SSL Postings

Orion Luminaire
At the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) fourth annual Solid-State Lighting Manufacturing R&D Workshop, which was held in San Jose in June, one speaker noted that because the industry has changed so much over the past few years, some changes in product-performance verification testing requirements are badly needed. He made the point that too much testing interferes with the goal of reducing manufacturing costs and also introduces unacceptable delays in time-to-market, both of which are key to driving market adoption. These concerns were shared by other attendees, who cited the explosion in SSL products as a major driver for the increase in required testing, and also felt that some of that testing may be redundant. We heard some of those same concerns expressed the following month in Pittsburgh, at DOE's seventh annual Solid-State Lighting Market Introduction Workshop.

The manufacturers who voiced those concerns in San Jose and Pittsburgh were referring to the cost and time resulting from testing for a range of product-qualification and labeling programs. On the other side of this, however, are utilities and users who are concerned with the accuracy of product-performance information provided by manufacturers. We believe the best place to start addressing these issues is with our own LED Lighting Facts® program, which has grown to already include more than 6,700 product listings and over 1,000 partners. So we convened a roundtable in Chicago last month to get the conversation started. The focus of the roundtable was a new approach to maintaining product-performance information accuracy proposed by LED Lighting Facts.

Currently, manufacturers are required to test all products before being listed with the program. While this has worked well so far and earned it high respect in the industry, the rapidly increasing number of products on the market, coupled with the technology's rapid evolution – which sees new versions coming out as quickly as every six months – necessitates some changes in the system. Simply requiring retesting for all the older products, in addition to testing all of the new ones, would lead to an excessively burdensome requirement for manufacturers – not only financially, but also in terms of maintaining timely listings with a rapidly evolving product line.

The 16 roundtable participants who gathered in Chicago – a mix of LED Lighting Facts retailer, distributor, utility, energy-efficiency, specifier, and manufacturer partners – each brought a different perspective to the topic at hand. They joined DOE team members to discuss ways for the LED Lighting Facts program to evolve and continue to be a valuable resource in the growth and development of the SSL market, while balancing requirements for product-performance data with the product-testing cost burden.

They used as their starting point a DOE-developed strawman proposal in which some fraction of products would be directly tested while others in the same product family would have their performance characteristics calculated based on results from the tested products and known technical behavior within the family. To make certain that calculated results accurately characterized actual performance, the strawman recommended a robust program of product performance verification testing. Products whose actual performance was found to differ significantly from their calculated performance would be corrected, and procedures to minimize the likelihood of future mischaracterization of performance would be implemented. Roundtable participants generally liked the idea, but made a number of suggestions for improvement.

 
LED Lighting Facts has begun the process of making changes to keep up with the industry's rapid development, the latest one being that manufacturers must confirm each year that a listed product is still available with the listed specifications. Stay tuned for additional changes as we continue to work with stakeholders to reduce testing costs – and, by extension, product costs – while maintaining a database of accurate product performance characteristics upon which LED Lighting Facts users can rely.
 
As always, if you have questions or comments, you can reach us at postings@lightingfacts.com.