Energy Star update: specs for Lamps and Luminaires

April 1, 2010
After changing the requirement for LED lamps to 120Hz, EPA is poised to introduce its new proposed Luminaires specification covering all types of fixtures.
LED Lamps

EPA has amended the Energy Star Integral LED Lamps specification to revert the LED Operating Frequency requirement to ≥120 Hz. A cover letter explains this decision.

The original specification called for ≥150 Hz, but then it was proposed to change this to 120 Hz. The change back to 120 Hz has now been made "until more conclusive research is available with comprehensive recommendations for operating frequency, modulation depth and other related performance criteria," says EPA. An IEEE working group is underway to provide recommended practices to aid in the design of LED driving systems.

Version 1.1 of the Integral LED Lamps specification, amended on March 22, is available online, with the effective date remaining August 31, 2010.

Luminaires spec

As described in a previous news item, EPA will host a Webinar on April 6 to cover the lighting program within Energy Star. Specifics of LED lighting criteria will NOT be discussed.

However, what has become clear over recent weeks (and what has certainly not been clear throughout the industry) is that the EPA is intending to introduce a single "Luminaires" specification that will encompass and include all types of luminaires.

This is consistent with EPA's stated intent to produce "technology-neutral performance specifications [to] allow manufacturers across various to compete on a level playing field."

The technology-neutral goal has attracted criticism in particular from proponents of LED-based lighting.

Essentially, EPA intends "to integrate the RLF and SSL specifications into a single specification [the Luminaires specification] that is to the greatest extent possible technology-neutral in terms of key criteria such as luminous efficacy and color."

However, in the short term, the RLF (Residential Light Fixtures v4.2, developed by EPA) and SSL (Solid State Lighting version 1.1, developed by DOE) specs will be left in place.

Although this is not yet confirmed, it looks like that the Luminaires spec may treat fixtures differently according to whether they are defined as either functional or decorative lighting, in line with the LSD-51 white paper from NEMA and ALA.

For functional lighting, with a primary purpose to provide illumination, the qualification is likely to be at the luminaire level, and the luminaire itself would be qualified for Energy Star. However, if a lighting fixture is classed as decorative, the qualification would be at the light-source level i.e. either the LED lamp or the LED light engine. An Energy Star label would apply to the lamp and not the fixture.