FTC and DOE Lighting Facts labels – how do they differ?

April 24, 2012
The FTC label has been designed to simplify lighting purchases for consumers while the DOE Lighting Facts label serves lighting designers and contractors. GE Lighting has also introduced color-coded packaging for its lamps.
FIG. 1.In efforts to simplify the purchase of lighting products including LED retrofit lamps, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mandated its form of a Lighting Facts label effective January 1 2012, which specifically targeted consumers. The label, which unfortunately is called a Lighting Facts label just like the DOE label that preceded it, contains similar information but has a different target audience. The FTC label is mandated on medium screw-based products sold in retail environments, while the DOE label is carried by DOE Lighting Facts partners on a voluntary basis and primarily serves lighting professionals.

FTC’s label

FIG. 2. Since January 1, the FTC has mandated the use of Lighting Facts labels on the front and back of every new light bulb package sold in the US (Figs. 1 and 2). The label is intended to standardize how the lighting industry conveys light bulb features, allowing one-to-one comparisons between bulbs of different technologies including halogen, fluorescent and LED. The back label is more comprehensive and contains light output, energy cost based on electricity cost of $0.11/kWh and three hours of use per day, lifetime estimate based on three hours of use per day (years), appearance (CCT), required power (W) and presence of mercury. The front label contains light output (lm) and energy cost ($/yr).

"Shopping for lighting shouldn't be an overwhelming experience," says Sylvia Hart, shopping transformation program manager at GE Lighting. "The Lighting Facts label takes something consumers have been using for years, the nutrition label, and applies a similar concept to lighting. Consumers used to have to scan packages to find information about energy, lifespan or brightness. Now they can quickly identify those attributes using an apples-to-apples comparison chart that shows the same features in the same way on every bulb, no matter what the technology or the manufacturer."

DOE label

FIG.3 . The DOE Lighting Facts label (Fig. 3) has not appeared on medium screw-based lighting products since January 1, but it continues to be featured on lighting products sold by Lighting Facts partners. The DOE label contains the same metrics as the FTC label of light output, required power and CCT. In addition it contains the CRI, efficacy (lm/W), brand, registration number, manufacturer’s model number and type of a solid-state lighting fixture. Rather than the estimate of lifetime that appears on the FTC label, the DOE label can contain an indication of lifespan provided by the warranty if the manufacturer has chosen to provide it as well as the optional lumen maintenance metric. Written as a percentage, this figure estimates the amount of light the LED light source product is projected to produce at 25,000 hours at a given ambient test temperature compared to its initial light output. This percentage is based on LM-80, in-situ performance and TM-21 projections.

The DOE added these two new optional metrics to the label earlier this month. All metrics reported on the DOE Lighting Facts label are results of third party testing according to LM-79 guidelines from the IES and are verified by the DOE before the label can be used.

The DOE has stated that its label is not in conflict with the new FTC Lighting Facts label, and will still be used widely by lighting professionals, utilities and retail buyers.

Color-coded GE packaging

In a recent press release, GE Lighting stated that in addition to using the new FTC label on its retail lamp products, the company is color-coding products (Fig. 4) to indicate relative light output to consumers regardless of the lighting technology used.

FIG. 4. "In our hundreds of conversations with consumers, we heard over and over again that the number-one important attribute to consumers is brightness," says Hart. "We used this feedback as an impetus for a packaging change that re-categorizes bulbs by brightness using an easy color-coded system."

The company is using yellow to indicate strong, vibrant light that is practical for home cooking, cleaning and grooming (2000 lm or more, similar to a 150W-equivalent incandescent bulb). Green represents fresh, energizing light good for focused tasks such as reading and studying (1050-1999 lm, 100W or 75W equivalent). Blue corresponds with comfortable light for entertaining (600-1,040 lm or 60W equivalent), orange corresponds with a relaxing light (400-599 lm, 40W-equivalent), and purple is geared toward night-time applications (<400 lm, 25W-equivalent).