to bring your insights to the podcast. So, thank you so much for joining me. I want to kick off with a question for you around what you've noticed in the lighting evolution since you've been in your role, what are you noticing and where are we today with the options of lighting that we have?
Craig Bowler: Well, yeah. Thanks for having me today, Clare. Really appreciate you taking the time to talk about our world of lighting and it's so much more like you mentioned than just providing light to a space. We've learned so much more about what can do, not only to the decor of a space, but what it does to you personally.
And it sounds like you've got a great story in and around your interaction with lighting and how it affects you. And some of that ultimately is, you're right, has been the technology change that we've seen, I'd say over the last two decades. When you think about lighting in the past, it was good old incandescent light bulbs.
That's kind of what we all grew up with. There wasn't many styles, designs. You didn't have any options. You know, you had specialty bulbs, things like halogen and all of those really non good for the environment types of lighting solutions that yes, they burned bright, they burned hot, but they weren't necessarily providing, solutions other than just providing the type of light you needed.
As lighting's changed over the years, we've evolved getting rid of those incandescent bulbs and fixtures. We adopted fluorescence and compact fluorescence for many years and realized, “hey, yes, the lighting is getting better, but we're still not at a great spot in terms of sustainability with lighting, light bulbs, light fixtures as well.”
And then, you know, about 15 years ago is we started to hear the term LED. A lot of people didn't know what LED was, starting to see it integrated into fixtures, into light bulbs. The first LED light bulb I ever saw didn't even look like a light bulb. Yet here we are talking about, “Hey, this is the new, the next big thing in lighting.”
At the time, LED lightbulbs were close to $100 a bulb and really not attainable for the average customer or consumer to really reap the benefits of that. Over the last 10 years, I think we've seen the cost of LED come down, so much that it really… it's the bread and butter of kind of what lighting is today. When you think about also then the functionality that we've been able to achieve with LED.
Changing colour temperatures and things like that, that's where we're really now starting to tune in to kind of, you know, adapting light to really personalize it to maximize what lighting can do. It's not just light in the space. It actually does have, a personal and potential health benefits as well to customers of how they interact with light on a daily basis. And I think that's what we need to think about when you think of lighting is there's light and then there's lighting. And although, you know, it's I'm out there buying lighting all day long, mostly light fixtures. I do have to really think about the type of light that we buy or how it integrates with our consumer.
Because nowadays, unlike 20 or 30 years ago, we have fixtures that have LED, have that technology built right into it. There's no need for replacement bulbs. There's no need to maintain it, which is convenient for the customer. And then, as, like I said, technology has now allowed us to get ahead of giving some control of that light to the customer. So the customer can purchase an LED light fixture, but let's say they don't like a soft white or a low colour temperature. They want something a little bit brighter. A lot of our fixtures now, are made so that the customer with a simple toggle of a switch as they're installing these fixtures can adjust that to their personal preference.
And I think that's the exciting part about really where we are today in the lighting world. Lighting is personal. Lighting emits a personal response. To me, lighting is kind of like music. It really plays on the senses. You know, lighting can excite you. Lighting can put you in a bad mood. Lighting can give you migraine headaches like you mentioned earlier. And I don't think a lot of people, narrow it down to lighting as the source of how they're feeling, whether that's good, bad, or indifferent. I think we've only ever looked at lighting in one way. So we're really at a point where to understand, you know, where our customers can take that and adapt that to their personal lifestyle of what suits their needs and what's going to make them feel good as well.
Over the last while as well, we've seen the adaptation and integration of smart. We are seeing smart in everything, whether it's, you know, it's thermostats to control, climate, to whether it's light fixtures as well. But the thing with smart now, smart truly allows the customer to now dial in that personalization, whether it's something as simple as some automation with timers or special settings so that lights will come on and off. That could be done for a variety of reasons. Security is one. I know I'm not home, I can have lighting turn on or off. Back to the health benefits now, there are a lot of smart lighting platforms which have taken that into account. One of the lighting platforms we carry at Home Depot is Philips Hue.
Philips Hue is a smart lighting platform, which we sell fixtures, but mostly bulbs, in this case, with the simple download of an app and connection to your home Wi-Fi, this allows customers, like I said to take those enhanced benefits. And they've done a great job. And actually thinking about the health benefit of the consumer who's working in their platform or app, things like circadian rhythm, understanding that different types of light at different times of day that can constantly be changing based on what your action or activity is, has a longer term positive health benefit, on a consumer than just sitting under the same type of light all day. There's a reason, you know, the daylight is bright, you know, and we feel different at night. It's the different types of light and light temperature that we have. And in our world, we're starting to hear our customers talk more about light temperature. And you know what, I try and get into our stores and talk to our customers as often as I can.
Like, that real-life, belly-to-belly feedback. And when you ask them, you know, what they're looking for, you want to qualify a customer, you know, what type of light, do you have currently, what type of activities are you doing? There's different reasons a customer needs a different type of light or lighting solution.
And then we can kind of get to what that ultimate solution is. Is it a new bulbs or a fixture that you have, or do you light it differently? Do you need a whole new fixture just based on your project or your space or your overall need? Because then you can really start to tie in not only the benefits of the light itself, but then the decorative element.
I think sometimes we fail to realize decorative lighting is actually the jewel of that space that you're in. It's a fashion category that we're in. And I think when you blend kind of fashion and, and, and wellness together, you've got a really captive customer and captive audience, but we also need to educate those customers as well too.
And, you know, customers are starting to understand Kelvin and colour temperature and some of the language that we're talking about. That seems so technical sometimes, but when you really break it down for the customer, they begin to understand it. So gone are the days where our customers were saying, “hi, I'm looking for soft white.”
I have customers now coming in saying, “Hey, I'm looking for something about 2500-2700 Kelvin, which shows that they've, they put the time and understanding into knowing what colour temperature is doing for them, what their potential need and use for it is.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. I love that. What percentage of clients do you think have this awareness about colour temperature? Do you have a sense?
Craig Bowler: So we're not 100% there yet. We're still in the early adopt early adopter phase of that or that transition phase, I guess. It wasn't long ago we had customers still talking at candle power, but it's great to see that there's customers out there who are investing the time and energy to learn about what goes into making good light and good light output.
And it's funny how, you know, some of it's personal preference, but some of it is, they've, they've realized over time, like I said, the use case, they've grown up using nothing but soft white type bulbs. And I always wondered why my hair looked a mess or my wife's makeup was all off is because the light just wasn't the right light for the type of space that we were in.
And like I said, now you can really personalize that for what you need. If I'm tasking and I'm in my garage. I probably need something a whole lot brighter that's going to give me, a true reflection of a daylight or an outside. But if I'm, you know, looking to wind down the end of the night, or I'm in a low-lit space where I'm trying to set some ambience and a quieter space, I probably will want something a little bit softer.
Everybody's a bit different. And there is some science behind it, in terms of that melanopic response that people have an understanding that everybody will absorb and take in light differently. And the chemical response that the body actually has on the light is completely different from customer to customer.
But you mentioned earlier, a higher Kelvin or higher lights like LED has given you migraine headaches, and that's the number one thing I hear from a lot of customers as to their first experience with, with understanding it's light that's making this change or difference in them physiologically. They never took into account over the years of different light sources, but it really is with the evolution of LED light that we've got there.
Clare Kumar: I want to just pause there for a second because you took us through the beautiful history and just for people that have lighting out there that is maybe not the newest in the LED lighting. Fluorescent lighting I know has a flicker to it. And so children in educational environments, I know some would be agitated by fluorescent lighting, so I'm thinking, I'm wondering if we could just go back to the history for just a second and talk about, with LED lighting now for me, it's colour temperature that I'm sensitive to, but it's, and we'll get to melanopic versus photopic ratio, that piece. But I wanted to talk about flicker as well, because that's something that is prevalent. I know with, fluorescent lighting. Does that exist in other light forms as well, or is that something particular? Is there a flicker to some degree with LED, because I think I've read that as well. Maybe you can talk to me just about that piece for a second.
Craig Bowler: Yeah, for sure. And you know, flickering is, a lot of people think when there's a flicker to their light, there's something wrong with the light itself, to be honest. Some of this comes down to education. I think fluorescent, true fluorescent tubes and fluorescent lighting that ran off a ballast previously, yes, because it is a gas and the way it kind of lit up and made that connection over time, if it wasn't performing properly or wasn't connected properly, it would cause that flicker, sometimes more pronounced than others. With LED, yes, we do see flicker sometimes, but generally Clare, the flicker is not a result of the light itself.
Depending on how the light is connected, specifically if it's on a dimmer, non-compatible dimmer. A lot of customers, nowadays love making the upgrade to, say, LED. They understand the energy benefits, the convenience, the low maintenance and long-lasting. However, they fail to realize sometimes that, hey, there may be their existing hardware, meaning their switches and their dimmers are older and not compatible with the technology today. So there are some considerations you need to take as you do upgrade or update your lighting. It's no different than updating, as you'd update some of your hardware with say a computer over the years as they do become dated and create that compatibility so they do work seamlessly and to their premium to how they should.
Clare Kumar: Because the flicker is one thing. The other thing that comes with a non-compatible dimmer switch is a buzz. Right? So getting the light bulb to match the dimmer is absolutely critical. And then making sure it's comfortable for your eyes. I worked with a designer when I bought this condo and their recommendation was still halogen light bulbs. And I know they give off a lot of heat, but so far personally, I've found that to be the most pleasing combination so far. Do you know why that is?
Craig Bowler: It’s just the type of light that, you're right, halogen burns hot and burns quite bright. But the type of light that it puts out, it is a still a, it's a very functional light, but still lower on the colour temperature kind of spectrum. When we think colour spectrum from like we talked about earlier, Kelvin and temperature, you really range from a lower end of say 2500, which is more of your yellows and more of your softer. It's really going to give a softer look to other colours in the space as well and very relaxing. And then you start to move up in increments, we actually have some fixtures and bulbs now which are reaching 7000 Kelvin plus.
And, these are super, super bright, you know, I don't see a lot of use for these in-home or residential, definitely some commercial applications here and having that range for a really bright, almost that sterile blue look to it. And that's really what, like I said, LED has kind of taken us to today. But yeah, based on the type of light, you'll get the different type of output and halogen still being a gas is always going to burn at that. Burns hot, but at a lower colour temperature. So it's almost like burning a match, I guess. Burns hot, but has a very specific colour output to it.
Clare Kumar: Well, and there's also light bounces differently. I remember when I was installing closet lighting, a fluorescent was a good choice because it bounced everywhere. Right? So it really filLED the space. Where are LEDs relative to fluorescent lighting in terms of how the light disperses. Is that a fair question?
Craig Bowler: That's a great question. And a lot of customers love the dispersion of how fluorescent tubes or fluorescent lighting used to put out, you're right, the dispersion of light. So with the technology now moving to LED, they've maintained that still how it's presented and whether it's in linear tubes or smaller. So it has the same look and feel and output of the fluorescent yet just with the LED technology.
So that's where you can kind of truly blend some of the what's been working through the industry with the updates in technology. So you don't lose a lot in transition and most places I've seen, definitely a lot of most commercial places, office spaces, schools, they still have those those fixtures up, but they've relamped a lot of places to become LED. Once again, energy efficient, save time, save energy, money, just more sustainable. But with that same light. and output needed for the space. So yeah.
Clare Kumar: So when I've had some interaction with LED lights, there are some that are working for me fine. But I was telling you, I bought an outdoor patio lighting recently, not from the Home Depot. So my apologies and my mistake apparently, but it was LED lighting in an Edison-type fixture. So you could see an enlarged filament is essentially, you know. And even though, from my understanding, the LED, to warm up the colour temperature, there's a layer of phosphorus that's put on, which is yellow, which I believe erodes over time as well. But it's there, and that gives the colour. Now those lights, maybe because the filament is so exposed. I found those fatiguing to my eyes compared to an incandescent Edison fixture, which I was like, oh my eyes can relax. And I wasn't sure what was going on there because I was so excited to find 2700 Kelvin LED lights. I was so excited. And then I was like, I can't, I can't, I'm sorry. I can't live with these.
Craig Bowler: Yeah. And that's exactly it. As you know, an LED is mimicking the old filament style, you know, some of the original LED diodes were just that they were just small little, almost looked like a mechanical squared diode and a lot of bulbs, which right away, produce that very blue light that…
Clare Kumar: Old Christmas lights. That's what we saw. Christmas lights. And I was like, what's this?
Craig Bowler: That's exactly it. And a lot of people right away were turned off by that and wanted to come back to Home Depot and buy, I'm using Christmas lights as the example here. They wanted incandescent. They're like, no, I want that light back. And that type of feedback really spurred on the industry to how do we get to a space where we're taking LED bulbs now at wrapping with phosphorus filament. Yes, it's been yellow to try and get that colour effect, but it's never been perfect. And a lot of customers don't like that look and feel. Where we're at today as a lot of companies… we're actually one of the first to launch a white filament, which will burn slightly differently, more of a natural look and feel. But also then think about it too when the fixture is actually off. You don't have that detraction of, Hey, what's that yellow look in my fixture? Because lighting is just as important off as it is on. Remember we talked about it is a decorative category. So you got to look at it, as well.
Clare Kumar: Believe me, that was a big concern. Do I want lights hanging from my patio or not? Because yeah, they're there in the daylight too. And it doesn't look appealing.
Craig Bowler: You got it. You got it. So, but did, and the technology is still continuing to advance. It's not like LED has stopped.
It's, you know what it seems on an annual basis, we're hearing something new In LED, you know, innovation will always be there, but we're at a point now where a lot of customers have purchased LED bulbs or made the transition to LED fixtures over the years and most people did it with the energy savings and sustainability piece in mind. But that being said, because LED lives so long, well, how do you let customers know and get them that they still should be replacing them with the new features and benefits and updates and upgrades as well?
Clare Kumar: We were sold, it's going to last 20 years or my one, my desk fixture is 60 years, right? It's a Dyson light fixture and it's 60 years. That it's, that it's guaranteed to last. I'm like, I'm not going to be around here.
Craig Bowler: But as LED technology advances, there'll still be reason to want to update or upgrade, whether it's a trend or a style, whether it's, like I said, advancements in bulb technology and light output and just use cases. And you go back to just how light is output. Just even designing a space and thinking about that, I think functional lights and workspace and by recessing a light, you're going to get a different light look than if you have a flush mount fixture. So all of that goes into account in what type of light do I need? I think we need to think about light for the space, what the space needs, but then what do I need as well? And, dialling it in.
Clare Kumar: That's right, and offering that ability to customize lighting, so if you have a family, it's to understand who's in the family, what are the tasks, and then what are the sensitivities and preferences that that person has as well. You mentioned, when we were talking earlier about advances in almost legislation, what's happening south of the border. And I really want to talk about that. I live in a condo complex and there's four towers here. The fourth tower that went up has a gym on the top floor. And they have LED lighting on 24/7 and what I was told was that it's more efficient to keep the LED lighting on than to turn it on and off.
That will actually wear it out faster than to leave it on. So the people opposite that lighting, three stories worth of lighting, have bright LED light at a colder colour temperature because it's generally for exercising in the day where you want bright energetic light. They have that 24/7. And I think it's an absolute crime. So I'm curious, what are you noticing? I also live across from another condo tower, 37 at least, podium lights? That, when I was on the 20th floor, I'm now on the 43rd, they would keep me up at night. I have to sleep with the hood to block it out, to block the light because it was so much light being diffused and we live across from a park. It's not great for wildlife. It's not great for seeing the sky. Talk to me about what you're noticing because you're more up-to-date on it than I am. I was thrilled to hear that.
Craig Bowler: And this is really a big problem. And yes, LED has become very inexpensive to make. and to output and to make very bright and it's almost become limitless, but the problem it's created is unfortunately a lot of unneeded light pollution. You know, it seems like we can put LED lights in anything nowadays. I was on a bicycle with my kids the other day and LED bicycle seat was an option. Like it almost seems we're putting light in places that we don't need and sometimes over utilizing light. But it is creating a light pollution problem.
Clare Kumar: Just picking up on that, I brought a humidifier for the room, which you're going to run at night while you're sleeping. You don't want extra light while you're sleeping. Like all of the smoke detectors, the first thing I do in a hotel room is cover everything. You got it.
Craig Bowler: You got it. Yeah. And where this has gone is, think about a lot, it actually started not just in the cities but more in the smaller towns, first of all, where they were used to really dark nights and just by introducing a small amount of brighter light, it was a noticeable difference. So, you know, voices became louder, light expanded from smaller towns to larger communities, to a point where governments in the US did have to step in. And in a lot of cases, they have what they call dark sky legislation now. It's starting to get off the ground in certain states. it will be moving into Canada as well, over the next couple of years where there will be limits on the amount of light and light output you can provide in certain spaces at times.
Yes, a lot of this is going to be more in the residential spaces, but that's where our customers are, you know, when they're not kind of in the city at work and they've all commuted back home, you know, we need to help our customers be conscious of the amount of light pollution that they're contributing to.
So a lot of this legislation will focus on… today, when I think about outdoor lighting, we have a lot of up-down type lighting. There'll be limits to the type of light that you can provide or the light output that you can provide in certain type of lights, to keep that light pollution, at a minimum or at a reasonable level.
Clare Kumar: Can you, can you give us some thought of what that is for listeners who are here, like, I don't want to wait for legislation. I want to do the right thing now. What would, do you know what that looks like? Yeah.
Craig Bowler: It will. So it's not so much. Yeah. It's causing, I think, our suppliers to think differently, specifically about how they design. They don't want to necessarily limit the light capabilities that a customer needs. It's how do they deliver it in a different way. So thinking about how the light is diffused, right? So in some cases, you know, is it more, more etching on a glass or more, a diffused state so that you're not producing as much overspill of light but still getting the amount of light that you use putting things like tops on angles for uplights versus leaving them completely exposed, which provide more directional light, really allowing the customer once again, more personal control about truly what you're lighting up and what your needs are versus just lighting up what you need and then lighting up Clare's window at the same time as well, all night long, keeping you up.
Clare Kumar: In Toronto, we, you know, I talked to bylaw officers around lighting about this podium, right? It's on the fourth, fifth level. I was on the 20th floor. They did not consider that to be direct lighting. Like do you understand how light works? It's travelling in a direct line from that podium up 17 stories and into my eyes. No, sorry, that doesn't count. So there's a got to be a real catch-up of legislation to protect humans and nature from technology advancements. I was reading building code because I nerd out on this stuff. Ontario building code. We only had guidance around light minimums for safety.
Minimum wattage required, right? And it was small because there was a naturally prohibitive element because of pricing, because lighting was expensive. Now that that's gone, we need to be safe from ourselves. So I look at the work you're doing as a strategic thinker and merchant and lighting to be someone who can really guide us as consumers to make more thoughtful choices and you're going to be helping bring us those solutions.
Craig Bowler: Yeah. And that's exactly it. And that's what excites me, like I said, is the innovation and how we have to think about solutions for these problems. Sometimes solutions are not as cut and dry as, “Oh, add this, remove that, change that.”
We need to adapt to the need because there was obviously a need for the light or lighting solution to begin with, but it's produced another problem. So. that's where, like I said, this is where innovation comes from. So, you know, what is the next big thing? I don't know. But as this continues, there's more adoption behind this.
There's more of a voice. More people are crying out now saying, “hey, light pollution is a problem. We didn't have that problem 10 or 15 years ago, we just want bigger and brighter.” But now it's that same customer realizing, whoa, we're just, we're too bright. How do we dial it back? Well, we don't want to go backwards in terms of the technology.
So it's the other pieces that we think about, like I said, it's how we diffuse light better, how we direct light better. how we work more on automation and timers as well too. And like I said, let's be smart about things. The capabilities are there now to automate some of these things. There's proximity infrared sensors nowadays that will dim up and dim down based on, customer traffic.
So if a light is needed, we know it can, we can have it dim up when the customer or the person is there and needs the light, but when they exit the space or leave, we can have that light dimmed down automatically, whether that's with smart lights, whether that's with sensor lights, so there's so many different options that we can think about to be considerate of how we use light and then how, like I said, how we all contribute to, to, to light pollution in some way, shape or form.
It's not just leaving a light on, it's, what the light is doing once you've left the light on, is what we need to kind of think about.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. And you mentioned, you know, the same customer is coming to you saying there's too much light. And I wonder about that because we live in this hustle culture, which says more and louder and brighter and faster is better. And in my condo, for example, they switched out all the 3000 Kelvin, which is starting to always be cool, already be cool light in our lobby, which is total white tile environment. And they switched it to 4000, which is even brighter and cooler, in large part, I think, because one of our board members happens to work in shopping malls.
And so in a shopping mall, you want your customers alert. You want them to stay wide awake and be going and spending money, right? They can go in Sage for an ambient, you know, great smelling, misted experience. But in the mall, you don't want them falling asleep in that lounge chair while someone's shopping. You want them to shop. So I see the misapplication. because I think preference is diverse, how do we get to a place where we're being more sensitive in general and inviting people to understand that more is not always better?
Craig Bowler: I think that's the million-dollar question, Clare, to be honest. Obviously I look after business right across Canada and, you know, we break it down provincially and, and, and by demographic and see who's buying what and using what. And from a lightbulb perspective, which is kind of a good indication, it's funny, Western Canada, for the longest time, and I say Western Canada, I'm going to say from Manitoba to British Columbia, was predominantly daylight and bright white.
They were trending towards the higher and brighter end of the spectrum, and it was almost a 50/50 split. You got to Ontario and Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, it was almost the other half soft white, that lower light temperature. So a very contrasting difference, but we've seen that trend move more towards the East. We're starting customers. You're right. They are getting into brighter and I think the customer is doing it because the capabilities there, not because they're truly understanding what the light application or the light output will actually can actually do. And I think that's the biggest piece overall.
It's just education to her. To the consumer today, not even just our customers, consumers in general around the types of lights, when to use a certain type of light, how to use it, and potentially what the effects of the light can be. Like I said, if I'm tasking, I'm working in my office, like you said earlier, I need to be energized or pumped up. I do want a brighter white, something that's higher colour temperature.
Clare Kumar: Unless you're working in the evening. Unless you're working in the evening, right? I use F.lux on my computer. So I have to make sure that I do any design work in the day. If I want to see the colours, because my computer goes orange and red at night, right? Two hours before sunset or right around sunset, actually with the sunset. It's modulating. And so my daughter's like, “I can't do anything here.” But I cannot work now on a computer that's, where that's not happening. I'm just like, Oh, dear God, that lights too much. So, yeah, there's an education element here, and this is where I want to come specifically to the total nerding out part here, melanopic/photopic ratio, because I followed a rabbit hole.
I followed, I don't know if you're probably aware in the U. S., the American Medical Association had put out guidance saying the street lights are causing a problem with this bright LED, right? And then I followed a couple of lighting experts that we're talking about, well, you can't actually use colour temperature as the sole measure for exactly the wavelengths that are being emitted.
And I follow Dr. Samer Hattar, who is the gentleman that discovered the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells in your eye that are not meant to be receiving light from above, you know, in the evening. So I've followed these rabbit holes and I'm going to say, I did not understand everything I read for sure. But I did come out with the feeling that if we had a light package, which told us that the ratio was safe for circadian rhythm, that that ratio was safe. I have not seen a light package with that ratio on it. What's going on that we're not being given the information to make that educated decision? Help me, Craig!
Craig Bowler: I think part of that, you're right, is it's a lot for the regular consumer to kind of understand that. But I think on the simplest term, will the industry ever get there? I think at some point they will. I think we'll think of different ways to communicate it to the customer, though, that's easily digestible because you're right. If we start putting terms like melanopic and photopic on a, I think on a product package, I think it's over a lot of customers' heads.
Clare Kumar: We talk about it being physiology friendly. That's what we need to get to. Human physiology.
Craig Bowler: And that's the type of language we should actually be talking and to break it down for anyone listening as well as, you know, what the melanopic is, is the response that the body's producing, in terms of how you're perceiving that type of light, how blue you're perceiving a type of light. That is why when LED first came out, there was some customers or some consumers just saying, “Whoa, that's way too blue”. But some other people looking at the same light may have not have seen it as blue as the next person. Right. It's, they're very sensitive then to the melanopic reaction based on the type of light, the phototopic, which is the type of light that it is producing and the melanopic is the response.
So as customers understand that piece and the interaction, and I think you just said it in a great way of, hey, great light for bedtime, great light for studying, great light for exercising. I think once we can kind of find a range of what really… because everyone physiologically is different, what type of range suits those type of activities in a way that can kind of be digested. And that's where I always suggest to customers to try different light types. You don't know until you try and, you know, as I mentioned earlier, there's the capability now to buy a light bulb or a light fixture that will allow you to change the colour, temperature, and steps of up to three, five, even seven different colour temperatures, and you would be surprised at the response as you get back, after trying those, you know what, I go back and think about, we just came out of a long winter, I think there was six or seven weeks we didn't see the sun.
Seasonal affective disorder is a real thing and the physiological response just on light when the first day of sun comes out, there's a reason we all want to get outside and soak that in. It's the natural response to light, but everybody will respond to a type of light slightly differently. And that's that melatonin balance or imbalance in some people that elicit a specific response, some more than others of how they take that in. It's why we talk a lot about, and I know, you know, and I'm not in the computer industry, but blue light with computer, that's exactly it, the type, the phototopic light that a computer outputs has such a response, on us based on how you perceive that blue light.
It really is the blue end of the spectrum, that affects us. You know, a lot of people nowadays have taken on to light therapy specifically, you know, There are products out there that we sell, online and in-store, at Home Depot. Happy light, right? Where you can actually just sit down in front of it, pre-program it, you know, it is a thing. And I know, I know people who are. religiously we'll be like, “Hey, I need my light therapy this week”, or I need some time in the sun.
Clare Kumar: I've been talking about it for years. I was actually involved in a U of T study back in 1995 with some of the first light therapy, which was this big fixture and I would sit under it before I went to work. So what was really challenging about that, it was dark all around me with this really bright light. And it's what I love about happy light, a small footprint can have it on my desk. And it can be light around me because that's like I worked from home now. I'm not doing light therapy at 6:30 in the morning before getting on a subway.
Well, that's done, but yeah, very powerful. I have to ask you before I come to, and I want you to talk about how much of this experience people can get in the store. I want to finish at that point. I want to ask you, and this may be something you can talk about or not: Headlights in cars. So I was, I just have a rental car as I had a car accident a couple of weeks ago and not only were the headlights coming at me, very cold colour temperature for me and also very bright in this particular vehicle. Oh my gosh, the display, I was driving with my hand like this and like, so I did not have to see the display because it was also too cold. And I thought, I don't even know where in the manual I can figure out if I can change the colour temperature, but I bet you I can't. and I can't even change my microwave right now because the new fixtures all are having LED fixtures built in.
And they're cold and I know it will trigger a headache for me, so I'm like, Oh, I'm stuck with a broken microwave. So tell me about what's happening if you know anything about the cars because I really want to be talking to, I really need the research for the sensitive. I know that migraine sufferers are about 18% of people, 11% women, and 7% men. And I know highly sensitive people around 19% and I think, honestly, we're being thrown under the bus here or under the car, the LED-driven car. What do you know about this? And if, is there, is this something you can talk to at all or do I need to get a car person here.
Craig Bowler: I don't know much about the car regulations and even pieces of products that they're using internally. I will say though, if you're using LED light, regardless of the application, there is always a way to, as much as we're brightening it up, there's always a way to dim it down. Whether those are with dimming features, similar to a light fixture, whether how the lights are positioned.
Clare Kumar: positioning! And it's a combination of the three things that dimming it is reducing the lumen outputs, the intensity, then the colour temperature to soften the colour, which is the wave, hopefully changing the wavelength that's actually hitting your eye. And then positioning as well, right?
Craig Bowler: Yeah. So in terms of how the car manufacturers are utilizing that or the capabilities, certainly not my expertise. So I'll leave it for the car folks.
Clare Kumar: I'm going to be reaching out to Stellantis in particular because of the prefabricated Electronic fake noise that they're putting in cars. I've got to have a car discussion definitely, but, but bringing it back to the home and to offices, which you have in the home office for sure. Tell us a little bit about… we'll close off with this unless there's something else you want to add for sure, but what can, what can a customer go and experience now in the Home Depot?
To better understand lighting and the options because I remember rightly, you've got, you've got not only, at least a couple of rows of fixtures where people can see and then you can see the lights in action, but you've also got bulbs and you can see and you can play with and see the different temperatures, right?
Craig Bowler: Yeah, so definitely would love to get everyone into a Home Depot. Great experience, obviously, being in the stores that you've not been to a Home Depot. It just, it's a buzz. It's an event. But when you’re from an experience from a lighting perspective, yes, all of our lighting fixtures in stores are lit. So you can see them in action. You can see them lit up. Using different bulb types as well and different bulb types will produce different looks overall, different colour temperatures. But you, you nailed it with our light bulbs. If you head into our stores and head down the light bulb aisles, we have, prefabricated light boxes that are placed in, a couple of the bays of the aisle there.
And you can see the difference side by side of the different types of light. So if you've never put a bulb that's soft white versus daylight versus bright white. Wow, that's your aha moment. You will truly understand what we're talking about of the difference of colour temperature. Some people think temperature, they just think heat.
They think, oh yeah, but it's not just warmth. It's the true colour that it puts out, how you see that colour because these light boxes are enclosed. You do get a better reflection of the true spectrum and the true colour that it, that it looks. You're not being impacted by the warehouse lights that are around. So it's a great little kind of, experiment and like I said, that aha moment.
Clare Kumar: I just thought, you know, if you're redesigning a room right now, you go over to the paint section, you get your swatches, you bring them over to the light area and you just look at, and you can look at that same colour, say, Oh my gosh, this is evening light. This is going to be full daylight. You can get a sense of how differently that colour is going to render too, right?
Craig Bowler: That's exactly it. And you combine that now with the different colour types and temperatures. But don't forget, we've actually bulb types have changed too, so it's not just your regular-looking bulb. You've got the Edison type, you've got your linear straight bulbs. So now you can actually, once again, getting back to the decor side, and find the right type of light for your need. Find the right type of bulb for your fixture, and like I said, find the right type of lighting solution overall that's really personalized to you, the end user after. So whether that's through a bulb, through a fixture, using some type, some type of smart technology or integration like I said, I think we need to take a step back and think of light and lighting a little bit differently than we used to think about it 10 or 15 years ago. And it really is an exciting space to kind of be in, in terms of, this category continuing to grow and its effect on people globally.
Clare Kumar: I think so too. I was so thrilled to meet you and I want to just emphasize my experience with Home Depot is that I'm always able to find somebody knowledgeable in the store to help me. So not only the product selection there, but you can find somebody. So ask them the question, go in with, my invitation here for people listening is, go in with your design specs, what you know, and then go in and look for how to make that best decision. If you're going to put dimmers in, make sure it's, you're getting the compatible dimmer. Like there's a lot to read with all the labels. So get some help in the store if you need it. It's there for you. And then you can create this Happy Space with lighting, at home and at work.
Craig Bowler: You nailed it. Thanks again, Clare. That's yeah, that, that's exactly what we're looking for for our customers. You know, get into the stores. I'm in the stores once a week soliciting feedback from our customers. The answer is in the stores.
The answer is where our consumer is, whether that's in-store or online, but, you know, happy to see everyone in our stores, happy to take any feedback that you may have and happy to continue to bring the right lighting solutions to our, to our Canadian customer.
Clare Kumar: Amazing. Thanks so much for joining me today. And I hope everyone listening has really been lit up by this conversation.
Craig Bowler: I love it. Thanks, everyone. Thank you.
Clare Kumar: Thanks so much for watching. Find all of the Happy Space podcast episodes right here in the YouTube playlist. And if you enjoyed this conversation, check out the featured episodes shown right here. Go ahead and share this conversation with someone else who needs to hear it. After all, doesn't everyone deserve a Happy Space?