State Of The LED Market

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently issued three reports that provide a snapshot of several light-emitting diode (LED) lighting markets and estimate potential energy savings for full adoption.

“Estimated Adoption of LEDs in Common Lighting Applications,” published in 2013, estimates adoption and energy savings for common white-light applications as of 2012. Covered markets include four interior lamp (A-type, directional, MR16 and decorative); three interior luminaire (downlight, troffer and high-bay); and two exterior luminaire (streetlight and parking lot/garage) applications.

The DOE estimated that nearly 50 million LED luminaires and lamps were installed in 2012, producing $675 million in annual energy cost savings relative to the least efficient comparable incandescent, fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) options. If the installed base of lighting in these nine markets switched to LEDs overnight, national lighting energy consumption would be cut in half, worth $37 billion in savings to the nation’s businesses and homeowners.

Let’s take a closer look at three significant markets. In 2012, LED lamps made up about 5 percent of the installed base of 248 million directional lamps, up from 1 percent in 2010, with potential annual energy cost savings of $1.7 billion if the entire market switched to LEDs overnight. Regarding downlights, LEDs made up less than 1 percent of the installed base of the nation’s 708 million downlights in 2012, up from less than 1 million in 2010, with potential savings of $2.6 billion. Additionally, 2 percent of the nation’s 44 million streetlights were fitted with LEDs in 2012, up from 0.2 percent in 2010, with $2.3 billion in potential energy savings.

The DOE’s Lighting Facts is a voluntary labeling program in which manufacturers test products according to the IES-LM-79 standard and—subject to verification of the test data—can use the Lighting Facts label. This label provides basic information about light output, input watts, efficacy, color appearance and color rendering ability. It enables quick evaluation of performance based on standardized test data presented in a standard format. As of September 2013, the program had registered more than 9,500 products from more than 500 manufacturers. Annual registration ensures older, discontinued products are delisted. Note, however, that LM-79 does not tell the whole story of a lighting product, omitting criteria such as light distribution, dimmability, ruggedness, etc.

The Lighting Facts information database also provides the DOE with the ability to analyze the market, at least for its leading products. Recently, two snapshot reports were published, one for interior ambient lighting (as of April 2013, covering downlights, troffers and linear replacement lamps) and one for exterior lighting (as of July 2013, covering outdoor area/roadway, parking garage and canopy luminaires). In interior ambient lighting, efficacy is increasing over time, with an overall mean of 65 lumens per watt (LPW). In downlights, a majority of products produced 500­–1,000 lumens with a warm color temperature (2,700–3,000K). Nearly 80 percent satisfied Energy Star standards, with the most efficient products yielding energy savings compared to compact fluorescent lamp downlights.

Troffers are a big market, and LED products registered for Lighting Facts have been showing large increases in efficacy. Average efficacy among listed products was 86 LPW in April 2013; a majority had a neutral/cool color temperature (3,500K or 4,000K) and have an 80-plus color rendering index (CRI) rating. The vast majority satisfied the DesignLights­ Consortium’s Qualified Products List (DLC-QPL) criteria.

More than 300 T8/T5/T12 LED replacement lamps were registered with Lighting Facts in April 2013. Despite a high efficacy of 92 LPW, the lamp is typically installed in a luminaire, resulting in lower efficiency. On average, installation of these lamps was not efficacious as new LED troffers. Only a few products satisfied DLC-QPL.

In exterior lighting, most listed products in the covered categories were in the 70–90 LPW range, as good or superior to many HID systems. A majority satisfied DLC-QPL. Cool color temperatures (4,000–5,000K) and a 70-plus CRI rating were typical. However, few products appeared competitive with 400-watt high-pressure sodium luminaires, suggesting a potential opportunity for LED technology, which is growing fast. LED products are available that provide good lighting performance while offering energy savings and longer life. Major improvements are expected in lighting quality, efficacy and cost over the next 10 years.

According to Navigant Research, a market research firm, the commercial general lighting market will grow from $2.7 billion in 2013 to more than $25 billion in 2021. Navigant forecasts LED lamps will grow to a 40 percent share of the worldwide retrofit market in 2017 and 63 percent by 2021, compared to 5 percent in 2013.

One big takeaway from the Lighting Facts snapshot reports, however, is that performance varies widely. Electrical contractors selecting LEDs should scrutinize products and verify compatibility of components and controls. As always, trial installations provide an opportunity to see product performance firsthand.

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