The State of Outdoor Lighting
By: Craig DiLouie

The DOE Lighting Facts program is a voluntary labeling program for reporting product claims. Products are tested in accordance with the Illuminating Engineering Society’s LM79 standard; the data is then verified as part of product registration. After approval, the product can carry the Lighting Facts label, which reports light output, input watts, efficacy (lumens/W), and color appearance and rendering ability. The goal is to eliminate confusion in the market and allow fast, apples-to-apples product comparisons. As of September 2013, more than 9,500 products from more than 500 manufacturers were listed.

Besides supporting consumer buying decisions related to LED lighting, Lighting Facts provides a significant database that enables interesting market analysis. In July 2013, the DOE published a “Snapshot Report” on outdoor area lighting, providing an evaluation of the current state and trajectory of the market for LED outdoor area and road way (1,061 products listed), parking garage (229 listed), and canopy (136 listed) light fixtures as of that time.

All three outdoor lighting categories included products exceeding 100lm/W significantly higher than metal halide high-pressure sodium, and induction although they also included products as low as <50lm/W. The majority of the products were in the 70lm/W to 90lm/W range, which is generally considered as good or superior to comparable HID lighting systems, with the mean being 77lm/W for area and roadway, 78lm/W for parking garage, and 85lm/W for canopy light fixtures. Efficacy is steadily increasing over time among the three categories.

A majority (70%) of the area and roadway light fixtures listed as of July 2013 satisfied the Design Lights Consortium’s Qualified Product List criteria for both efficacy and light output. Few appeared to be competitive against 400W high-pressure sodium fixtures, however, which would indicate a potential growth opportunity for LED technology. A majority of the parking garage light fixtures (65%) and canopy fixtures (68%) also satisfied the Qualified Product List criteria. The most common color temperatures were a cool 4000K to 5000K the most common color-rendering index ratings were in the 70s, comparable to many metal halide lamps.

Distributors can use Lighting Facts to evaluate and compare products based on standardized testing criteria describing performance. However, the wide variety of performance among these attributes warrants careful scrutiny during product selection. Further, because of different optical systems, equivalence in light output may not translate to equivalence in delivered light levels.

Finally, note that Lighting Facts does not tell the whole story of a lighting product, as one must also consider attributes such as the potential for glare.

*For more information the free report can be downloaded at

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