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Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Lighting

Learn more about the new UL Outline of Investigation, UL 8801, and its role in bringing safety and credibility to the PV luminaire system market with safety and an optional performance measurement.

Solar lighting with blue sky in the background

Photovoltaic (PV) Lighting as an emerging technology

A decade ago, photovoltaic lighting options were either cumbersome commercial systems or small novelty items of little interest to the broader lighting market with very little regulation. Now, with new technologies demonstrating greatly enhanced energy efficiency, a market for viable and practical mid-sized PV lighting systems suitable for a wide variety of applications is growing. The emergence of these products combined with increased interest in solar and green energy is driving the need to create benchmarks for new PV lighting products in the marketplace.

PV-powered luminaire systems are ideal for illuminating areas without a utility connection or to reduce the electrical use and cost for areas with an available connection. As a result, PV solutions are of interest to manufacturers, property owners, utilities and municipalities, and many other stakeholders. Typical applications in residential, public spaces and infrastructure include:

  • Pathway stake lights
  • Driveway or garden post lights
  • Exterior building wall-mounted area lighting
  • Municipal park post lights
  • Parking and area lighting
  • Streetlights

We recently announced UL 8801, Outline of Investigation (OOI) to provide safety certification specifically for luminaires and their systems, plus an optional performance evaluation to provide better systems solutions where key components like PV, battery, light, and controls are tested together.

PV lighting has applications in multiple segments in and related to the lighting industry, including:

  • Lighting manufacturers that design, brand or bring to market PV lighting systems
  • Lighting manufacturers that design, brand or bring to market low voltage luminaires and components (with or without integral batteries)
  • Commercial component controls manufacturers who sell to lighting manufacturers
  • Infrastructure component control manufacturers who sell to lighting and control brands for roadway, pedestrian right of way and building area lighting applications

While UL can also help you evaluate more complex PV modules, the new OOI 8801 was designed specifically to address luminaires.

Our services for UL 8801, Outline of Investigation, include safety testing to help you manage the safety risks at a level comparable to that of other lighting equipment currently subject to the National Electrical Code (NEC) and code-authority oversight as well as an optional performance annex that establishes minimum benchmarks for sustaining light output over a period of time and verifies your claims about that performance.

  • Safety certification to earn the basic UL Mark is based on the PV modules’ compliance with a subset of the requirements of IEC/UL 61730. Testing for the battery system, controls and luminaires (or LED arrays and driver circuitry) is also targeted and streamlined.
  • Optional system performance assessment to compete in the market with independently validated performance earns that product an additional badge on the UL certification mark.

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