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

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

California 95 Watt Bulb Update:
"The Shoe is on the other Foot"

"Update on the Update" made 4 September

Following on from recent posts and the EU (and US) circumvention manufacture and sale of rough service bulbs to the general public...

Bulbs.com sales page:

As covered in the previous post about it, Philips were making 95 Watt bulbs that seemed to circumvent the local sales ban on 100 Watt types, similarly Satco and others...

A PR Web press release end 2011 looked into the matter:
California has always been a pioneer in energy efficiency. California is actually one year ahead of the Federal regulations for lighting regulations geared toward reducing energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. The 100-watt bulbs will no longer be able to be manufactured for the U.S. beginning in January 2012, but they stopped being shipped to California in January 2011.

The lighting industry is reinventing the incandescent bulb to meet these requirements... a new 95 watt incandescent bulb from GE...

The press release, from a lighting sales company, had the standard run through of Halogen, CFL and LED alternatives as well.

My assumption was that in a similar way other 71, 57 and 38 Watt bulbs from different makers, as seen on 1000bulbs.com, bulbs.com etc sales sites were similarly a way to circumvent gradually increasing regulation stringency.

However, from the comment below, and as I checked, turns out the shoe is on the other foot:
California government made a law requiring all hitherto 100W, 75W, 60W, 40W bulbs to be reduced in wattage based on a complex lumen formula, so that they ended up having to be manufactured as 95, 71, 57, 38 Watts from 2008 onward.

The legislative proposals, from various sources:
California’s Title 20 standards effective 1/1/2008 remain in effect until the Federal standards become effective 40W became 38W; 60W -> 57W; 75W->71W; 100W->95W (5% energy savings)
Nevada proposes legislation that calls for all “general purpose lights” sold in the state to be 25 LPW (lumen per watt) by 1/1/2012.
California and Nevada may adopt the Federal standards no more than one year earlier than the Federal effective dates: Phase-in schedule must be maintained – starts in 2011 and ends in 2013 instead of starting in 2012 and ending in 2014
[The Nevada ban seemingly did not occur, and Californians were crossing the border to buy bulbs there, NY Times article Dec 2011]

A good overview was made by GE Lighting.

The relevant California Government regulation (pdf, page 235)
The lamp electrical power input of state-regulated general service incandescent lamps manufactured on or after the effective dates shown in Table K-3, shall be no greater than the applicable values shown in Table K-3...

The table showing that lumen rating 1520-1850 for clear/frosted bulbs had to be made as max 95 Watt bulbs, effectively reducing it from 100 watt - and so on, with more tables for soft white (opal) lamps, and reflector lamps.
All else equal, the wattage reduction reduces brightness too, hence the lumen range with relatively low minimum values.

Or, as colloquially put in a 2008 contemporary blog post
Have you bought a light bulb recently?
My local Walgreen's has a whole aisle full of bulbs. Little appliance bulbs, compact fluorescents that don't work with dimmers, floods, halogens.
What's hard to find is an ordinary, everyday, $0.50 light bulb.
I finally found them, down low by the floor.
Only they weren't normal 75 watt light bulbs.
They were "energy saving" 71 watt light bulbs. Rated at 1075 lumens, compared to 1190 lumens of a real "energy wasting" 75 watt light bulb.

What dumb ass thought this idea up?
Yes, let's save energy by making our lights dimmer! There's a whole range of anemic wattages from GE now: 95W, 71W, 57W, 38W.

So, the manufacturers were not trying to circumvent any bans, rather "following instructions".

But there is nonetheless a slyness in there, effectively cutting normal free trade in a given product and helping local manufacturers and importing distributors to sell 95 Watt bulbs without competition from the common 100 Watt alternatives, and similarly for the other bulbs.
Even as far as lighting standards go, this is a particularly pointless regulation, a petty limiting by a few watts here and there of what bulbs can be made, by a bunch of bureaucrats with seemingly nothing better to do!


Anonymous said...

These wattages (38w, 57w, 71w, and 95w) have been a requirement on soft white, inside frost and clear bulbs in California effective January 1st 2008. The ones you see on bulbs.com are just leftover stock. 95w and 100w bulbs both disappeared last year in California.

Lighthouse said...

Thanks, yes in this case it's the manufacturers following rather than trying to get round the law!
I acknowledged your point in changing the post accordingly.

Anders Hoveland said...

It's even worse than that now. They have now capped the maximum wattage at 72 watts.

The new 72 watt halogen replacements claim to be "100 watt equivalent" on the packaging, but if you closely read the packaging, they only give off 1450 lumens of light. The old 100 watt regular incandescent bulbs could give off 1690 lumens. That means that these new bulbs only give off 86 percent as much light as the old ones! Just terrible.

(150 watt bulbs are still being sold, but the law gives authority to, and directs the Secretary of Energy to ban these bulbs too if their sales double, and even if they don't they will still not be able to meet the efficiency mandate that will be phased into effect in 2020)

Lighthouse said...

Thanks Anders

You are also right about the 150W bulb issue, see http://ceolas.net/#li01inx USA and other regulations explained