NEMA publishes new outdoor SSL standards and guidelines

Association endorses LED usage in side-mounted, high-mast lighting, offers new installation guidelines for outdoor SSL products, and addresses tests of luminaires and controls.

NEMA publishes new outdoor SSL standards and guidelines
NEMA publishes new outdoor SSL standards and guidelines

Association endorses LED usage in side-mounted, high-mast lighting, offers new installation guidelines for outdoor SSL products, and addresses tests of luminaires and controls.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) had a busy January issuing multiple press releases about new outdoor LED lighting-centric standards and new installation and testing guidelines. For example, the ANSI C136.18-2018 standard now specifies that LED luminaires can be used in high-mast lighting, and that has been a tougher market for solid-state lighting (SSL) to crack due to the high light levels required. The other NEMA actions include an installation guide for outdoor luminaires, new test procedures for evaluating luminaires and control devices, and a standard covering tolerance to vibration in roadway luminaires.

The high-mast standard is focused on luminaires mounted at 65 ft or higher, yet that are still mounted in a sideways fashion to an arm extending from a pole. Previously, the standard specified high-intensity discharge (HID) technology in such applications. But the new standard includes the option of LED luminaires. The document covers physical, operational, maintenance, and light-distribution features targeted specifically at the high-mast usage scenario.

In a separate action, NEMA published C136.2-2018 that revises the test procedures for evaluating outdoor luminaires and control devices. The standard covers luminaires and control devices classified for operation up to 600V.

NEMA publishes new outdoor SSL standards and guidelinesNEMA publishes new outdoor SSL standards and guidelines

“C136.2 contains minimum performance requirements and test procedures for evaluating luminaire and control devices under test (DUTs) for dielectric withstand and electrical transient immunity,” said Kevin Fitzmaurice, principal of lighting and smart services at utility Georgia Power and Chair of the C136 ANSI Committee for Outdoor Lighting. “This revision contains corrections to the electrical fast transient (EFT) test specification.”

The organization also published new installation guidelines for outdoor luminaires focused on grounding considerations. The document addresses the usage of the National Electrical Safety Code relative to installing and grounding luminaires.

NEMA said the evolution of LED technology and the move to smart lighting drove the development of the new guidelines. As we have regularly reported, outdoor luminaires increasingly include smart and connectivity features that enable autonomous and programmatic control, accurate power usage metering, and more. The smart SSL transition results in there being far more electronics integrated into the latest outdoor luminaires, and many are very low-voltage devices and sensitive to grounding and wiring issues. The new guidelines will enable more reliable operation of luminaires installed per the recommendations.

The final new outdoor-centric standard — C136.31-2018 — is focused on the ability of outdoor luminaires to withstand exposure to vibration in what is a decidedly harsh environment. The standard sets minimum levels that luminaires should reliably withstand and defines vibration test methods.

“This revision includes clarification and guidance on the requirements for test setup, value determination and measurement, operation, and evaluation,” said Luke Siefker, standard technical coordinator at Acuity Brands. “Furthermore, the vibration test levels were expanded to include common materials found in newer lighting technologies.”

All of the new documents can be found on the NEMA website. There is a nominal fee for downloading the official ANSI standard documents. Guidelines, however, are available for free.

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