Sweden and Testlab at the forefront of efficient lighting

With the focus on climate goals, efforts are being made worldwide to increase energy efficiency. A clear example is lighting, which accounted for 15-19% of global electricity use in 2005, with consumption expected to double if nothing was done.

Thanks to rapid technological development of LEDs in combination with the introduction of instruments around the world that set minimum requirements for energy efficiency, electricity use for lighting has instead slowed down or even decreased, while more and more people have gained access to lighting.

The Swedish Energy Agency has supported the work of developing efficient lighting for several decades, but with the investment in its own testing capacity in the agency’s Testlab since 2011, Sweden is unique in its approach to promoting the development of efficient lighting both within and outside the EU.

Globally, the lighting issue is complicated to say the least. While in some areas there is a struggle to replace old, inefficient and poor lighting, electric lighting is completely lacking in other areas.

– Lighting is a basic service and something most of us take for granted and rely on to be able to read, write and work even after the sun goes down. At the same time, an estimated one billion people are without electric lighting today. In order to create a future where everyone has access to good lighting, it needs to be made sustainable throughout the entire life-cycle from manufacturing through usage to recycling. If this is to work, intelligent and powerful instruments are required, says Peter Bennich, senior adviser at the Swedish Energy Agency.

– Within the EU, legislation on ecodesign and energy labelling, respectively, have played a directly decisive role as a tool for the development of more efficient devices, including lighting. The first regulations for lighting were introduced on 1 September 2009, the start of the high-profile phasing out of the light bulb that has been around for more than a century. To assist the transition to lighting that is simultaneously more efficient and just as good or even better, in 2010 the Swedish Energy Agency developed a strategy with the goal of promoting high quality and sustainable lighting that is accessible to all while having less environmental impact, increasing investments in research and development. The strategy also included implementing major training initiatives by all actors, from manufacturers and retailers to buyers and users.

In the following year, 2011, the Swedish Energy Agency also decided to supplement the agency’s existing Testlab with lighting tests to build up its own technical competence to support all aspects of the strategy.

– It is fantastic to have the lab under our own control. We can perform tests in real time, process the basic material we have with supplementary measurements, and get information that we can analyse further. What we are working with is so close to everyone’s everyday life, and we can help and give answers thanks to the technical knowledge and the measurement data we get here. One of our great strengths is that we work both on a broad front and at the cutting edge. We are working with companies that bring new technology to market, but also with the lamps that are sold in stores that consumers use in their everyday lives, says Helena Holm, project manager at the Swedish Energy Agency.

In Testlab, a number of tests are conducted on different light sources and their function, service life and quality. This is done to:

  • Prepare technical documentation prior to the negotiation of extended legal requirements and associated test standards
  • Exercise market control of light sources once the legal requirements are in place
  • Provide consumers with information on the performance of existing light sources
  • Assist in the preparation of procurement documents

– In the lab, we try to measure as much as possible of what is on the market to be able to comment on proposals for legal texts and other proposals on how to continue to transform the market. In the past year, for example, we tested a new method for checking the lifespan of lamps that are said to last for 25 years. We have also performed tests that show that it is possible to set requirements for the flicker levels of lamps, says Christofer Silfvenius, lighting expert at the Swedish Energy Agency.

Right now, the phasing out of mercury-based fluorescent lamps is on the agenda and there is a fierce debate in parts of the lighting industry about this. Many argue that new LED tubes do not work as a replacement for old fluorescent lamps with the old luminaire, either because they would not be approved from an electrical safety point of view, or because the optical properties would change for the worse, thus requiring a replacement of the whole luminaire with a new, LED-based luminaire. Something that Christofer and his colleagues were able to investigate in Testlab.
– In our investigations, we were able to state that there are now LED tubes on the market that can provide the same optical properties and also work in an electrically safe way with the old luminaire, which means that it is not necessary to replace the old luminaire if you don’t want to. There is equipment in our lab that gives us the opportunity to check this type of statement, and gives us our own basis for entering the discussion, says Christofer.

By having its own test operations under its own roof and under its own auspices, the Swedish Energy Agency is unique in its lighting strategy. Whereas other countries have outsourced testing, Sweden invested more and has created a business that educates, tests and supports the market on the path to more efficient lighting.
Together with Power Circle Summit and Switch, ELFACK is a trade show for the exchange and dissemination of knowledge in electricity, power, light and information technology. The industry comes together at ELFACK to engage with new technology and innovation. ElLFACK takes place on 3-6 May 2022 at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in Gothenburg.


  • Testlab has performed approximately 1000 measurements per year (measuring several lamp specimens for each model and producing an average)
  • Testlab has performed market control tests for 150 different models of lamps
  • Measurements have been made to produce data for negotiations, development of test methods or for consumer information
  • Testlab has participated in and voted on about 130 different test standards
  • Testlab has contributed to the development of a special test method to control the life of light sources
  • Testlab has participated with its own data in almost all votes regarding ecodesign requirements for light sources since 2008