DesignLights Consortium vs EnergyStar Qualified Products: Explained

The search for lighting systems can be confusing, misleading, and overwhelming at times. With all of the different terms, labels, and technologies being used how can anyone expect you to make any decisions with all of that going on?

Well, this post is going to at least relieve your confusion about DesignLights Consortium vs EnergyStar approved and qualified lighting products. There is a difference, and you need to be well aware of what it is when you are looking into a new lighting system for commercial purposes and applications. Firstly to understand the difference, we must be able to define which each one is (even if it is the most basic terms and explanation). Let's start off with DesignLights Consortium.

What is DesignLights Consortium Qualified?

DesignLights Consortium is typically abbreviated with "DLC." It's simple and you should be able to recognize what DLC means when on the search for lighting products. As to what DesignLights Consortium is, we've written a post on it before detailing everything you need to know. Click here to read it, then come back to finish the rest (opens in a new window)!

What is EnergyStar Qualified?

The major difference between DLC and EnergyStar is that DLC is only for LED lighting products while EnergyStar is more focused on residential purposes and applications, with a minor hint of residential lighting in there as well. This makes DLC the more "go to" organization when it comes to LED lighting qualifications as they are seen as the experts on LED lighting products and technologies. Anyways, when it comes to becoming EnergyStar qualified for a lighting product, a product needs to pass these (along with others) guidelines to be able to be EnergyStar qualified:

  • Must produce significant energy savings
  • Must deliver features demanded by the consumers, including energy efficiency
  • and more... (click here to read more about what it takes for a product to be qualified by EnergyStar)

In Summary: The Differences

We've briefly covered the main difference between DLC and EnergyStar, but now we are going to list all of the main differences between the two:

  • DLC is only for LED lighting products while EnergyStar covers many different products for two different groups of consumers (residential and commercial)
  • No product will ever have both labels deeming them qualified by both organizations; a product needs to have only one or the other (or none at all, which we don't recommend buying!)
  • EnergyStar only qualifies those lights that are used in commercial applications when they are granted jurisdiction over them. This prevents these items from being DLC qualified and are not eligible to be qualified by the DLC; only EnergyStar can (more on this in a minute)

There are major differences between the two, and it's critical for facility managers and building owners to know these things. The main thing to remember is this; if you are buying for commercial / industrial applications, you will most of the time buy DLC qualified products except for those that EnergyStar has jurisdiction over.  

EnergyStar Jurisdiction

The only lighting products that the DLC won't, or better yet can't, qualify is those that EnergyStar has been granted jurisdiction over. These are the types of fixtures that will never (unless changed) be DLC qualified:

  • Commercial down lights / recessed lighting
  • Commercial accent lights
  • Commercial under cabinet shelf-mounted task lighting
  • Commercial portable desk task lights

What LED Products WON'T be EnergyStar Qualified

Likewise to what will only be qualified by EnergyStar, there are also items that won't be qualified by EnergyStar pertaining to commercial applications. All of which currently include:

  • High bay fixtures
  • Recessed troffers
  • Outdoor street / area lights (garage, canopy lighting, and wall packs)
  • Signs of any type (including exit signs)


After this quick, simple, and brief overview of the differences between EnergyStar and DLC; we hope you've found some light on the topic (get it, light). In a general sense, most of your LED lighting purchases will include DLC qualified products, especially when buying for warehouses, factories, parking lots, street lights, and the like all except for those listed. Are you confused on any point? Have any comments or questions? Comment them below and we will surely find an answer or response!

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