One Size Retrofits All

Spa Electrics, an Australian leader in pool lighting, asked Cobalt to help them develop a new retro fit product to break into US & Canadian markets. Spa’s brief had a catch, the design had to be universal.  When all the other competitors required separate models for each type of niche, this was a challenge we were keen to tackle.

Older generation pool lights use a lot of electricity and require regular maintenance. This has driven a growing market for low-maintenance, high-efficiency LED lights that can retrofit into existing pools. To date, there was no easy, simple solution.

With an unfamiliar market and a large range of pool construction types, designing a universal yet simple solution placed a large importance on understanding the installer workflow as well as the logistic and technical realities.

Our team researched users and their needs to establish the main design priorities. And in this case, ‘users’ included installers, homeowners, pool builders, maintenance workers across two continents and multiple climate types.

The result is beautifully simple. A design that takes the level of retrofittable lights to a new level of performance and flexibility. The single product can be used in any pool niche (the enclosure set into a pool wall), with the North American adapter featuring patent-pending CAM-LOCKS which not only allow fitment into obsolete or damaged niches, but also eliminates unnecessary parts. A quick-connect cable plug also allows existing cables to be used, dramatically reducing installation time and complexity.

DESIGN OBJECTIVES

  • A retrofit solution that could fit all 10” US/Canadian niches regardless of their condition
  • Simple installation process for all stakeholders
  • Easy care and maintenance
  • Simplified production assembly process
  • Robust and durable for any brunt force or wear and tear
  • Integration with other Spa Electrics products

COMMERCIAL IMPACT

  • Increase existing market share
  • Expand to US/Canadian markets
  • Establish client as a global leader in underwater lighting – set a new market benchmark
  • Reduce costs of the retrofit process
  • Reduce parts & assembly times

FOCUS AREAS

  • User-centred design
  • Industrial design
  • Tooling management
  • Testing and evaluation
  • Production quality control
  • Consumer product design
  • Libby Christmas
  • Marcus Krigsman
  • Thao Nguyen
  • Justin Yuan
  • Margaux Hayes

Meeting all the Variables

One of the biggest challenges surrounding Retro’s development was the complexity of a universal fit. US/Canadian pool lights differ from Australian ones, coming with unique obstacles that Cobalt needed to address. Because of the many inconsistencies in build quality and configuration of North American light niches, designing a 10” retrofit solution meant that a ‘’one-size fits all’’ approach was more complicated than it seemed.  Moreover, the retrofitting of existing or damaged pool lights is usually an involved process, either requiring several callouts, or in worst case scenarios, a reconstruction of the pool itself. Our client Spa Electrics wanted to simplify this process and remove the hassle of upgrading or fixing your pool lights.

Cobalt’s team had to adapt the design to fit a wide range of sample niches, that came in many forms. Some were real-life tangible samples, and others were just drawings. Some niches were so obsolete, guidelines no longer existed, so they had to re-engineer our own specifications from measuring modern day adapters of the old niches.

This challenge extended into other variables. As well as niche fitment, we had to accommodate different levels of light and heat output; each level needing its own heatsink. All of these were set against the overall goal of reducing manufacturing costs (tooling, parts and assembly) made this an immensely satisfying project to undertake.

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