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Proposed Amendments to California Regulations on Computers and Monitors

California Energy Efficiency Standards for Monitors

Although the U.S. Department of Energy began scrutinizing national energy efficiency standards for computers with a request for information in 2012, rulemaking activities never made it past a proposed determination of coverage in 2014.

Since 2016, however, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has adopted efficiency standards for computers and monitors – a broad category encompassing laptops, desktops, monitors and small-scale servers. According to CEC estimates, if manufacturers sold only compliant products across the U.S., the country could achieve enough annual energy savings by 2027 to power 1.6 million homes.

Innovation in this market is moving at a rapid pace, so the CEC is now amending their regulations to accommodate new technologies. On November 18, the CEC held an online public hearing on a Notice of Proposed Action to amend Title 20 Computer and Monitor Regulations.

New products, such as multi-screen notebook computers and gaming monitors with high refresh rates, are now part of an increasingly varied landscape of computing devices. This means that test methods must also evolve to provide sensible coverage of such products.

For example, test procedures have been amended to cover secondary screens on notebooks. Similarly, for computers with a cyclical power consumption pattern from battery charge and discharge intervals, test procedures have been updated to reflect those conditions.

For monitors with refresh rates of 300 Hz or faster, the CEC has proposed an energy adder to enable these higher performance models to make it to the marketplace. This allowance is proportional to refresh rates, but it is capped at 480 Hz. Likewise, there is an adder proposed for ethernet ports with data transmission rates between 1 and 10 Gbps.

In December 2020, the CEC intends to put these amended regulations before the Commission for adoption. More information about the proposed action, including comments from stakeholders, is available on the CEC website - docket number 20-AAER-03.

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