Grand opening attendees had a chance to see TÃœV SÃœD's orbs, which are used to isolate a light and measure its brightness.

German company that certifies the safety and efficiency of electrical devices has opened a 30,000-square-foot laboratory to test lighting equipment in Alpharetta.

TÜV SÜD now has five testing facilities in the U.S., which contributes about $250 million of the company’s $1.6 billion in annual sales.

The move to metro Atlanta is part of the Munich-based firm’s effort to expand its reach in the U.S., the home turf of Underwriters Laboratories, a well-known competitor.

The Alpharetta lab has environmentally controlled rooms to evaluate how lights stand up to simulated real-world conditions. It also has devices in the shape of large orbs that block out ambient light, allowing researchers to test bulbs’ brightness and resilience. TÜV SÜD also checks for compliance with optical safety regulations and others.

Atlanta was chosen in part because it’s easy to recruit engineers from Georgia Institute of Technology. The company invested more than $1 million in new facility, which will eventually employ 20 to 30 people.

A strong base of lighting suppliers and buyers like Home Depot Inc. was also a strong draw, as were Georgia‘s logistics assets and the local economic development community’s hospitality, said Ian Nicol, president and CEO of TÜV SÜD America Inc.

“The business overall has been very pleased with the Atlanta area, and we are looking at some other startups,” Mr. Nicol told GlobalAtlanta

LED lighting is growing in prominence as its affordability catches up with its longevity and efficiency. Suppliers of LED and other lighting devices, many of them based in Asia, need approval from testing firms to win buyers’ trust. Few developing countries have the expertise and equipment for similar facilities, said Mr. Nicol.

Testing facilities are becoming more vital as a variety of factors drive the need for greater efficiency, he added. 

“Retailers are putting a greater emphasis on energy efficiency as they are driven by government regulation, taxes and business incentives to improve their products and their overall business practices,” Mr. Nicol said. 

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As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...