Final Draft of America "Energy Star" Lamps V1.0 Specification Comes out

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued the final draft of "Energy Star" Lamps V1.0 specification, the specification is intended to replace the existing the Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs, V4.3) and Integral LED Lamp (V1.4) specifications. It will also replace the certification requirements in "residential lamps" specification for GU24-based fluorescent. The final draft shall take effect September 1, 2014. In the letter to all stakeholders, EPA responded a series of amendments for the purpose of improving transparency and increasing flexibility, saying that it has seriously considered all suggestions and have published them on the Lighting normative's website for public review, and comes with a summary of the comments EPA has responded. The final draft retains the key elements of the draft 4, added some minor modifications and further refined the dimming requirements.

Notably, the final draft allows new models automatically to pass certification, as long as the changes in these models will not violate any performance standards or any other requirements of this specification. In addition, the new draft updates the "tolerance" section to make the specific tolerance consistent with the UL1993 safety report requirements; the test data of measuring the temperature change has also been extended. The final draft also defined the tolerance range of luminous efficiency and light output value. References to new models have been removed from the specific product variation section. The specification notes that any lamp variant of a certified product may be selected for verification testing and the results from such random testing will impact the certification for all variants certified that are using the same representative model test data. New models that fall outside of the allowed tolerances that exempt it from fresh certification must undergo a minimum of 3,000 hours of testing before any Energy Star certification can be granted.

For initial lifetime claims of 25,000 or less hours, Energy Star certification can be obtained after just 3,000 hours of testing if a certain percentage of lumen maintenance is achieved. This required percentage is based on the claimed lifetime. The higher the claimed lifetime, the higher the percentage of the original lumen output must be maintained for the interim certification. However, testing of the lamp must continue through 6,000 hours for full (not interim) lifetime certification. In a similar fashion, for lifetime claims between 30,000 and 50,000 hours can receive interim certification after 6,000 hours of testing if a certain percentage of lumen maintenance is achieved. For full lifetime certification of 30,000 or more hours, the testing must continue to specific hour values based upon the lifetime being claimed. For example, a claim of 30,000 hour lifetime requires a full 7,500 of testing to be complete while full lifetime certifications for a lifetime of 50,000 hours requires 12,500 overall hours of testing.

At the higher end of the output spectrum, the EPA added light output requirements for equivalency to commonly available unidirectional 200 and 300 watt incandescent lights. The Final Draft also includes a clarification in the equivalency claim table to indicate that covered CFLs intended to replace common wattage general service incandescent bulbs are subject to the same minimum light output requirements as unidirectional lamps. The Final Draft's Rapid Cycle Stress Test requirements for solid state lamps now allows existing test data to be used until a better approach to cycling is determined.

The Final Draft reportedly refines dimmer selection criteria to reduce confusion and testing burden. Flicker performance levels in the final draft were replaced with the requirement to report worst case values for light output frequency and flicker index during dimming testing to allow users to evaluate dimmable products based on individual preferences and flicker sensitivity. The Final Draft includes additional methods for confirming lamp stabilization as part of the recommended practices for dimming performance and includes guidance for flicker index calculation, as stakeholders requested.

The EPA notes in its letter to stakeholders, "Even as we complete work on this V1.0 lamp specification, the Agency is continuing work and stakeholder engagement in areas that might allow for further streamlining of the qualification process and more consumer choice without compromising integrity." One of the EPA's key priorities in working on the lamp specification, according to the letter, is to further examine luminous intensity distribution requirements for LED A-lamps. The EPA indicated that it is looking into ways to adjust the luminous intensity requirements that allow for even more cost effective options to effectively replace general purpose incandescent lamps without compromise. As the EPA formulates a new proposal for further comment later this year, stakeholders are encouraged to remain engaged in the process. The EPA will potentially adopt this new proposal as part of a near-term update to the lamp specification.

With the final specification, the EPA noted that it will share additional information related to its implementation. The EPA expects to finalize the Lamps specification by mid-August. Due to the longer testing time frames associated with this specification, the EPA has allowed a year for transition. Manufacturers are encouraged to begin testing and certifying products to this specification as soon as it is final. As of the Version 1.0 effective date, only those products that have been certified to the new requirements will appear on the Qualified Product List.

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