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What to Look for in a Quality LED

With thousands of manufacturers and distributors of LEDs, how does the consumer determine which product to invest in? Cost, average lamp life claims, and warranties vary greatly from product to product, so what helps the consumer steer clear of inferior products?

In an effort to accelerate the adoption of the quality Solid State Lighting (SSL) in the market place, the Department of Energy (DOE) has introduced the ENERGY STAR Program for SSL, the Lighting Facts Program and the CALiPER Program. Together these programs help add credibility to the claims of LED manufacturers.


The ENERGY STAR program requirements are a group of minimum performance requirements for solid state lighting which luminaires must meet to be sold in Canada or the U.S. as “ENERGY STAR” certified.

The ENERGY STAR program looks at 16 performance characteristics general to all luminaires.

  1. Correlated Colour Temperature(CCT)(ref. test IESNA LM-79-08, CIE15:2004,IESNA LM -58-94,IESNA LM-16)
  2. Colour Spatial Uniformity (ref. test IESNA LM-79-08, CIE15:2004,IESNA LM -58-94,IESNA LM-16)
  3. Colour Maintenance
  4. Colour Rendering Index(CRI)(ref. test ANSI C78.377-2008, IESNA LM-79-08,CIE 13.3-1995,IESNA LM-58-94)
  5. Off –State Power
  6. Warranty ( 3 year Minimum)
  7. Thermal Management
  8. Lumen Depreciation of LED Light Source( L70) for Modules/Arrays (ref. test IESNA LM-80-08)
  9. Automatic Daylight Control for Residential Outdoor Luminaires
  10. Power Supply Power Factor ( ref. test ANSI C82.77-2002)
  11. Power Supply Minimum Operating Temperature
  12. Maximum Measured Power Supply Case or Manufacturer Designated Temperature Measurement Point( TMPps) Temperature (ref. test in Canada CAN/CSA C2-22 No.9-96)
  13. Power supply Output Operating Frequency
  14. Power supply Electromagnetic and Radio Frequency Interference
  15. Power Supply Noise ( Class A)
  16. Power Supply Transient Protection

ENERGY STAR requirements specific to Solid State Lighting (SSL) are specific to residential or non- residential and application type (eg. Residential under cabinet kitchen lighting). They include:

  1. Minimum Light Output
  2. Zonal Lumen Density Requirements
  3. Minimum Luminaire Efficacy ( ref. test IESNA LM-79-08 & ANSI C82.2-2002)
  4. Allowable Correlated Colour Temperature

All test results must be produced using the specific package/module/array and power supply combination that will be used in production.

Manufacturers displaying the ENERGY STAR label are required to participate in quality assurance testing program, which use independent, third-party, qualified testing facilities. Products that fail to meet testing requirements will be required the remove the ENERGY STAR label from all product information and packaging.

Lighting Facts Label Program

Initiated by the US Department of Energy (DOE), the Lighting Facts labeling program is a quick and simple summary of the products performance data as measured by the IESNA LM-79-2008. Appearing on product packaging and manufacturer data sheets, the label is similar to the Nutritional Facts label we are accustom to seeing on food packaging. The Lighting Facts Label reports performance in 5 areas.

  • Lumens ( Light Output)
  • Efficacy (lumens /watt)
  • Watts( Input Power)
  • Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT)
  • Colour Rendering Index (CRI)

The Lighting Facts program does not guarantee performance but does increase the probability of accurate claims and allows the consumer to compare products.

 DOE CALiPER Program

The Commercially Available LED Product Evaluation and Reporting (CALiPER) program supports testing of a wide variety of SSL products using industry approved test procedures. CALiPER test results help guide DOE planning for Research and Development, including ENERGY STAR program planning and provide objective product performance information to the public helping consumers have confidence that SSL will perform as claimed. Lastly and most importantly the CALiPER test results guide the development, and adoption of standardized test procedures and measurements.

Christie Martin, LEED AP BD+C