January 27, 2023   

Good, Bad & Dope: A.I. Answers our Lighting Questions

2023 01 good bad dope ai answers lighting questions.jpg

We challenged ChatGPT to give technical, business and creative lighting answers. 

The results were fairly good:

  • Four "A"s
  • One "C" 
  • One "D"


ChatGPT is a chatbot that interacts with users in a conversational way. Sourcing information from textbooks, websites and various articles, ChatGPT provides information and responses to questions through artificial intelligence (AI).

The chatbot was launched by OpenAI in November 2022, and has made numerous headlines as more and more users experiment with the technology. News outlet CNET has recently come under scrutiny for using ChatGPT to write parts of several articles – that contained numerous inaccuracies. On a positive note, NBC recently reported that ChatGPT passed an MBA exam given by a Wharton professor. 

So all this hubbub made us wonder how much does ChatGPT know about our niche world of lighting? Could it provide a budget price for a lighting project? Could it pass the LC exam? Does it know about lighting companies? Could it calculate payback on a lighting system?

We had some fun with ChatGPT and were moderately impressed by most answers. Here’s how it went:


How much should the lighting fixtures and lighting controls cost for a 100,000 square foot school building in Cincinnati, Ohio?
ChatGPT: "The cost of lighting fixtures and lighting controls for a 100,000 square foot school building in Cincinnati, Ohio, can vary greatly depending on a number of factors such as the type and quality of the fixtures, the type of lighting controls, the electrical work required, and any additional labor costs. However, as a rough estimate, the cost of lighting fixtures and lighting controls for a 100,000 square foot school building can range from $300,000 to $500,000 or more. This cost can be broken down into several components:
  • Lighting fixtures: $100,000 to $200,000

  • Lighting controls: $75,000 to $100,000

  • Electrical work: $50,000 to $75,000

  • Labor costs: $50,000 to $75,000

It's important to note that this is just a rough estimate and the actual cost can vary widely depending on the specific project requirements and the materials and technology used. It's also important to consult with a professional lighting designer or contractor for a more accurate cost estimate for your specific project.
It's important to also note that energy efficient solutions such as LED lighting and advanced lighting controls can have long-term cost savings through energy savings and reduced maintenance costs. Also, this cost can also change if there are additional features such as daylight harvesting, occupancy sensing, and other advanced controls to enhance the energy efficiency and comfort of the building."


OUR COMMENTARY: ChatGPT states that its knowledge cut off is 2021, so we need to grade this one on a curve. Still, $1.75 to $3.00 per square foot for lighting and controls equipment seems low – even before recent inflationary rises. Still, the question didn’t specify whether or not to include installed costs, so we like the rough breakdown answer, although we’re not sure how to decipher the difference between “Electrical work” and “Labor costs.” 

EXTRA CREDIT: But, the A.I. is apparently learning on the fly. We asked the same question a day later and got a different answer that included “as a rough estimate, it is not uncommon for the cost of lighting fixtures and controls for a 100,000 square foot school building to be in the range of several hundred thousand dollars to several million dollars.”


What does an architectural lighting designer do?

ChatGPT: "An architectural lighting designer is a professional who specializes in the design and implementation of lighting systems for buildings and other structures. They work closely with architects, interior designers, and other members of a design team to create lighting solutions that enhance the aesthetic and functional qualities of a space.

An architectural lighting designer's responsibilities may include:

  • Conducting site visits to assess the existing lighting conditions and identify potential design opportunities

  • Developing lighting concepts and schemes that are appropriate for the function of the space and the architectural style

  • Creating detailed lighting design drawings and specifications

  • Selecting and specifying lighting fixtures and controls

  • Coordinating with electrical engineers and other members of the design team to ensure that the lighting systems are compatible with the electrical and mechanical systems

  • Providing guidance and support during the construction phase to ensure that the lighting systems are installed correctly

  • Conducting post-occupancy evaluations to assess the performance of the lighting systems and identify opportunities for improvement

Architectural lighting designers are knowledgeable about lighting technology and design principles, as well as building codes and energy-efficiency standards. They use this knowledge to create lighting solutions that are both functional and visually pleasing, while also being energy-efficient and cost-effective."



OUR COMMENTARY: This is a rather good answer. We imagine that architectural lighting designers would agree with much of this, but also possibly modify some of ChatGPT’s summary above. We tried searching for some of the exact terms stated by the AI to see if parts of the response were lifted word-for-word from another website. We couldn’t find any examples of long phrases or sentences being copied word for word from other online resources.


An energy-saving measure reducing lighting demand by 24.5 kW costs $11,000 to install. Given 4,000 annual operating hours and $0.085 per kWh, what is the simple payback?

ChatGPT: "To calculate the simple payback, we need to divide the cost of the energy-saving measure by the annual energy savings.

First, we need to calculate the annual energy savings:
24.5 kW x 4,000 hours = 98,000 kWh/year

Next, we need to calculate the annual cost savings:
98,000 kWh/year x $0.085/kWh = $8,330/year

Finally, we can calculate the simple payback by dividing the cost of the energy-saving measure by the annual cost savings:
$11,000 / $8,330/year = 1.32 years

So the simple payback for this energy-saving measure is 1.32 years, meaning that it will take 1.32 years for the energy savings to pay back the cost of the measure."



OUR COMMENTARY: This was an example question from the Lighting Certified (LC) Exam published on the NCQLP website. Not only did the AI properly interpret the multifaceted question and arrive at the right answer, it clearly described – in conversational terms – the multi-step process that leads to the answer. Could AI replace middle school math tutors? This was impressive.


How many color samples are used to calculate the CRI/Ra of a light source?

ChatGPT: "The Color Rendering Index (CRI) or Ra is a measure of a light source's ability to accurately render colors compared to a reference light source such as natural daylight. The CRI/Ra is calculated based on the color samples of 8 pastel colors defined by the Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage (CIE) called the CIE Standard Colorimetric Observer. The CRI/Ra is determined by comparing the chromaticity coordinates and the color rendering abilities of the light source being tested to that of a reference illuminant. The 8 color samples used for the calculation of the CRI/Ra are: R1 - R8, where R1 is the average of five skin tones and R2-R8 are specific colors of red, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, and sky blue."


OUR COMMENTARY: This was another sample question from the Lighting Certified (LC) Exam published on the NCQLP website. ChatGPT’s answer of 8 color samples is correct. So why an A- and not an A or A+? We asked the same question to Google. And Google got it right, too. With the search engine result, however, we are able to see the source of the information and evaluate its trustworthiness. At this stage in its evolution, ChatGPT should not be considered a trusted source that provides answers with complete accuracy, so although it was correct, we wish that the answer cited an attribution like “according to IES LS-5-20”  


What is the history of Cooper Lighting?

ChatGPT: "Cooper Lighting, now a division of Cooper Industries, is a company that specializes in the design and manufacture of lighting fixtures and related products. The company was founded in 1956 by Art Cooper in Peachtree City, Georgia, as a manufacturer of fluorescent lighting fixtures. Over the years, the company has expanded its product offerings to include a wide range of lighting solutions for both commercial and residential use. In 2011, Cooper Lighting was acquired by Cooper Industries, a leading global manufacturer of electrical products. Today, the company continues to develop and manufacture innovative lighting products, with a focus on energy efficiency and sustainable design."


OUR COMMENTARY: This was a terrible answer. ChatGPT understood what the company does, but got the history mostly wrong. It’s possible that we asked a bad question because the company brand is “Cooper Lighting Solutions” while the actual business entity is “COOPER LIGHTING, LLC.” Correcting some of ChatGPT’s off-base answers:

  • Cooper Lighting is now a business of Signify.

  • The company was not founded in 1956 by Art Cooper. Who the heck is Art Cooper?

  • HALO Lighting, was founded in 1956 – and recent Cooper Lighting corporate messaging cites the year as the beginning of what is now known as Cooper Lighting.

  • Cooper Lighting is currently headquartered in Peachtree City, Georgia, but it wasn’t founded there. The company moved from Elk Grove Village, Illinois to Peachtree City in 2001.

  • Cooper Industries formed Cooper Lighting in 1987, bringing its O.G. lighting brands under one company name: Halo, Metalux, Lumark, McGraw-Edison, Sure-Lites, Fail-Safe and MWS

  • Cooper Industries sold Cooper Lighting to Eaton Corporation in 2012. In 2020, Eaton sold its lighting division to Signify.


Could you write a rap song about lighting fixtures in different areas of a hotel in the style of Eminem?


Verse 1:
Listen up y'all, I'm the real Slim Shady
Spittin' rhymes 'bout light fixtures, ain't no maybe
In the lobby, got them crystal chandeliers
Shining bright, setting the atmosphere

Verse 2:
Heading to the rooms, got them bedside lamps
Making sure the guests can read their books and maps
Bathroom's got them vanity lights
Making sure you look just right

Verse 3:
But we ain't stopping there, no way
Got to keep the flow going, all day
Got them recessed cans, in the ceiling
Making sure the whole room's revealing

Verse 4:
And when the guests hit the pool
Got them underwater lights, looking cool
Got them spotlights, shining on the trees
Making sure the whole area's on fleek

Verse 5:
So when you're checking in to a hotel
Just remember, the lighting's lit as well
Got to give a shout out to the electricians
Making sure everything's functioning, no malfunctioning

Verse 6:
I'm the real Slim Shady, ain't no imposter
Spitting fire, 'bout light fixtures like no other
So listen up, and take note
'Cause I just dropped a verse 'bout lighting in a hotel, and it's dope!



COMMENTARY: Heading to the pool in Verse 4 was an excellent turn of events and we liked the shutout to the electricians. While we were disappointed that none of the language was explicit, we agree with virtual, make-believe Slim Shady; these lyrics are dope.







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