Energy Star proposes changes to lighting program

The US Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have unveiled a proposal to integrate the separate performance specifications for Energy Star-qualified lighting.

The proposal can be downloaded from the Energy Star website (PDF file, 56 KB).

Comments on the proposal are requested by January 8, 2010.

The proposal is the result of the partnership between the DOE and the EPA, signed on September 30, 2009, which passed operational control of the Energy Star program to the EPA (see Related Stories).

The proposal indicates the ways in which the various parts of the Energy Star lighting program will be integrated. Integration will include “a specification revision process that is open and transparent, incorporating the input of partners and stakeholders and allowing adequate transition time.” The agencies are also seeking to “remove any overlap or contradiction among specifications so as to eliminate confusion.” There are currently four separate Energy Star performance specifications that address lighting:

  1. Solid State Lighting specification (SSL v1.1, v1.2 draft)
    Limited to luminaires employing SSL technology and addresses residential, commercial and industrial fixture applications. Developed by DOE. As part of the transition, DOE will complete SSL version 1.2, which includes additional outdoor light fixture categories.

  2. Residential Light Fixture specification (RLF v4.2, v4.3 draft)
    Addresses light fixtures sold in the residential segment of the lighting industry, using a variety of technologies including SSL. The EPA introduced SSL into its RLF v4.2 in June 2008 (marking the start of the so-called “Energy Star Wars” controversy).

  3. Integral LED Lamps
    Focuses on LED replacements for general service lamps, reflector lamps, and decorative lamps. The final version of the criteria was released on December 3, 2009 and will go into effect on August 31, 2010.

  4. Compact Fluorescent Lamp specification (CFL V4.0)
The new proposal address lighting in each of the following three areas:
  • Residential light fixtures
  • Residential (replacement) lamps
  • Commercial/industrial light fixtures

The first of these, residential light fixtures, has been the source of most disagreement between advocates of the DOE and EPA approaches (SSL v1.1 and RLF v4.2, respectively).

In the short term, EPA and DOE are proposing to leave the RLF and SSL specifications in place. However, eligibility to qualify LED-based light fixtures under RLF V4.2 will be limited to decorative fixtures, as defined in a document (LSD 51-2009) co-authored by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and the American Lighting Association (ALA).

This change clarifies EPA’s existing RLF V4.2 specification, and makes the number of fixtures that could qualify much smaller and more specific than formerly proposed.

For fixtures that are currently covered by the existing SSL specification, the proposal says that “no immediate changes to the performance levels, fixture categories, or test procedures are warranted. The existing test procedure for fixtures, LM-79, provides a strong and well recognized technical basis for evaluating the existing SSL fixture categories and will remain in place.”

For the longer term, EPA will initiate a formal specification revision effort, which among other things will reference a national standard for LED light engine testing (currently at the draft stage).

EPA plans to release a draft specification by mid February 2010, which will be followed by a stakeholder input process involving multiple draft proposals, comment periods and stakeholder meetings before revisions are finalized and effective dates are established.

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