WEB EXCLUSIVE: Energy Star for SSL gets energetic start

May 24, 2008
Twinkle, twinkle little Star: in this case, the Energy Star program for solid-state lighting, which goes live in September. Brian Owen provides details.
After a number of years of extensive development and work by the US Department of Energy (DOE) in conjunction with the input and participation of industry professionals, the Energy Star criteria for solid-state lighting (SSL) released last September will "go live" on September 30, 2008.

This is a long anticipated, awaited and needed resource as well as being a safeguard or "weapon" to assure performance and quality of SSL products. With the previous history of experiences and issues with respect to the commercialization of the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) as a reference, the SSL criteria hopes to overcome similar issues or not repeat any of the CFL experiences.

Energy Star will serve as a reference, establish minimum performance requirements, and define applications that will meet and exceed expectations. As a result, it will ensure product satisfaction and success with consumers and end-users.

Energy Star not only defines energy efficiency but also is now regarded as a "reliability mark" that is relied upon in determining and selecting quality product. Currently (and other than for SSL general illumination products) Energy Star qualification criteria for LED products also exists for exit signs, traffic signals and holiday lights.

Building consensus

Over the course of the last few years, there have been many opportunities to participate in this process, as well as the numerous DOE SSL related conferences and workshops, all aiding the advancement and development of SSL.

Last week, over 150 industry professionals attended an Energy Star Manufacturers and Stakeholders Workshop in Washington, DC hosted by the DOE to update everyone on the progress of Energy Star and other related DOE SSL initiatives and programs.

After an opening SSL technology overview by Jim Brodrick of the DOE, Richard Karney of the DOE reviewed the Energy Star SSL criteria. Mike Grather of Luminaire Testing Laboratory (LTL) and Chairman of the IESNA Testing Procedures Committee provided a test procedure update.

It was announced that the IESNA has now published and released the LM79 and the document is now available from the IESNA.

Jeff McCullough of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) reviewed testing to LM80 and commented that, “LM80 will be the ‘law of the land’”. Marc Ledbetter of PNNL reviewed new product introduction and the revisions to criteria, and Jeff McCullough reviewed the expansion of Category A.

There are now 5 approved labs that can test product and validate Energy Star qualification and they are listed on the DOE SSL website (www.netl.doe.gov/ssl/CALiPER-FAQs.htm). The DOE is also currently soliciting submissions from other qualified proponents to join the process.

A Quality Assurance Program will also be in place and maintained where there will be off the shelf testing. Non- or out-of-compliance will result in consequences affecting the product’s or manufacturer’s Energy Star status and could also result in stiff penalties. In September of this year, a number of program resources will be released, including a Manufacturer’s Guide and end-user resources such as where to use and how to choose information and a rebate finder website.


Energy Star for SSL is a work in progress or transition. The process, referred to as "ratcheting" will increase the baseline requirements over time. Technology is changing too fast to maintain existing efficacy requirements for an extended period.

Given rapid observed and projected efficacy improvements, the DOE plans to adopt a schedule of future minimum efficacy increases. This schedule will be published well in advance of effective dates and is intended to provide manufacturers with clear future map of planned efficacy increases.

For each Category A Application, there will be an annual increase to minimum requirements. It is intended to reach 70 lm/W by Sept 30, 2011 or 3 years after the effective date of the Energy Star criteria. There will be different increases for each application but all will converge to be consistent at 70 lm/W by 2011.

The effect of the ratchet on qualified products was discussed. Already qualified products would not have to be retested or re-qualified for 1 year after ratchet increase but all qualified products will be required to re-qualify at least once every 2 years. Products qualified under different efficacy requirements are all Energy Star and there will be no differentiation or special designation. The ratchet schedule will be announced by June 2008, reviewed, and adopted by September 2008. The first ratchet will occur in September 2009 and annually thereafter up to September 2011.

Additional product inclusions

Another significant presentation surrounded additional Energy Star Category A product inclusions that will be formally announced in July this year. The strategy is to periodically add additional Category A applications as the technology improves with no changes to major provisions, and to utilize information from CALiPER testing to establish minimum luminaire efficacy.

The DOE intends to release the draft of the first additions in July with the effective date will be approximately 3 months after the program launch. Under consideration by the DOE to be added are street and area lighting, parking garage lighting, cove lighting, ceiling fan light kits, replacement lamp applications, display and accent lighting and wall-wash applications.

In the outdoor applications, efficacy should be on par with metal halide. Replacement lamps will include the MR-11/16 and PAR-38. Due to the integral design, the DOE is considering testing similar to what is currently used in the CFL program and efficacy should be on par with (at least) recessed downlights at 35 lm/W. Future considerations will be based on experience in the CALiPER Program and manufacturer supplied test reports consistent with LM-79. The most recent CALiPER testing reports were discussed and reviewed.

Linear fluorescent lamp replacements

There are likely more that a billion linear fluorescent tubes and ballasts in existence installed in commercial offices and other spaces, and this has previously identified as a significant opportunity for LED. However, this application has been somewhat downgraded as a priority due to the current significant first costs and the relatively low, if any, energy savings over the best-in-class fluorescent tubes currently available.

The comment was that accountability and responsibility dictates that budgets and resources with respect to Energy Star must be deployed in an effective manner that will result in significant product advances and market transformation. Observations indicate that there is a bit more work required with respect to the linear replacement and in fact this application could likely be replaced by a total fixture re-design with LED rather on a tube-by-tube basis. There will always be debate on the ability of the technology in the retrofit market versus the new build.

Upcoming events

On June 5th, the Association of Energy Service Professionals will host a webinar entitled "Energy Star for Solid State Lighting" (aesp.org/cde.cfm?event=213712) and on June 26 there will be a DOE sponsored webcast entitled "Getting Ready for September 30". More information can be obtained from Terry Shoemaker at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory ([email protected]).

Another DOE Voices for SSL Efficiency workshop is slated for July 9-11 in Portland Oregon. Topics to be discussed include the best applications for LED lighting, what energy efficiency program managers can do to prepare for high-performance SSL products and what tools, resources and quality assurance measures will be provided by Energy Star.

It was also announced that the Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prizes or ‘L’ prize competition would be launched on Wednesday, May 28 at Lightfair in Las Vegas. This is the first government-sponsored technology competition outside of the aerospace or defence agency spectrum designed to spur lighting manufacturers to develop high quality, high efficiency solid-state lighting products to replace the common light bulb. Prizes of up to $20 million have been authorized under the US energy legislation signed in late 2007.

Current DOE initiatives and programs include CALiPER, Technology Demonstration Gateway, Technology Procurement, Lighting for Tomorrow, Energy Star for SSL, Technical Support for Standards and the Technical Information Network for SSL or TINSSL.

Presentations and proceedings from the May 15th, 2008 Energy Star workshop in Washington, DC, along with many valuables documents and resources can be found at the US DOE SSL website.