Are incandescent light bulbs banned?
Is an incandescent bulb ban on the horizon? In short: yes. A majority of incandescent and halogen products are set to be phased out by August 1, 2023. The Department of Energy established a new regulation in May 2022 mandating lighting products to adhere to new benchmarks.
We'll discuss how we arrived at this point and which items are affected.
- Incandescent light bulb ban
- Availability of incandescent light bulbs
- Remaining incandescent light bulb options
- Comparing incandescent bulbs with CFLs
- Contrasting incandescent bulbs and LEDs
Phasing out of incandescent and halogen light bulbs
Incandescent and halogen light bulbs are commonplace in residential and commercial buildings. However, they have gradually been disappearing due to updated regulations.
The demise of the incandescent bulb began when former President George W. Bush enacted EISA (Energy Independence and Security Act) in 2007. The initial set of standards was implemented between 2012 and 2014, which officially eliminated 60-watt incandescent bulbs.
A subsequent series of EISA restrictions was planned for January 1, 2020, but the Department of Energy opted to return to earlier guidelines.
These updated standards would have mandated that everyday light bulbs (referred to as general service lamps) consume 65 percent less energy compared to conventional incandescent light bulbs, while still providing the same light output.
Numerous states, cities, and districts filed lawsuits against the Department of Energy. California, Nevada, and Washington chose to proceed with the ban on certain general service lamps.
Subsequently, under President Joe Biden's administration, the DOE released final regulations concerning the classification of general service lamps (GSLs) and general service incandescent lamps (GSILs).
The Department of Energy's May 2022 ruling accomplished two objectives:
Introduced new classifications for General Service Incandescent Lamps (GSILs) and General Service Lamps (GSLs) Established a 45 lumen per watt threshold for GSILs and GSLs (all CFL and LED products comply with this criterion and will remain available for purchase) For a deeper understanding of the federal ruling's consequences, refer to our comprehensive article.
Various states enforce distinct stipulations for lighting products, separate from the federal ruling. We provide a state-by-state breakdown here:
Vermont Ban on sale of linear fluorescent lamps with a CRI of 87 or higher, screw-base CFLs starting February 17, 2023, and four-foot linear fluorescent lamps after January 1, 2024.
Massachusetts Ban on sale of linear fluorescents with a CRI greater than or equal to 87 starting January 1, 2022 (sales allowed to continue until January 2023). Additional requirements for GSLs including limitations on T shape lamps and M-14 lamps.
Colorado Ban on sale of linear fluorescents with a CRI of 87 or higher.
Hawaii Ban on sale of linear fluorescent lamps with a CRI greater than 87.
California Ban on sale of screw-based or bayonet based CFLs by 2024, then ban on sale of pin-based CFLs and linear fluorescent lamps by 2025.
Oregon Ban on sale of high-CRI fluorescent lamps with a manufacture date after January 1, 2023.
Washington Ban on sale of high-CRI linear fluorescent lamps (CRI of 87 or greater) starting in 2023.
New Jersey Ban on sale of high CRI linear fluorescent lamps, cold temperature linear fluorescent lamps, and impact-resistant linear fluorescent lamps starting January 18, 2023. Additional restrictions on medium screw base lamps including B, BA, CA, F, and G shape lamps and A and C shaped lamps.
Washington, DC Ban on sale of high-CRI linear fluorescent lamps, cold temperature linear fluorescent lamps, and impact-resistant linear fluorescent lamps as of March 2022. Additional restrictions on medium screw base lamps including B, BA, CA, F, and G shape lamps and A and C shaped lamps.
Nevada Ban on sale of high CRI linear fluorescent lamps starting July 1, 2023 with an install date of January 1, 2024, including cold temperature linear fluorescent lamps and impact-resistance linear fluorescent lamps.
Maine Additional requirements for GSLs including limitations on B, BA, CA, F, and G shape lamps, and A and C shaped lamps.
Maryland Ban on linear fluorescents with a CRI greater than or equal to 87 starting October 1, 2024 (dependent on regulations adopted by Maryland Energy Administration). Currently considering a bill to stop sale and distribution of screw-base or bayonet-base CFLs and pin-base CFLs and linear fluorescent lamps starting January 1, 2025.
Are incandescent light bulbs still available for purchase?
Incandescent and halogen products can be bought until August 1, 2023, barring any existing state-specific restrictions. After this date, a limited selection of incandescent and halogen bulbs will remain on the market.
The updated federal regulation mandates that general service lamps (GSLs) achieve a minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt. In simpler terms, they must generate more light while consuming less energy.
A majority of current incandescent and halogen products fail to meet this criterion, leading to a significant shift towards LED and CFL alternatives and an almost total elimination of incandescent lighting products.
Which incandescent bulbs can still be purchased?
Certain incandescent products are exempt from adhering to the new federal regulation. Light bulbs designed for specific applications, such as heat lamps, are not required to comply with the new standards.
For a comprehensive list of exemptions, consult the Department of Energy's full ruling.
Some states impose restrictions that exceed the new federal guidelines. For a detailed overview of what is and isn't permitted for sale, refer to our state-by-state guide above.
Comparing incandescent bulbs with CFLs
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) represent one alternative to incandescent lamps. CFLs initially gained traction in the market as a more energy-efficient option compared to incandescent light bulbs. However, several drawbacks should be considered by businesses and consumers when making their decision.
CFLs contain mercury, a toxic metal that is harmful to both people and the environment, necessitating proper recycling. Many CFLs are non-dimmable, making them unsuitable for use with dimmable fixtures in homes or commercial buildings. CFLs generally have a limited color rendering index (CRI) when compared to incandescent bulbs. A large number of CFLs feature a spiral design, prompting some individuals to choose a traditional bulb-shaped lamp in order to maintain certain aesthetics.
Comparing household lamps: Incandescent vs. CFL.
|Average cost||Lumens (light output)||Average lifespan (in hours)||Wattage (energy usage)||Lumens per watt||Annual energy cost*||Estimated annual CO2 emissions (lbs)*|
|New (halogen) incandescent||$1.25||780||2,500||42||18.5||$9.73|
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LEDs vs. incandescent bulbs
LED lighting has been steadily gaining ground within the lighting industry. One key factor contributing to this trend is the significant reduction in cost, making LEDs increasingly competitive.
Another driving force behind the rise of LEDs is their energy efficiency. LEDs boast exceptionally long lifespans and minimal energy consumption, positioning them as leaders in the energy-efficient lighting market. When it comes to energy efficiency, LEDs are unparalleled.
However, along with their well-known strength — energy efficiency — comes a notable weakness: price. LEDs once cost up to 40 times more than contemporary incandescent light bulbs. Fortunately, as previously mentioned, their prices have dropped substantially. For guidance on purchasing LEDs, feel free to consult our LED Buying Customer Services. Presently, LEDs may little bit pricier than incandescent bulbs with comparable brightness levels. On the other hand, the considerable energy savings they provide often outweigh the initial cost. In many instances, LED light bulbs recoup their expense within months when replacing incandescent bulbs.
Comparison of typical household bulbs: Incandescent vs. LED
|Average cost||Lumens (light output)||Wattage (energy usage)||Lumens per watt||Average lifespan||Annual energy cost (3 hrs/day at $0.12/kWh)||Estimated annual CO2 emissions (lbs)|
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