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Illumination: New efficiency requirements for electric signs

File photo

File photo

By Peter Saunders
A Canadian Standards Association (CSA) group is currently developing new efficiency requirements for both portable (i.e. plug-in) and permanent (i.e. hardwired) electric signs. The proposed requirements are based largely on electric sign regulations incorporated into the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24) published in the U.S. by the California Energy Commission (CEC), albeit with certain changes reflecting Canadian preferences.

Similar to Title 24, CSA is considering requirements for all components in electric signs to meet minimum standards. Upon publication, the requirements for portable and stationary signs will be incorporated as separate, stand-alone standards under CSA’s electrical efficiency category, designated as follows:

  • CSA C877, Performance of Portable Signs.
  • CSA C880, Performance of Stationary Electric Signs.

While CSA’s draft standard has not yet been made publicly available, the following excerpt from CEC’s Title 24 is relevant reading in the meantime, as it is the foundation for the new Canadian rules:

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2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards

Section 140.8 – Requirements for Signs

This section applies to all internally illuminated and externally illuminated signs, unfiltered light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and unfiltered neon, both indoor and outdoor. Each sign shall comply with either Subsection (a) or (b), as applicable.

(a) Maximum Allowed Lighting Power

  1. For internally illuminated signs, the maximum allowed lighting power shall not exceed the product of the illuminated sign area and 12 W per square foot. For double-faced signs, only the area of a single face shall be used to determine the allowed lighting power.
  2. For externally illuminated signs, the maximum allowed lighting power shall not exceed the product of the illuminated sign area and 2.3 W per square foot. Only areas of an externally lighted sign that are illuminated without obstruction or interference, by one or more luminaires, shall be used.
  3. Lighting for unfiltered light emitting diodes (LEDs) and unfiltered neon shall comply with Section 140.8(b).
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(b) Alternate Lighting Sources

The sign shall comply if it is equipped only with one or more of the following light sources:

  1. High pressure sodium lamps; or
  2. Metal halide lamps that are: A. Pulse start or ceramic served by a ballast that has a minimum efficiency of 88 per cent or greater; or B. Pulse start that are 320 W or smaller, are not 250-W or 175-W lamps and are served by a ballast that has a minimum efficiency of 80 per cent. Ballast efficiency is the measured output wattage to the lamp divided by the measured operating input wattage when tested according to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C82.6-2005, American National Standard for Lamp Ballasts: Ballasts for High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamps–Methods of Measurement.
  3. Neon or cold-cathode lamps with transformer or power supply efficiency greater than or equal to the following: A. A minimum efficiency of 75 per cent when the transformer or power supply rated output current is less than 50 mA; or B. A minimum efficiency of 68 per cent when the transformer or power supply rated output current is 50 mA or greater. The ratio of the output wattage to the input wattage is at 100 per cent tubing load.
  4. Fluorescent lighting systems meeting one of the following requirements: A. Use only lamps with a minimum colour rendering index (CRI) of 80; or B. Use only electronic ballasts with a fundamental output frequency not less than 20 kHz.
  5. LEDs with a power supply having an efficiency of 80 per cent or greater. Exception to Section 140.8(b)5: Single-voltage external power supplies that are designed to convert 120-V alternating current (AC) input into lower-voltage direct current (DC) or AC output and have a nameplate output power less than or equal to 250 W shall comply with the applicable requirements of the Appliance Efficiency Regulations (Title 20).
  6. Compact fluorescent lamps that do not contain a medium screw base sockets (E24/E26). Exception 1 to Section 140.8: Unfiltered incandescent lamps that are not part of an electronic message centre (EMC), an internally illuminated sign or an externally illuminated sign. Exception 2 to Section 140.8: Exit signs shall meet the requirements of the Appliance Efficiency Regulations. Exception 3 to Section 140.8: Traffic signs shall meet the requirements of the Appliance Efficiency Regulations.
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Representatives of both the Sign Association of Canada (SAC) and the International Sign Association (ISA) are actively participating in CSA’s technical subcommittees responsible for developing the new standards.

The process recently went through the committee stage, with discussions of the adaptations of CEC’s standards. Now, a draft standard is being circulated to industry stakeholders and an inquiry stage will allow for public comments later this year.

With files from ISA. For more information, visit www.signs.org.

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