Brighter, cleaner and cheaper lights

More efficient and robust technologies will benefit users and the environment

By Morand Fachot

In 2007, the International Energy Agency estimated that lighting accounted for just under 20% of electricity use worldwide. Public policies, reflecting environmental and energy saving concerns, are driving the global take-up of energy-efficient bulbs. The lighting industry's need for proper International Standards to ensure the safety and measure the performance of these bulbs is obvious and proceeding apace under the aegis of IEC TC (Technical Committee) 34: Lamps and related equipment, and its SCs (Subcommittees).

LED-based 13W PAR30S saves 62 W of energy compared to a 75W halogen (Photo: Philips) LED-based 13W PAR30S saves 62 W of energy compared to a 75W halogen (Photo: Philips)

The future is bright, the future is energy efficient

For generations, domestic lighting has been dominated by incandescent bulbs, which radiate light from a heated tungsten filament. They waste about 95% of the electricity they consume, by creating heat instead of light, and last an average of 750 to 1 000 hours. As they are withdrawn from sale across the world over the next few years, consumers will increasingly switch to more efficient alternatives that are not only cheaper in the long run, but are also more environmentally friendly.

Energy-saving lamps for the home can last many more times longer than traditional bulbs, cutting down on domestic electricity bills. They come in three main varieties: CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), LED (light-emitting diode) based lamps and halogen lamps.

IEC TC 34 and its SCs prepare International Standards for these lamps, helping manufacturers make reliable and safe products that benefit the end user.

CFLs are what most people visualise when they think of energy-efficient light bulbs. First introduced in 1980, they are miniature versions of full-sized fluorescent lights that screw into standard lamp sockets and give off light that looks similar to that of incandescent bulbs. CFLs are widely available, use up to 80% less electricity than incandescent bulbs when turning energy into light, and last up to 10 times longer. Over its lifetime, each CFL is expected to provide a considerable saving in terms of CO2 emissions in comparison with its incandescent equivalent.

Halogen bulbs are not as efficient as CFLs and do not last as long, but still use between 25 and 40% less energy than traditional light bulbs. LED-based lighting solutions are the most recent addition; they are built on LED chips and modules. LED modules are replaceable items made up of LED dies or chips and mechanical and optical components. They are designed for use in a luminaire (light fitting).

New LED bulbs are grouped in clusters and have diffuser lenses that broaden their applications for domestic use. Rapid advances in technology are making the price of LED bulbs more affordable, and manufacturers are introducing a growing range of styles.

LED: the rising star

LEDs are up to 90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs and use the light emission properties of specific semiconductor materials. Initially they were expensive to produce so found their market in commercial use. Now improved technology and economies of scale have seen prices fall, making them increasingly attractive to domestic consumers.

In the industrial and commercial environments, LED lighting solutions are now found widely in shops. They are also making inroads in urban and even airport lighting, where they prove extremely cost effective, owing to their low power consumption, long life and reduced cost of maintenance and replacement.

The recent success of LED lighting in the shape of consumer solutions 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. Even so, it is important for designers and producers of lighting and luminaires 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 standardization of performance requirements for LED products. As new products are being introduced rapidly, new standards also need to be produced quickly. Manufacturers claim the standardization of performance requirements is an important first step towards like-for-like comparison between luminaires.

IEC work ensures consistent performance of LED products

To meet this demand, in 2011, IEC SC 34A: Lamps, published two important performance requirement PAS (Publicly Available Specification) documents: IEC/PAS 62717: LED Modules Performance and IEC/PAS 62722-2-1: LED Luminaires Performance.

In both of these, luminaire manufacturers and certification bodies will find definitions of a set of initial performance criteria plus a description on how they may be measured. This is designed to give guidance when determining product performance.

The use of a PAS in this area has allowed industry-agreed specifications to be developed quickly, which has helped unify the way performance claims are being made by manufacturers and testing is conducted.

Amongst the many quality criteria to be considered when evaluating manufacturers' claims, the IEC PAS documents list the following:

  • rated input power (expressed in watts); that is, the amount of energy consumed by a luminaire, including its power supply
  • rated luminous flux (expressed in lumens), which corresponds to the light emitted by the luminaire
  • LED luminaire efficacy (expressed in lumens per watt), which measures the initial luminous flux of a luminaire divided by its initial input power
  • photometric code, which includes rates for colour temperature, colour rendering and chromaticity
  • rated life of the LED module

Some of these parameters, rated life in particular, are currently difficult to measure accurately as the technology is relatively new and the lifetime of LED products is expected to be much longer than that of other types of lighting systems.

SC 34A is also working on PAS for CFL bulbs and on preparing International Standards for the use of OLEDs (organic light emitting diodes) in lighting.

The activities of SC 34A extend to all types of lamps, from halogen tungsten to fluorescent (tube and CFL), and for low-pressure sodium vapour lamps and HID (high intensity discharge) devices such as high-pressure mercury vapour and sodium vapour lamps.

All these lamps are used in countless domains: in domestic, commercial and industrial spaces, for urban lighting, in the automotive and aircraft industries, to name just a few.

To ensure lamps are interchangeable and fit in the right fixture for the right applications, International Standards for lamp caps and holders are essential. These are prepared and maintained by IEC SC 34B: Lamp caps and holders, and are assembled in the IEC 60061 database (see article in January 2013 e-tech).

Not just bulbs…

When thinking lights, most people visualize bulbs or tubes and luminaires. Many types of lamps require additional components to start and operate properly. This is the case for fluorescent lights (tubes or CFL), which require so-called ballasts: devices that limit the amount of current to ensure the proper starting and operation of the light. Ballasts are either mounted into the luminaire or, in the case of CFLs, built into the base of the bulb.

Ballasts are also used in HID (high-intensity discharge) lamps, often used in urban lighting or in cars. IEC SC 34C: Auxiliaries for lamps, prepares International Standards for such ballasts, other starting devices (starters and igniters), as well as capacitors and transformers for tubular fluorescent and other discharge lamps.

SC 34C also prepares International Standards for lamp controlgear that can consist of an electronic printed circuit board and may incorporate controlgear, lampholder(s), switch(es) and supply terminals. With the introduction of LED lights, controlgear becomes ever more commonplace in lighting installations.

International Standards for luminaires are also essential as these devices must be capable of operating flawlessly with a wide variety of types of light with differing requirements and for a variety of uses. Properly designed luminaires may also contribute to more energy-efficient lighting by distributing light in the best possible way.

IEC SC 34D: Luminaires, prepares International Standards for all types, including floodlights, luminaires for road and street lighting, for garden use, portable luminaires, etc.

Supporting a huge industry

Most people find it hard to understand that the lighting industry is so huge and expanding at an astonishing rate, driven by global population growth and rising incomes, as well as new lighting technologies introduced by the industry, partly in response to increasing requirements for enhanced energy-efficiency. This industry is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 4%-5% between 2010 and 2020 to exceed EUR 105 billion.

The work of IEC TC 34 and its SCs makes this expansion possible and guarantees that users have access to the best possible and most reliable lighting solutions.

LED-based 13W PAR30S saves 62 W of energy compared to a 75W halogen (Photo: Philips) LED-based 13W PAR30S saves 62 W of energy compared to a 75W halogen (Photo: Philips)
Warmer atmosphere at home with modern lighting (Photo: OSRAM) Warmer atmosphere at home with modern lighting (Photo: OSRAM)
Energy-efficient outdoor lighting with LED luminaires (Photo: GE) Energy-efficient outdoor lighting with LED luminaires (Photo: GE)