Advancing the effective use of light for society and the environment.

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

LRC, government and industry work to improve color problems with compact fluorescent lamps
Photo of a typical compact fluorescent lamp

“Expensive.” “Poor color.” “Poor fit.” “Unfriendly.” Consumers participating in a focus group study about compact fluorescent lamps made their views known. Now the LRC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are seeking ways to improve CFL products and increase consumer acceptance of ENERGY STAR®-rated lamps.

One of the key issues of CFLs has been color, says Mariana Figueiro of the LRC, who is heading a project to study the market acceptance of screwbase CFLs. “People have strong preferences for the color of light, and they want to select the right color to complement their home decor,” said Figueiro. “They also want consistency in color and for lamps rated as the same color to appear the same, especially for those used in the same room.” Figueiro says consumers have complained that they cannot meet their color needs with many of the CFLs on the market today.

Photo of compact fluorescent lamps having differing configurations but the same CCT designation

In February the LRC gathered ENERGY STAR CFL manufacturing partners for a roundtable meeting, sponsored by the EPA, to present findings from the focus group study and LRC laboratory measurements, and to discuss issues of CFL color consistency. Roundtable participants agreed that current CFL products show a wide variation in correlated color temperature (CCT) and chromaticity coordinates, both between manufacturers and within manufacturers’ own CFL product lines, says Figueiro. This means that from lamp to lamp, a multitude of color differences can be observed, even among lamps labeled with the same CCT. During the meeting, LRC Director Mark Rea presented a brief background on color terminology and color standards used for linear fluorescent lamps, and also discussed ways to improve the product and color information presented on CFL packaging, another problem identified through the consumer study.

Rea noted that as a result of the meeting, participants agreed to address the color problems through the development of a color tolerance zone, starting with CFLs having CCTs of 2700 K and 3000 K as a first step. “The industry is in the process of establishing the size and shape for a color tolerance zone that will be ‘do-able’ for manufacturers and acceptable to consumers,” Rea said. Ed Yandek of GE Lighting and chairman of the NEMA lamp section technical committee has submitted a proposed color tolerance zone, which is now under review by stakeholders, the EPA, the DOE and the LRC.

For more information about the project and roundtable meeting, visit Lighting Transformations: CFL Color Round Table.

About the LRC

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. Founded in 1988, the Lighting Research Center has built an international reputation as a trusted and reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. Its mission is to advance the effective use of light and create a positive legacy of change for society and the environment.

2004 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180 USA.

Rennselear Polytechnic Institute