The Law

Bad News – Good News – Bad News
And MORE Bad News

Bad News: The law that effects 100W light bulbs DID go into effect on 01 January 2012.

The good news is that Congress passed a provision in late 2011 that delays FUNDING the enforcement of the law until October.

Bad News: The law is still on the books and has not been repealed. At any time in the future the Congress can fund the enforcement.

More Bad News: Manufacturers are still abiding by the law on the books so we may still run out of incandescents even if the law is not enforced.

Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007

The following is courtesy of

The EISA is set to be implemented in 2 phases, phase one: 2012-2014, and phase two: 2014-2020. A third phase may begin in 2020: “The Department of Energy (DOE) is also required under the EISA 2007 to initiate a rulemaking in 2020 to determine whether the standards in effect for general service incandescent lamps should be increased.” (see the DOE fact sheet linked below).

The Aim of EISA

To reduce the allowed wattage for incandescent bulbs by 28 percent starting in 2012 and becoming a 67 percent reduction by 2020 at the latest, in accordance with the defined annual review procedures.

Effective January 1, 2020, the Secretary shall prohibit the sale of such general service lamps that do not by then meet a minimum efficacy standard of 45 lumens per watt.

  1. The term ‘general service incandescent lamp’ means a standard incandescent or halogen type lamp that—
  2. is intended for general service applications;
  3. has a medium screw base;
  4. has a lumen range of not less than 310 lumens and not more than 2,600 lumens; and
  5. is capable of being operated at a voltage range at least partially within 110 and 130 volts.

Prohibited act… for any manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or private labeler to distribute in commerce an adapter that—

  1. is designed to allow an incandescent lamp that does not have a medium screw base to be installed into a fixture or lampholder with a medium screw base socket; and
  2. is capable of being operated at a voltage range at least partially within 110 and 130 volts.’
    [In short, to stop people from getting what they want, manufacturers and sellers are not allowed to provide adapters that allow other incandescent lamps to use medium screw base 110-130 volt sockets]

List of EISA Exceptions

Appliance lamps, Black light lamps, Bug lamps, Colored lamps, Infrared lamps, Left-hand thread lamps, Marine lamps, Marine’s signal service lamps, Mine service lamps, Plant light lamps, Reflector lamps, Rough service lamps, Shatter-resistant lamps (including shatter-proof and shatter-protected), Sign service lamps, Silver bowl lamps, Showcase lamps, 3-way incandescent lamps, Traffic signal lamps, Vibration service lamps, G shape lamps with a diameter of 5” or more, T shape lamps that use no more than 40W or are longer than 10”, and all B, BA, CA, F, G16-1/2, G-25, G-30, M-14, or S lamps of 40W or less.

Note: the sale of the main exceptions will be monitored, and does not take away the objective to block sales of the most popular bulbs, otherwise there will be no energy savings. No point in blocking sales of what people would not want to buy, the “dilemma” for the regulators!

So, in the first phase beginning January 1 2012, the manufacture and import are prohibited but not the sale itself.  General service incandescent lighting is progressively restricted, beginning with ordinary 100 W bulbs, but therefore with certain excepted classes (e.g. rough service, 3-way, and chandelier lighting, provided their sales don’t significantly increase).  Bulbs equivalent to 25W and below, and (with the sales proviso) of 150-200W, and of higher wattages, are also not affected.

The immediate practical point regarding 2012-2014 regulations is therefore that sales of existing store stock of the targeted bulbs will still be allowed.

Additionally, the new January 1 2012 packaging requirement changes the way light bulbs are referred to. Instead of buying a “72 watt light bulb,” one might purchase a “1500 lumens” light bulb.   See the special blog post on packaging and labeling in the USA and the EU.

The legal language relating to the subsequent phase-out to 45 lumen per Watt is more ambiguous, since the expressed aim is then to prohibit actual sale.  Even the Dept of Energy factsheet (below link) talks of a second stage ban, a “ban on certain general service lamps”.

The December 2011 Amendment

Also known as “the rider”.  Amendment to Oversight Funding of Implementation December 2011 lasting until 30 September 2012 (see the blog posts for more) therefore does not affect the 2012 legality of sales.  It only affects the monitoring of legal manufacture and import.

In the time period to 30 September 2012, it is not likely to make much difference to the consumer.  Since retailers can sell what they have got, and many have probably stocked up well in advance of such a popular product, albeit that the consumer may have to look around and pay a little more.  (in the comparable situation in the EU after 1 September 2009, the bulbs were still available over the following year, although at higher prices and in fewer and fewer stores or online retailers, the main stores pushing CFL sales, as described elsewhere in the text).

From the legislation, starting 2012 for General Service Incandescent Light Bulbs: a phase-out based on the lumen (brightness) rating of the bulbs, rather than their wattage. Standard bright 100 Watt equivalent household light bulbs can therefore be at most 72 Watts equivalent from January 2012, and so on with increasing stringency. There are also lifespan and CRI (color rendering index) provisions. The coloring rendering index measures how accurately colors are shown.

Lumens today Watts allowed Watts min Lifetime min CRI Date Start
1490-2600 100 72 1,000 hrs 80 1/1/2012
1050-1489 75 53 1,000 hrs 80 1/1/2013
750-1049 60 43 1,000 hrs 80 1/1/2014
310-749 40 29 1,000 hrs 80 1/1/2014


The Halogen etc incandescent replacements (20-25 lumen per Watt), hyped up by on-message politicians and journalists who say “this is not a ban”, are therefore also banned sometime after 2014. As the EIA (Energy Information Administration) puts it, “essentially requiring general service bulbs to be as efficient as today’s CFLs” by 2020. Good comment by Greenwashing Lamps on the specifications here, with a 2012-2014 update here.

Additionally, on the color rendering index (CRI): This, more precisely is “the ability of a light source to reproduce the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source”. According to the legislation, CFL, LED, or incandescent light sources “used to satisfy lighting applications traditionally served by general service incandescent lamps” must as seen have a minimum CRI rating of 80.

Incandescents, in performing as “black body radiators” typically have a perfect or near perfect 100 rating (unlike CFLs or LEDs), so the lesser 80 requirement, if followed by manufacturers, degrades current performance. In other words, yet another issue when it comes to targeting this technology.

Light sources with a high CRI are also desirable in color-critical applications such as photography and cinematography, and even when fluorescent lamps or LEDs have high CRI ratings, their spiky emission spectra do not correlate well with color rendering quality in practice, so that the photography and movie-making issues remain.

There are other interesting points: Notice the anomaly that 75 W “dim” bulbs are allowed, but a 75 W “bright” bulb is effectively banned!

In other words, as the official sources confirm, incandescent bulbs are being banned on the basis of their “lumen” brightness – not on their energy use, bright bulbs being banned first.
So you can still buy a 100W incandescent bulb, if it’s dim enough, which might, at least at first, seem an attractive alternative even to regular incandescents, since dimmer incandescent bulbs of given wattages tend to have have longer lifespans (the trade off). For example, Aero incandescent manufacturer, 100W 20 000hr bulb, 1000 lumen, for $2 (Jan 2012).  That makes its brightness somewhere between 1000 hour standard clear incandescent 60W bulbs (900 lumen) and clear 75W bulbs (1200 lumen).

While the Aero light bulb is allowed in 2012 anyway as a rough service bulb, such bulbs would, bans apart, otherwise be more of a convenience measure for difficult to reach locations – rather than to save energy or money for required brightness, $2 dollar long life bulb plus 35 W extra energy cost for 20 000 hours, 35W x 20 000 hrs = 700 kWh, USA 12 cent per kWh average residential cost (EIA), 700 kWh x 12c = 8400c or 84 dollars, + 2 dollar bulb cost = 86 dollars.
Box of twenty 60 or 75W 1000 hour regular bulbs, typically 10-12 dollars, so the irony continues, in that these legal incandescents (legal in some respects also in the EU) use much more energy and money compared to the banned alternatives, more exactly depending on local electricity costs.

Incidentally, June 2012, a lot of “legal longer lasting 130 volt bulbs” are being marketed in the USA on the same “Save money with longer lifespan” basis, this time from raising the voltage – but again, on their typical 1000 lumen “dim bulb” rating, actually uses up more energy and money compared to the banned equally bright lower wattage alternatives!

Exemption reversal condition: The Act includes a provision whereby, in cooperation with NEMA, sales of certain exempted lamps will be monitored, specifically:

  • rough service
  • vibration service
  • 2601-3300 lumen general service (150-200W)
  • 3-way
  • shatter-resistant lamps

For each of these lamp types, if sales double above the increase modeled for a given year — signaling that consumers are shifting from standard incandescents to these incandescents and thereby supposedly not saving energy — the lamp type will lose the exemption.

Consequence: A requirement that any such popular lamp type can then only be sold “in a package containing 1 lamp”, and with a maximum 40 watt rating in most cases (95-watt for 2601-3300 lumen lamps, variably reduced for 3-way lamps).

In other words, if sales go up, further restrictions arise, and only 1 lamp packages may be sold: Buy several packages, or walk out the shop and back in again to buy another one. The crass idiocy of bureacracy – do whatever it takes, to stop people from buying what they want, who in turn obviously do what they can, to satisfy their desires (above all, do not make any rational decisions, to actually deal with any energy or emission issues, irrelevant here anyway from the marginal savings involved!)

California ban started Jan 1 2011

California Government info, LEDs Magazine article.
The specifications are the same as with the US federal 2012 standards (above), just being 1 year sooner in implementation for each stage.

Progress Track of US Federal and State Ban Repeal Bills

For federal bills I use links as having permanent URLs and being more comprehensive than the official links = Links to the corresponding Thomas source are found anyway on bottom right of Govtrack pages. The bills and their related issues are also covered and analyzed on the Freedom Light Bulb news blog that accompanies this website.

The House of Representatives

Michael Burgess amendment AO75 (H.Amdt. 678) to Energy Bill H.R.2354 of July 14 2011: //passed 15 July 2011// Bill progress
Joe Barton modified relaunch as H.R.2417 of July 6 2011: //not passed 1st vote// progress
(First House vote July 12 233-193 for was not a 2/3 majority: The Hill report)
Michele Bachmann relaunch as H.R.849 of March 1 2011: progress
Joe Barton H.R.91 of January 5 2011: //modified// progress
Michele Bachmann H.R.5616 of March 13 2008: //stalled// progress

The Senate

Mike Enzi S.395 of February 17 2011: //stalled// progress


(Note: Nebraska legislature site is currently, early Feb 2012, not accessible outside the USA without proxies, search cache or the like)
Tony Fulton LB1164 of (January 19), 2012: progress
Journal Star article about it.
More about the bill on the blog, Feb 3 update


Chuck Gatschenberger HB1146 of January 4, 2012: progress
(referred to the House Small Business Committee 01/19/2012,
positive recommendation to House floor 4/4/2012)
More about the bill on the blog post


Bob Marshall HB66 of December 19, 2011: progress
(referred to the House Committee on Commerce and Labor 12/19/2011)
More on the bill, its background, and federal v state discussion on the blog post


// double legislative action //
Matt Gabler HB1622 of July 18, 2011: progress
(referred to House Commerce Committee 7/18/2011)
Also: Matt Gabler HR319 of July 18, 2011, memorializing Congress to repeal the ban: progress
(referred to House Environment and Energy Committee 7/18/2011)
RE the background to these legislative actions, see the blog post


// passed House, now in Senate //
Tom McMillin HB4815 of June 23 2011: progress
(referred to House Committee on Energy and Technology 6/23/2011, passed in House 10/13/2011 vote:413-62, 10/13/2011, 10/18/2011 passed to Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform)
More on this in the blog post

Texas: legislated

George Lavender HB2510 of March 8 2011: progress
(affirmed in House Energy Committee, 5/11/2011, vote:6-0, passed to Senate, affirmed in Senate Natural Resources Committee, 5/18/2011, vote 8-0, 5/24/2011 Senate vote 31-0, 5/26 sent to Governor, 6/17 Governor signs Bill)
More on this in the blog post

South Carolina

//committee favorable, for final Senate vote//
Dwight Loftis H.3735 of February 23 2011: progress
(affirmed in House 4/7/2011, vote:76-20, passed to Senate Labor Commerce Industry committee, favorably passed 2/23/12)
Bill summary, blog post


//on to House Sci Committee Jan 2012//
Barry Loudermilk SB61 of February 7 2011: progress
(affirmed in Senate 3/7/2011, vote:35-19, passed to House)


Dean Urdahl (House Bill) HF 0094 of January 18 2011: progress
Dean Urdahl (House Bill) HF 3474 of March 8 2010: progress


Frank Antenori HB2337 (text) of January 19 2010: progress
Affirmed in House and Senate, veto Gov. Jan Brewer 5/11/2010, article, letter:
supports bill’s aim, but since federal ban due to begin 2012, it would take too long to achieve, no bill defence from any “tungsten mining or processing” in Arizona.

It is worth commenting on the Arizona veto, also on a federal v state legal perspective relating to the other bills: It was a seemingly illogical veto reason, since the Governor the previous month signed the local Firearms act for locally made and distributed guns, similarly contravening federal regulations, and as seen a similarly constructed HB2307 bill text – but no local iron ore mining or processing for the guns.

The US constitutional inter-state commerce clause is otherwise usually interpreted – as in the other state bills – as banning only significant non-generic component imports for local manufacture. In other words: Tungsten is used in many other applications, so can be imported – like iron for guns, in that case. The more specifically applied tungsten filaments or special gun parts can not, so might have to be made locally. But, again, it seems some gun parts are imported to Arizona for assembly!

Federal v local gun law issues include US manufacture of assault weapons for civilians (Hughes amendment to 1986 Firarms Act), as well as licensing and taxation, so such Arizona assault weapon manufacture by the federally licensed local makers contravenes federal law just as much as the local manufacture of regular incandescent light bulb would. As always, it’s about local political support: The gun culture and the extensive manufacturing in Arizona, AZCentral 2011 article.

So, whatever way one looks at this, a legally illogical passing of one bill, and not the other. Some more on the Arizona bill, and on other comparative Federal v State legislation on the blog post

Wikipedia:  U.S. Lighting Energy Policy

United States Lighting Energy Policy is moving towards increased efficiency in order to lower green house gas emissions and energy use. Lighting efficiency improvements in the United States can be seen through different standards and acts. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 laid out changes in lighting legislation for the United States. This set up performance standards and the phase out of incandescent lighting in order to require the use of more efficient fluorescent lighting. EISA 2007 is an effort to increase lighting efficiency by 25-30%. Opposition to EISA 2007 is demonstrated by the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act and the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act. The efforts to increase lighting efficiency are also demonstrated by the Energy Star program and the increase efficiency goals by 2011 and 2013.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs

Fluorescent lighting converts ultraviolet light to visible light. In order to produce ultraviolet light, electrons flow through the fluorescent lamp and collide with mercury atoms. The collision with mercury causes photons of UV light to be released, the UV light is then converted to visible light as it passes through the phosphor coating in the glass tube.[3]

The conversion process for fluorescent lighting is more efficient then the incandescent process, resulting in 25% reduction of the total energy consumed and a 10,000 hour lifetime.[3] The complete compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) includes the Edison screwbase and plastic housing, the electronic ballast, and the fluorescent lamp which is formed into a spiral shape.[3] Improvements in technology have allow fluorescent lamps with color temperature and color rendition comparable to incandescent lighting.[4]

Compact fluorescent lamps are available in a variety of styles and shapes. Some have tubes and ballasts permanently connected, while others are separate allowing you to change the tube without changing the ballast. There are also CFLs enclosed in a glass globe, which look similar to conventional incandescent light bulbs. CFLs fit most fixtures designed for incandescent lamps, although only some can be dimmed.[4]

Energy Independence and Security Act 2007

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Pub.L. 110-140)[5] laid out the changes in legislation regarding lighting in the United States in Title III, Subtitle B. In this, the different bulbs being affected by the standards changes are first defined. Along with higher standards being created for bulbs, the ballasts are also required to increase efficiency. It is also outlined within EISA 2007 that there are lighting requirements within public buildings. The General Services Administration (GSA) set minimum energy efficiency standards for leased spaces, which includes energy efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs, including the use of Energy Star and Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) designated products.[6]

Incandescent phase-out

EISA 2007 set new performance requirements for certain common light bulbs, requiring that these bulbs become approximately 25-30% more efficient than the light bulbs of 2008 by 2012-2014. However, these new standards do not ban incandescent bulbs, merely raise the standards for these bulbs, which may naturally phase them out of the current market if they cannot meet the new standards. Overall, the intent of this is to bring into the market more efficient light bulbs. Some new incandescent products could be introduced by the effective dates of the law, including a bulb by General Electric that will decrease the amount of energy required. Non-incandescent bulbs, such as compact fluorescent (CFL) and light emitting diodes (LED) already meet the Tier I standards introduced.[7] Some companies are working to stop the sales of incandescent bulbs in anticipation of the standards changes. For example, the home decor and furniture company IKEA has phased out the stock and sale of incandescent bulbs at their stores in the US and Canada, starting in August 2011.[8]

The exact wording of the “rider” that defunded the light bulb “ban”.

  1. ^ a b c US Department of Energy. “Incandescent Lighting”

    . Retrieved 17 April 2011.

  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d Ribarich, Tom. “How compact fluorescent lamps work–and how to dim them”

    . Retrieved 25 March 2011.

  4. ^ a b Department of Energy. “Fluorescent Lamps”

    . Retrieved 17 April 2011.


    . U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 17 April 2011.

  6. ^ Acuity Brands Lighting (29). “Energy Independence and Security Act-2007 (EISA 2007) Lighting Summary”

    . Retrieved 18 April 2011.

  7. ^ Logan, Jeffrey (23). “Lighting Efficiency Standards in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007: Are Incandescent Light Bulbs “Banned”?”

    . CRS Report for Congress. Retrieved 17 April 2011.

  8. ^ Associated Press (January 4, 2011). “IKEA Stops Selling Incandescent Light Bulbs in U.S.”

    . MSNBC. Retrieved 17 April 2011.

  9. ^ Stephen Dinan. “Congress Overturns Incandescent Light Bulb Ban”.

    Washington Times. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2012.

  10. ^ Amy Bingham. “Congress Defunds Ban on Incandescent Light Bulbs but Doesn’t Quite Save Them”.

    The Note at 16 December 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2012.

  11. ^ Exceline. “EPAct 2005: Energy-Efficient Building Tax Deduction Program”


  12. ^ Building Energy Codes Resource Center. “ASHRAE 90.1-2004 Lighting Requirements General Information”

    . Retrieved 17 April 2011.

  13. ^ a b DiLouie, Craig. “ASHRAE Publishes 2010 Version of 90.1 Standard”

    . Retrieved 17 April 2011.

  14. ^ a b Cole, Pam. “The 2009 IECC: Increased Inspections and Testing Lead to Increased Energy Savings”

    . Retrieved 17 April 2011.

  15. ^ Barton, Joe (5). “Better Use of Light Bulbs Act (H.R. 91)”

    . Retrieved 24 March 2011.

  16. ^ “H.R. 2417: Better Use of Light Bulbs Act”

    . Retrieved 2011-07-14.

  17. ^ Energy Efficient Lighting Explained. “Energy Efficient Lighting”


  18. ^ Bachmann, Michele (1). “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act (H.R. 849)”


  19. ^ Burgess, Michael C. (16). “H.R. 739”

    . Retrieved 24 March 2011.

  20. ^ a b “2011-2012 Bill 3735: Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act”

    . South Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved 2011-07-14.

  21. ^ “Lights On in South Carolina? Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Restore Incandescent Bulbs”

    . Fox News. 2011-02-28. Retrieved 2011-07-14.

  22. ^ Romano, Robert. “South Carolina Bill Would Overturn Federal Light Bulb Ban”

    . Net Right Daily. Retrieved 2011-07-14.

  23. ^ a b c ENERGY STAR. “ENERGY STAR ® Program Requirements for Solid State Lighting Luminaires”

    . Retrieved 17 April 2011.

  24. ^ a b Environmental Protection Agency. “Light Fixtures for Consumers”

    . Retrieved 25 March 2011.

  25. ^ a b Kika, Stacy. “EPA Announces Updated Energy Star Standards for Lighting”

    . EPA. Retrieved 17 April 2011.

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