Below is my lighting column published in the July issue of tED Magazine. Reprinted with permission.

Founded in 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR is a voluntary product labeling program designed to help consumers identify and promote energy-efficient products. These products include lamps and residential luminaires.

Consumers recognize the ENERGY STAR label as meaning lighting products demonstrates equivalent or better performance as the traditional technologies they replace, but use significantly less energy. This approach promotes both quality and energy efficiency.

In the lamps category, certification to the influential ENERGY STAR Lamp Specification has come to mean qualifying for the large majority of utility rebate programs. More than 370 utilities in the United States run about 1,200 product incentive and promotion programs for ENERGY STAR-certified products, with an estimated budget of about $535 million. This represents about 95 percent of utility incentive programs nationwide. EPA estimates that in 2014, about 70 percent of compact fluorescent lamps and 75 percent of LED lamps sold were ENERGY STAR-certified.

“The ENERGY STAR mark is well-recognized in the marketplace, and there’s a lot of consumer awareness around it,” says Joseph Howley, Manager of Industry Relations, GE Lighting. “Most buyers see ENERGY STAR and are confident they’re buying a quality energy-efficient product. Your average consumer might not have the expertise to keep up with LED technology and how quickly it continues to evolve—so they rely on ENERGY STAR.”

The Lamps Version 2.0 specification was released on December 31, 2015. The effective date is January 2, 2017. To bear the ENERGY STAR mark after that time, a lamp must be certified to V2.0. There will be no grandfathering, meaning existing products must recertify. The new requirements are stricter and require more rigorous testing, which will have a big impact on omnidirectional, directional and decorative lamps that qualify for the ENERGY STAR mark.

The new ENERGY STAR Lamp Specification favors LED lamps. Image courtesy of OSRAM SYLVANIA.

The new ENERGY STAR Lamp Specification favors LED lamps. Image courtesy of OSRAM SYLVANIA.

Lamps V2.0

According to Taylor Jantz-Sell, ENERGY STAR Lighting Program Manager, U.S. EPA, V2.0 has four primary goals:

• Capture more energy savings in step with growing improvements in solid-state lighting while improving quality and, where possible, reducing cost. For example, for all lamps, minimum efficacy and lumen and color maintenance requirements increased, while for omnidirectional lamps, minimum service life decreased.
• Broaden the scope for features for eligible lamp types, such as color-tuning and connected (featuring ability to communicate) products. This is likely to stimulate demand for these value-added products.
• Harmonize with the program’s Luminaires V2.0 specification, such as allowing a turnkey way to certify decorative luminaires simply by including an ENERGY STAR-certified lamp.
• Allow for more cost-effective lamp designs to earn ENERGY STAR.

“EPA hopes the result of the new specification will be increased adoption of high-quality, highly efficient light bulbs that have been third-party-certified to a well-thought-out set of requirements,” says Jantz-Sell.

“In certain geographies, electrical distributors may need to stock ENERGY STAR V1.0 and V2.0 products to support current customer demands and utility incentives, respectively,” says Nathan Marafioti, Marketing Director LED – North America, Philips Lighting. “Electrical distributors should expect and prepare for a continued increase in LED lamp conversion. Many utility programs will shift funding from compact fluorescent lamps to LED, which will improve the value of and stimulate LED adoption.”

Omnidirectional lamps

Omnidirectional lamps emit light in all directions. Lamps V2.0 increases the minimum efficacy requirement from 55 lumens/W for lamps smaller than 15W and 65 lumens/W for lamps 15+W to 70 or 80 lumens/W based on color rendering index (CRI) rating. If the lamp has a CRI lower than 90, the product must achieve a minimum efficacy of 80 lumens/W; if 90+ CRI, it must have an efficacy of at least 70 lumens/W.

Additionally, V2.0 reduced the service life requirement from 25,000 hours to 15,000 hours, adjusted the light distribution requirements, and reduced the power factor requirement from 0.7 to 0.6 for 5-10W products. These changes were implemented to allow manufacturers to reduce cost and provide competitive, high-quality LED products to consumers at a price point they’ve become to expect from ENERGY STAR-certified compact fluorescent lamps.

“Currently, there are no compact fluorescent products on the market that are 2.0 compliant,” Marafioti says. “While we are constantly evaluating the market need and opportunity for different products for our customers, it is likely that our primary efforts will continue to focus on driving LED adoption.”

The new specification favors LED technology. “Almost all of today’s omnidirectional lamps from proven brands meet the ENERGY STAR 2.0 requirements,” says Alfred LaSpina, Product Group Marketing Manager, OSRAM SYLVANIA. “The transition will be seamless, and the end-user won’t be impacted.” He adds that SYLVANIA will continue to offer compact fluorescent lamps to provide customers with a choice.

While many new LED lamps meet V2.0’s 80 lumens/W, many existing LED lamps do not, which may require some design changes and a higher overall cost. “GE does not anticipate the new requirements will affect the broad availability of its ENERGY STAR-certified LED products, but we do expect that demand for those same products will increase,” says Chris Gonzales, Senior Product Manager, Current, powered by GE. GE is currently phasing out production of compact fluorescent lamps for the North American market in 2017 due to expectations of a significant downturn in demand.

Directional lamps

Directional lamps emit light in a single direction. Lamps V2.0 increases the minimum efficacy requirement for directional lamps, again based on CRI. The requirement increased from 40 lumens/W for lamps smaller than 20W and 50 lumens/W for 20+W lamps to 70 lumens/W ( “We expect that compact fluorescent reflector lamps will be effectively eliminated from ENERGY STAR consideration by the new requirement,” says Roland Rolle, Senior Product Manager, GE Lighting. “We will have a wide selection of decorative and directional LED lamps that meet V2.0, but no CFLs.”

“Additional scale and costs continue to come down for LEDs, including directional lamps,” LaSpina says. “For LED lamps that currently comply with 1.0 but will not meet 2.0, their price points will continue to make them attractive options even without the utility incentives. We have spec-grade products compliant with 2.0 and available for utility rebates, and we also have products engineered for value-driven customers. It comes down to offering a wide range so the distributor has the right light for the right application, with or without utility rebates.”

Decorative lamps

For decorative lamps, the efficacy requirements increased from 50 to 60 lumens/W based on wattage to 65 lumens/W for all lamps. ST, a new lamp shape emulating old-fashioned filament-style lamps, is now included.

“Like the other two categories, we expect nearly all compact fluorescent decorative lamps will be eliminated from the ENERGY STAR program under V2.0,” says Rolle. “We anticipate the entire market will move toward LED.”

Final word

“If distributors are in incentive-laden areas, they will have to change to compliant products to take advantage of rebates,” LaSpina says. “Distributors will need to scrub their products and vendor listing to make sure they are stocking V2.0 products. That is why it is beneficial to partner with a proven vendor who has been working with EPA already to be prepared for this version, so the transition is seamless.”