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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2012: Year of SSL Standards

Next year will mark the most significant milestone in the development of the solid state lighting (SSL) industry with the emergence of critical standards in US, Europe, Japan and other key locations around the world. Important SEMI LED manufacturing standards will also go to ballot next year, but the SSL industry will remember 2012 as the year where key economies began to face the need for end-product standards, certifications, and consumer product labeling.

Beginning on January 1, consumer light bulbs will require the new The Lighting Facts label that has previously been a voluntary label offer by the DOE. The new labels will help educate consumers about lumens and steer purchasing decisions away from “watts” to more energy efficient choices. The label will include a light bulb's brightness (lumens), energy cost, life, light appearance (CCT) and wattage. CFLs will also carry a mercury disclosure. These changes are critical to consumer education, product testing and standard labeling necessary to accelerate SSL adoption with LED-based lighting.

Europe’s Ecodesign Directive requires energy efficiency labeling for lightbulbs, but does not address color quality (2012 will effectively ban all incandescent bulbs in the EU). LED products are expected to earn an A or A++ rating, separating them from CFLs. 2-3 lamp regulations are currently in the pipeline, but regulators are reportedly “struggling” with LEDs. Optical requirements based on luminaire output ratio rather than luminaire efficiency are expected as early as mid-2012. From participants in the ErP process, the philosophy of minimal performance requirements is expected to evolve into rigorous performance, color quality and useful-life standards that are intended to prevent sub-standard LED products from being sold in the EU. Specific testing and enforcement issues have yet to be addressed.

In Japan, LED lamps will be subject to the Electrical Appliances and Materials Safety Act requiring the PSE or “DEN-AN” mark, by July 1, 2012. This is a mandatory, self-inspection, electrical safety labeling requirement. A range of conformity standards from JELMA (JEL), JET, J-IEC, UL Japan, and JIS will be required.

China, Taiwan, Hong Kong will also be introducing voluntary energy efficient labeling for SSL. The China program, announced early in 2011, is just becoming visible in retail. It is expected they will become prominent in 2012. China began voluntary certification program through China Quality Center (CQC) this year and it reveals the importance of certifications and labeling. Of the nearly 1000 applications made for CQC certification, only 20% passed. In street lighting systems, only 11% passed. Of those that passed, 90% were non-Chinese products manufactured by known international leaders. All those products that failed CQC are going to be sold somewhere. All those manufacturers who do not produce or use high-quality LEDs or know how to apply drivers and other systems to luminaires are going to be entering the global SSL market. Unless we want to dampen the market for LED-based lighting like we did with the introduction of CFLs—with poor quality, inconsistent specs, and poor certification programs that kill consumer confidence—we need to support effective, thoughtful, and meaningful certification and labeling programs. Next year will just be the beginning, more mature and effective market development and certification programs will be required support a growing SSL industry.

1 comment:

Mike Marti said...

SSL Standards Certification Programs are a good thing!