Mar 19 2014
March 18, 2014…Since the second retail lamp study was published, in early 2012, the U.S. DOE says it has seen substantial progress in all aspects of LED lamps available from retailers. CALiPER again purchased a sample of LED lamps from retail stores including a total 46 products–focusing on A19, PAR30, and MR16 lamps — and has published a new report on the findings. The products were not chosen randomly, but were picked to answer specific hypotheses about performance to expanding ranges of LED equivalency, improving the accuracy of lifetime claims, and examine their efficacy and price trends, as well as changes to product designs.
The CALiPER testing found very good LED-based alternatives to 60W, 70W, and 100W incandescent A19 lamps and 75W halogen PAR30 can now compete performance wise. The testing found that LED-based MR16 lamps have shown less progress, but now 35W/12V and 50W/120V halogen MR16s have acceptable LED-based alternatives. However, lamps for other uses, such as in enclosed luminaires, were found to need more development to be competitive.
The lamps purchased in 2013 at the same price point had higher output and slightly higher efficacy than those purchased in 2011 or 2010. Greater than 30 percent of the products purchased in 2013 exceeded the maximum efficacy measured in 2011 (71 lm/W). The most efficacious product purchased in 2013 operated at 105 lm/W.
The testing revealed apparently increasing consistency in color quality, with the vast majority of products having a correlated color temperature of 2700 K or 3000 K and a color rendering index between 80 and 85. Fewer poor-performing products were tested, and more high-performing products were available in 2013 than in previous years. While the accuracy of equivalency and performance claims improved compared to 2011, it remains a concern. About 43 percent of tested products failed to meet their equivalency claims, and 20 percent failed to match the manufacturer’s performance data.
The testing found insufficient lumen output was becoming less of an issue than previous testing indicated Other issues such as reducing cost, improving electrical/dimmer compatibility, eliminating flicker, and improving color quality still need work. The DOE notes that multiple high-quality, sub-$10 products are now available, and the availability of vastly superior products in 2013 is undeniable.
The DOE gives the example of 800-lumen A lamps that are now common, but were a rarity just two years ago. The testing found that a substantial portion of the products tested for the new report exceeded the lumen output and efficacy performance of the very best products from 2011.
The DOE warns that poor-performing products are still on the market, and the accuracy of equivalency claims and data remains a problem. Despite the progress, LED lamps available through retail stores continue to exhibit a range of quality. Therefore consumers, contractors, and specifiers have to be more educated than ever before to purchase products based on the performance of conventional products.