Bringing the home in the lab: consumer-relevant testing for household electrical products
Product testing is widely used to assess the characteristics, e.g. performance and energy consumption of a product. The procedures for executing the tests, including measurements and processing of measurement results, can be contained in standards. Standards should produce results that are repeatable, reproducible and valid at a reasonable cost. A number of stakeholders have questioned the appropriateness of several standards because the results that these standards provide are different from what a consumer may experience in practice. In the end, this can have negative consequences for the trust of consumers in the policy instruments (energy labels, minimum efficiency requirements) that use these standards and an energy savings deficit compared to what was expected by policy-makers. There is, therefore, a need for standards that better reflect ‘real-life’ conditions, meaning those conditions that consumers experience at home. However, unlike the other criteria that standards should meet, there is no methodology to assess the representativeness of a standard. This article develops such a methodology and presents the results for several household electrical appliances: washing machines, refrigerators and vacuum cleaners. In general, variation of situational conditions is not reflected in the standards and important parts of use behaviour are implemented as ‘artificial’ in the standards, showing that the other criteria (repeatability, reproducibility and cost) are prioritised over representativeness. Assessment of performance is difficult to evaluate because the type of assessment differs between practice and test; additional research is needed in this area.
KeywordsProduct testing Appliances Standards Consumer-relevant testing
The authors thank CLC/TC 59X, especially Dr. Gerhard Fuchs, Mr. Alain Roux, Mr. Paul van Wolferen, Mr. Bernhard Scheuren and Mr. Jeremy Tait for their contribution and data provision and two anonymous reviewers for their comments.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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