The industry’s shift to solid-state lighting sources such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) continues to be one of the most dynamic areas of product development and market realignment in the electrical industry. This transition has been getting substantial support from the U.S. Department of Energy, which offers programs for performance testing and standardized methods for reporting performance characteristics, with an eye toward assisting market acceptance.

According to a recent DOE forecast, LED lighting will represent 74% of sales in the U.S. general illumination market by 2030 and will save about 2,700 terawatt-hours and $250 billion over a 20-year period. Navigant Research, in a report released this week, estimated that worldwide shipments of LED lamps will grow from 68 million units in 2013 to 1.28 billion units annually by 2021, and that the markets for every other lighting technology will contract over that period.

DOE released two reports over the past few weeks on areas where there is still some distance to close before LEDs can be considered better than established light sources ­— recessed troffer applications and environmental impact from end-of-life disposal.

One of the most valuable targets for lighting manufacturers is in the millions of linear fluorescent fixtures already installed in the ceilings of the world. DOE’s CALiPER testing program last month released its report on LED lighting for one slice of this market, “CALiPER Exploratory Study: Recessed Troffer Lighting.”

The study found that while LED replacements have reached a point where they can be competitive with fluorescent troffers, offering comparable efficacy and performance, the results still don’t consistently exceed expectations set by the incumbent technology, particularly when retrofitted into existing luminaires. In fact, the study highlighted some significant shortcomings in light patterns, wide variability in color quality and problems with glare and flicker that could make it difficult to justify a conversion.

“Luminaires retrofitted with LED lamps performed in the same efficacy range as the fluorescent benchmarks, so it’s not clear that they offer guaranteed energy savings when compared to fluorescent troffers equipped with 25W or 28W high-performance lamps and electronic dimming ballasts,” the study said. “The color quality from these LED lamps ranged widely from very poor (CRI in the 60s) to very good (CRI in the upper 80s, which is slightly higher than typical high-performance T8 fluorescent lamps), so specifiers need to exercise care to ensure the new lamps are not reducing color quality compared to the incumbent fluorescent.”