California Energy Efficiency Regulations for Notebook Computers

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 10:04 -- MrGreen

The California Energy Commission (CEC) continues its energy efficiency mission by updating Title 20 regulations for computers and insuring relevance to emerging product types. As part of a broader series of webinars in September and October on computers, the Appliances and Outreach & Education Office reviewed notebook efficiency regulations effective on January 1, 2019. While notebooks include mobile thin clients, portable all-in-ones, and two-in-one notebooks, tablets are not in the scope. Beyond reviewing definitions, test methods, performance standards, and marking requirements, there was also an overview of the certification process to help manufacturers.

The CEC team covered definitions not only for the notebook computer, characterized mainly by portability, but also for specific variants such as mobile thin clients, two-in-one notebooks, and portable all-in-ones. Mobile thin clients rely on a connection, whereas two-in-one notebooks consist of a clamshell with a detachable keyboard and must ship as an integrated unit. Portable all-in-one computers include an integrated display greater than 17.4”.

The test method for computers refers to one from the ENERGY STAR Program but includes a modification specifying that hard-disk spinning shall not be altered from the default as-shipped settings. The total annual energy consumption is also calculated according to ENERGY STAR requirements. For mode weightings, notebook computers manufactured before July 1, 2021 typically use the conventional mode weighting, unless they meet the criteria for full-capability or remote-wake weightings, for which certain features must be enabled as shipped. For power factor, a record of the median power factor during short idle is required. For computer sleep-mode power, instead of measuring power after manually entering sleep mode, the power measurement starts between 30 and 31 minutes of user inactivity.

Performance standards address power management requirements, total energy consumption limits, and adders for special features. As shipped, power management settings must automatically transition both the computer and any connected display into sleep mode. Alternative computer sleep mode power limits were given with an exception for devices with limited capability operating systems. The energy consumption limit is set at 30 kWh/yr plus any applicable adders, including those for system memory capacity, energy-efficient Ethernet, extra storage, integrated displays, discrete GPUs, and various add-in cards. The minimum required power factor is 0.9 at full load.

For marking requirements, the manufacturer’s name, model number, and date of manufacture must be permanently and conspicuously displayed on an accessible place on each computer. For certification, products must be shown to meet standards in an approved test laboratory. The certification, moreover, requires signing a binding declaration on behalf of the company. Fact sheets and FAQs on certification, including how to certify to the MAEDBS database, are available here:

One can also reach out to the Title 20 Compliance Assistance Call Center at (888) 838-1467 (toll-free inside CA) or (916) 651-7100 (outside CA) or contact

Webinar slides can be found here: