Regulations on energy efficiency of power supplies are about to get stricter. If you’re building electronic systems that need external power supplies, you need to know this date: Feb 10 2016. That’s when the US DOE’s Level VI mandate – designed to save consumers up to $3.8 billion and cut emissions by nearly 47 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – will go into effect.
The US isn’t acting alone. Regulatory bodies around the world are moving to mandatory – not voluntary—compliance with rules on the efficient use of energy. Read more: “Efficiency Standards for External Power Supplies.”
The effort to curb energy waste in power supplies goes back two decades. In the early 90’s, it was estimated that in the United States alone, there were more than one billion external power supplies, mostly based on linear technology, with efficiencies as low as 50%. And, they would still draw power when the application was turned off or not even connected to the power supply (referred to as “no-load” condition). 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 US Environmental Protection Agency started a voluntary program to promote energy efficiency and reduce pollution, which eventually became the Energy Star program. However, it was not until 2004 that the first mandatory regulation dictating efficiency and no-load power draw minimums was put in place. This diagram (see Figure 1) demonstrates just how dynamic the regulatory environment has been over the past decade. It also traces the path from the CEC’s 2004 regulation up to the new Level VI standards set to take effect February 2016.
If you’re designing products that use external ac-dc power supplies for the U.S. market you need to comply, now. And, if you’re selling worldwide, you’d better track what other countries are doing.
To guide you through this regulatory minefield, we’ve worked with the folks at CUI to bring you this overview of the most recent–and emerging – regulations in different parts of the world. Click here for a guide to current regulations.