Product Standards


Test methods and metrics that measure the quality and performance of lighting equipment; regulatory measures (also called “minimum energy performance standards”) that include energy and performance requirements such as efficacy, light quality, lifetime, power quality, limits on flicker, etc.


Protects consumers by setting cost-effective, minimum performance requirements for lighting – a universal need; protects national markets from dumping of inferior lighting technology banned in other parts of the world.

Model Regulations

Regulations can take different forms, but the most common are performance-based regulations that promote higher energy-efficiency called minimum energy performance standards or “MEPS”. These regulations address energy-efficiency, light quality, lifetime, and other critical parameters.  The regulation also identifies the test standard by which parameters shall be quantified and assessed. The following metrics often included the following:

  • Energy Efficiency – luminous efficacy of the light source (lumens / watt);
  • Light Quality – colour rendering index;
  • Operational – early failure test (lifetime), displacement factor; and
  • Health and safety – zero mercury requirement short term flicker perceptibility, stroboscopic effect visibility.

The following are two model regulations that were developed by UNEP’s United for Efficiency (U4E) that apply to the most common types of light bulbs found in markets around the world – general service lamps (including compact fluorescent lamps) and linear lamps (including linear fluorescent tubes).  These “model regulations” are intended to offer governments a starting point from which to launch their national consultative process.

United for Efficiency – Model Regulation Guidelines for Energy Efficiency and Functional Performance Requirements for General Service Lamps

This draft regulation applies to the common ‘general service lamps’ which can be incandescent, halogen, compact fluorescent or LED.  It applies to both non-directional and directional/spot lights.  The document contains definitions, scope, performance requirements, information requirements, applicable test methods and compliance criteria.

United for Efficiency – Model Regulation Guidelines for Energy Efficiency and Functional Requirements for Linear Lighting

This draft regulation applies to linear fluorescent tubes and linear fluorescent luminaires/fixtures. The document contains definitions, scope, performance requirements, information requirements, applicable test methods and compliance criteria.

Regulatory Procedure

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a guidance note titled “Developing Minimum Energy Performance Standards for Lighting Products which offers guidance to governments on a procedure they can follow to adopt quality and performance regulations for lighting products.  The following is a summary of the steps described in a UN Environment publication that was prepared to help governments adopt MEPS for lighting products.

  1. Establish a legal framework: Review existing legislation and establish framework legislation to develop a legal basis for, and political commitment to, mandatory efficiency standards and energy labels.
  2. Appoint an administrative agency: Assess existing institutional capacity for developing, implementing and maintaining a standards and labelling programme. Develop an overall standards and labelling plan and assign one government agency with primary responsibility for driving each element of the programme.
  3. Assemble a stakeholder group: Identify the key relevant people in your economy who would be interested and invite them to participate in the process.
  1. Gather required data: Establish minimum data needs and develop a plan for collecting the data necessary to conduct analysis to support the programme. This includes information on the market, technology, engineering and usage of the product.
  2. Conduct an economic analysis: Use cost effectiveness analysis to determine the appropriate level of ambition for the regulatory measure(s).
  3. Harmonise testing: To the greatest extent possible, harmonise energy performance test procedures with international protocols (such as International Electrotechnical Commission test standards) to facilitate testing and reduce barriers to trade.
  4. Set MEPS levels: Determine the technically feasible, economically optimal regulatory level; invite stakeholder comment and refine MEPS if necessary; secure political endorsement; publish regulatory notice; and specify a future date when MEPS will take effect.
  5. Review and update: Plan to periodically review and update the standards every few years to ensure they remain appropriate and relevant.

The UNEP Guidance Note on MEPS for Lighting offers further information on all of these steps and the importance of following a regulatory development process so that all stakeholders are consulted, feel they were part of the process and support the policy outcome when it becomes effective.

Regional Harmonisation

When looking at mandatory lighting regulations, countries may consider adopting a regional approach, such as was done in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and is in the process of being finalised in the East African Community (EAC).  In both of these regions, governments recognised that harmonising regulations offers many benefits, including that countries, private sector and consumers to avoid the costs of duplicating testing and non-comparable performance information and requirements.  In addition, the market is able to leverage the better prices and choice of goods associated with the larger economies to which they are harmonised.

For a regional cooperation initiative to be successful, consensus among stakeholders is important.  The following are some suggestions on how to promote regional cooperation:

  • Organise roundtables and consensus-building activities to reach agreement on particular issues, policies, guidelines, standards, and related subjects;
  • Appoint liaisons in each country to serve as the focal point / lead on national activities;
  • Establish bilateral activities with other countries in the region;
  • Hold in-person and online exchanges to share experiences and information; and
  • Encourage and facilitate communication between stakeholders.

In order to develop a regionally harmonised standard, cooperation can be enhanced:

  • Develop a regional efficient lighting roadmap to identify areas of cooperation and build regional markets for efficient lighting;
  • Adopt lighting specifications and standards including energy performance and quality criteria;
  • Coordinate activities around compliance, including market monitoring, verification and enforcement;
  • Identify regional lamp test facilities to reduce costs and build a network of professionals, with some countries specialising in testing;
  • Create regional resources for environmentally sound management, including old lamp and luminaire collection, recycling schemes and information programmes.
  • Share resources and expertise within regions to improve the synergy between regional and national programmes, making them more cost effective and impactful.