Below is a list of the main performance and quality requirements for ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs today and the highlights of the new criteria, which went into effect on December 2, 2008.
Efficiency — The efficiency of light bulbs is referred to as efficacy, which is the measure of light output (lumens) compared to the energy (watts) needed to power the bulb. To earn the ENERGY STAR, CFLs must provide at least three times more lumens per watt than incandescent bulbs.
Lumen maintenance — All light bulbs grow dim over time, but ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs must maintain 80 percent of the initial light output at 40 percent of their rated lifetime. This means that after 3,200 hours of use, an 8,000-hour CFL still needs to give off 80 percent of the light it gave off during its first 100 hours of operation.
Lifetime — To qualify for ENERGY STAR, CFLs must have a rated lifetime of 6,000 hours or greater. The current average rated lifetime for ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs is 10,000 hours. With typical use of 3 hours per day, that’s an average lifetime of 9 years.
Starting time — Bulbs must start in less than one second.
Safety — Bulbs must be UL listed for fire safety. More about UL testing
Reliability — Bulbs must pass transient protection and rapid cycle stress tests.
Color consistency — Bulbs must fall within a designated color temperature range.
Color rendering index (CRI) — Bulbs must have a color rendering index of 80 or higher.
Quality control — All qualified bulbs come with a manufacturer-backed warranty and are subject to random independent third-party testing. As of December 2, 2008 all indoor reflector lamps must pass a high heat test for recessed can applications.
Mercury control — Manufacturers must have a commitment form on file with National Equipment Manufacturers Association Voluntary Industry Commitment to Limit Mercury Content in Self-ballasted CFLs sold in the U.S. at www.cfl-mercury.org .
Other federal and industry standards — Bulbs must also comply with federal and industry power and operating standards, and meet Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requirements.
Packaging must contain the following items: