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DOE Seeks Further Input on Battery Charger Efficiency Rules

June 2014

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) continues to grapple with issues involving the energy efficiency of battery chargers.  A new DOE battery charger proceeding provides an opportunity for industry to weigh in.  79 Fed. Reg. 27774 (May 15, 2014).  Comments are due by June 30, 2014.

In 2012, DOE undertook rulemaking for efficiency standards for battery chargers and external power supplies (EPS).  In February 2014, DOE issued new efficiency rules for EPS.  But it deferred action on battery chargers substantially in light of standards adopted in California and other states for battery charger systems (BCS).  79 Fed. Reg. 7846 (Feb. 10, 2014).  Now, DOE is again taking up the matter of battery chargers.

The May 15 notice is focused primarily on the DOE battery charger test procedure, but it also provides an opportunity for industry to express views about standards.  The responses to DOE's notice will shape what could well be years of DOE rulemaking.

DOE has asked for input on a number of issues, including the following:

  • Whether revisions to DOE's analysis are needed now that California standards for BCS have been in effect for one year.
  • Application of the test procedure to multi-voltage, multi-capacity and multi-voltage, multi-capacity, multi-chemistry battery chargers that are capable of being tested with multiple battery configurations.
  • How is the test procedure being applied to applications that are equipped with both an integral battery charger and batteries that are solely used when main power is lost (i.e., back-up batteries)?
  • Can the current test procedure be applied to wireless battery chargers (i.e., inductive chargers) that are designed for dry environments to ensure accurate and repeatable results?
  • What types of wireless battery charger technologies are currently available or may become available in the future, and how are manufacturers applying (or would apply) the test procedure to these products?
  • How are adaptive (or smart) EPS's being rated (and advertised) according to the applicable standards for voltage and current reporting?
  • How should the test procedure be applied to battery charging systems with adaptive external power supplies?