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Is the Incandescent Bulb Banned?

At least once a week, a customer will ask me if they should be stocking up on incandescent light bulbs due to the impending ‘ban’ starting in 2012.

While the government has taken great strides to conserve energy through the future wattage limitations of light bulbs, there obviously seems to be very little effort in educating the public about the actual details of the new laws.  To make matters worse, many manufacturers of ‘green’ products will twist and/or misquote the wording of the bulb legislation to put their own products in a better light (pardon the pun).

 What then, does the new law state, and what are the best options for light bulbs when the law takes effect?

 The law in question is The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  The act builds on the progress made by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) in setting out a comprehensive energy strategy for the 21st century.  Lighting energy efficiency is covered in Title III, Subtitle B of the Act, specifically Section 321:


  • General Service Incandescent Lamps (standard incandescent or halogen-type lamp)
  • Medium screw base
  • 310 to 2,600 lumens (40-100W in current wattages)
  • 110 to 130 volts 

All affected lamps listed above must meet the following criteria as noted below:

Current Wattage Maximum Rated Wattage Rated Lumen Range Minimum Rated Lifetime Effective Date
100W 72W 1490-2600 1000 hrs 1/1/2012
75W 53W 1050-1489 1000 hrs 1/1/2013
60W 43W 750-1049 1000 hrs 1/1/2014
40W 29W 310-749 1000 hrs 1/1/2014


  • Modified spectrum (See Better, Feel Better®) lamp lumen ranges are 25% lower.
  • Minimum of 80 CRI except for modified spectrum, which have a minimum of 75 CRI.
  • Candelabra base incandescent lamps shall not exceed 60 watts.
  • Intermediate base incandescent lamps shall not exceed 40 watts.


Specialty Lamps including:

Appliance lamp, black light lamp, bug lamp, colored lamp, infrared lamp, left-hand thread lamp, marine lamp, marine signal service lamp, mine service lamp, plant light lamp, reflector lamp, rough service lamp, shatter-resistant lamp, sign service lamp, silver bowl lamp, showcase lamp, 3-way incandescent lamp, traffic signal lamp, vibration service lamp, G-shape lamp with a diameter of 5 inches or more, T-shape lamp of 40 watts or less and a length of more than 10 inches, and B, BA, CA, F, G16-1/2, G25, G30, S or M14 lamp of 40 watts or less. (exerpt from the EISA 2007)

The letter of the law is to phase out some existing incandescent bulbs and replace them with lower-wattage alternatives.

The spirit of the law is to force manufacturers to create and/or market light bulbs that use 30% less energy (or better) to replace today’s higher-wattage versions.

The truth, in short, is the incandescent bulb is not disappearing from the American landscape, but the wattages as we know them are being replaced.  There are far too many uses for incandescent and halogen bulbs that CFL and LED bulbs are simply not able to supplant.

It is my hope that as we approach January 1, 2012 (phase-out of the 100-watt bulb), greater strides will be taken by the government to better inform people of the facts in the law, and replacement choices will be clearly presented by manufacturers and shopping centers.

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