Incandescent saying goodbye?

Incandescent saying goodbye?

Being in the electrical/sustainable energy business I get asked a lot about the incandescent light bulb being outlawed, especially with the first round of bulbs (100 watt)  going into effect last year.  What is the law?  What does it effect?  Do i need to stock pile them?  Do CFLs have mercury and will kill my cat?  LED’s are too expensive. CFL’s and LED’s do not look the same as incandescent.

In December 2007, the federal government enacted the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires all general-purpose light bulbs that produce 310–2600 lumens of light[30] be 30% more energy efficient (similar to current halogen lamps) than current incandescent bulbs by 2012 to 2014. The efficiency standards will start with 100-watt bulbs in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in January 2014.

Light bulbs outside of this range are exempt from the restrictions. Also exempt are several classes of specialty lights, including appliance lamps, rough service bulbs, 3-way, colored lamps, and plant lights.

July 12, 2011 the house of representatives  tried to repeal the law, with no luck. So there is a chance that it could go back and be repealed again? Either way it will be a while (if ever) for the incandescent to be completely gone.  They will have to stop making them by 2014, but I am sure the supply will still be around for a long time.  Also the rule is set for general lighting, it does not mean specialty lighting.  So the incandescent will not completely go away, they will just be know as specialty bulbs.  Go into any home depot and you will see a display of Vintage looking light bulbs, under the classification of Specialty.  We have also noticed that the regular bulb is coming out in 56 watts verse the 60 watt predecessor.


To me this ban on the incandescent is the same as prohibition of the 1920’s.  There are some hard core energy-holics that are going to need their fix. Or even the regular hard working american who just wants to read is paper after work in the nice calming glow.   Weather they get their incandescent bulbs as a “specialty bulb” same as you could get booze from a doctor for being “sick”.  Or maybe a bunch of “bath tub bulbs” will hit the market, people flocking to secret underground clubs to read under there red/yellowish light. Of course the cover charge will have to be hefty to cover the electric bill.  Then will the cops/FBI get involved, doing raids on these club and chasing “bulb” runners?  On the other hand, when the cops take these lamps and break them in the street, there wont be mercury all over the place.


Should the government be telling us what bulbs we can have?  With all politics aside,  I feel that energy cost and people should be the determining factor.  The color and energy usage chart they started putting on the packages is a good start.  I feel it is a little too complicated for the average person, and catch myself explaining them to shoppers when at the local hardware store.   When the twisty compact fluorescent came out a few years ago, people jumped on them to cut down on there electric bill.  No government regulation said they had to, although the CFLs were subsidized to bring the cost down.  Which people have issues with as well, and will be a topic for another time.


CFL’s do have a tiny amount of mercury, and have issues:  ugly, take too long to warm up, etc.  But they are highly unlikely to kill your cat.  LED’s are expensive, but the price is coming down fast.  Both the CFL and LED are a different light all together, I suggest you do not try to compare the three.  Of course they have different light, one is a resistor that glow red hot, one has a gas conductor which needs to warm up, other is an electronic light.  Comparing the three is the same as comparing the record, cassette tape, and MP3.  Now the record has that deep acoustic sound that we just don’t quite get out of the others.  I do not see people putting record players back in their cars for music.  I still have an old record player and records, but I do not use it daily for general music needs.  The same is for lighting, incandescence will still be in your favorite Italian restaurant, but the others will be our everyday lights.

Why do I have such an attachment to my incandescent  lights?

I have heard a good theory, that says its reminds us of fire.  The red/yellow glow is the same as the candles and torches used before electricity, or even a bonfire we had back in the cave man days.  That red/yellow glow as been our staple of light for centuries, and has been the same as we evolved.  Its hard to break that in a night or even a generation.

With this bulb ban, I really don’t think you need to be stock piling/hoarding incandescent bulbs.  It will be a while before, if ever, the supplies run out and as stated before, you will still be able to get them under “specialty use”.  Regardless of any laws, it is still up to the individual if they want to pay for the high energy usage incandescent.