Revising Standards in line with Technology Developments, Consumer Expectations

The on-going consultation on the revision of the quality standards and performance targets for off-grid lighting products has been extended to 23 August.

The consultation seeks to re-assess, update and strengthen the quality standards and performance targets of off-grid lights in order to keep up with, and anticipate market trends, and to incorporate new research findings, for example, on end-user preferences.

The Lighting Global program, which is now responsible for maintaining harmonized quality standards for off-grid lighting products for rural consumers in Africa and Asia, has proposed a number changes intended to give better value yet to consumers and reduce the environmental footprint of the lights, most of which are solar-powered, and uphold them as truly “clean”.

Some of the proposals include brighter, longer light output, durable battery quality, and adoption of the EU Directive on use of hazardous substances (mercury and cadmium) in batteries.

The current standards for example require solar-charged lanterns to provide at least four hours of lighting per day. Consumers surveyed in both Africa and Asia however indicated need for longer ‘light-life’ because of combined usage both at night, and for pre-dawn tasks.

While increasing product brightness and run-time may be perceived to increase production costs, Lighting Global sees these costs largely being offset by technological advances, especially LED, and declining component costs.

“Decreasing LED cost and increasing performance has driven the cost of LED products to less than half that of comparable products using compact fluorescent lamps,” says a Memo containing the proposed revised quality standards. “The US DoE … indicates that the cost and efficacy of LED lighting is indeed improving rapidly and continued progress is anticipated.”

Lighting Global therefore argues that for product performance targets to remain relevant, they must be reviewed upwards in line with technological developments and consumer expectations.

The program also proposes increasing product warranties from the current six months to one year in line with market trends.

“Several products have split warranty durations for batteries and the rest of the product; currently some only have 6-month battery warranties, which would need adjustment,” says the above-mentioned memo.

To learn more about the proposed revisions to the Quality Standards and Recommended Performance Targets for off-grid lights, and their implications for manufacturers and consumers, click here.

The Lighting Global quality assurance framework has been adopted as an IEC technical specification IEC/TS 62257-9-5, Edition 2.0.