July 10, 2013…The US. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the Final Draft of the Energy Star Lamps V1.0 specification. The Lamps V1.0 specification is intended to replace the existing Compact Fluorescent Lamps and Integral LED Lamps specifications. It also is intended to replace the certification requirements for GU24-based fluorescent lamps previously detailed in the Residential Light Fixtures specification. The Final Draft of the Lamps V1.0 specification will go into effect September 1, 2014.In a letter to stakeholders, the EPA responsed to Draft 4 comments with a number of suggested adjustments intended to improve the clarity of the specification and provide additional flexibility, stating that all comments were carefully considered, and are posted for review on the lamps specification development web page, along with a comment summary document with EPA responses. The Final Draft retains the key elements of Draft 4 aside from what the EPA says are relatively minor changes and further refinement of the dimming requirements. The EPA says that
Noteably, the Final Draft of the specification allows new models to receive automatic certification so long as the variation will not negatively impact a lamp’s compliance with any performance criteria or other aspect of the specification. In addition, it updated the allowable variations section to align certain tolerances with safety report requirements in UL 1993 and expand the test data that can be leveraged for variations in color temperature. The Final Draft also clarifies tolerances for luminous efficacy and light output values. References to new models has 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 omnidirectional 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 omnidirectional 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.