UL 8801, Edition 2 Outline of Investigation for PV Luminaire Systems
Photovoltaic (PV) lighting as an emerging technology
A decade ago, photovoltaic (PV) lighting options were either cumbersome commercial systems or small novelty items of little interest to the broader lighting market. Now, with new technologies demonstrating greatly enhanced energy efficiency, the market is growing for viable and practical mid-sized PV lighting systems. The emergence of these products, combined with increased interest in green energy and connected systems in smart cities, drives the need to create benchmarks for new PV lighting products.
PV-powered luminaire systems are ideal for illuminating areas without a utility connection or for reducing the electrical use and cost in areas with an available connection. As a result, PV solutions interest manufacturers, property owners, utilities, municipalities and 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
In the past, some photovoltaic lighting products were not subject to any regulatory oversight or certification, as they were perceived as inherently low safety-risk products. However, as newer products migrate to lithium battery systems, they can carry fire risks if the batteries and associated charging circuits are not properly designed or are not produced under sufficient quality control conditions.
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 control 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
Safety testing and UL 8801
UL had previously developed an outline of investigation to establish the minimum necessary construction, performance and marking requirements for PV systems. This was as an interim measure to assess the safety risks at a level comparable to that of other lighting equipment subject to oversight by code authorities. This outline has now been retired with the publication of ANSI/CAN/UL 8801, the Standard for Photovoltaic (PV) Luminaire Systems.
Underwriters Laboratories recently announced the publication of UL 8801, which provides safety certification specifically for luminaires and their systems. The Standard addresses the output of power ports and requirements for connecting a supplemental utility power source. UL 8801 delivers one system-level certification, not just the individual components. The battery system, controls and luminaires (or LED arrays and driver circuitry) are evaluated as integrated components at the system level.
Safety certification to earn the UL Mark under UL 8801 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.
In addition to safety testing, evaluation and certification to UL 8801, we also have capabilities and competencies for IEC, EN and regional/national standards and participate in the IECEE CB Scheme related to PV.
Performance and energy efficiency testing
Major drivers for the PV lighting market include the need for energy-efficient solar lighting systems for highways and urban areas and increasing interest in renewable energy and the reduction of energy consumption. The overall increasing affordability of LEDs and solar panels makes performance testing and energy efficiency claims even more critical to the differentiation of lighting products in a crowded market.
Additionally, the opportunities for PV-related energy efficiency programs are likely to increase with growing demand for measurable sustainability goals.
We are accredited to test lighting products for the following energy efficiency programs:
- California Energy Commission (CEC)
- The DesignLights Consortium®
- Energy Star®
- LED Lighting Facts®
- Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
- Department of Energy (DOE)
- Other global and domestic energy efficiency programs
Additionally, UL Marketing Claim Verification helps PV product manufacturers demonstrate that their marketing and advertising claims are accurate, truthful, and credible to further differentiate your products in the marketplace.
Consumer acceptance of smart lighting as part of integrated building and home systems has created the expectation of connectivity and remote control. This trend has created new requirements, such as interoperability testing for communication protocols like the Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) and Konnex (KNX) protocols, as well as the need for cybersecurity solutions. We offer Internet of Things (IoT) security ratings and other solutions to meet those needs.
Photovoltaic lighting will be a crucial component for developing smart cities. It offers avenues for connected solar street lighting and other energy-efficient solutions using PV and interoperability as part of a system.
Market access and UL as a single source
Our global network of laboratories allows us to provide comprehensive testing services for PV lighting, including performance, safety and connectivity. We offer a global reach with local and regional support. Our experts understand the distinct needs for PV lighting in the different regions and markets you want to penetrate.
From the development of sustainable infrastructure in solar-based smart cities to the needs of developing countries and remote areas looking for lighting independent from the power grid, UL has PV lighting solutions for you.