Snapshot Reports

The Snapshot Reports are an analysis of the dataset underlying the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) LED Lighting Facts Product List. These 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.

April 2016 Snapshot: Downlights

Downlights are a staple of residential, hospitality, and commercial lighting, usually providing ambient illumination but sometimes focal lighting. Because of the relatively low efficiency of incumbent technologies, downlighting was among the earliest lighting applications where LED offered competitive performance. At their peak in 2011, downlights made up approximately 25% of the luminaires in the LED Lighting Facts database. While the number of downlights listed with LED Lighting Facts has continued to increase, reaching almost 3,000 today, they now represent only about 10% of the listed luminaires. This decline is not due to poor performance, however. It is more likely due to the increasing feasibility of LEDs in other categories. In fact, the directional output of LEDs remains well-suited for the downlight form factor, allowing for higher efficacy and better lighting quality compared to CFLs.

Other highlights from this report include:

  • Across all products, efficacy gains continue to track at approximately 10 lm/W per year. The growth rate is slowing for luminaires, but increasing for lamps.
  • The efficacy of LED downlights is lower than most of the LED luminaire types, although it is higher than for downlights using conventional light sources. The mean efficacy has increased by just eight lumens per watt over the past 20 months.
  • Most of the listed LED downlights fall into traditional lumen output ranges for residential and commercial applications. A wide variety of performance is available.
  • In contrast with other LED luminaires, the mean input power has dropped for LED downlights over the past five years, and the mean output has only increased slightly.
  • LED downlights tend to offer higher color fidelity (CRI) than other LED product types, with 38% offering a CRI greater than 90.