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January 2017


Terry K. McGowan, FIES, LC
ALA Director of 
Engineering & Technology

ALA Engineering & Technology in 2017

The beginning of the year is a good time to review the technical activities the ALA expects to be involved with in the coming months.  Some items are new, and others - especially those involving electrical/fire safety and performance testing - carry over from year to year, usually with new considerations due to research findings or standards developments. I update the ALA Board quarterly on technical matters and my latest report is always available for you to read online .
 
Following is the current list of key technical activities I expect to focus on in 2017.  Also included are some thoughts and suggestions for you to consider if you are affected by the subject described, sense a market opportunity, or just want to know more. Please contact me if there are additional technical subjects or issues you would like me and/or the ALA Engineering Committee to address in 2017.
California Title 24
The 2016 version of Title 24 became effective Jan. 1, 2017. The rulemaking was particularly confusing this time because of new definitions for high efficacy fixtures and special requirements for LED light source efficacy, color and flicker performance. It remains a hot topic for our technical meetings and webinars. In late December, a summary Q&A bulletin covering what we have learned about Title 24 (and the upcoming Title 20 revision) was posted here .

Essential to know:  LED lamps and LED integral or inseparable fixtures installed in residential construction projects where building permits are involved must meet Title 24 requirements including Appendix JA8 and JA10 performance criteria. Additionally, those fixtures must be specially marked and listed on the CEC's database.  That database, known as MAEDBS (Modern Appliance Efficiency Database System), lists LED lamps and fixtures that meet the new performance criteria. To see the list of qualified products,  click here ; under Appliance Type, select Lighting Products, and under Category, select 2016 JA8 High Efficacy Lighting.  As of mid-January, the list included some 900 products - mostly LED fixtures.  
 
LED Flicker
All lighting connected to an AC power line flickers to some extent and LEDs are no exception. Flicker can be very apparent and annoying or subtle to the point that most people do not notice it. Such flicker, however, may still affect how people feel. A few percent of people are so sensitive that they cannot stay in a room with flickering lights. LED flicker is determined by the electrical design of the LED driver. Flicker standards, such as those used by Energy Star and the CEC, are different because there is no agreed-upon national or global standard for flicker that can be reliably used for LEDs.
 
To help start a new LED flicker standards process, the ALA will represent the North American residential lighting industry in February at a global stakeholders meeting in Ottawa. It is time to better understand the importance of controlling flicker in residential lighting, which can, of course, also affect the aesthetic appearance of the lighting involved as well as customer satisfaction.

For more about LED flicker:  A presentation, "Time-Modulated Lighting Systems: What They Are and Why You Should Care," by Dr. Jennifer Veitch of the National Research Council of Canada and Jim Gaines of Philips Lighting was presented at the ALA 2016 Engineering Meeting. To view the presentation,  click here .  While technical, the presentation is a great way to get an up-to-date view of the flicker situation and learn the important points.
 
Residential Lighting Recommended Practice
The IES and the ALA are cooperating in the production of a new Residential Lighting Practice, which will be comprehensive, authoritative and published as an ANSI standard (ANSI/IES RP-11) later this year.  It is a significant piece of work that includes both technical and design information including basic recommendations for illuminance levels, brightness ratios, light distribution and color. The publication covers both indoor and outdoor lighting design factors and includes sections on light sources, luminaires and controls. Up-to-date photographs will make the publication useful for training, design work and as a reference for detailed lighting recommendations. Currently in draft form, the work is proceeding through the technical review process. Its status as a standard will be voted upon by both the IES and the ALA boards.

Watch for:   The publication of ANSI/IES RP-11 is expected in late summer or fall. Both printed copies and online versions will be available from the ALA.
 
ANSI/NEMA C-137 Committee (Lighting Systems)
This committee is working rapidly to develop definitions and standards for so-called intelligent and connected lighting systems where security is important and electric utilities may be one of the connections. The committee recently approved a new standard for systems using 0-10 volt dimming devices, and is moving ahead with standards for definitions, utility metering and cyber security.

Note:  The ALA is directly involved in this work, along with several ALA manufacturing members, to ensure that the resulting standards are compatible with and can be incorporated into ALA members' lighting products. 
 
Light and Human Health
The results from ongoing research on light and health are now being translated into lighting recommendations and built into the design of new lighting products. It is an important subject for the industry to follow.  Of particular interest is the research that confirms the beneficial effects of light on the physical and mental health of older adults, many of whom are only exposed to low levels of electric lighting in their homes, retirement communities or medical facilities. Watch out for misleading claims, however. Health effects from ordinary residential lighting are modest because the light dose is typically low.  However, even bright task lighting, as well as light from computers, tablets and cell phones can cause problems such as poor sleep quality.  The effectiveness of the light dose depends upon the time of day, intensity, exposure time and spectral content of the light. Humans are biologically adapted to dark nights and bright days where nights are indeed dark and sunshine and outdoor daylight are hundreds to thousands of times more intense than electric lighting in the home. 
 
Useful information:  The Lighting Research Center in cooperation with the AARP Andrus Foundation has developed a series of easy-to-read healthy lighting design guidelines for older adults.   Download here. Also click on "Light and Health Home" to read more about the subject.

EMI from LEDs and FCC Regulations
Electronic products in the home including entertainment and communication devices, appliances and LED lighting generate electromagnetic interference (EMI). The amount of EMI is regulated by the FCC using rules that require the testing of products or components. Canada has similar regulations. Currently, U.S. and Canadian regulations are harmonized, although both countries are considering regulatory changes. The ALA has submitted comments to both countries supporting continued harmonization. Due to the rapidly growing use of LED lighting, the FCC is considering developing EMI regulations exclusively for those products, and is interested in getting baseline measurements in homes now so that any EMI increases can be measured and correlated with the use of LED products. Few EMI problems have been reported so far, but manufacturers and retailers should check to ensure that their electronic products have the proper markings and comply with the FCC EMI limits.
 
A free seminar, "What ALA Members Need to Know about EMI, the FCC and LED Lighting Product Regulations," was offered by William Hurst, Chief of the Technical Research Branch, FCC Office of Engineering and Technology, during the Dallas Lightovation market in January. You may view the presentation slides here .

Seminar Follow-Up:  If you have questions related to EMI, the FCC and your LED product development, you may contact me ( lighting@ieee.org ) or Bill Solomon at AFX Inc. ( bsolomon@afxinc.com ). Bill has recent experience working with the FCC on EMI issues.
 
Important for manufacturers:  Confirm with your component suppliers that the LED bulbs, integrated light engines and drivers you are making or sourcing have been tested for EMI and marked according to FCC requirements. Obtain and keep a copy of the relevant test reports in case of inquiries or EMI complaints.
 
Additional 2017 Activities
There are already a number of events on the calendar where I and others on the ALA Engineering Committee will be representing the ALA at industry technical meetings including LightFair; the stakeholders meeting on flicker standards, which is being organized by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE); Energy Star Partners Meeting; the Canadian Lighting Industry Collaborative (CLIC), which is involved with NRCan on both Energy Star and Canadian lighting efficiency standards; and, of course, the California Energy Commission (CEC) as they start work on the 2019 version of Title 24.  Also, the CEC's new Title 20 regulations involving lamps, controls and portable lighting products go into effect in two tiers starting Jan. 1, 2018, and July 1, 2019. We shall be providing information and answering your questions as the final version of Title 20 is released and interpretations appear. 
 
As we can already see from the activity at the January Dallas market, 2017 will  b e a busy year.

Sincerely,

Sponsored by:
 
Terry McGowan, FIES, LC
Director of Engineering & Technology