Coming Soon: More Light Bulb Bans

flickr_Kyle May

Despite the media hype surrounding the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs, most news outlets failed to mention that manufacturers will also phase out other popular light bulbs this year. These other phase-outs—which are not part of the EISA 2007 legislation, but rather 2009 US Department of Energy regulations—will affect some of the most popular bulbs on the market today: T12 fluorescent tubes and Halogen PAR lamps.

T12 Fluorescent Phase-Out

The T12 fluorescent tube phase-out has been a long time coming. More efficient T8 and T5 lamp types have all but replaced the once ubiquitous T12 already, perhaps because the standard 4-foot T12 lamp burns a whopping 40 watts, while its T8 replacement uses between 25 and 32 watts. To anyone who has installed a fluorescent fixture in the past 5 years, it’s been a no brainer: Go with the T8 and save up to 60 watts per fixture.*

Here’s a partial list of T12 lamps affected by 2009 DOE regulations:

The DOE regulations also affect some T8 lamps, but those affected aren’t very popular. Though the phase-out doesn’t take effect until July 14th of this year, you’d be hard-pressed to find a T12 lamp in any local hardware store, so you’ll have to check online if you intend to stock up.

The full list of fluorescent phase-outs can be found in this summary from GE.

Halogen PAR Phase-Out

Perhaps more significant than the T12 phase-out is the elimination of most Halogen PAR38, PAR30, and PAR20 lamps. The ban covers most Halogen PARs between 40 to 205 watts. Do you have a PAR38 in an outdoor fixture or a PAR20 in a track light? Chances are, you won’t be able to get either of those after July 14th, 2012 when the ban takes effect.

Fortunately, there’s a silver lining to the Halogen PAR ban. Most eliminated PAR lamps will be replaced with IR Halogens, which have a special infrared coating on the Halogen capsule to redirect heat inward and increase the efficiency of the bulb. This allows them to meet the minimum efficiency requirement of around 18 LPW. Other options include CFL and LED PAR bulbs and even some self-ballasted metal halide PAR lamps.

Your Thoughts?

So what do you think? Are these regulations a step in the right direction, or are they a case of government overreach? Leave your thoughts in the comments section, or connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.

*Calculated assuming a 4-lamp troffer using 25W F32T8 lamps instead of 40W F40T12 lamps.

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Benjamin is a writer for 1000Bulbs.com.

  • Jeff

    I think it’s BS! More intrustion by the federal government. It they had their way we’d be back to burning candles except that would probably emit something “harmful” into the atmosphere.

    • Benjamin Rorie

      Somehow, I doubt we’ll be going back to candles.

    • Chris

      We have got to vote and turn this country around to save it from the swirling toilet it is falling into! This is just on of the many insane regulations the out of control, Gestapo like EPA has put on us and until the EPA has it’s funding taken away the economy does not have a chance to recover.

    • Nick

      Wrong! If they had it their way, we’d all be using high-efficiency CFL and LED lamps already, because, you know, it is in all of our best interests to reduce our energy consumption.

      I bet you aren’t complaining about the fact that we all have the priviledge of driving fast, efficient cars instead of horse-drawn carriages, so why would you complain about taking advantage of the significant advances in light technology!?

    • Brett

      The T-8 electronic ballasts are junk and burn out when the bulbs burn out, so stick with the T-12 magnetic ballast as long as you can. I do lighting maintenance and the stuff that the government is phasing out is the good long lasting, while the mandated stuff is junk. The best longest lasting and least expensive light bulb is the 130-V incandesent light bulb, the CFL that is meant to replace them don’t last and contain mercury.

  • Louis Michaels

    I do not think there is anything wrong with more effecient lamps; however, it is crazy the end all attitude that has been marketed about energy savings. If I now operate a halogen lamp of 50 watts but change it to an IR lamp of 42 watts it will save 8 watts of energy. I will need to operate that lamp about one hour per day for 125 days (over four months) to equal the savings of turning my HVAC off for just one hour.

    Lamp manufacturers did not fight this legislation because the old technology lamps had a very small profit margin and a great deal of low end competition. The new effecient lamps have a much higher profit margin per lamp and fewer competitors to beat.

    The real energy hog in residential is HVAC. Guess that industry has a much greater lobby force to prevent severe legislation. Think of the true positive impact if every HVAC system saved one kw hour per day – every day!

    • Benjamin Rorie

      I can’t argue with that; however, according to Energy Star, lighting does use a surprisingly large amount of energy. According to this article, lighting accounts for 18% of all electricity usage in the US and 35% in commercial buildings. Changing out a few PAR38 bulbs in a home track light may not make a big difference, but changing out every PAR38 in the recessed lights of a hotel lobby could make a huge difference.

      Also, it’s worth noting that energy efficient light sources tend to create less ambient heat than their less-efficient counterparts. This can have an indirect effect on HVAC systems.

      • mito

        To power a 100 watt lightbulb 24/7 for a year requires burning 700lbs of coal. They can ban it or tax it; I’m all for moving this country into the future.

        • Rb-arch

          I just don’t believe your reply.

      • Another Jeff

        So give the hotels an incentive to change their bulbs. Don’t tell them or the residential consumers that they MUST change them or go without. We are being converted from a free market economy, to a totally nanny society. Why should a few pinheads getting rich off our tax dollars get to decide for our nation or even for the individual user? Were they elected by us? No.
        As for the article, like any statistic, assumptions were made. Nobody asked me what my patterns of useage were for their statistics. Did they ask you or anyone you know? Of course not. That makes it wrong already.

        • Benjamin Rorie

          Jeff — The new laws and regulations do not require users to get rid of the bulbs and fixtures they already have, nor do they require retailers to stop selling current inventory. EISA 2007 (the ‘Light Bulb Ban‘) and the DOE regulations of Halogen and T12 bulbs only require manufacturers to stop producing these bulbs.

          • Alex

            Benjamin: If you prevent the bulbs from being made, you’re forcing consumers to stop using the fixtures they already have.

            Can you imagine a small office/retail shop who calls up their handyman to replace a T12 light bulb? “I’m sorry Ma’am, but the government banned replacement light bulbs, so you’re going to have to replace the entire fixture. I know only 1 of the 4 bulbs is bad, but that’s the way they want it.”

            Now what would normally have been a $4-8 replacement is now a $100+ job requiring an electrician, and in some areas a permit. Way to treat your small business owners who are already struggling with increased material costs, decreased currency value, and skyrocketing insurance costs.

            What will happen is what my office did today — we let go of an underutilized staffer. Normally we’d keep people around even if there wasn’t much work, as it allowed us to ramp up rapidly when new work came in, but this is just one more cost we’re expected to pay.

            I agree that T8 and T5 are better technologies than T12, but not everyone has the budgeting/funds laying around to upgrade. I should also note that this also takes away money that would have been reinvested into better HVAC systems. After all, building maintenance is usually its own category in budgeting.

    • CEDUP

      NO HVAC for residential and commercial is vastly improved over the years. What used to be good at 13 SEER doesn’t meet even minimum now. My Mitsubishi Mr. Slim is 23SEER for a room area! The full house AC is a poor but at the time 17 years go good 13SEER. Full house AC is easily now 16+ into the 20’s SEER. It all gets better and better. Update and improve.

  • Nelson Ogden

    The T12 phase-out is interesting because a few very high CRI (color rendering) lamps are exempt, such as Cool White Deluxe. This is ironic because lamps such as Cool White Deluxe are less efficient than current T12 lamps. Therefore, those who prefer to stay with T12 may actually start using less-efficient lamps!

    However, I believe Sylvania and possibly others will release some very high CRI lamps that are highly efficient, though I expect that they will be quite expensive.

    • Benjamin Rorie

      You’re exactly right! Also…Philips and Sylvania have already started producing T5 and T8 lamps with CRIs in the high ’80s and ’90s, like these 95 and 98 CRI T8 lamps.

      • CEDUP

        Once you see and use T5 and T8 with incredible color and brightness, who in their right minds would want a T12 of any blend. T5’s are incredible. 21st Century, let’s join it. I guess a 1972 Chrysler Imperial with 12mpg is considered OK? Move on, things do improve. T5’s are incredible, it’s the way to go. Already some T8’s are obsolete.

  • http://www.dfd.com Doug Fleenor

    Instead of banning inefficient lamps, what about taxing them? That way, if people wanted to keep a particular lamp, they could still get it but the efficient lamps would actually cost less. Plus the government would have another source of income.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m against taxes in general. But I am more against being told I can’t get a particular light source.

    The government has also criminalize the distribution of “socket reducers” to prevent the use of candelabra lamps in standard sockets (EISA 2007 Section 321e). That I hate even more.

    • Benjamin Rorie

      Those are a couple of very interesting points, Doug.

      The part about socket reducers being banned by EISA 2007 is something I hadn’t heard of before. In fact it’s kind of surprising. Many (or most) ceiling fans with light kits sold in the past few years have candelabra sockets. Because medium base bulbs are available in higher wattages than candelabra base bulbs, this design effectively puts a cap on the maximum wattage that can be used in the ceiling fans. In other words, the user can’t use a 100W bulb in a ceiling fan because candelabra base bulbs aren’t available in 100W. An obvious way to skirt this restriction would be to use a socket enlarger, like this one. Thus it follows that EISA 2007 would ban enlargers, but instead it bans reducers!

      I’ll look into this more. It may make a good blog article! Thanks for the info.

  • Dutch Uncle

    I’m most annoyed with the bulb industry. The original goal was “save 10% of energy”. Did anyone come out with anything new? No, of course not, that would have required work. Instead they just decreased the bulb wattage by 10% or more. The fixtures in my house were set up by the architect and a lighting designer with instructions to use 75-watt bulbs in certain places; suddenly all I could find were 65 watt bulbs. Instead of saving electricity, we wound up adding table lamps to increase the light levels, using MORE electricity – and probably less efficiently.

    I refuse to buy CFLs; I believe the pollution problems down the road will be horrific, and after banning mercury thermometers (one or two per household) it makes no sense to *encourage* a pile of CFLs per household.

    I’m willing to pay for LEDs, as soon as they make them with equivalent lumens (and decent color) to a traditional 75 watt bulb. The only one I’ve seen so far that was bright enough is a garish blue-white that my wife relegated to the basement.

    • Benjamin Rorie

      You raise several interesting points there. It’s always great to hear from someone who really knows their lighting, though I’m not familiar with the 10% goal you mention. Was that a voluntary goal from lighting manufacturers?

      I share your concerns about CFLs, but keep in mind that the amount of mercury in a CFL, while far from trivial, is about 100 times less than that in a household thermometer (source: http://www.cflfacts.com/). Nevertheless, CFLs should always be disposed of properly at local recycling programs.

      As far as LEDs go, I think what you’re waiting for has already arrived, especially if you have recessed cans. The Cree LR6-DR1000 produces 1000 lumens (a 75 watt incandescent is about 800), is fully dimmable, has a warm white color temperature of 2700K, and a nearly-perfect CRI of 90 (CFLs and most LEDs are only 80 to 85).

      • Tom Sutherland

        On the subject of LED’s, I’d really like to see some in the 2500k (or even 2250k) range for applications where really warm light is preferred. Any word on whether these will be developed?

      • Another Jeff

        LED’s are currently very expensive to purchase (not to operate). That still makes it alone, reason for some of us to not be able to do so. As for recycling CFL’s, they, like small batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, etc) are not taken for recycling by any loacl program I am aware of, therefore, they end up in the landfill.

        • Benjamin Rorie

          Jeff — While LEDs are cost-prohibitive to many, you’ll find their prices are dropping very quickly. As for recycling, you can find a local program here: http://search.earth911.com/.

    • CEDUP

      PHILIPS LED easily replaces 60 and 75W lamps, the 12.2 W non L prize is superb! Color and brightness. They went for like $15 at Home Depot, right before the L Prize lamp became available, which is up there in price. They have terrific color and brightness, flawless operation. Junk is junk if you use the swag LED or CFL lamps. Stick with quality lamps from Philips, GE, Osram. The swag lamps will only disappoint

  • Bill

    I’m incensed. I had no idea these other lamps were being banned. We have an art gallery and I use MR16-50W-24v lamps in the lighting system – about 125 lamps. If I can no longer get those lamps from you after July, I will have to spend many hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to replace our lighting system. I don’t see any 24v LED MR16 lamps in your catalog, nor any 12v which have an equivalent 50W output. Am I missing something? Thanks for the heads-up, Benjamin.

    • Benjamin Rorie

      Bill, your MR16 bulbs will be fine. Only PAR lamps are affected by the ban.

      Also, just because the production of a bulb is banned, the sale of the bulb isn’t necessarily banned as well. We plan to have plenty of traditional 100W incandescents, T12 lamps, and traditional Halogen PARs well past the production deadline in July.

      That said, switching to LED is rarely a bad idea. Right now we only have LED MR16s in 12V and 120V, but we’ll look into carrying 24V as well.

    • andrew kairis

      Well bill, honestly, how long will it be before even one of those bulbs burns out?

      I understand over time you still WILL have to put out the money to replace the whole fixtures but it will at least be spread out over probably a decade or more.

  • http://gravatar.com/elodea87 elodea87

    Question for Benjamin. Can one simply replace existing T-12 lamps with T-5 or T-8’s without modifications to lampholders and ballasts? What about the LED alternative T-12 replacements? Can they be simply switched over without modifying fixtures?

    • Benjamin Rorie

      Great question! Modifications are required in all three cases. The conversion from T12 to T8 will require a new ballast, but can use the same sockets. The conversion to T5 will require a new ballast and a new socket. Most (but not all) LED retrofit T8 tubes do not require a ballast, so you can use the same sockets, but you have to remove the ballast.

  • http://Yahoo Joe Rice

    Put more switches in, let the consumer chose his light level. This is a con job from the govt. level to the manufacturing level. I’ll quit selling lighting till this hoax blows over……..!

  • D,W,

    Incandescent bulb ban? PAR ban? With all the dirty electrictiy the CFL bubls emit, thereby polluting the power system while being run, why are these things not getting banned instead? The CFL bulbs waste power by emitting radiation in the microwave region of the spectrum (which is the source of the electrical pollution).

    Besides that, CFL bulbs have a lousy spectrum. You get 4 or 5 sharp spikes in the spectrum with nothing between. Even a 2700 K bulb has a spike in the blue region, not found with incandescent bulbs. They emit a sick dirty reddish-gray light. Of course, you may see white–because your brain compensates for it (and this could well be why you have a headache). Never mind the mercury–the real hazard is if you break one and get cut on one of the glass shards. Then you are in for a big problem with the mercury directly destroying your tissues. Try THAT with incandescent.

    I simply gave up and installed LED bulbs. Yes, they have a ways to go. But, if I wait for the prices to come down, someone is going to find a way to foul these up as well and give them short lives, horrible color spectrums, brain wave interference (such as that given off by the ballasts in CFL’s), and whatever they feel like. Yes, the LED bulbs are still pricey. Yes, they still have drawbacks. But these are not as serious as what happens when they design in even worse faults like they did with CFL’s.

    Not to mention, LEDs cannot start a fire or emit sparks and/or smoke when they blow. A faulty end-of-life fuse in a CFL means a bulb that releases toxins into the air, belches smoke, makes lots of hissing noise, and/or starts a fire when it goes out. Nor do LEDs get hot enough to start a fire while running like incandescent or halogen bulbs can.

    • Nick

      First of all, modern Fluorescent lights with electronic ballasts typically operate in the 40-50 kHz range. THESE ARE NOT MICROWAVES! This frequency range is at the very low-energy end of the “radio wave” spectrum, and since a CFL is not designed to be a transmitter, the actual emitted emissions in this frequency range are of insignificant power. ALL fluorescent lights (and especially CFLs) are tested to comply with FCC regulations for emitted radio interference, which are surprisingly strict. They are not be allowed to be sold in the United States if they exceed allowed limits (applies to both aerial and power-line transmissions).

      Secondly, all high-power LEDs are operated like fluorescent lights – that is, they are cycled on and off at sufficiently high frequencies so that they emit light in bursts (this allows for dimming in addition to increased performance while simultaneouly increase the useful lifespan of the LEDs). As most high-power LEDs contain power supplies which are functionally similar to fluorescent lamp ballasts; it most certainly is possible for LED lamps to fail in a way that could start a fire. But, as with CFLs, the chances of such a failure are insignificant.

      Please understand that if CFLs and/or any other type of modern lighting was as terrible and scary as you make it out to be, it wouldn’t be used every single day by millions of people around the world.

  • Richard Anderson

    The savings of these bans are miniscule compared to that possible by turning off lighting that isn’t needed. Drive along any thoroughfare late at night and see mile after mile of lighted empty parking lots. The answer is always the same….security. However it has been repeatedly shown that lighting doesn’t reduce crime, it relocates it. Turn off the lights, stop the nighttime light pollution, make actual energy savings and take the saved money and actually reduce overall crime. I for one would pay money to get my nighttime sky back to that of the 60s (which in regards to outdoor lighting was the grand and glorious dark ages). The same mindset is seen in residential as well. Drive through a neighborhood and see house after house with almost every room lit and yet only one or two people living there. The most efficient light is the one that is turned off when not needed…..which has to do with attitude and not overbearing government regulation.
    As to HVAC systems, yes they are getting more efficient every year, but what matters equally as much is how much space we heat and cool. The amount of square footage per person in the US has more than doubled in the last generation…..virtually eliminating any savings from efficiency improvements. Yet houses get bigger, stores multiple and grow in size, recreation space expands…all while average household size continues to shrink. Of course all of this space is heated/cooled/lighted….and full of electric gizmos. Again, this is largely an attitude thing that banning any given type of light has zero affect on.

  • andrew kairis

    Imho the government is doing its job with this one. Government’s job is to look at the big picture. Big picture is we, individually, can make this change without too much discomfort, but it makes an appreciable change on the global scale.

  • Benjamin Rorie

    I wish I had time to respond to all of your comments, but alas, I’ve got more articles to write. I really appreciate all the comments, though, and I’m impressed by the depth of knowledge our readers have!

  • Darwin

    I have a client using 75 watt Par30 lamps in slope cans (juno) and will need to change to LED. The lamps are on 1500watt incandescent – non-electronic dimmers. Can you guide me as to the proper LED lamp and dimmer. Each dimmer has 15 lamps and the height of fixture range from 14 feet to 24 feet

  • http://gravatar.com/wilhelmwanders wilhelmwanders

    Richard Anderson, well said! Moderation is the key. I wonder whether a good advertising campaign by the government to educate people [to turn off their lights] would save more money and be more effective than enforcing bans on light bulbs.

  • Stanley C. Koski

    Am I glad that I live in the State of Maine. The Canadian border is only a few hours drive away. If I need to purchase some of these US outlawed lamps, I can drive to Canada — a country where personal freedom is still valued — and purchase what I want and need !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dale White

    There needs to be at least one kind of true 40-watt F40T12, for residential use. The F34T12 is not able to strike arc reliably (nor any other newer 4-foot lamps), and a power glitch could leave a person falling inside their house. Lets get real and go back to true indicator of efficiency: lumens per watt. Omaha NE

  • Anders Hoveland

    Let’s not forget that the light from CFL’s and LED’s is not quite the same type of light from incandescent and halogen bulbs. Those spiral CFL bulbs strain my eyes, and for some people cause skin sensitivity issues because of the UV radiation they leak out. LED’s are better but have you actually tried using one in your room? It makes the colors look a little greyish and “off”. I imagine designers and artists will not be very happy. Also, because LEDs are so expensive, you need to use them in a fixture that gets left on all the time for them to ever pay for themselves in energy savings. For motion detector outside flood lighting, chances are it will be a long long time to see any return on your money.

    • Benjamin Rorie

      Anders — Only bulbs with a low color rendering index make colors appear grayish or washed out. Most CFLs and LEDs have a CRI around 80, but many new LEDs like this one are available with a CRI of 90 or more.

  • Rod McAdoo

    What irritates me is that this is done in the name of “energy efficiency.” There is very little efficiency improvement that I see; what they really mean is they are just forcing us to use lower energy/lower output bulbs. Efficiency is the ratio of the output to the input. My T12 bulbs claimed 3350 lumens per 40W. The new T8 bulb of the same color temp claims 2715 lumens per 32W. T12 ratio = 83.75 lumens per Watt. T8 ratio = 84.84 lumens per Watt. An increase of only 1 percent! WOW! Plus, now in a 2-bulb fixture I only have 5430/6700= 81% of the light I had before. So, now I add another 2-bulb fixture to brighten the place back up and I am now using 4x32W= 128 Watts where I was using 80 Watts before. Yeah – THAT saves energy. And what do I get for my troubles? I have to pay almost the cost of a new fixture to change each ballast, add more fixtures to maintain the brightness levels I had before, and pay for more energy that I am now using!

  • MK Scott

    HVAC is already undergoing mandated changes. R-22 phase out which means you know have to replace very old systems with newer more efficient ones and yes the seer rating is higher using less energy. Also adding to your cost of home or business ownership.

  • Michele

    I guess I don’t care as long as 1) I don’t have to buy new light fixtures. and 2) as the last of the baby boomers it’s getting harder to see to read so – I want to be able to see to read (real books newspapers etc., not computers & kindles.)
    I abhor replacing things that aren’t broke. Built a new house 9 yrs ago w/a bath fixture that takes halogen bulbs. hard enough to find as it was. I like the light fixture we have – don’t want a new one.

  • Rob

    what I want to know is I have a nebo flashlight with i LED which is brighter than anything I have every seen and it uses only 3 AAA batteries and last for 12 hours and dims. Why cant these high efficiency led’s be placed in an array in a bulb. All the expensive LED’s and CF bulb I have bought are horrible and last for a very short time……

  • http://www.airconsolutions.co.uk/R22/ Smith

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    • Jordan Loa

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  • Alex

    Before anyone thinks this is green/environmentally-friendly or even will save them some $$$, take a look at the Halogen IR bulbs. 1,000-1,500 hours to replace a bulb which usually ran for 2500+. Obviously no one’s taking lifespan, nor the energy & resources required to make these newer bulbs into account. Just like hybrid cars, they’re actually worse for the environment due to the materials needed to make them + reduced lifespan.

    I’m all for efficiency — I’m getting 38mpg out of a VW Passat GASOLINE car, which has a bigger interior than a Mercedes S-Class, and no hybrid junk. BUT it’s true efficiency, not a false one. Engine is a proven VW 2.5L 5-cylinder, no turbos or anything else likely to break. My house’s central HVAC uses about 850 watts when running normally, and I do use a mixture of LED, PAR36 halogen (still one of the most efficient vs. light quality bulbs I’ve been able to find), and some CFL bulbs.

    Bring us real efficiency! Not this junk.

    I’m sure the light bulb manufacturers are chuckling all the way to the bank. You could get the old 60 watt type A bulbs for <$0.25/piece. Now they want you to use $8-$40 bulbs, which make no sense in a lot of applications. Closet lights? Fluorescents are a poor choice for these due to the short cycles they're used. Temporary lighting? Same thing. Construction lighting? Same thing.

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

      Good points Alex. In the case of the IR halogens, the savings are indirect since they reduce heat output of the lamp. If you used a similar halogen, a lot of energy would be expended reducing the heat output for that single lamp. True, there are a lot of minor gains this way but they’re still gains and everything works together for a larger benefit.
      And if you’re worried about the cost on bulbs, you can always purchase a 130V or heavy-duty bulb. They are little more than the quart per lamp of older incandescents but they’re still cheaper than CFLs without the cycle-time issues.

  • Joe Mamma

    I want to see the lights in Al Gore’s house

  • Phound

    I replaced all the heavy usage light bulbs in my house with compact fluorescent lamps years ago. I was able to find CFLs that have warm, incandescent-like color tone and work with dimmers because they have electronic ballasts instead of magnetic ballasts. The CFLs have lasted for years, but I recently bought a bunch of LEDs, which will replace the CFLs as they burn out. I don’t have a way to measure the savings I’m getting, but with the CFLs I’m getting the same lighting output and color quality using about 1/12 the electricity. I support the ban on incandescent lights because reducing waste is good for the nation and doesn’t harm anyone except perhaps the utility companies who now will sell less electricity.