If energy needs to be saved, there are good ways to do it.
                                                               Government product regulation is not one of them

Sunday, December 18, 2011

After the Funding Amendment:
Clear Explanation of American Light Bulb Regulations


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Some additional information on light bulb regulations posted in an 18th January 2012 blog post

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The Republican funding amendment was justified for reasons given earlier,
and the possibilities around continued manufacture (federal ban or not) was subsequently highlighted.

That said, the main point to note for consumers,
is that the amendment makes little difference to them in practice, at least in early 2012.

So, what exactly are the USA federal rules on light bulbs?

For more information on regulation after 2014,
see an earlier blog post.

The 2012 sale of 100W incandescents was never banned,
only the manufacture and import.
So stores can legally sell off whatever they have
- and by all accounts, some stores have stocked up a lot,
lasting well into next year, though naturally prices will go up as stocks dwindle.

Additionally, new package labelling requirements will change the way light bulbs are referred to. Instead of buying a "72 watt light bulb," one might purchase a "1500 lumens" light bulb.

Some edited extracts from the main website

Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007

2 phases, based on 2012-2014 and 2014-2020.
Aim: to reduce the allowed wattage for incandescent bulbs by 28 percent starting in 2012, becoming a 67 percent reduction by 2020 at the latest, in accordance with the defined annual review procedures
By 2020, at the latest, general service incandescents shall have a minimum rating of 45 lumens per Watt
(today's touted halogen replacements are typically 22-25 lumens per Watt).

`(i) The term 'general service incandescent lamp' means a standard incandescent or halogen type lamp that—
`(I) is intended for general service applications;
`(II) has a medium screw base;
`(III) has a lumen range of not less than 310 lumens and not more than 2,600 lumens; and
`(IV) is capable of being operated at a voltage range at least partially within 110 and 130 volts.

In the first phase beginning January 1 2012,
the manufacture and import of general service incandescent lighting is progressively restricted, beginning with 100 W bulbs, but therefore with certain excepted classes (e.g. rough service, 3-way, and chandelier lighting). Bulbs equivalent to 25W and below, and of 150-200W and above, are also not affected.
However: The sale of 150-200W (2,601-3,300 lumen) incandescents will be specially monitored,
and the Secretary is directed to prohibit them too, should sales exceed a certain quantity (more on the main website).

The important point then is that sales of existing store stock will be allowed, at least in the 2012-2014 phase - the legal language relating to the subsequent phase-out to 45 lumen per Watt is more ambiguous, since the aim then seems to be to prohibit actual sale.

December 2011 oversight funding amendment:
Amendment to Oversight Funding of Implementation December 2011 lasting until 30 September 2012 (see the earlier blog posts for more) therefore does not affect the legality of sales:
It only affects the monitoring of legal manufacture and import.
In the time period to 30 September 2012, it is not likely to make much difference to the consumer:
Since retailers can sell what they have got, and many have probably stocked up well in advance of such a popular product, albeit that the consumer may have to look around and pay a little more.
(in the comparable situation in the EU after 1 September 2009, the bulbs were still available over the following year, albeit at higher prices and in fewer and fewer stores or online retailers, the main stores pushing CFL sales as described elsewhere in the text).

The underlying 2007 legislation specifications
(Basically, regular household light bulbs can be at most 72 Watts from January 2012, and so on with increasing stringency):

Lumenstoday Wattsallowed Wattsmin LifetimeDate Start
1490-2600100721,000 hrs1/1/2012
1050-148975531,000 hrs1/1/2013
750-104960431,000 hrs1/1/2014
310-74940291,000 hrs1/1/2014

Lighting section 321 of Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (pdf)
Application: DOE standards homepage, details (pdf), Industry info.
The latter includes information 2012-2014 also on "modified spectrum" (eg Halogen) types.

There are issues over how much of a "Ban" this all is.
Clearly any product or product version that is not allowed by a standard is banned.
However, it is also effectively a progressive ban on incandescent technology for ordinary household purposes, as the more detailed look at phase 2 of the regulations in the earlier blog post shows.
So, as already mentioned, today's hailed "Halogen" type replacements for regular incandescents will also be banned.
As the EIA (Energy Information Administration) puts it,
"essentially requiring general service bulbs to be as efficient as today's CFLs".


Anonymous said...

Do we really need to BAN the light bulb? Who is making all the money on this change over?
Thank you for the post. Keep us informed as you find out more and I will too.

Lighthouse said...

Thanks pa...

I think some proposing politicians feel they need to show they are "doing something" to save the earth, or whatever, under the guise of "stimulating desirable innovation", which of course is stimulated by more - not less - competition.

Notice that the hailed "new innovative" CFL LED Halogen technologies were all invented in the presence of cheap incandescent competition.

As for making money, well the ban lobbying light bulb manufacturers are not crying all the way to the bank ;-)