More light for less energy

IEC TC standardization work helps cap energy use for lighting in the long term

By Morand Fachot

The lighting sector is undergoing a profound transformation as most countries, seeking to limit increases in their energy consumption, adopt energy-efficient solutions. IEC Technical Committee (TC) 34: Lamps and related equipment, and its Subcommittees (SCs), develop International Standards for electric light sources and a significant proportion of their activity is focused on energy-efficient lighting solutions.

Philips Hue table lamp
Lights like this Philips Hue LED make for better atmosphere in living and working spaces (Photo Philips)

Incandescent bulbs cede ground to energy-efficient lamps

As nearly 20% of the world’s total electricity production is consumed by electric lighting, and as global demand for artificial light is projected to be 80% higher by 2030, the introduction of energy-efficient lighting solutions is seen as a priority for many countries in limiting their energy consumption. As energy-hungry incandescent bulbs have a limited lifespan, increasingly they are being replaced by more energy-efficient light bulbs such as compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) products.

Energy-efficient light bulbs are not new: the first CFL screw-in replacement for an incandescent bulb was introduced in 1980. CFL is now a mature technology and currently accounts for the bulk of the energy-efficient bulb market.

However, LED-based lighting solutions, built on LED chips and modules and introduced initially in many niche markets such as commercial lights, are proving more and more popular with consumers as their price keeps declining. A January 2015 report by WinterGreen Research expects the LED lighting market to grow 45% per year between 2015 and 2020 to reach USD 63,1 billion by 2020.

New Standards will allow rapid market expansion

LED modules are replaceable items made up of LED dies or chips and mechanical and optical components for use in a luminaire (light fitting).

The recent success of consumer-orientated LED lighting means that the market has been flooded by a large number of manufacturers making unverifiable claims about their products' performance, in particular where LED modules are concerned. Yet designers and producers of lighting and luminaires need to know how long LED modules will continue to deliver a meaningful percentage of their initial light output over the years.

The lighting industry is driving the process for the standardization of performance requirements for LED products. As new products are being introduced rapidly, new standards are needed quickly. Manufacturers claim the standardization of performance requirements is an important first step towards the realization of a like-for-like comparison of luminaires.

Extensive work is taking place

To meet this demand, IEC TC 34 and its SCs have developed a large number of International Standards in addition to the continuous development of International Standards for other types of lighting solutions such as tungsten, halogen or fluorescent lamps.

TC 34 also makes use of Publicly Available Specification (PAS) documents which allow industry agreed specifications to be developed quickly.

TC 34 was established in 1948. It set up four SCs to develop International Standards for lamps (SC 34A), lamp caps and holders (SC 34B), auxiliaries for lamps (SC 34C) and luminaires (SC 34D).

TC 34 also prepares international standards for miscellaneous related equipment not covered by any project of another TC.

As of December 2015, more than 470 publications developed by TC 34 and its SCs were available on the IEC Webstore.

TC 34 and its SCs are suppliers and customers of Standards to a number of IEC TCs and SCs, including TC 20: Electric cables, SC 23B: Plugs, socket-outlets and switches, TC 61: Safety of household and similar electrical appliances, TC 64: Electrical installations and protection against electric shock, TC 76: Optical radiation safety and laser equipment, TC 97: Electrical installations for lighting and beaconing of aerodromes, and SC 121A: Low-voltage switchgear and controlgear.

TC 34 also liaises with a number of TCs from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and with other organizations, such as the International Commission on Illumination (CIE).

Given the rapid expansion of the global lighting market and the continuous introduction of new products, experts from TC 34 and its SCs have a busy agenda ahead of them for the foreseeable future.

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