EPA clouds the air with LED Energy Star criteria

June 6, 2008
Contradicting the excellent work by the DOE in developing Energy Star criteria for SSL products, the EPA has issued a competing document.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released documentation describing how LED-based residential lighting fixtures can qualify for Energy Star, a labelling program for energy-efficient products. Unfortunately, the EPA's document clashes with the Energy Star Solid-State Lighting (SSL) document issued by the Department of Energy (DOE) in September 2007.

Sources who have been intimately involved in the development of the DOE's Energy Star program for SSL indicate that the EPA document both replicates and contradicts much of the work that has been put in place by DOE. If EPA goes ahead, effectively creating two sets of criteria covering the same products, there is huge potential for confusion in the market place.

Energy Star is a joint program of DOE and EPA, and these two organizations both issue eligibility criteria. However, these do not normally overlap, and DOE can claim to have considerably more involvement in the SSL market.

DOE runs a highly successful Solid State Lighting program and developed its Energy Star criteria after extensive public consultation with, and feedback from, industrial partners and other interested parties – see Energy Star for SSL gets energetic start. However, EPA seems to have skipped most or all of this consultation phase in a rush to grab a stake in the SSL market. There is no clear reason why they have decided to do this.

Our initial studies of the EPA criteria suggest that they would allow rapid qualification of many low-performing LED-based products, which is certainly not the case with the DOE criteria. There is considerable risk of damage to customer confidence in SSL technology and products, not to mention potential harm to the Energy Star brand.

In the coming days and weeks we will doubtless hear much more about this issue, but we urge the industry to treat the DOE's documentation as the definitive Energy Star criteria for solid-state lighting.