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February 18, 2014
New efficiency standards for external power supplies

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has continued its aggressive revision of energy-efficiency standards for domestic products with new requirements for direct operation Class A external power supplies (EPSs).  The DOE is also issuing separate standards for non-Class A EPSs.  According to the DOE, the revised standards will improve the efficiency of affected EPSs by 33 percent and, over the next 30 years, cut carbon pollution by 47 million metric tons and save families nearly $4 billion on their energy bills. 

 Hundreds of types EPSs convert household electric current into direct current or lower-voltage alternating current to operate consumer products such as a laptop computers, cell phones, and power tools.  More than 300 million EPSs are shipped in the United States each year, and the average American home has five to 10 EPSs.  These numbers are expected to continue to grow as consumers and businesses purchase new types of personal electronics, says the DOE.

2007 EISA

Efficiency standards for EPSs were established in the 2007 Energy Efficiency and Security Act (EISA 2007).  As defined by Congress, “Class A EPSs” are types of EPSs that meet certain design criteria and that are not devices regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as medical devices, or that power the charger of a detachable battery pack or the battery of a product that is fully or primarily motor operated. 

Under the rule, the DOE is also issuing separate standards for non-Class A EPSs; these include devices that have a nameplate output power greater than 250 watts, are able to convert to more than one AC or DC output voltage simultaneously, and are specifically excluded from coverage under the Class A EPS definition in EISA 2007 by virtue of their application (i.e., EPSs used with medical devices or that power chargers of detachable battery packs or batteries of products that are motor-operated). 

Indirect-operation EPSs

The final rule affects direct-operation EPSs only.  Indirect-operation EPSs, which cannot power a consumer product (other than a battery charger) without the assistance of a battery, are not covered by the current action and must continue to meet the standards established by Congress.

Compliance with the EPS energy-efficiency standards is required in 2015.   

Under the Obama administration, the DOE has finalized new efficiency standards for more than 30 household and commercial products.    

DOE’s final standards

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