The Lay of the Lighting Land: Market Characterization

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) recently published the report “2015 U.S. Lighting Market Characterization,” an excellent resource for lighting market analysis and business planning. One thing is clear: The lighting market has undergone significant transformation since the last characterization in 2010.

The report covers incandescent, halogen, compact fluorescent, linear fluorescent, high-intensity discharge (HID), LED, and miscellaneous light sources. It covers the residential, commercial, industrial and outdoor stationary building sectors. Only stationary general lighting is included. Estimates are based on building audits, surveys, product shipments and expert interviews.

In 2015, lighting in the United States consumed 641 terawatt-hours (TWh), or about 17 percent of the country’s total energy use (down from 19 percent in 2010). The commercial sector was the biggest energy user, consuming 37 percent of lighting energy. The outdoor sector ranked second at 32 percent, while the residential sector ranked third at 23 percent.

More than 8.7 billion lamps were installed in the United States in 2015, up from 8.2 billion in 2010. The installed mix in 2015 was 25 percent incandescent (down from 45 percent in 2010), 12 percent halogen (up from 4 percent), 26 percent compact fluorescent (up from 19 percent), 27 percent linear fluorescent (roughly the same), 2 percent HID (roughly the same), 8 percent LED (up from about 1 percent), and less than 1 percent “other.” Comparing the 2010 and 2015 numbers further shows some interesting market shifts.

The number of incandescent lamps declined about 40 percent, while halogen increased 350 percent, largely due to growth in general-service A-lamps compliant with the Energy Independence and Security Act. The number of installed halogen general-service lamps increased from 28 million in 2010 to 693 million in 2015, an extraordinary shift. Compact fluorescent lamps, meanwhile, grew 45 percent, driven largely by screwbase lamps filling incandescent sockets.

Linear fluorescent stayed largely flat at around 2.3 billion installed lamps, though there were significant shifts within subgroups. T5 lamps, for example, increased 17 percent. In T8, 4-foot lamps gained 38 percent, while obsolete and heavily regulated T12 lamps fell 30 percent. HID also stayed flat at around 140 million installed lamps. Obsolete and heavily regulated mercury vapor declined 68 percent, high- and low-pressure sodium showed modest declines, and metal halide increased 11 percent.

The most notable technological shift, however, was the penetration of LED lighting increasing from 67 million lamps—1 percent of the total installed base in 2010—to 701 million lamps (8 percent) in 2015. At 23 percent of installed lighting, the outdoor sector led in LED penetration, followed by commercial (10 percent), residential (7 percent), and industrial (4 percent). The 2020 report will likely show this trend accelerating.

The result of these technological shifts is greater efficiency in the national lighting stock. Across all sectors, average installed lighting system efficacy increased from 36 lumens per watt in 2001 to 39 LPW in 2010 and 51 LPW in 2015. This is a total increase of 40 percent, showing a significant trend toward more energy-efficient lighting in the United States. The biggest contributors to this improvement was LED, halogen and compact fluorescent displacing incandescent in the residential sector, and the shift to LED and high-efficiency fluorescent in the commercial, industrial and outdoor sectors. From 2001 to 2015, average lighting efficacy increased from 21 LPW to 28 LPW in the residential sector, 62 to 86 LPW in the commercial sector, 78 to 90 LPW in the industrial sector, and 73 to 80 LPW in the outdoor sector.

With an installed base of 6.2 billion lamps, or 71 percent of the total, the residential sector had the biggest population of lamps and luminaires. In fact, the large majority of the growth in lamps between 2010 and 2015 was in this sector. The commercial sector ranked second with 2.1 billion lamps (24 percent). The industrial and outdoor sectors are significantly smaller.

Looking at lighting controls, an estimated 11 percent of lamps in the residential sector were controlled by dimmers (8 percent), occupancy (likely vacancy) sensors (1 percent), and systems implementing multiple control strategies (1 percent). In the commercial sector, an estimated 18 percent of lamps were controlled, including occupancy sensors (10 percent), energy management systems (5 percent), multistrategy systems (1 percent), timer switches (1 percent), daylight-responsive controls (1 percent), and dimmers (1 percent). This is lower than one would expect, particularly in regard to occupancy sensors and timer switches. Still, the DOE estimated these strategies were saving 5 TWh.

The complete report runs 135 pages and is packed with data, graphics and analysis providing a useful snapshot estimate of the national lighting inventory in 2015. Both a free PDF download and an XLS data spreadsheet are available. To get the report, visit

About the Author

Craig DiLouie

Lighting Columnist
Craig DiLouie, L.C., is a journalist and educator specializing in the lighting industry. Learn more at and .​

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