Guest Post by Jim Brodrick: DOE Publishes ENERGY STAR Criteria for LED Replacement Lamps

Guest post by Jim Brodrick, reprinted with permission from Postings: from the desk of Jim Brodrick

[Recently,] DOE published the final ENERGY STAR criteria for integral LED lamps, which go into effect August 31, 2010. These criteria are the culmination of a long process of comment and revision, with the first draft published in January 2009, a revised draft in May, and a third draft in September. My colleague Richard Karney asks that I thank those of you who were among the dozens of stakeholders that submitted comments along the way, as the comments we received were a crucial part of the process and enabled us to do some important fine-tuning.

Integral LED lamps are intended as replacements for the conventional light bulbs we’re all familiar with. Even though SSL works most efficiently in fixtures that are specially designed to take maximum advantage of its unique technology, the replacement market is still an important one. There are millions of conventional sockets already in place, and consumers are becoming increasingly eager to fill them with energy-efficient light sources.

In response, a profusion of LED replacement products has entered the marketplace, and many of them are disappointing, to put it mildly. In general, performances haven’t lived up to the claims. That’s a guaranteed recipe for consumer dissatisfaction. Publication of the new ENERGY STAR criteria for integral LED lamps is a key step in creating order out of this chaos. Now there’s a tool to push manufacturers to raise the quality and performance bars. Starting next year, when consumers see the ENERGY STAR logo on an LED replacement product, they can be confident that when it comes to light output and distribution, it will perform as well as, or better than, the light bulb it’s replacing, and will be highly efficient. While we await the date for these new criteria to take effect, energy efficiency programs and utilities besieged by vendors pressuring them to provide incentives for their products now have a concrete set of guidelines to distinguish the worthy from the unworthy.

The new ENERGY STAR specs require that LED replacement products be at least as energy-efficient as comparable CFLs, with light output, color, and distribution equivalent to that of incandescent or halogen bulbs. That means warm to neutral white, not cool white. Lifetime is another key factor. CALiPER testing has shown that some LED replacement lamps last less than 500 hours, despite claims of up to 100 times longer. Under the new criteria, manufacturers that want full ENERGY STAR qualification for their LED replacement lamps are required to test 10 samples for at least 6,000 hours continuously, with an LM-79 test performed at the outset and at the end, to determine the lumen maintenance. If the lumen maintenance at 6,000 hours doesn’t exceed thresholds established in the criteria, the products won’t qualify for ENERGY STAR. The same goes for any product whose light output, distribution, or color quality isn’t equivalent to those of the conventional bulb it claims to replace.

Just a few years ago, the LED replacement products we were seeing on the market didn’t work well at all. They put out hardly any light, and the color tended to be less than desirable. Some of those products are still out there, so consumers still have to exercise caution. But the industry as a whole deserves kudos for the significant improvement in overall quality since then. Today there are some viable LED replacement lamps on the market, which perform as well or better than conventional bulbs while using a fraction of the energy. Thanks to the new ENERGY STAR criteria, it should be much easier to distinguish those products from the wannabes.


  1. […] U.S. Department of Energy has published Energy Star criteria for LED lamps, posted by Jim Brodrick, the DOE’s point-person on solid state lighting (and various other matters) […]

  2. This is great information to pass on to our customers that are confused about LED and appropriate applications for them. We have been so hesitant about pushing LED for everyday replacement lamps. We now have some guidelines to give them.

    Debbie Anderson
    Bulbs Plus, Inc

  3. Edward Bray says:

    Finally, we can weed out the snake oil!

  4. Andrew says:

    Funny that “snake oil” was mentioned in the last post. We were just talking about this yesterday in our office.

    We have a minimum of 2-3 visits and 5-7 emails per week of manufacturers wanting us to test or evaluate their product. It feels like we’re living back in the late 1800’s when the snake oil salesman had the cure for everything! I think the claims that so many LED manufacturers have made that have been proven false over and over and over has really put a bad taste in the mouth of all of us in the industry and has spoiled the few good products in the marketplace.

    I’m glad to see they’ll be some sort of ‘standard’ which will hopefully seperate the wheat from chaff. We’ll see…

  5. Chet Wing says:

    I have been working with a LED lamp manufacturing co. for about 7 years now. The first medium base lamps I bought from them (15) are still in use, still strong, and are on 24/7. Since then I have used a number of other of their products and I have been very happy with every one of them. The only problem is they are expensive and will have a very long payback time unless you are using a lot less labor to service the unit. ie. difficult to access, high lift needed to access Etc. Just remember, you get what you pay for and who you buy from.

  6. […] Department of Energy released the ENERGY STAR criteria for LED replacement lamps.  It will go into effect on August 31, 2010.  LED replacement products will now be required to be […]

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