ANSI - American National Standards Institute
 Print this article  Previous Next 

Standards Shed Light on Safety and Performance of Light Bulbs

New York, Nov 13, 2008

Today more than ever, homes across the country are being illuminated with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). According to a recent report from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) – a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) – consumer use of compact fluorescent bulbs has reached a new high of as many as one in four household lamps.

There are many standards that contribute to the safe use and effective functioning of all kinds of household lighting, from modern CFL and LED lamps to more traditional incandescent light bulbs.

Above all, it is important that light bulbs in the home are proven to be safe and resistant to overheating or starting a fire. IEC 60432-1 Ed. 2.1 b:2005, Incandescent lamps - Safety specifications - Part 1: Tungsten filament lamps for domestic and similar general lighting purposes is an international standard that specifies the safety and interchangeability requirements of tungsten filament incandescent lamps.

This standard was developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Committee (TC) 34A, Lamps. The United States National Committee (USNC)-approved Technical Advisory Group (TAG) administrator for TC 34A is NEMA.

Another standard for lamp safety developed by IEC/TC 34A addresses LED lamps. These solid-state lighting units are highly efficient, reducing energy use and outliving traditional light bulbs by many years. IEC 62031 Ed. 1.0 b:2008, LED modules for general lighting - Safety specifications specifies general safety requirements for these earth-friendly luminaries.

CFLs – the light bulbs found to be used in a quarter of homes nationwide – also demonstrate a longer lifespan than incandescent bulbs. A standard developed by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, provides guidelines for determining a more exact life expectancy for these bulbs. IESNA LM-65-01, Life Testing of Single-Ended Compact Fluorescent Lamps describes the procedures by which CFLs can be operated under controlled conditions to obtain optimally comparable data on individual lamp life, changes in light output, and other parameters that vary during the life of the lamp.

CFLs, LEDs, and other lamps are also guided by standards committed to reducing unnecessary exposure to potentially hazardous levels of optical radiation from light sources. IEC 62471, Photobiological safety of lamps and lamp systems specifies the exposure limits, reference measurement technique and classification scheme for the evaluation and control of photobiological hazards to the skin and eyes.

This standard is maintained by IEC TC 76, Optical radiation safety and laser equipment. The U.S. holds the chairmanship and the secretariat of IEC/TC 76. Jerome Dennis, a consultant in product optical radiation safety, serves as chairman, and the USNC has delegated secretariat duties to William Ertle of Rockwell Laser Industries, Inc. The USNC-approved TAG administrator for TC 76 is the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

When choosing light bulbs, there are many factors to consider, from safety to energy use to lifespan. Standards are in place to assure that the bulbs chosen live up to expectations and put every home in a good light.

Standards Portal