DOE’s Commercially Available LED Product Evaluation and Reporting (CALiPER) program has released a new Snapshot report on LED downlights. The last such Snapshot was released in April 2016. In the 15 months since then, LED technology has continued to progress, which is reflected in the data available through LED Lighting Facts, which showcases LED products for general illumination and is the source upon which all Snapshots are based.
The number of available LED downlight products is increasing, along with the mean efficacy, DOE reported. “Today, based on photometric performance alone, there appears to be an LED downlight to fulfill just about every need. It’s reasonable to suggest that the LED downlight category has reached maturity, after being one of the first market segments to see viable products that clearly beat the competition from other source types,” the study said. A large percentage of LED downlights also offer high color fidelity and good lighting quality in general — which CFL downlights don’t usually deliver.
• The efficacy of LED downlights is lower than for most other product categories, although it's higher than for downlights using conventional light sources. Approximately 50% of the downlights listed have a luminous efficacy greater than 70 lm/W, with only 2% above 100 lm/W.
• The mean efficacy for downlight luminaires only increased by 1 lm/W in the past 15 months, while other comparable product types gained between 5 lm/W and 13 lm/W.
• Most of the listed LED downlights fall into traditional lumen-output ranges for residential and commercial applications. A variety of performance is available.
• The downlight category features a greater percentage of products with a CRI in the 90s than any other product category in the LED Lighting Facts database.
There are many factors that influence product efficacy, but the efficacy trend with LED downlights is concerning. The importance of efficacy gains is not solely related to energy savings. Improved LED package efficiency can simplify thermal management and allow more flexibility in product design, ultimately reducing product cost. With the average LED Lighting Facts-listed downlight at just over one-third of the DOE target for efficacy for LED luminaires (203 lm/W by 2025), there's substantial room for continued performance gains, which should not be overlooked.
For more information, download the full report.