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As the rules change or new procedures are developed, please note that these interpretation and/or guidance may not apply; you should always refer to the latest rules and guidance documents to determine what equipment authorization procedures should be followed. For the latest guidance on specific topics or you don't know where to start, please feel free to contact GTG experts.

If you’re in the lighting industry in any capacity, you may be confused about the new DLC rules that started July 1, 2022, for all lighting manufacturers. If you are planning on buying any new lighting products, they may be subject to these changes, so you need to understand them thoroughly.

So what exactly is DLC lighting and why did these updates come about? Let’s take a look at the meaning behind DLC and how the recent changes will affect your future lighting purchases.

Governing bodies

DLC, or DesignLights Consortium, is a standards organization that works to improve the efficiency of commercial and industrial lighting. The DLC is a non-profit organization that is responsible for setting the standards for lighting products that are eligible for listing on the DLC Qualified Products List (QPL).

The QPL is a list of lighting products verified to meet certain performance criteria. To be listed on the QPL, a product must undergo rigorous testing by an accredited laboratory.

The Solid-State Lighting (SSL) Standards program came into effect to encourage the development of more energy-efficient lighting products. By setting base efficacy rules, the DLC can ensure that only the most efficient products are manufactured.

DLC version 5.1

The DLC Qualified Products List (QPL) helps customers to identify products that meet certain energy-saving standards. To list on the QPL, a product must undergo third-party testing to ensure that it meets specific performance criteria.

The revised DLC rules that went into effect in July 2022 further improve the efficiency of lighting products and encourage the development of new technologies. Some categories monitored by DCL:

  • Model number
  • Luminaire efficacy
  • Integral controls information
  • Power factor
  • Correlated Color Temperature (CCT)
  • Color Rendering Index (CRI)
  • Wattage
  • Manufacturer and brand
  • Light output
  • Dimming information

The changes impact both existing products and any new products that come on the market after the deadline. For example, fixtures that do not have controls such as occupancy sensors or dimmers will no longer be eligible for DLC listing on the QPL.

This means that if you are planning on purchasing any new lighting products after July 2022, it is important to check whether they meet the revised DLC rules. By doing so, you can be sure that your purchase will help to improve the efficiency of your lighting system and save you money on your energy bill. Some of the changes implemented include:

  • Glare control
  • Luminaire efficacy (increased base standards)
  • Wattage categorization
  • Dimming functionality (added as a required feature for some product categories)
  • Integral controls (occupancy sensors and dimmers must be included as a standard feature)

DLC V5.1 continuously captures the advancements in lighting quality properties. These characteristics include discomfort, glare, color performance, and light distribution. It also helps realize user benefits and maximum energy savings by enhancing the control functionality of the available energy-efficient technology. Furthermore, V5.1 adds new spectral quality and light dispersion requirements to improve the light quality of DLC-listed items. Additional energy savings are supported by the V5.1 lighting controllability criteria, promoting better light quality for people living and working in the built environment.

What is the difference between 5.1 and 5.0?

The big change in DLC 5.1 is the addition of a base efficacy requirement for all products. This means that all products must meet a certain level of energy efficiency to list on the QPL.

The base efficacy rules vary depending on the type of product and its intended use. For example, traditional linear fluorescent fixtures must have an efficacy of at least 50 lumens per watt (LPW) to go on the list. This is a significant increase from the current requirement of 40 LPW, and it will result in the development of more efficient fluorescent fixtures.

Besides the base efficacy requirement, several other changes take effect under DLC 5.1. These include new base rules for color rendering and flicker, as well as changes to the product categories that are eligible for listing on the QPL.

While these changes may seem minor, they will further improve the efficiency of lighting products and encourage the development of new technologies.

What is DLC 5.1 Premium?

For luminaires and retrofit kits, DLC Premium lights are a higher-performance designation. DLC is more advanced as compared to the DCL standard. The Premium rating distinguishes lighting items that save more energy while providing better light quality and controllability than the DLC Standard requires. The DLC Premium designation requires the lighting products to meet more stringent efficacy, light quality, and controllability requirements. In other words, DLC Premium approved lighting products have been tested against more stringent requirements.

You should note that only luminaries and retrofit kits are eligible to qualify under the DLC Premium classification. Many people often mistake or, at times, overlook the qualification requirements for DLC Premium. Note that the following types of products are not eligible to be classified as DLC Premium;

  • Replacement lamps
  • Items that have their primary use described as ‘specialty’
  • Certain retrofit kits (linear-style for luminaries with 2×2, 1×4, and 2×4)

The Version 5.1 DLC Premium Listed lights for testing and reporting are as follows:

  • Efficacy: over 15 lumens per watt. This is way above the standard efficacy requirement. This means that DLC V5.1Premium is more energy-efficient than the Standard.
  • Chromaticity: this is for all lighting products used indoors other than high-bay. From 2200K to 6500K, items must have chromaticity consistent with at least one of the basic, flexible, or extended nominal four-step quadrilateral CCTs.
  • Discomfort Glare: this is for troffers. Luminaire does not qualify for v5.1 premium classification.  
  • Controllability: all the lighting items shall have continuous dimming capability. Note that Premium classification does not accept stepped dimming. 
  • Lumen Maintenance:  the values of lumen maintenance for DLC V5.1 Premium are not published on the QPL.

Grace period for updating

Time ran out for manufacturers of SSL products who did not upgrade their products by following Version 5.1 of the DLC’s SSL Technical requirements. By April 15, 2022, all products were to be upgraded to avoid delisting from the QPL, which over 200 energy efficiency incentive programs across Canada and the US use.

On July 1, 2021, The SSL v5.1 technical requirements came into effect, but manufacturers got a grace period of one year to achieve compliance and keep their listing intact.

What does this mean for you?

If you are planning on purchasing any new lighting products after July 2022, it is important to check whether they meet the revised DLC rules. By doing so, you can be sure that your lighting system is of the latest standards and should save money on your energy bill.

The changes under DLC 5.1 resulted in the development of more efficient lighting products. This means that you have more options to choose from when it comes to energy-saving fixtures.

So if you are looking to upgrade your lighting system, be sure to keep an eye out for new products that meet the revised DLC rules.

Why choose DLC certified lights?

You should always opt for DLC-certified lighting. In return, you will get to enjoy the following benefits:

1. Energy Rebates

Due to the harsh economic times, people constantly strive to save money whenever they can. You can do that by taking advantage of the energy-efficient grants and efficient lighting rebates. Note that there are specific qualifications for you to be eligible for these energy rebates from utility companies. For instance, there is the use of energy-efficient lighting. Therefore, you can receive money as you save electricity by opting for DLC-certified lighting.

2. Proven better lights

DLC-approved LED lights have been tested and as well verified. This means that they meet the highest standards for efficiency and quality in the market.

Better light quality: Light distribution, color rendering, and glare are other significant specifications met by DLC-listed lights. In addition to a better user experience, these lights also promote productivity, end-product quality, and employee safety.

Energy efficiency: DLC-approved lighting products’ lumen per watt (LPW) is always high. This means that more energy is converted into actual output. Getting more power for less money is something that all consumers will always capitalize on.

Product value: The DLC-rated lights are usually more expensive. However, it is beneficial because they have a longer lifespan, offer the best user experience, require less maintenance, and make you eligible for top rebates.

3. No risk of made up numbers

For a lighting product to be listed, it must pass the current requirements. The products are only listed after they have been approved, which means that the lighting product (s) in question has been designed to perform under very high levels of energy efficiency assigned to it.

4. Safer lights

Companies nowadays aim to produce high-quality lighting products that are also safe to use. There are two certification listings that are mandated to certify these lights as safe for use. They are underwriters laboratories (UL) and Intertek’s Electrical Testing Labs (ETL).

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