LED Lighting Energy Certifications Part 2: The DesignLight Consortium


In part one of our series on energy labels and certifications, we focused on the EPA Energy Star label and how it serves as a consumer product differentiator across a wide array of energy efficient technologies. While some products are identified by their Energy Star certification for residential and light commercial compliance, others stand apart for their DLC accreditation and are important for compliance with utility and government sponsored funding programs for commercial and industrial applications. Maybe not as well known, the DesignLight Consortium (DLC) label is a valuable and hard-to-achieve stamp of approval sought after by many manufacturers within the lighting industry – but what’s the real difference between the two?


Formed in 1998, the DLC has become a major source of information for contractors, lighting distributors, utility companies, and energy rebate programs across the United States and Canada. Focused on efficient lighting products and practices in commercial buildings, the DEC was formed as a regional group in cooperation with the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) and initially concentrated its efforts on the Northeast and Midwest areas.

The DLC provides a central place for all commercial lighting manufacturers to submit their products with 3rd party testing for evaluation against all state and utility standards across the United States and Canada. If their product meets the DLC standards and requirements, it becomes part of their Solid State Lighting Qualified Products List (maybe add a link here).

DLC welcomes state, regional, and utility energy efficiency programs in the United States and Canada to become members of the consortium. Currently, 85 members from 35 states and 5 Canadian provinces provide expertise and insight into policy and specification development related to quality, performance, and energy efficiency. The members then utilize DLC’s resources to improve their own programs, meet energy goals, and provide product quality assurance to their customers.

The DLC Solid State Lighting Qualified Products List

In 2008, Energy Star (along with the DOE Solid State Lighting team), created a qualification process for consumer-focused LED lighting products. Following the success of this list, it became apparent that a similar resource was need for commercial-grade LED lights. That gap was filled with the DLC Solid State Lighting Qualified Products List (QPL).

It takes considerable effort to get on the QPL. To make this list, LED lighting products must meet strict requirements related to lighting output, luminaire efficacy, power factor, color temperature, and rated lifetime. The DLC rates these lighting products based on quality and energy efficiency and the products are tested by independent third party labs to determine qualifications. The QPL is used throughout both the United States and Canada to establish energy efficiency program standards and rebates. Currently, the QPL contains over 250,000 luminaries from more than 1500 manufactures and continues to expand every month.

EnergyStar vs. DLC

Both Energy Star and the DLC promote energy efficiency and customer confidence in LED products, but they are different – Energy Star rates consumer (residential) products and the DLC rates commercial products. You won’t see both an Energy Star and DLC label on the same bulb. Each organization maintains a distinct QPL related to that industry’s product needs. There is occasional crossover between product categories, but the government sponsored Energy Star has the right to put “dibs” on any category. If EnergyStar decides to cover a certain lighting category that the DLC currently lists, they have 270 days to drop it. There’s talk of both entities working together to create a combined residential-commercial QPL, but so far that hasn’t happened.

The DesignLight Consortium drives energy efficiency in the commercial sector and is the qualification standard for many utility rebate programs. It’s a trusted resource for information and like the Energy Star, it stands for high quality, environmentally friendly lighting products.

EarthTronics has over 90 products that meet the DLC qualification standards and are listed the QPL. Feel confident knowing that EarthTronics has earned the DLC label. Our Earthbulbs have been put the to the test – and passed with flying colors.

Check out a complete listing of EarthTronics’ products on the DLC QPL here.