Thursday, January 12, 2012
US Regulation Absurdity: Dim 100W bulbs allowed, Bright 100W bulbs banned!
US regulations are based on bulb brightness (lumens) not on energy usage (watts):
Bright incandescent bulbs are banned, dim incandescent bulbs using the same or more energy are still allowed.
In the Resource News Update recently,
I incorrectly commented on Halogenica's informative blog post, on the USA regulations.
"As a comment, and as I also tend to leave out, less common 75 Watt bulbs are also banned from Jan 1 2012 in the Act (in fact, any regular incandescent over 72W, Energy Dept info)".
As I have since corrected, Halogenica was right, which highlights the absurdity, that 75 W "dim" bulbs are allowed but 75 W "bright" ones are banned!
This is because the regulations are based on brightness, rather than energy usage.
The above Dept of Energy link seems to indicate a 72 W maximum, but it is as a lumen (brightness) reference, and several other official documents clarify the legality of regular 75 W bulbs, until 1 Jan 2013.
So you can actually still buy a 100W incandescent bulb, if it's dim enough, which can sometimes be an attractive option, since dimmer incandescent bulbs of given wattages tend to have have longer lifespans (the trade off).
For example Aero incandescent manufacturer, 100W 20 000hr bulb, 1000 lumen, for around $2 each in bulk purchase, January 2012.
That makes it pretty equivalent to an 1100 lumen 1000 hour standard incandescent 75W bulb.
While the Aero light bulb is allowed in 2012 anyway as a rough service bulb, with associated advantages, such bulbs would, bans apart, otherwise be more of a convenience measure for difficult to reach locations etc...
$2 dollar long life bulb plus 25 W extra energy cost for 20 000 hours, 25W x 20 000 hrs = 50 kWh, USA 12 cent per kWh average residential cost (EIA), 50 kWh x 12c = 600c or 6 dollars, + 2 dollar bulb cost = 8 dollars.
Box of twenty 75W regular bulbs, typically 10-12 dollars, so given that 1000 hrs is considered typical yearly use, it's pretty much the same overall cost, just a couple of dollars difference over 20 years, more exactly depending on local electricity costs.
Update 7 May 2012
See comments below ...
"But 25W * 20,000 hrs is 500KWH, not 50KWH. That means it costs $62 for the life of the bulb."
So this makes it even more interesting,
in that the hailed legal "rough service" "long life" alternatives therefore waste a lot more energy and money, compared to allowing continued use of simple incandescent light bulbs (or for that matter allowing continued use of Halogen replacements with their marginal savings...)
Further Update 25 May 2012
Looking more closely at lumens, 1000 lumen is actually closer to the typical 60W rating for clear bulbs, the Aerotech bulb being a clear bulb.
That is 900 lumen for 60 watt compared to 1200 for 75 watt bulbs.
Incidentally, brighter bulbs in North America from usually using lower (120V) voltages than say Europe (220V).
So really around 10 watts equivalent use should be added, or about 24 dollars
That gives 86 dollars... over 70 dollars more in total cost for equivalent brightness over the period compared to 20 ordinary bulbs.
For more on the USA regulations, and the various exceptions, http://ceolas.net/#li01inx.
Of course, the regulations are wrong for many other reasons,
energy savings is not the only reason for choosing a bulb you want to use,
and overall energy savings are not that great, whatever way the ban is defined.
The point here is therefore the lack of logic, in the stated justification for the ban, to "prohibit energy wasting" bulbs, not to "prohibit bright bulbs",
such that a 100 Watt bright incandescent bulb is banned, but a 100 Watt dim incandescent bulb is still allowed!