News Brief

California Finally “Bans the Bulb”

California’s new lighting standard has performance metrics that incandescent bulbs can’t meet, effectively banning the bulb in the state.

February 5, 2018

This year, California became the first state to adopt strict federal lighting efficiency standards that effectively ban the sale of incandescent bulbs. These standards are part of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), originally called the Clean Energy Act, that is due to go into effect nationwide in 2020. California adopted the standard two years early and now requires light bulbs sold in the state to provide a minimum 45 lumens per watt, performance that incandescent bulbs cannot meet.

EISA’s lighting performance requirements are part of a two-phase initiative meant to reduce energy consumption in lighting over a number of years.

  • The first phase required bulbs used in standard Edison screw-in sockets (A19) to be approximately 25% more efficient than incandescent bulbs. Phase one was rolled out between 2012 and 2014, based on bulb type—100-watt equivalent lamps in 2012, 75-watt equivalent in 2013, and 40- and 60-watt equivalent lamps in 2014.
  • The second phase, just enacted by California, requires bulbs to be approximately 200% more efficient than incandescents and is due to become federal policy in 2020.

California rolled the EISA standards into its 2018 Appliance Efficiency Standards, which also has performance requirements for other LED lighting forms and small-diameter directional lamps (≤2.25" in diameter), such as MR 16s used in retail, restaurants, and displays. Besides efficacy (efficiency measured in lumens per watt), California’s standard also covers color quality/color rendering index (CRI), light direction, rated life, and more.

Source: California Energy Commission

Today’s LED bulbs easily meet California’s new standards, so the regulation will have little impact on consumers who have already converted to LEDs. But consumers will no longer be able to buy halogens or other incandescent bulbs once stores run out of their current stock. Though this may be an inconvenience to those who still prefer incandescent bulbs, the California Energy Commission estimates the new lighting standard will save consumer $4 billion over the first 13 years. 

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