LEDs gets more dominant in DOE products list

Maury Wright, editor-in-chief of LEDs Magazine, writes about the latest LED outdoor area lighting CALiPER Snapshot from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The DOE CALiPER Snapshot is based on its Lighting Facts products database. DOE’s Lighting Facts site says its Snapshot reports are “designed to help retailers, distributors, designers, utilities, energy efficiency program sponsors, and other industry stakeholders understand the current state of the LED lighting market and its trajectory”.  This time, the Snapshot report focuses on LED lighting products – excluding retrofits. LED outdoor area lighting has always had the most products in DOE’s LED Lighting Facts list from the very beginning (15% of the database vs 4% for the two other product categories combined as of Aug 29, 2016). LEDs Magazine also covered the DOE’s 2013 outdoor lighting Snapshot report.

Here are the trends worth noting in the latest snapshot:

Almost half are DLC Qualified

The newest DOE report says that ‘46% of the LED products in the database exceed the efficacy requirements for listing on the DesignLights Consortium (DLC) Qualified Products List’ – meaning 46% of the products can now be the basis of rebates given by electric utilities to consumers for upgrading to energy-efficient lighting – especially the DLC Premium qualified products comprising 10% of the listed products – between 15 and 120 lumens/Watt (lm/W). In contrast, legacy products in the list, like High-Pressure Sodium (HPS), only meet the DLC requirements if they are in the 1000 Watt (100,000 lumens) range (and none met the DLC Premium rating).

Indoor LEDs are still more efficient

Outdoor LED products have an average efficacy of 98% (down to 93 lm/W) versus troffer (100 lm/W), linear (104 lm/W), and industrial indoor products (108 lm/W). This lesser efficacy DOE attributed to the required luminous intensity distributions or beam patterns in outdoor lighting products. But efficacy and light output are improving. LEDs Magazine reports that LEDs now have the capability to supplant HPS lamps in the 1000W level (few of the LED products listed could even compete at the 400W level back in 2013).

The LCD world is getting warmer

Manufacturers are adding more and more LED products with warmer correlated color temperature (CCT, in Kelvins – the lower the CCT, the warmer the look) – a trend attributed to consumer nostalgia and demand for the CCT reminiscent of legacy lights. DOE says 37% of the area lights have 4000K CCTs currently, with 12% of the area lights having CCTs of 3000K and below.

This warm trend does come at a price: lower efficacy. LEDs Magazine argues that ‘light intensity and optical control is more important than CCT’ even as a lot of people assume cooler lights are brighter (fact: LED lights are commonly operated at too bright a default), adding that ‘humans see better under cooler lights’ – you just have to adjust the brightness to what’s comfortable for your eyes. Expect more warm trends in the future.

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