A lot of people are asking themselves what will happen to the LED lighting industry in the next few years. The success of utility incentive programs and an ever-increasing bar for energy efficient products has led some to believe that industry has done everything possible to reach efficacy levels that please both utility commissioners and end-customers, and that the market is transformed.

But the truth is, market penetration of LEDs as of 2016 has only reached 12.9%[1] and the US DOE projects that LEDs will reach efficacy levels of over 200 lumens per watt in the next few years – that’s a 60% increase compared to the current thresholds currently represented on the DLC QPL. There is a lot more work to do to truly achieve market transformation for high-quality, energy efficient LED lighting.

Utilities who are looking for additional savings to claim will find that there are untapped opportunities available in fine-tuning application-level lighting performance as well as from the rapidly expanding horticultural lighting market. The latter is poised to introduce a whole new industrial sector, one that is ripe for energy savings due to the high output needed to deliver appropriate light for plants to thrive.

Market penetration of networked lighting controls (NLCs) is even lower than LEDs, yet this technology has the potential to increase lighting savings by 20-70% per project[2]. Additionally, the US DOE predicts that by 2023, 50% of the lighting market will have converted to LEDs[3] and there will be a point at which requiring NLCs for rebates will be non-negotiable in order to capture additional savings.

All of this is to say that huge opportunities remain in lighting for industry to push toward higher efficacy levels and for efficiency programs to realize large savings in lighting before we will reach a saturated market. The DLC aims to accelerate market adoption and realize the many remaining opportunities for energy savings with the introduction of its Version 5.0 Technical Requirements over the course of 2019 and 2020. This update seeks not only to increase efficacy levels, but also to capture further savings by strengthening the case for implementing NLCs, emphasizing lighting controllability, and enhancing quality of light and end-user satisfaction.

Stopping in our tracks now would be to stop before we have reached the finish line. On this blog, the DLC seeks to answer the hard questions of what our industry will look like in the coming years by exploring data, analyzing research, and presenting new ideas.

[1] Department of Energy, September 2017. REPORT SUMMARY: Adoption of LEDs in Common Lighting Applications (2017).

[2] DesignLights Consortium, July 2017. Energy Savings from Networked Lighting Control (NLC) Systems. Energy Solutions.

[3] Department of Energy. September 2016. Energy Savings Forecast of Solid-State Lighting in General Illumination Applications. Navigant Consulting.