Market Overview: Lighting is one of the easiest ways to realize energy savings in a retrofit and the push to achieve significant savings through innovation and new lighting technologies is greater than ever. The lighting and bulb market—incandescent bulbs, CFLs, fluorescent tubes, and parts and components—has been steadily declining for several years as LEDs have grown from a small market share to being fully dominant over the last decade. While incandescent lighting is still manufactured domestically, it has been relegated to specialty uses and almost all U.S. manufacturing has disappeared. LEDs are supplanting fluorescent lighting as consumers are willing to pay the higher up-front costs to have a more energy-efficient, flexible, and durable product in their buildings.
Due to this switch to LED technologies, manufacturing opportunities in the energy-efficient lighting fixtures and components sector are growing. Many countries, including the United States, have banned the use of incandescent fixtures. This provides a significant export opportunity for U.S. manufacturers of LED technologies. In general, innovation and the creation of new products such as "smart lighting systems" (which can analyze data and communicate with each other to adjust lights automatically) will be primary factors for growth in this market.
The energy-efficient lighting market is mixed when it comes to U.S. manufacturing content. Imports will continue to be strong for component electronic parts and low-end consumer LED bulbs. Currently, the majority of U.S. demand for lighting fixtures is met with imports—mostly from China. The lighting sector has a highly dynamic and globalized supply chain with some components exclusively manufactured overseas, making it difficult to increase U.S. content.
LED lighting products used for commercial, architectural, institutional, and other large projects tend to have a higher percentage of U.S. content (both parts and assembly) than those used in residential settings. Of the residential products, custom, niche, or higher-end tend to have more U.S. content and assembly than those found on big box store shelves. High costs like tooling, small profit margins and significant competition make it difficult to manufacture affordable U.S.-made products for the average homeowner or tenant.