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Moving Toward a Simpler, More Flexible Energy Star

Craig DiLouie

Energy Star is a voluntary testing and labeling program that verifies that energy-efficient lighting products provide comparable performance to products using incumbent technology while saving energy. Energy Star covers both luminaires and replacement lamps, and many utilities use Energy Star as a qualification for product rebates. In the luminaire category, Energy Star is primarily residential focused, covering portable, porch, pendant, undercabinet, vanity, sconce, and other luminaires. It also covers several commercial luminaire types, notably accent, downlight, undercabinet task, and portable task lights.

The primary goals the updated specifications of v2.0 over v1.2 were to streamline and simplify requirements, testing, and the certification process; increase efficacy levels to keep pace with advancing technology; and adjust the scope to broaden the selection, customization, and availability of Energy Star luminaires.

In terms of scope, the EPA is eliminating the distinction between residential and commercial luminaires. The intent is to publish requirements for luminaire types, and manufacturers will then design their products with appropriate features for their intended market.

The EPA also broadened the scope to include surface-mounted LED retrofit products, both wall sconce and ceiling mounts. This means luminaires (classified or certified to UL 1598C), not self-ballasted lamps or products that utilize an existing ballast.

Further, the EPA expanded the outdoor luminaire category, removed traditional light sources, and now differentiates requirements for directional and nondirectional luminaires.

Testing requirements were added for color tunable LED luminaires. Testing was simplified for luminaires with an ANSI base and that use Energy Star lamps.
A significant change is that the EPA justified higher efficacy levels based on advancing technology. For example, the EPA found that more than half of certified recessed downlights and 94% of certified LED downlight retrofit kits are performing at least 20% higher than the previous minimum efficacy requirement. In accent lighting, 83% of certified products were performing above 50lm/W, compared to the re­quirement of 35lm/W

The new requirements include:

  • Cove and undercabinet luminaires, now a combined category, must operate at a minimum of 50lm/W instead of
    29lm/W. Light output is simplified to 125lm/linear foot. Asym­metrical distribution is no longer required.
  • Downlights must operate at a minimum of 55lm/W in­stead of 42lm/W.
  • LED downlight retrofits must operate at a minimum of 60lm/W instead of 42lm/W. The retrofit must tested within a luminaire.
  • Accent lights must operate at a minimum of 55lm/W in­stead of 35lm/W. Wider beams are now allowed.
  • Outdoor luminaires must operate at a minimum of 60lm/W instead of 35lm/W. Luminaires must be certified to IDA or carry their seal of approval.
  • Portable desk task lights must operate at a minimum of 50lm/W instead of 29lm/W.
  • For omnidirectional products (including wall sconce and surface-mounted downlight retrofit products), minimum efficacy has been established at 65lm/W.

Most luminaires must produce at least 450 lumens, while decorative pendants, wall sconce luminaires and retrofits, and single-head bath vanity lights must emit at least 250 lumens. Surface-mounted ceiling retrofits must produce at least 800 lumens.
Overall, Energy Star is endeavoring to become simpler, more flexible, up to date and cover more products. Learn more at

DiLouie, LC, principal of Zing Communications (, is a lighting industry journalist, analyst, marketing consultant, and author. Reach him at


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