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The Straight Dope on Lighting

Whenever a technology gets widespread media attention, you can bet that a lot of people are going to try to cash in on it. And not all of them will be up front about their product’s true performance. In the case of solid-state lighting, there have already been instances in which the product’s performance is, to put the kindest interpretation on it, "overstated."

But thanks to the U.S. Department of Energy, there is an objective way to get information about the latest commercially available SSL products. Called the Commercially Available LED Product Evaluation and Reporting (CALiPER) program, CALiPER supports testing of a wide array of SSL products available for general illumination. Test results can be distributed to the public, but only for non-commercial, educational purposes; manufacturers can’t use the results to promote their products.

The actual product testing is carried out by a number of pre-qualified laboratories, and DOE has been conducting at least two rounds of CALiPER testing each year since 2007. The program has tested more than 300 products to date.

The results of the testing are made available in detailed reports, which provide extensive data on individual products tested through the CALiPER program. The report is published following completion of each round, providing analysis of the test results for all products included in that round. These reports are provided to users who provide their name and affiliation, and agree abide by DOE's no-commercial-use policy.

The DOE also periodically publishes benchmark reports, which provide detailed analysis of test results for both traditional (non-LED) and LED products for a given application, in which comparisons are given for a range of standard lighting measures. If you’d like to learn more about the CALiPER program, including details about the CALiPER guidance committee and the CALiPER Round reports, visit