The DOE has released new efficiency standards for LED lamps, set to take effect in 2028. The target efficacy will be 120 lm/W, up from the current 45 lm/W. Manufacturers are already halfway there and will likely use new technologies to meet the higher standards.

LED Lamp Efficiency Set to Grow With New Standards

Chuck Ross

LED lamps have certainly proven their efficiency over the course of the last decade, as they’ve moved from niche performer to market leader. Just think of all the 60-watt (W) incandescent bulbs that have been replaced with LED versions that max out at 9W or so. Lighting experts, though, believe there’s still progress to be made, as indicated in new efficiency standards released by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in April. Set to take effect in 2028, the new requirements will mean even greater energy savings for consumers and reduced energy use in homes and businesses.

The new rules follow on standards written in 2022 that went  into effect in August 2023 that effectively ended sales of old-school incandescent bulbs that simply can’t match the efficiency – also called “efficacy” in lighting circles – of compact fluorescent and LED products. The new rules were developed as part of DOE’s regular 6-year update schedule through its Appliance and Equipment Standards Program. Beginning July 2028, general service lamps – the everyday light bulbs we screw into table and ceiling fixtures – will have to hit a target of greater than 120 lumens per watt (lm/W), up from the 45 lm/W mark that went into effect in 2023.

While the new guidelines are a big step up from what’s currently in place, meeting them might not be as big a stretch as it seems. A survey of lighting manufacturers’ websites shows most offerings are already in the 80 lm/W range, about halfway between the current and future target. To boost performance further, producers likely will be looking at a number of options, from more high-brightness LED chips to the use of new lens designs and reflective films.

Photo courtesy of Cree Lighting
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