How to Earn a Premium Rebate on Your Next Lighting Upgrade

Electric utility rebates have been a big driver in the rapid growth of 
LED lamps and fixtures, especially in nonresidential applications – but 
not all LED products are eligible for these incentives. Utilities depend
 on evaluations by a group called the DesignLights Consortium (DLC) to 
determine which products deserve a rebate, and a DLC listing helps 
ensure products will meet certain efficiency and lifespan targets. Topaz

Chuck Ross

Electric utility rebates have been a big driver in the rapid growth of LED lamps and fixtures, especially in nonresidential applications – but not all LED products are eligible for these incentives. Utilities depend on evaluations by a group called the DesignLights Consortium (DLC) to determine which products deserve a rebate, and a DLC listing helps ensure products will meet certain efficiency and lifespan targets. A new program recently introduced by the DLC offers the opportunity for even greater energy savings and, potentially, a larger check back from the utility once installation is complete.

Utility rebate programs are usually funded by a per-kilowatt-hour efficiency charge on every customer’s monthly bill. State public utility commissions want to ensure those funds are spent on customer efficiency upgrades that actually reduce energy demand. The DLC acts as a third-party evaluator on issues of efficacy (a measure light produced per kilowatt of demand) and useful lifespan. The group’s standard Qualified Product List (QPL) includes a range of lamps, luminaires and retrofit kits, and separate list covers networked lighting systems that have met a separate series of requirements.

In spring of 2017, the DLC debuted its first listing of DLC Premium products. This program is only available for luminaires and retrofit kits, so replacement lamps aren’t included. To be listed, products must maintain at least 90% of initial lighting output after 36,000 hours of operation and be available with integral occupancy or photo sensors. Additionally, manufacturers need to document test results that show stable driver operating temperatures over time.

It’s notable that the new Premium designation highlights performance characteristics beyond simple efficiency. With the LED market maturing, long-term user satisfaction is becoming more important to the utilities backing today’s efficiency rebate programs. You might pay a bit more for DLC Premium offerings, but you’ll likely be happier over the long run and you might even get a bit more back from your utility in the process.


Photo courtesy of Topaz