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FAQs for California Energy Commission Computers and Displays Regulation

Since the CEC (California Energy Commission) supervision/certification of computer and monitor products, and with the increasing degree of product compounding/integration, more and more manufacturers have raised questions in CEC certification, for various typical questions and official answers, collected and integrated as follows:


1. Is the certification of computer and monitor products similar to other products in the CEC’s Modernized Appliance Efficiency Database System (MAEDbS)?

A1. Yes. The process for certifying computers (and monitors) is similar to other products subject to California or federal energy efficiency regulations. Manufacturers will provide specific information about their product models using a template provided by the CEC.


2. Are there marking requirements that apply to computer and monitor products? 

A2. Products are required to be physically marked with:

1). their associated manufacturer name, brand name, or trademark;

2). their model number; and

3). their date of manufacture.

No other marks are required.


3. If a notebook computer is certified and listed in MAEDbS for its “small battery charger system,” does it need to be certified again as a computer?

A3. Yes. Computer models that are certified as meeting battery charger standards also need to be certified as meeting computer standards.


4. If I am not certain that my product is regulated by Title 20, how do I find out if it is?

A4. The Scope of the regulations is in Section 1601 and the Definitions that describe each appliance listed in the Scope are in Section 1602.

5. Does the computer regulation apply to computers that ship into a California port, but are then not sold into California? If the product just passes through a California international shipping port does it have to be registered or comply?

A5. No. California’s energy efficiency standards only apply to computers that are sold or offered for sale in California. They do not apply to products that transit through California for sale in another state.


6. Does the computer regulation apply to business-to-business development vehicles intended for engineering, development, validation purposes, etc. (including full computer systems) that are shared among industry partners?

A6. If two companies are working together to make a prototype system, then those prototypes do not have to comply with the computer regulations. However, business-to- business development vehicles cannot be used to circumvent the intent of the regulations in order for a company to sell or offer to sell noncompliant computers to another company.


7. Are outdoor informational displays considered computer monitors or signage displays?

A7. Products that meet the definition of “television,” “computer monitor,” or “signage display” must comply with associated requirements. There are exemptions, for example professional signage displays as defined in section 1602 are exempt from complying with the signage display regulations. For specific product determinations, please send a specification sheet of the product to the CEC’s Appliance Call Center at: Appliances@energy.ca.gov.


8. If a signage display has touch screen capability, is there an additional allowance? If not, is it appropriate to disable the touch functionality during testing?

A8. There is no extra allowance for touch screen capability for signage displays. The test procedure specified in 10 C.F.R. section 430.23(h) (Appendix H to Subpart B of part 430) (same test as for televisions) addresses what features may be disabled during testing.


9. A zero client, which is a thin-client without an operating system (OS), does not have sleep mode or any alternative sleep mode because it lacks any OS. How would one calculate total electricity consumption (TEC), which includes consideration of sleep mode?

A9. Normally zero client computers are operated through a remote server’s operating system and should be tested the way they are designed to operate. Because these computers do not have an operating system, they are exempt from transitioning into sleep mode and other power management settings per section 1605.3(v)(5)(C).

Sleep mode measurements are modified from the ENERGY STAR test procedure in order to accommodate computers without traditional Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) S3 sleep modes or computers such as zero thin-clients that do not have any type of sleep mode. For such cases, the power that is measured after 30 minutes of user inactivity is considered as “sleep power” and is used for the TEC calculation. The test procedure for the sleep mode power measurement is outlined in section 1604(v)(5)(H).

10. Do I have to change the basic model number when the power supply or mother board manufacturer or model number changes?

A10. No, if the new component is of an identical type, and exactly similar, with the same specifications and circuitry. If, instead, the new component is not the same, then the computer must be treated as a different basic model.

11. Workstation’s power supply unit (PSU) efficiency requirements: The 115V/230V requirements are noted in Table V-9. Some companies have workstation products that will ship into California that utilize a 115V PSU/power cord. Does that imply the 230V efficiency requirement is not applicable?

A11. Per section 1605.3(v)(6)(A), small-scale servers, high-expandability computers, mobile workstations, and workstations manufactured on or after January 1, 2018, must be powered by an internal power supply that meets or exceeds the standards in Table V-9. If the workstation unit itself is rated for both voltages (115 V and 230 V) and is powered by a power supply that is capable of operating at both 115 V and 230 V, then the power supply needs to meet both efficiency requirements. If it is only rated for a single voltage, then it only needs to meet the requirement for that particular voltage. This is regardless of the number or type of power cords provided with the unit, noting that some manufacturers or retailers may choose not to include a power cord and instead sell them separately.

12. Does the expandability score for Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports depend on whether the port provides the default power level that is associated with the USB Standard specification, or more than the standard USB power as specified in the USB Power Delivery (PD) or USB Battery Charging (BC) specifications?

A12. USB expandability scores are assigned based on the “as shipped” configuration of the USB. For example an expandability score of 100 is applied to a USB port that uses USB PD protocol and is capable of providing 100 Watts or more of power to a device.


13. If a notebook includes an RJ45 connection that supports a wired Ethernet Card with a transmit rate of 10GB/s or greater, and that also supports Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE), can a manufacturer apply both adders?

A13. Yes. Both adders would be applicable. Note that in order to apply the EEE adder, it must be enabled when the computer is shipped.

14. Are next generation interfaces that improve on existing generations of technologies eligible to use the same expandability score (Table V-1) as the previous generation technology?

A14. Yes. Provided the performance of the new generation interface exceeds the performance of the older generation. For example an unconnected USB 3.1 Gen 2 motherboard header can claim the same expandability score as an unconnected USB 1.1  Gen 1 motherboard header.


15. What is required by the standard in section 1605.3(v)(4)(C) for computer monitor screen luminance when shipped?

A15. The standard in section 1605.3(v)(4)(C) requires computer monitors manufactured on or after July 1, 2019, to be shipped with a screen luminance less than or equal to 200 cd/m2 ± 35 percent. This means that a computer monitor must have a screen luminance of less than or equal to a maximum of 270 cd/m2 when shipped.


As a CEC approved testing laboratory and third-party certification body, BTL has testing and certification qualifications for Monitors, Televisions, Consumer Audio & Video, Computer, External Power Supplies, Federally Regulated Battery Chargers, Small Battery Chargers and other product categories. It has successfully completed CEC certification for many manufacturers, with rich industry experience, and welcomes manufacturers to contact the BTL team at any time to share the most professional and comprehensive information with you.


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