In 2012, the demand in Taiwan for LED light bulbs has been increasing very quickly however, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has reported that some manufacturers labels can differ by 20 percent from their actual output.
Due to recent requests from the Bureau of Energy, the ITRI has been working on designing energy-saving labels which will adopt some of the highest standards in the industry. The new labels are likely to create some waves in the market however, reports indicate that it is a necessary step in correctly reflecting product values.
The ITRI indicated that after gathering suggestions from the industry, proposals will be sent to appropriate committees in the Bureau of Energy and it expect the details to be announced in January 2013. Additionally the ITRI also plans to announce the LED light bulb brands that passed the standards at end of first-quarter to second-quarter 2013.
According to estimates by industry sources, the LED light bulb demand is expected to exceed 1,500,000 units in Taiwan for 2012 and the penetration rate into the local light bulb market is expected to exceed 30% in 2014, with an additional increase to 50% in 2015. The ITRI expects that by the end of 2012, there will be 46 brands of LED light bulbs and 154 models in Taiwan.
Industry sources have reported that there are currently two initial proposals for LED light bulb standards. The first being cool white LED light bulbs with a color rendering index of 80 and above. According to ITRI the efficiency of these light bulbs would need to reach 80lm/W and warm white LED light bulbs with a color rendering index of 80 and above would need to have an efficiency of 85lm/W. The estimated percentage of products that will pass this test is about 10%, said ITRI. The second suggestion is to increase the efficiency standard of the first suggestion by 5lm/W, in which a passing rate of only 3% is expected.
A team at ITRI has been surveying the industry and among 29 firms, 22 firms choose the first standard suggestion. Firms such as Delta, Everlight, and Formosa Epitaxy chose the second standard suggestion. The firms that chose the second suggestion indicated that there are many LED firms in China and the higher the standard, the better protection for Taiwan-based firms.
I believe accurate labels on all lighting products will help to establish a standardization among manufacturers and make it easier to differentiate between product quality and the companies that fall short. An accurate label regulated by the proper agencies will assist leading companies who strive to produce superior products.
You may remember label changes in the US beginning Jan. 1, 2011, in California and Jan. 1, 2012, throughout the U.S., light bulbs were required to meet more stringent lumens/watt requirements and display their results on the new label.
There were two Lighting Facts programs designed to create a common set of measurements, and to standardize how they are displayed, in order to make it as easy as possible to compare products. The labels were designed to be simple to understand and are similar to the Nutrition Facts labels currently found on many food items.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) program:
This applies to all bulbs with a medium screw base, which is the base type used for the majority of household lighting. After January 1st, 2012, this label is mandatory on all applicable products sold in the U.S. This label will replace the DOE label on all LED bulbs with a medium base.
The FTC labeling will be found in three places: On the front of the packaging, a lumen or brightness listing and estimated yearly energy cost will be required. On the back of the packaging, information on brightness, estimated yearly cost, wattage, light appearance, life expectancy, and whether or not the bulb contains mercury will be required. On the bulb itself, the lumen output and a disclaimer on mercury-containing bulbs will be required as well.
The Department of Energy (DOE) program:
This applies to all LED products, regardless of base type. It is a voluntary program, manufacturers are encouraged to participate but it is not required. It is primarily directed to retail buyers, utilities, and lighting professionals, but the label contains information that is useful to consumers as well.
The DOE labeling is found primarily on the back of bulb packaging. The label includes information on light output (in lumens), wattage, lumens per watt (also known as efficacy), color accuracy (also known as Color Rendering Index), and a light color listing. Notably missing from the DOE label is a life expectancy listing. Because there is not yet an established standard to measure life expectancy for LEDs, DOE had decided not to include it on their Lighting Facts label.
I think in the long term creating industry standards for all aspects of LED lighting will help consumers to understand the different levels of quality among manufacturers as well as the providing a clear and decisive method to present the the lighting facts that are necessary to make an informed decision. Hopefully in the near future global guidelines can be established by leading energy agencies and manufacturers to establish a clear set of standards to improve global trade.