ENERGY STAR 2.0 – What Do You Need to Know?

Elana Cole, ERS, for Zondits

One of the largest online lighting distributors recently shared some information with Zondits regarding the ENERGY STAR program for lighting, specifically the new 2.0 version for lamps that goes into effect on January 2, 2017.

What is ENERGY STAR 2.0?

ENERGY STAR 2.0, which replaces the current 1.1 version, includes new standards that compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) manufacturers need to abide by to have their product qualified for ENERGY STAR. The current ENERGY STAR V1.1 certifications will remain in place until January 2, 2017. After that date all products will need to have been submitted for V2.0 certification in order to carry the ENERGY STAR logo.

What are the major changes to ENERGY STAR 2.0 from 1.1?

Among the major changes that ENERGY STAR is incorporating into their specifications is a change in average rated life (ARL). The ARL for an LED lamp is the elapsed operating time for which the LED light source will maintain the percentage of its initial light output. This how long it takes for half of the light bulbs in a test batch to fail (it’s also been called a half-life). For example, if 100 bulbs are tested and have an ARL of 1000 hours, 50 of the bulbs had died when the test time reached 1000 hours. Some bulbs may have failed within 50 hours, some within 450 hours, some within 700 hours, etc. but half were dead within 1000 hours.

Repeatedly turning a bulb on and off reduces its ARL. Incandescent, halogen, and LED bulbs are less affected by on/off cycles than fluorescent, CFL, and high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs. In general, the ARL for a bulb that turns on and off once a day will be much longer than a bulb that turns on and off many times a day.

ARL tests are run at conditions that can reasonably be expected in typical applications. If a lamp is used in an area that is hot (above an oven or in the ceiling), cold (in a freezer or outdoors in winter), wet (exposed to rain or near a sprinkler), or vibrating (near machinery or slamming door) ‒ basically any “abnormal” situation ‒ the ARL will most likely not be reached. Think of it as a marathon runner: if it’s too hot, too cold, too wet, or too windy the runner won’t run as fast or as far.

The major changes to ARL involve A-style and decorative LED lamps. ENERGY STAR 1.1 required these shapes of lamps to meet an ARL of 25,000 hours, but the new ENERGY STAR 2.0 requires these shapes of lamps to meet an ARL of 15,000 hours. Other shapes, such as PARS, MRs, BRs, Rs, etc. will still need to meet the 25,000-hour ARL to meet ENERGY STAR 2.0.

According to ENERGY STAR, if all light bulbs sold in the US next year meet the V2.0 requirements, electricity savings will amount to over $4 billion per year and reduce more than 54 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions ‒ the equivalent output of more than 5 million vehicles. It is important to note that there will be no grandfathering with the new certifications. This means that all lamps need to be recertified in order to maintain an ENERGY STAR rating, even if they were already qualified under the expiring certifications.

Overall, version 2.0 features seven key changes and minor clarifications intended to simplify testing and certification:

  1. The second dimming load (four lamps) was dropped to reduce test burden.
  2. The rapid cycle stress test was dropped for LED lamps.
  3. The distribution requirements for omnidirectional types are now less strict.
  4. The rated life for omnidirectionals has been lowered from 25,000 to 15,000 hours minimum.
  5. Efficacies were increased; start times and run-up times were decreased.
  6. All LED lamps must remain operational during lumen maintenance periods.
  7. Variable voltage lamps covering 120 V must be tested at 120 V.

What does this change mean for a lamp manufacturer?

Lamp manufacturers will be able to take costs out of their ENERGY STAR 2.0-qualified lamps since the necessary components will be less expensive with the reduction in the ARL. Manufacturers should pass some, if not all of this savings, on to their distributors. This savings should enable manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to sell more lamps. Since ENERGY STAR is not grandfathering in any previously approved products, all manufacturers will need to submit their eligible products for recertification. Manufacturers may choose to not recertify certain products that are currently qualified, and any new products released to meet v2.0 requirements could carry a higher price tag to go along with their improved specifications, at least temporarily.

What does this change mean for a distributor and retailer?

Distributors and retailers should be able to procure ENERGY STAR 2.0-qualified lamps at a lower cost than they did for ENERGY STAR 1.1-qualified lamps. This will in turn enable them to lower their selling prices to the consumer.

What does this change mean for the consumer?

Consumer acceptance for LED lamps has been slow until recently because of the cost of entry, meaning the up-front cost to buy an LED lamp has been relatively high vs. a comparable incandescent or CFL. Now that the price of LED lamps has dropped with the help of ENERGY STAR rebates ‒ and now even further, perhaps, with the new ENERGY STAR 2.0 guidelines ‒ ENERGY STAR 2.0-qualified LED lamps should have a further reduction. This should encourage more consumers who have been holding out to finally convert to LED lamps and enjoy the benefits of energy savings, instant-on, and long life.