Quality Test Method (QTM) Testing
Time Estimate: Typically 15 – 22 weeks from start of testing
The Quality Test Method (QTM) is the full test method used to verify comprehensive product quality and performance. Results from QTM testing are used to determine if a product has met the Quality Standards. Random selection of the product samples that are to be sent to the test lab is required and must be arranged in advance through Lighting Global.
- Pico-solar products (products with peak power rating of 10W or less) are tested according to the latest version of IEC/TS 62257-9-5. This and other key IEC documents for rural electrification are currently available at a discount for qualified stakeholders. Tests for pico-solar products use a sample size of six. A total of at least 18 product samples, selected from a stock of at least 500 units, will be required for QTM testing. [If additional tests are required or the manufacturer requests that mechanical durability tests be conducted on unaltered samples, additional samples may be selected.]
- Solar home system kits, which for the purposes of Lighting Global are products with peak power ratings greater 10 W up to 350 W, are tested according to the latest version of IEC/TS 62257-9-5. Tests for SHS kits use a sample size of four. A total of at least 16 product samples, selected from a stock of at least 200 units, will be required for QTM testing. [If additional tests are required or the manufacturer requests that mechanical durability tests be conducted on unaltered samples, additional samples may be selected.]
NOTE: In June 2018 the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) published a new edition of the test methods used for testing solar products, IEC 62257-9-5:2018 (also written as IEC 62257-9-5 ed. 4). We will phase in use of these new methods between June – December 2018. This stakeholder memo describes the associated changes and expected timelines. Also, if you are interested in purchasing the new version of the test methods, first check to see if you qualify for a discount on this and other key IEC documents.
Step 1: Inform the Lighting Global Quality Assurance Team of your interest in testing your product(s) using the QTM method.
Step 2: The QA team reviews the information provided in the Manufacturer Information Form as well as required documentation. This requirement is described in the Initial Engagement stage of the Testing Process.
Step 3: The QA team follows up with you to determine an appropriate test plan.
Note that you may be asked to clarify and/or provide more information, if needed.
Step 4: The QA team sends draft Independent Testing Agreement for review. The Independent Testing Agreement includes the test plan, and the contact information for a list of approved test labs.
Step 5: Once you have informed the QA team that you have NO OBJECTIONS to the Test Agreement, a final version is sent for signature. The email will also contain a link to the Random Sampling Form and an invoice for the program fees associated with the following services: test coordination, random sampling, report reviews, and reporting.
Note that these services typically cost US$ 1000, but may increase depending on the logistics associated with random sampling. This cost does NOT include the testing fees, which are determined by the test lab.
Step 6: In parallel, you must choose an approved test lab for QTM testing by Lighting Global, and determine with the lab aspects like availability and cost of testing. For more information, please review this list of approved test labs and the Test Lab Policy.
Step 7: Return a signed copy of the Testing Agreement to the QA team.
Note that Random Sampling and Testing may only start after we have received your completed Manufacturer Information Form and a signed Test Agreement.
Step 8: Begin the payment process of the Program’s fee invoice and inform the QA team.
Note that final testing results for your product(s) will only be sent after we have confirmed payment for these fees.
Step 9: Fill in the Random Sampling Form. This form asks that you: (A) Identify the name of the test lab you chose to test your product(s), (B) Provide contact information for sampling, (C) Provide physical address for the sampling location, and (D) Provide a date range for sampling.
Note that completing this form serves as a confirmation that you will meet the minimum stock requirements during the provided time and location. Therefore, it is extremely important that all the information is complete and accurate.
Step 10: In parallel, your company and the lab must enter into contract for testing.
Note that contracting and payment of testing fees is handled between you and the test lab.
Step 11: After all the necessary information for sampling is received, the QA team arranges sampling by sending the sampling information to an agent who will contact you to schedule sampling and will then randomly select a required number of samples from a specified stock number.
Step 12: Once samples are selected, it is your responsibility to have the samples shipped to the test lab and pay all associated shipping fees, duties and taxes. For more information read the following program policy.
Step 13: Once testing is complete, the test lab sends the test results and draft test report to the Lighting Global QA team for review.
Note that test results sent directly to us by the client (you) will not be considered valid.
Step 14: The QA team reviews the test report, determines whether the product meets the requirements of the Lighting Global Quality Standards, and verifies that all fees to the test lab and Lighting Global were paid, before sending the results to the manufacturer. For more information, please read the following program requirements.
If the product(s) DO meet the Quality Standards:
Step 15: The QA team drafts and delivers a Standardized Specification Sheet (SSS) and a Verification Letter (VL). For more information about these supporting documents, please read the following program guidelines and/or requirements.
- Standardized Specification Sheet Description
- Standardized Specification Sheet Guidelines
- Communications and Branding Guidelines for Partners
Step 16: After your review and approval of the SSS and VL, the QA team starts coordinating the process of listing the product on the Lighting Global website, along with its Standardized Specification Sheet and Verification Letter. For more information, check the Web Presence stage of the Testing Process.
The Lighting Global website is the official site that confirms the validity of your product(s) Specification Sheet and Verification Letter, and that your product is supported by the Program.
If the product(s) do NOT FULLY meet the Quality Standards due to easy to fix issues that can be addressed without retesting:
Step 15: The QA team informs the manufacturer that it has a “Conditional Pass” in a letter that accompanies the official test results. A conditional pass gives manufacturers an opportunity to make required changes in the product packaging or documentation to meet the Quality Standards. This type of pass may be divided into three categories: (A) Conditional Pass Pending Clarification, (B) Conditional Pass Pending Correction, and (C) Conditional Pass for Truth-in-Advertising on the Lighting Global Specification Sheet. Each category is treated differently, therefore the required changes and timeframes for each vary. For more information on the process of products that receive a conditional pass please read the following program policy.
If the product(s) do NOT meet the Quality Standards:
Step 15: The QA team informs the manufacturer via email that the product did not meet the Quality Standards, and describes the main points of failure. Furthermore, the QA team includes a “Feedback Letter” that explains the test results and suggested next steps.
Key notes to consider:
Products that meet the Quality Standards may also apply for Associate Status to receive additional business services.
The Quality Test Method (QTM) results are valid for two years. During that time, the product may be subject to Market Check Testing.
Your company may make ongoing, incremental changes to your product. You should alert us when these occur. If the changes to performance are small (e.g., making a small update to the Standardized Specifications Sheet), no further testing will be required to maintain your status with the program. Large changes (generally, greater than 10% difference in performance) may require targeted re-testing to maintain your status.