Energy efficiency level VI is coming. Are you ready?
By By Mega Electronics Inc.Power Supply / Management
In the early 1990s, it was estimated that there were more than 1-billion external power supplies active in the United States alone. The efficiency of these power supplies, mainly utilizing linear technology, could be as low as 50% and still draw power when the application was turned off or not even connected to the power supply (referred to as ‘no-load’ condition).
Chronology efficiency standards
Experts calculated that without efforts to increase efficiencies and reduce ‘no-load’ power consumption, external power supplies would account for around 30% of total energy consumption in less than 20-years. As early as 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency started a voluntary program to promote energy efficiency and reduce pollution that eventually became the Energy Star program. However, the first mandatory regulation dictating efficiency and no-load power draw minimums wasn’t put in place until 2004. The following section traces the path from the CEC’s 2004 regulation up to the current standards that are in place today
Europe enacted ErP Directive 2009/125/EC (Energy Related Products) with scheduled stages of implementation for efficiency and no-load requirements equivalent to Level IV and Level V standards. The schedule defined that the EU would harmonize with Level IV efficiency standards by April 2010 and Level V efficiency standards by April 2011.
EISA 2007, CEC Tier 3, and ErP Phase 2 took effect in full harmony of their standards leaving us with what is now simply known as the ‘Level V Efficiency’ standard, designated by the Roman numeral V surrounded by a circle.
Today, Level V will meet or exceed the requirements of any governing body around the globe. Power supply manufacturers indicate compliance by placing a Roman numeral V on the power supply label. Level V is enforced by the agencies all over the world except by UL in USA. However California requires also Level V.
In what would effectively become the ‘Level VI’ efficiency standard, the proposal on the table would mandate no-load efficiencies down to 0.1W for external power supplies ranging from 1W to approximately 49W, boost mandatory average efficiency by about 1%, and set standards for models with power ratings above 250W for the first time.
The EPA estimates that external power supply efficiency regulations implemented over the past decade have reduced energy consumption by 32 billion kW, saving $2.5-billion annually and reducing CO2 emissions by more than 24-million tons per year. Moving beyond the mandated government regulations, many OEMs are now starting to demand ‘greener’ power supplies as a way to differentiate their end products, driving efficiencies continually higher and even pushing the implementation of control technologies that in some cases eliminate no-load power consumption altogether.
On 3 February 2014, the US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a pre-publication Federal Register final rule against the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published in 2012. The new rule applies to all direct and indirect operation external power supplies (EPS), which are categorized into eight product classes. It not only increases the minimum energy efficiency requirement of EPS from level IV to level VI, but also extends their scope to encompass lower voltage ac or dc output EPS, multiple-voltage EPS and EPS with nameplate output power exceeding 250 watts. The compliance date for the new requirements is 10 February 2016, which is two years after the rule’s publication in the Federal Register.
*See Chart 1
*See Chart 2 (for online use/posting only)
Minimum Energy Efficiency Requirements for Level VI
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