EPA releases draft 4 of the Energy Star Lamps V1.0 specification

May 17, 2013
The new Energy Star draft specification loosens the requirements for uniform beam distribution in omni-directional lamps and updates flicker and lumen-maintenance requirements.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is continuing what has become a two-year quest to develop a new Energy Star lamps specification to replace the prior Compact Fluorescent Lamps and Integral LED Lamps specifications. The agency recently released draft 4 of the V1.0 spec with a reduction in the beam-uniformity requirements in omni-directional lamps, updated flicker definitions and requirements, and a message that said the agency considered and declined to act on a coalition of stakeholders' request to lower efficacy requirements on high-CRI lamps.

In the area of omni-directional beam distribution, the EPA continued down a path of relaxing requirements. The agency said it has taken the action because existing incandescent lamps don’t meet the tighter specification in earlier drafts and that consumer expectations don't align with the tighter specs. Moreover, the agency said the new draft will provide more choices of Energy Star products for consumers.

Several drafts back, the specification required uniformity to within 20% from the top of the lamp (considered 0°) down to 135° toward the base of the lamp. Remember that the DOE L Prize requirements were for 10% uniformity over 0-150°. Draft 4 allows a 25% variance from 0-135°, and states that only 90% of the values measured at 5° increments must meet the requirement. Some lamps makers that have developed compliant product with prior drafts believe that the EPA is bowing to pressure from other makers who have struggled to deliver compliant products.

Efficacy requirements

The EPA decided to leave the efficacy requirements for all lamps unchanged relative to draft 3. Back in January, a coalition of companies, lighting designers, and researchers had asked the EPA to lower efficacy requirements slightly in products that had a 90 CRI or above. The theory was that many specifiers would only use 90 CRI lamps. But manufacturing a lamp to 90 CRI that could also meet the efficacy requirements was a challenge that could actually slow the adoption of more-efficient LED-based lighting because of higher prices. The group argued that Energy Star recognized products at slightly lower efficacy could conversely hasten the transition to LED lamps and increase aggregate savings.

The EPA says that it carefully considered the stakeholders' request for a relaxation of efficacy requirements by 5-10 lm/W, but decided against such a change. The new draft notes that products currently on the Energy Star qualified products list and listed in the US Department of Energy (DOE) Lighting Facts program do in fact deliver on the efficacy requirements in 90 CRI flavors. The EPA did say that it was still inviting stakeholder comments on the matter.

Other changes

In the area of flicker, the new draft states that all dimmable lamps must have a waveform periodic frequency of 120 Hz or more. Lamps that have a frequency in the 120-800-Hz range must have a flicker index of 0.001 times the frequency. The new draft includes a refined definition of the flicker index.

There are a number of other less significant components in the new draft. The Lamps Specification Version 1.0 website includes a link to the full spec, a summary of the changes, and also a link to an archived webinar where the EPA presented the changes in draft 4.

Looking forward, the EPA has said it is considering some other key additions. For example, it plans to address the trend of lamps that include wireless networks such as ZigBee, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth. Those lamps consume small amounts of power, even when the light source itself is off, so that the lamps can respond to a remote control. The agency also plans to continue refining metrics for dimming performance.