Rebate Trends for 2020

February 26th, 2020

Over the past few months, rebate organizations across the country have been busy updating their programs for 2020. We've noticed the following trends for this year:

LED Rebate Amounts Decrease by 12%

Historically, we have seen the prescriptive rebates for LED products drop by around 10% on average each year. In 2019 however, we saw the first average increase of rebates. But then, in 2020, the original trend continued with a 12% decrease in the rebate amounts across all LED categories. Looking at the data, we observed a significant difference in the rebate trends for retrofit lamps versus fixtures.

Replacement screw-in lamps (A-shape, PAR, etc.) experienced the largest drop, 27% in the last year. Linear tubes saw a decrease of 13%, but that's actually the lowest decrease they've seen since tubes came on the market.

LED fixtures saw a significant increase in rebate amounts in 2019 but, in 2020 they mostly leveled out. On average, rebate amounts for LED fixtures were only down 5% over the past year. Since the rebates for fixtures can be relatively high, make sure to pay attention to any cost caps that may apply.

*Average prescriptive rebates across the US and Canada as of 2/21/2020
Source: BriteSwitch

76% of the US Offers Commercial Lighting Rebates


The percentage of the US that is covered by an active commercial lighting rebate is constantly changing based on rebate funding levels and programs being discontinued or added. Over the past 11 years, we've seen that percentage range from a low of 68% to a high of 81%.

Currently, 76% of the US is covered by an active commercial lighting rebate program, up from the 73% we saw at the beginning of 2019. Still, there are some large pockets in Alabama, Kansas, West Virginia and North Dakota that do not have commercial lighting rebate programs.

See the current rebate climate map and how it has changed over the past 10 years

Rebate Pre-approval Times Are Improving

Rebate pre-approval is required in a majority of prescriptive and custom rebate programs across North America. During the pre-approval process, programs review the application, verify whether the products are eligible, schedule inspections, and reserve the funding.

Since we file thousands of rebate applications a year, we keep track of how long pre-approval takes for projects. Historically, the pre-approval process typically took 29 days on average. Over the past 2 years though, that time has decreased significantly to 18 days. That improvement can be due to a variety of reasons such as increased use of electronic applications (vs paper), streamlined processes, and fewer applications for the utility to process.

Even though the average pre-approval time is only 18 days, some projects can still take months to get pre-approval. Therefore, make sure you allocate yourself enough time to secure pre-approval before any work is scheduled to start.

Anticipating the Change to DLC 5.0

As you may have heard, the Design Lights Consortium (DLC) recently finalized the DLC 5.0 and 5.1 technical requirements. These policies address topics like increased efficiency of products, controllability of most LEDs, and improved light quality. Current products that meet all the requirements will be automatically updated to 5.0 at the end of March. On December 31st, all products that do not meet 5.0 requirements will be delisted.

DLC on laptop

What does that mean for rebates? A majority of lighting rebates require an active DLC listing in order to receive an incentive. At this time, no rebate program has officially announced a plan regarding the move to 5.0. Since most 2020 programs are already in place and DLC 4.4 products will still be listed for the remainder of the year, you should not have a problem getting rebates for those products this year.

The real problem may happen in 2021 though. Since the 4.4 products will be delisted as of 2021, any project that goes into next year may be an issue. Since 5.0 has additional dimming and efficacy requirements, some existing stock may no longer qualify. If you’re planning a long term project or a retrofit that will cross over the calendar year, make sure you either use a product that will meet the 5.0 requirement or finish the project before the end of this year.

Have can you take advantage of rebates in 2020?

If you are planning a project and need help with estimating and filing the rebates, BriteSwitch can get you the most money with no hassle.

If you want to create leads and increase your sales with rebates, our RebatePro and Rebate Assistant tools can help you find and identify rebates for your customers.

Other information

Fluorescent Tube Bans and the Effect on Lighting Rebates
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LED Rebates By The Numbers (Infographic)
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