Light Bulb Transition


Say goodbye to light bulbs as you know them. The incandescent light bulb, one of the most venerable inventions of its era but deemed too inefficient for our own, will be phased off the U.S. market beginning in 2012 under the new energy law recently approved by Congress. The change is part of the Federal Energy Independence and Security Act that President George Bush signed in 2007, to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The changeover in the United States will be gradual, not mandated to begin until 2012 and phased out through 2014. So what does this actually mean?

  • Old light bulbs will not be “banned” but rather, they will have to meet new energy standards which will take the less efficient models off the market.
  • Under the law, incandescent bulbs that produce 310 – 2600 lumens of light – roughly, light bulbs of about 40 watts to 150 watts – will be banned from sale. Bulbs outside this range are exempt from the ban, as are appliance bulbs, “rough service” bulbs, colored lights, industrial plant lamps and three-way bulbs.
  • New LED, Halogen and CFL light bulbs will be more expensive for a while. You are looking at about $3/bulb vs $.50/bulb. However, a CFL uses about 75 percent less energy and lasts five years instead of a few months.
  • You don’t have to sacrifice warmth anymore. Now most alternative bulbs offer a “warm” tone so that you don’t feel like you are in a sterile operating room.
  • CFLs, and even more efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that are coming in the future, are a true win-win. Consumers will get lower electricity bills and the environment will benefit from reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
(effective Jan. 1) 2012 2013 —2014—
(watts) 100W 75W 60W 40W
(lumens) 1,690 1,170 850 475
Replacement options

These bulbs use less energy to emit the same levels of light as the incandescent bulbs.

CFL blub
20-25W 18-20W 13-15W 11W
Compact fluorescent light bulbs are expected to be the leading replacements for standard incandescent light bulbs, at least at first. In CFLs, electric current energizes argon and mercury vapor, which in turn causes a phosphor coating inside the bulb to emit light.
halogen blub
70-72W 53W 43W 28-29W
New halogen bulbs look like the incandescent bulbs people are used to buying. Halogens are a more energy efficient form of incandescent, but they are the least efficient of the incandescent replacement technologies. The filament is encased in a bulb made of fused quartz or high silica glass containing a halogen gas.
LED blub
LEDs in light bulbs
12W 8W
LEDs are the gizmos that have been around for years lighting up digital clocks and calculators. They use semiconductors that emit light when electrons move around. Recent innovation has allowed engineers to make them bright enough for light bulbs.
SOURCE: National Electric Manufacturers Association, Philips (LED photo). The Washington Post




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2 Responses to Light Bulb Transition

  1. Paul King May 27, 2011 at 10:51 AM #

    CFLs may last for 5 years, however after 4 months I notice the light is entirely different. Got 3 FEIT electric cfls, all purchased at the same time in a 5 or 6 pack 2 years ago. 3 months ago one of them blew out, I changed it, another died a week later, changed it also, which means I have 2 new from the same box and one old… there’re 2 bright bluish tinge ones and one green/yellow.

    Got a couple of other brands in my house, all the light had dimmed or gone to green.

    I own 5 houses, I’m a landlord. These are 2 single fam homes, 2 duplexes and a quad, I use a lot of bulbs. I have yet to have one of these bulbs last 3 years before the light is unusable. I generally have to change the bulbs before I show a place because the light makes the place look dingey and scuzzy.

    As I understand it, It’s illegal to put mercury in your trash can, it’s also a health hazard when one of these things explodes. The EPA had to write up a page on how to deal with broken ones:
    – so, I am wondering how much energy it is going to cost to dispose of these things legally – as it stands for me, the nearest disposal place I know of is 1.5 miles from me (or 50 cents worth of gas and 15 minutes worth of time) – also if you have a small child and like light you’re now risking mercury poisoning.

    It seems the energy savings is false to me. The bulbs are heavier a LOT heavier, take a lot more energy to produce, ship, and dispose of, and don’t last any longer than a traditional bulb in my experience. I think we may see energy savings on our bill, but the people who make them are more than making up for that savings with the production/disposal/shipping costs.

    I think good LED bulbs are the way to go, however the price on a good one is crazy

    • chriscrimmins May 27, 2011 at 10:21 PM #

      Thanks for the comments Paul. I do agree that technology on the early side sometimes doesn’t make sense. Since change is certain, my hope is that improvements will come quickly.

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