With the advent of the LED bulb, trends and rules are rapidly changing in the lighting industry along with consumer tastes. We as interior designers may need to change our lighting practices to meet new product realities and shifting consumer preferences.
In 2007, congress passed the Energy Independence and Security act, which mandated the phase in of more efficient light bulbs. The final phase will require general purpose light bulbs to achieve 45 lumens per watt in 2020.1 The US Dept of Energy tracks shipments of various types of bulbs and has noted a decline in the sale of various forms of incandescent lamps in 2018.2
While incandescent bulbs become less popular, LED and halogen bulbs are increasing in popularity. A NEMA study found that halogen A-line went from having almost 0% of the market in 2011 to having close to 50%. There has been a similar rise in the use of LEDs as well over that time frame.3
With the obvious changes in lighting practices, as interior designers, we will have to update how we incorporate lighting into our plans. As many of the older go-to products become less popular and decline, it will be important to find new products to replace them.
Another consideration must be given to the future availability of lighting replacements. Since bulbs do not last forever, it is important to ensure that our clients will either have very long-lasting bulbs (i.e. LEDs) or be able to buy replacement bulbs for other types of light fixtures we specify in the design process. Failure to do this could result in unhappy clients having to spend thousands of dollars replacing light fixtures.
On the bright side, LED technology has vastly improved over the years, both in terms of cost and capability. LEDs were always known to have lower operating costs, but they do have higher upfront costs. Many energy agencies used to have to offer rebates to encourage consumers to buy them, however, now the price has dropped significantly since 2013.4
This change in technology is also giving us as designers greater ability to customize designs and use home automation as well. One big change is the ability to use changing colors and lighting in previous harder to install areas – such as under shelves – to achieve beautiful and functional design.
The rise in the use of home automation systems can also be incorporated with LEDs to give homeowners more control over how lighting works in their home.
Design a great day!
1The energy manager