DOE Report on LED Lamps Shows Improvements For Consumers

Consumer adoption of LED lighting is still rather low both in North America and Europe. One of the reasons for this is the claims made by manufacturers; specifically the LED equivalent to a standard incandescent or halogen lamp. As in the early days of compact fluorescent, the light levels expected by consumers falls short of what they are accustomed to. When coupled with the poor colour rendering, relatively high price and over-stated life claims, it’s no wonder that penetration rates remain low.

However, improvements are being made. The U.S. Department of Energy’s CALiPER program has released a special report on LED lamps available through the retail marketplace and targeted toward general consumers. The report follows similar reports published in 2011 and 2012, and offers insights on performance trends from year to year.

For the new report, a total of 46 A19, PAR30, and MR16 lamps were purchased from retail stores in 2013. Instead of a random sample, the products were chosen to answer specific hypotheses about performance.

Key Findings:

  • There are now very good LED options to compete with 60W, 75W, and 100W incandescent A19 lamps and 75W halogen PAR30 lamps.
  • MR16 lamps have shown less progress, but there are now acceptable alternatives to 35W/12V and 50W/120V halogen MR16s for some applications. Lamps for other uses, such as in enclosed luminaires, may require more development.
  • At the same price point, lamps purchased in 2013 tended to have higher output and slightly higher efficacy than those purchased in 2011 or 2010.
  • There appears to be increasing consistency in colour quality, with a vast majority of products having a correlated colour temperature of 2700K or 3000K and a colour rendering index between 80 and 85. There were also fewer poor-performing products tested and more high-performing products available in 2013 than in previous years.
  • The accuracy of equivalency and performance claims was better than in 2011 but remains a concern, with 43 percent of tested products failing to completely meet their equivalency claim and 20 percent failing to match the manufacturer’s performance data.
  • Perhaps most notably, the price per kilolumen decreased from $138.62 to $62.25 in just over one year, and the price per lumen-per-watt also decreased substantially.

Although not an intentional part of the report, it was interesting to note the increase in both the number and type of retail outlets selling LED lamps for consumers. Companies such as Best Buy and Fred Meyer now appear on the list.

You can download the full report from the DOE SSL website.

Although a similar report for the European market is not available, the trends highlighted in this report hold true for the European market. Improvements are being made but there is still a long way to go. Once light output improvements are realised, price, colour dimming and flicker need attention.

MR16 Snapshot Report

The DOE has also released a Snapshot Report on MR16 lamps, which utilizes the LED Lighting Facts® program’s extensive product database to help industry stakeholders understand the current state and trajectory of the market for that class of products.

Among the key findings:

  • Few MR16 lamps currently listed by LED Lighting Facts are comparable to a 50W (12V) halogen MR16 lamp. Of the small subset of MR16s that provided data for beam angle and centre beam intensity, only one would meet the minimum ENERGY STAR® centre-beam candlepower criterion for equivalence to a 50W halogen MR16 at the same beam angle (40°).
  • While the overall number of MR16s listed by LED Lighting Facts has increased slightly over the past three years, they now account for only 4 percent of all listed products, compared with 11 percent three years ago; and the mean efficacy for newly listed LED MR16s has shown minimal change over the past two years.
  • Both lumen output and input power have increased steadily in recent quarters. The net result has been little change in luminous efficacy.
  • On average, the MR16 lamps listed by LED Lighting Facts have slightly better colour quality than other lamp types, with a higher percentage of MR16 lamps having a colour rendering index above 90.
  • As with all categories, there is substantial variability in the performance of LED MR16 lamps listed by LED Lighting Facts. Specifiers and consumers should evaluate each product on its own merits.

You can download the full report from the DOE SSL website.

Written by Julie Allen

08 Mar