The Light Bulb Ban: A Simple Explanation

Broken Light Bulb

The news is full of stories right now about the 100 watt light bulb phase-out. Some outlets even call this an outright ban on incandescent light bulbs.

Here is the simple truth, as detailed in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007:

On December 31, 2011, manufacturers will stop production of 100 watt incandescent light bulbs. You’ll still be able to buy them, however, because EISA does not forbid retailers, including 1000Bulbs.com, from selling their existing inventory.

Other wattages will not be affected until 2013, when 75 watt bulbs will be banned, and 2014 when 40 watt and 60 watt bulbs will be banned. The same rules still apply: You can buy them as long as stores still have them.

So when they are all gone, what do you do? You have three choices: Compact fluorescents (CFLs), LEDs, and Halogen light bulbs.

You either love or hate compact fluorescents, but regardless of personal affectations, a 23 watt CFL replaces a 100 watt incandescent. LEDs aren’t yet bright enough to replace a 100 watt bulb, but you can expect to see several that do in the next one or two years. Halogens are EISA’s “silver lining” for incandescent lovers: A 72-watt Halogen replaces a 100 watt incandescent and looks and functions almost identically to an incandescent.

January 2012:

  • 100 watt incandescents no longer produced, but you can continue to buy existing inventory.
  • You can replace them with a 23 watt CFL or a 72 watt Halogen.
  • There are no LEDs to replace them yet, but expect them soon.

January 2013:

  • 75 watt incandescents no longer produced, but you can continue to buy existing inventory.
  • You can replace them with a 18 watt CFL or a 53 watt Halogen.
  • Just like 100 watt, there are no LEDs to replace them yet, but expect them soon.

January 2014:

  • Both 40 watt and 60 watt no longer produced, but you can continue to buy existing inventory.
  • You can replace a 40 watt bulb with a 9 watt CFL or a 29 watt Halogen.
  • You can replace a 60 watt bulb with a 13 watt CFL or a 43 watt Halogen.
  • There are plenty of LEDs to replace these, of various wattages.

What are your thoughts on the phase-out? Be sure to let us know in the comments below, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.

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Benjamin is a writer for 1000Bulbs.com.

  • peterdub

    Good summary
    Good to know existing inventory can still be sold =
    Get lots, quick!
    All known incandescent general service bulbs will then be banned (after 2014, by 2020), on EISA 45 lumen per Watt regulation.
    http://ceolas.net/#li01inx has information on regulations, links and updates on US state repeal ban bills (legislated Texas).

    • 1000Bulbs

      Great info, that site is very extensive. Thanks for the link!

  • peterdub

    Thanks 1000bulbs
    Good sortiment you have, been looking round the site.
    Re buying incandescents, in post-ban Europe I discovered a few shops still selling bulbs of the type banned 1 sep 2009.
    Not sure if they’re smuggling or got in very large stocks.
    Selling at higher prices, but still wanted by a lot of customers according to a shopkeeper (I refrained from asking how he still had them ;-))

    • Benjamin

      Thanks for the info!

      We’ll be bringing in several more 100 watt incandescent shipments before the end of the year, and we’ll be keeping our prices fair.

      It’s an old technology, but we know people still have plenty of uses for them.

      We’re also beefing up our selection of alternative bulbs, and I don’t mean just CFLs and LEDs. We have new A-shape halogens coming out as well as dimmers for saving energy.

  • http://gravatar.com/stormriderpress Daniel Meyer

    I think CFL’s, LED’s etc are a good thing. I use them.

    I think the ban is a bad thing.

    New tech needs to replace old tech on its merits, not its politics.

    • https://www.facebook.com/JamieGreenlee James L. Greenlee

      Didn’t work in the VHS vs. Beta, nor the HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray battles. I know that those weren’t government mandated, but arguably in both cases, the superior format did not win.

  • Anders Hoveland

    Halogen bulbs will not be able to meet the “45 lumen per Watt” mandate that will come into effect in 2020 years, so unless something is done to change the current law the halogen bulbs will essentially be banned. This is too bad, because halogen bulbs give off nearly the same type of light as normal bulbs (they both have an incandescent filament).

    The quality of light from current LED lighting, while better than flourescent, is still inferior to incandescent lighting. The spectrum of LED light is deficient in several frequencies, specifically far red frequency light and cyan-indigo frequency light. This results in both poor color rendering, and an undesirable orangish magenta tint to white LED light. In other words, LED light is NOT quite the same as incandescent light. I strongly believe incandescents should not be banned until full spectrum white LED’s are developed which can more closely replicate incandescent light.

    Also to mention, “energy efficient” lighting is not really more efficient in colder climates. When do people usually turn their lights on? At night when it is colder. And we should also consider how much more energy it takes to make all these LED bulbs in China, which has more polluting and less efficient coal power plants.

    • http://gravatar.com/justinevirtue justinevirtue

      Also, when the bogus studies were done, they didn’t measure the effect of dimmers on energy usage. I use dimmers on every fixture in my home and you can pry incandescents out of my hot little hands! Now we get to buy “vintage” bulbs for much more. Marketed as specialty bulbs.

      • http://www.1000bulbs.com Will Parsons

        As easy as incandescent dimmers are to install, they do not improve the bulb’s efficiency. dimmers only reduce the amount of energy consumed (and the amount of light emitted). A dimmed LED or CFL is still more efficient than a dimmed incandescent. To reduce your energy costs you would need incandescents reduced to 10-20 watts, and very few people want house lights that dim all the time. LED and CFL equivalents to a standard (undimmed) incandescent, are already at 10-20 watts.

  • Caroline Rider

    Anders Hoveland is right on the mark. And in addition to everything he said there are a few more things: LED light is cold and unfriendly. Most CFLs actually have a greenish cast, which makes my eyes ache after a bit. There is some research which says that lots of exposure to fluorescent light is bad for one’s health because it doesn’t interact properly with the body’s light-sensing capabilities. Light acts like a chemical on the body…..

  • Vince

    This is completely stupid. Some of us have actual physical side effects from flourescent lighting.

    Flourescent lighting gives me headaches, I cannot stand being around them for long periods of time. My girlfriend is even more sensitive to it than I am. The frequency and refresh rates on flourescent lighting are simply not healthy for some people.

    This is a freaking nightmare. I do not want to live in a world with only flourescent and LED lighting. I’m not even joking when I say we may need to switch to gas lamp lighting.

    I refuse to live in a world where I am forced to have constant headaches and migraines.

  • birdmother marcy

    I agree with Vince….this IS a freaking nightmare. Two of my precious birds recently developed horrid big inoperable cancerous head tumors….as a result of these cancerous compact spiral mercury filled bulbs shining on them.

    I read the report from Breitbart.com re the “new study that they cause cancer” …going around Facebook last night and today I replaced them all with incandescents. but it is too late for the poor suffering birds. I am really angry at being duped by the govt. and for the pain they have caused. We should have OPTIONS!!!!!!…..INCLUDING INCANDESCENTS!!!…..This is criminal and despicable.

    • Benjamin Rorie

      While I understand your frustration, keep in mind there are plenty of options available, including incandescent bulbs. EISA 2007 does not ban the sale of all incandescent bulbs; rather, it bans the future production of certain incandescent bulbs of specific wattages.

      At 1000Bulbs.com, we still have plenty of 75 watt incandescent bulbs available, and plenty of 100 watt incandescent bulbs as well. We also have household halogen bulbs, which operate exactly the same as incandescents, yet save a little energy. Browse our website, and feel free to call us if you have questions.

      Also, I checked the website you mentioned for the article on cancer and light bulbs, but I couldn’t find it. Send me the link if you can. I’m interested in reading it.

  • birdmother marcy

    PS…I want to order a large quantity of incandescent light bulbs…in all wattages available…..the normal old-fashioned ones…like GE or Silvania—I never heard of Halco before…..Please contact me with what you have.

  • Bill

    When a product has been produced as long as an incandescent light bulb, there are many uses these new bulbs do not replace. True they work great in the house for seeing and not tripping over the cat, and reading books. These are the common needs. Some of us use these things to heat well houses, incubate eggs to raise chickens, and I am sure many other uses. Without the heat sourse, the light is the biproduct for some of these uses. Sure, the heat lamps are not ban, but what about a heat lamp that is about 20w, and will burn for 10 years strait, like hooking two 100W light bulbs in series?

    • Benjamin Rorie

      Thanks for the comment, Bill, but I’m not sure I fully understand your question. As you mentioned, heat lamps are not affected by EISA 2007. Low wattage bulbs like the 20W you mention are not affected either; only 40W through 100W are being phased out. I’m not sure what you mean by hooking two 100W bulbs in a series.

  • Anders Hoveland

    Here is the little noticed provision in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which will also ban those energy-saving halogen bulbs we are using to replace our regular light bulbs:

    An intermediate base incandescent lamp shall not
    exceed 40 rated watts.

    [. . . ]
    if the final rule does not
    produce savings that are greater than or equal to the
    savings from a minimum efficacy standard of 45
    lumens per watt, effective beginning January 1, 2020,
    the Secretary shall prohibit the sale of any general
    service lamp that does not meet a minimum efficacy
    standard of 45 lumens per watt.

    (Title III: Energy Savings Though Improved Standards for Appliance and Lighting, B. Lighting Energy Efficiency)

    Again, just to clarify, we will still be able to buy halogen, but these bulbs will either only be allowed to be dimmer than 40 watts, or they will not fit into our normal lamp sockets. So essentially the halogen replacements for our regular light bulbs will indeed be banned. Not just their production, but perhaps their sale too.

    • Benjamin Rorie

      That’s very interesting, Anders. I wasn’t aware of the provisions for 2020. We’ll look into that more and look into expanding this article. Thanks!

  • http://Opeka Brian

    What about decorative Incandescent bulbs found in specialty lighting fixtures? I put a CFL in our chandelier and it looked horrible, that warm glow was gone! There has to be exceptions because these new bulbs simply do not replace all situations.

  • Logan

    My 1907 home has several chandeliers and sconces with art glass shades. They were converted from gas light to electric in 1908. The bulbs are intentionally visible. Right now, I have 40watt clear bulbs in each socket and I take the glare down by using dimmers wherever possible,helping to replicate the gaslight ambiance. I’ve heard candelabra bulbs will still be available, but you can’t use candle-looking bulbs facing DOWNWARD (it looks pretty stupid). Halogens would shatter every glass shade. LEDs destroy the look of the fixtures and throw cold light, anyway. What is going to be available for people like me, who use energy efficient lights in the basement and attic, but need the incandescent for period authenticity in our antique homes?

    • Jordan Loa

      Hi Logan, and thanks for the question.

      Fortunately, we offer lots of choices of antique bulbs for you to keep that ‘period’ look in your home. Take a look here and I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for. Thanks for reading the blog!

  • Logan

    Hi,Jordan. I might have been unclear. I know your company currently has lots of choices of antique bulbs. My concern is what’s GOING TO BE available for folks like me in the future? Will the antique-style bulbs continue to be MADE? Or do I have to buy a few hundred lightbulbs soon?

    • Jordan Loa


      Low-wattage bulbs are excluded from the ban. Hope this helps!

      • Jennifer

        Hi Jordan,

        I have the same question as Logan above and more specifically, some of the antique exposed filament bulbs are 60W and some 40W. Are the antique bulbs that are 60W and 40W not going to be made any more? Or are they not included in the ban because they are considered speciality bulbs (or some other exception)? I can’t find this anywhere online! Your answer above is the closest thing I have found to talk about the exposed filament antique bulbs. Like Logan above, I have several light fixtures that will be useless if I can not use these bulbs, so I want to make sure to stock up if indeed they are not going to be available once the current stock sells.

        Thanks in advance!

        • Jordan Loa


          Thanks for reaching out to us.

          Fortunately, the 40 and 60-watt variety of the bulbs in question will still be made, so you’ll still be able to use those special light fixtures you mentioned. Hope this helps!

          • https://plus.google.com/100326025849193452310 Abu Hassan

            Even though 3 way bulbs are excluded now, how will they be treated after the 2020 deadline? I know that their sales numbers will be monitored but I’m interested in the proposed future for even the excluded bulbs.What of the 150,200,300 w bulbs?.I think people can only see as far as 2014 and cannot put the bill together to see the end. Thanks for your response.

          • http://www.1000bulbs.com Courtney Silva

            Thanks for your question, Abu. As much as we would like to have a definitive answer about the excluded bulbs, there really is no way to know what kind of restrictions will be placed on them in the future. The only concrete information there is about the new standards in 2020 are that general service incandescent bulbs must meet a minimum efficacy standard of 45 lumens per watt. We’re sorry we couldn’t give you a more definite answer. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  • Brian McDermott

    Do they make a halogen light bulb that will work with a dimmer switch

    • Jordan Loa

      Thanks for the question, Brian!

      What bulb shape are you looking for? If you could give us a few types, we can help you find the bulb you need. Thanks again for reaching out to us!

  • Jeanine Bartley

    I have an older home that has several exposed socket lights. I am am currently using some beautiful edison bulbs in these sockets. Will they also be banned in 2014 if they are over 40 watts?

    • http://www.1000bulbs.com Courtney Silva

      Thanks for the question, Jeanine! Thankfully, the light bulb ban does not affect any specialty bulbs, such as the Edison bulbs you are using in your home. The ban will only apply to general service incandescent bulbs. We hope this helps, and please let us know if you have any more questions!

  • Sue

    the pot growers are using 1000watt bulbs with no regulation–not fair.

    • http://www.1000bulbs.com Will Parsons

      That’s actually incidental. The 1000W lamps are used in many more things. Hatcheries and the food industry use many of these lamps for the heat and brightness to increase production. Lots of people in larger cities also use them for sustainable living to grow their own food. Trying to balance energy reforms is tricky and, for the moment, regulating the 100W bulbs possibly is supposed to have a larger impact.