Trusting and Verifying LED Warranties: NLB program seeks transparency for specifiers

Published On
Oct 15, 2021

A new National Lighting Bureau (NLB) program seeks to give electrical contractors greater confidence and transparency with warranties covering the LED products they recommend, specify and install.

The Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program is designed to audit manufacturer warranties and verify they satisfy certain public criteria. Warranties are evaluated using a system with a maximum score of 11, of which at least eight are required to achieve a trusted warranty certificate.

Criteria cover accessibility, internal support, clarity, relation of terms to reliability testing, warranty insurance based on length of warranty compared to years in business and general responsiveness to claims.

Achieving Trusted Warranty status enables manufacturers to demonstrate through credible third-party verification that they stand behind their products and honor their warranties, differentiating themselves from potential bad actors. In particular, it can help new manufacturers build trust and credibility. Lighting product and component manufacturers selling in the United States and Canada are eligible to participate.

Contractors, designers and distributors, meanwhile, can mitigate risk and gain more confidence in new suppliers.

“Distributors told us they were hesitant to stock certain products from unknown manufacturers, and contractors were nervous about installing and being responsible for products they were unfamiliar with,” said Howard Lewis, chair of the NLB. “We hope to put the market at ease that a particular product and the company can be trusted.”

The NLB started putting the program together in 2019, drawing on its relationships and significant feedback from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, NECA, the interNational Association of Lighting Management Companies and other stakeholders. The program was set to launch in March 2020, but was upset by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a delayed launch with virtual instead of in-person audits.

As a result, the rollout is going slower than originally planned, but is showing traction. As of May 2021, NLB issued 18 certificates and was in discussion with another 10 companies.

Currently approved manufacturers include 1882 Lighting, Atlantic Industrial, Dialight, DuraGuard Products Inc., Eco- Revolution, Endeavor, Keystone Technologies, Ledvance, Linmore LED, Pemco Lighting Products, Premise LED Inc., Radiance Lighting, The Lighting Factory, QSSI and Universal Lighting Technologies.

NLB will work hard on creating awareness in 2022, “once we have a significant number of original equipment manufacturers signed up,” said Randy Reid, NLB executive director. “In 2022, we expect to see the Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program added to specifications. By 2023, we hope it will be mainstream.”

The evaluation covers:

Formal warranty (0-3 points): The manufacturer is verified as having a documented warranty that is readily accessible on its website and supports the warranty with formalized internal procedures and resources.

Warranty language (0-2 points): The warranty is concise and clearly written so that a layperson can understand what is truly covered (and what isn’t) while also easily identifying its start date. If prorated, the warranty must clearly identify it as such, define how the proration is calculated and what it means.

Warranty insurance (0-1 points): The manufacturer must either be in business longer than the length of the warranty or provide warranty insurance (not the same as liability insurance).

Technical evaluation (0-2 points): The auditor will check two randomly chosen SKUs to ensure reliability testing (internal or external) has been completed, which ensures that if a company offers a warranty, there is some basis or documentation related to the quality of the product. (The NLB does not conduct the testing itself.)

Claims review (0-3 points): The auditor randomly selects three warranty claims from the preceding 12 months and evaluates the trail, from notification to completed claim. For each, the auditor assesses whether the manufacturer acted expeditiously based on its information. Quality checks by the NLB ensure auditors apply a consistent level of scrutiny across all reviewed claims.

Manufacturers that earn Trusted Warranty status can display the certificate and logo in their marketing materials. The certificate lasts three years and then the manufacturer must requalify.

“For electrical contractors, Trusted Warranty status would simply be one more box to check, one more metric to evaluate the manufacturer,” Reid said. “They should start asking manufacturers if they have a certificate.”

To learn more, visit the NLB’s Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program at NLB.org/trusted-warranty-program.

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