LIGHTING BY CRAIG DILOUIE
Implemented under authority
granted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, the new rules update
existing energy-efficiency standards created by the Energy Independence and
Security Act of 2007. The previous standards essentially eliminated probe-start
lamps and ballasts from new 150–500W
The new standards establish minimum ballast efficiencies for luminaires
based on luminaire location (outdoor
or indoor), ballast type and rated lamp
wattage ( 50–100, 101–149, 150–250,
251–500, 501–1,000). New efficiency
standards were created for 50–149W
and 501–1,000W; existing standards were
amended for 150–500W. Probe-start ballasts were banned outright for luminaires
with 501–1,000W rated lamp wattages.
The new rules only cover new luminaires, not replacement ballasts.
Regulated-lag ballasts—limited to
heavy industrial, security, and street
and tunnel lighting applications—
remain exempt from the rules. The
same is true with 480V electronic ballasts. Metal-halide luminaires rated
only for 150W lamps and for use in
wet locations and that contain a ballast
rated to operate at ambient air temperatures higher than 50°C lost their
exemption and are now covered.
As a result, all metal-halide ballasts
in the low-wattage (50–149W) segment
are pulse-start. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 required
probe-start ballasts in the medium-watt-age (150–500W) segment to be at least
94 percent efficient, effectively banning
this ballast type (aside from listed exemp-
tions). The majority of metal-halide lamp
shipments are in this segment. The new
rules, meanwhile, effectively eliminate
probe-start in the relatively small high-
wattage (501–1,000W) segment. Note that
1,001–2,000W ballasts are not covered.
Within the pulse-start offering, there
are magnetic and electronic ballasts.
Depending on the lamp wattage, compliant magnetic and electronic ballasts are
already available. Noncompliant products will be redesigned or discontinued
on a case-by-case basis.
Magnetic ballasts currently make up
more than 90 percent of the metal-halide
ballast market. Pulse-start magnetic
ballasts are more efficient and provide
better lumen maintenance and color stability than probe-start magnetic ballasts.
Electronic metal-halide ballasts are
available for indoor and outdoor applications. They are up to 95 percent efficient,
producing about 10 percent energy savings compared with magnetic ballasts.
These ballasts may also improve lumen
maintenance and extend lamp life. End-of-life protection turns the lamp off
to prevent cycling. Many ballasts also
are dimmable and offer controllability.
The ballast may be high-frequency or
low-frequency square wave. Note that
high-frequency electronic metal-halide
ballasts are not compatible with all
metal-halide lamps; matching an incorrect lamp with the ballast could result in
early lamp and/or ballast failure.
With their high efficiency and other
performance benefits, electronic ballasts would appear to be a good choice.
However, switching from magnetic to
electronic at the OEM level is problem-
atic. Electronic ballasts are simply not as
rugged as their magnetic counterparts,
resulting in risks applying them in cer-
tain applications, particularly outdoor
environments. For example, adopt-
ing an electronic ballast for an outdoor
luminaire would require an internal
or external surge-protection device to
protect it against transient voltages. Elec-
tronic ballasts in indoor luminaires may
require a 120V auxiliary tap to operate
an emergency incandescent lamp. Elec-
tronic ballasts in outdoor and certain
indoor applications may require thermal
protection. Additionally, Florida Power
and Light has expressed concerns that
it operates a National Electrical Safety
Code two-wire system and is having dif-
ficulties with electronic drivers.
In short, over the next three years,
manufacturers will be evaluating their
products to determine which already
comply, which must be redesigned or
which will be discontinued. In some cases,
the luminaire will need to be redesigned
then retested to accommodate a larger
magnetic ballast size or an electronic
ballast. This may create an aftermarket
that mixes current designs with redesigns. Manufacturers may be reluctant to
invest significant resources as the market
for metal halide is declining due to the
encroachment of light-emitting diodes.
We may see a significant number of products removed from the market, with some
gaps in availability in cases where the
luminaire must be redesigned and tested.
The customer, meanwhile, will see
energy savings but, potentially, a higher
cost that could be lengthy to recoup. The
DOE evaluated representative products
and determined paybacks ranging from
4. 5 to nearly 20 years (with the exception of 1,000W lamp ballasts, which
would see a relatively quick payback of
less than a year).
These DOE energy-efficiency standards will shake up the metal-halide
category, promoting efficient pulse-start
options, particularly electronic ballasts.
New rules for metal halide
IN FEBRUARY 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced new energy-efficiency standards for ballasts sold as part of new metal-halide luminaires, which
are commonly used for illumination in parking lots, roadways, warehouses, big-box
retail and floodlighting. Compliance is required by Feb. 10, 2017, and will affect
availability of 50–1,000-watt (W) luminaires.
DILOUIE, L.C., a lighting industry journalist, analyst and marketing consultant, is principal of
ZING Communications. He can be reached at www.zinginc.com. I S T