DesignLights Consortium (DLC) Qualified Product List Benefits Buyers and Utility Incentive Programs

 

Since 2010, the DesignLights Consortium (DLC) has been qualifying commercial sector LED lighting products and publishing a list – the Qualified Products List (QPL) – that meet specific performance requirements. These key performance metrics, updated to keep pace with both the evolution of LED technology and the needs of utility and industry stakeholders, are now (June 2018) on the 11th iteration – Version 4.3.

The Qualified Products List currently includes over 385,000 commercial sector lighting products. A product that qualified under an early set of requirements, may not qualify under the latest upgraded set of requirements – when this happens the product is removed from the QPL.

Currently, the DLC qualifies new commercial LED fixtures, retrofit kits, linear replacement lamps, mogul screw-base replacements for HID and a few specific four pin-based replacement lamps for CFL. With the exception of new fixtures, the DLC requires manufacturers to perform additional testing or provide support documentation to confirm the products meet the requirements.

DLC has a standard qualification classification as well as a DLC Premium classification available only for fixtures and retrofit kits.

The QPL database is searchable by brand and model on the DLC website.

Many Utility Incentive Programs Use the DLC’s Qualified Product List 

The DLC is supported and funded by 85 member energy efficiency programs operated by state, regional and utility entities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Most of these programs (and others) use the DLC Qualified Product List (QPL) as the defining list of lighting products that qualify for incentives and rebates for commercial customers.

As the DLC pushes the performance standards higher, manufacturers who want their products to remain on the utility incentive program lists, respond with better performing LED lamps and fixtures. In the last five years there has been an over 40% gain in efficiency for products listed in the QPL.

The DLC provides for the commercial / industrial sector what the EPA EnergyStar program has provided for the residential sector. The published product lists from both of these programs have effectively created a common standard across the U.S. for qualifying lighting products that meet utility and state incentive and rebate requirements.

In addition, the increasingly higher qualifying standards established by the DLC have arguably helped accelerate the commercial sector LED lighting product market to the point where LED is becoming the default for new construction and a “top of the list” option for retrofits and remodels.

DLC Version 4.3

Version 4.0, released in June 2016, represented a significant strengthening of many metrics compared to earlier versions. Since then, Version 4.1, 4.2 and the current 4.3 expanded product categories and identified policy changes but did not significantly change the performance metrics for most products. The next major revision to efficacy and lumen output requirements will be Version 5.0.

The DLC requirements include the following metrics for all product categories:

  • Light Output Minimum
  • Efficacy Minimum (lm/W)
  • Color Temperature Range (CCT)
  • Color Rendering Minimum (CRI)
  • Rated Life Minimum (L70, L90)
  • Primary Use Zonal Lumen Density Criteria
  • Warranty Minimum (5 years)

For the complete set of requirements for all product categories in the QPL, download the DLC Version 4.3 document.

Here we will illustrate with only a sampling of what you will find in Version 4.3.

Product Category Qualifying Requirements:

Fixture Efficacy Minimum

  • Directional, 65 lm/W
  • Case, 90 lm/W
  • Troffers, 100 lm/W
  • Other Linear General Lighting, 105 lm/W
  • High Bay, 105 lm/W

Four Foot T8 Light Output and Efficacy Minimum

  • Bare Lamp: 1600 lumens, 110 lm/W
  • 2 Lamp Fixture: 3000 lumens, 100 lm/W
  • 3 Lamp Fixture: 4500 lumens, 100 lm/W
  • 4 Lamp Fixture: 6000 lumens, 100 lm/W

Area, Canopy, Roadway Retrofit Kit Light Output and Efficacy Minimum

  • Low Output: 250-5000 lumens, 90 lm/W
  • Mid Output: 5000-10000 lumens, 95 lm/W
  • High Output: ≥10000 lumens, 100 lm/W
  • Very High Output: ≥30000 lumens, 100 lm/W

New Products

Version 4.3 introduces policies for new LED product categories: color tunable, field adjustable lumen output and updated testing requirements that enable 3-foot and 8-foot linear replacement lamps and 2G11 replacement lamps to be listed on the Qualified Product List (QPL).

Four Pin CFL Replacement Changes: DLC also announced in Version 4.3 that they will accept manufacturer applications to qualify CFL four pin 2G11 replacement lamps in the UL Type A, B, C or A-B categories. All other four pin CFL replacements are limited to Type A (ballast compatible).

Additional Information 

Each DCL version document includes primary use technical requirements, application definitions and standards, testing protocols and other qualifying variances for specific product types.

DLC’s Qualified Product List A Factor in Improved LED Product Performance

The DLC Qualifying Product List (QPL) and the technical requirements for products to be included have become a major driver of LED adoption in the commercial sector. With many utility rebate / incentive programs using the QPL as their default list of products allowed for approval, it has become an imperative for manufacturers to have their products appear on the QPL. This dynamic has accelerated the improvement of commercial sector LED lighting products.

Most importantly, customers who buy DLC qualified products, can have a high level of confidence that their products will perform at or above the benchmark standards of the latest version of the DLC technical requirements.

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Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.

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