Emerging Technologies Program Challenges Lighting Manufacturers to Develop Quality Products

Ensuring that energy-saving products deliver consistent performance is the best way to keep buyers coming back for more. To this end, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is currently working with the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) at U.C. Davis on standards for two high-potential lighting technologies.


Replacing the fluorescents that light frozen food and refrigerated cases in supermarkets with light emitting diodes (LEDs) can cut energy consumption by nearly half. However, testing showed that different LED products did not provide equal function or longevity, and no current manufacturing standards to correct this problem currently exist. The Department of Energy has released an Energy Star specification for LEDs, but it does not cover LEDs used in refrigerated cases, and test protocols to measure the performance of LEDs are months from release. To provide a faster solution, PG&E worked with the CLTC to establish qualifying standards for LED refrigerated case lighting that will ensure the LEDs perform effectively long-term. These energy saving and quality standards are now part of PG&E’s Efficient Refrigerated Case Lighting Options Program. Manufacturers that comply with these standards are eligible for incentives. Further, PG&E will be sharing these standards with other utilities and organizations such as Energy Star to promote widespread adoption.


Inexpensive and unobtrusive, recessed downlights are one of the most popular choices for residential lighting. Lighting manufacturers have started producing residential compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) downlight systems as efficient replacements for the widely used incandescent systems. Testing at the CLTC revealed that heat build-up in CFLs reduces light output and lamp and component life. Based on these results, PG&E recommended implementing codes, standards, and utility incentives that would encourage CFL manufacturers to redesign their products to avoid heat build-up and premature failure. As a result of these evaluations, there are ongoing discussions at the California Energy Commission, in close collaboration with National Electrical Manufacturers Association, regarding modifications to Title 24* that will address performance improvements.

*Title 24 is part of the California Code of Regulations for Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings, which went into effect October 2005.