If you live in California, you can say goodbye to incandescent and halogen light bulbs.
The California Energy Commission voted on November 13, 2019 to ban the sale of inefficient light bulbs starting January 1, 2020.
This decision didn't just suddenly happen. It's the result of years of work to make the state more energy efficient.
And the decision could potentially still be reversed. Two lighting association filed a lawsuit over California's ban and also filed a petition to stop the restrictions from taking effect on January 1, 2020. A federal judge blocked the petition to temporarily stop the ban while the lawsuit plays out.
Even if you don't live in California, this light bulb ban is something to watch. California and 14 other states or districts recently sued the federal government over efficiency standards. What happens next could impact every state.
Let's explain the series of steps that got us to this point.
President George W. Bush signed EISA (Energy Independence and Security Act), an effort to reduce lighting that's energy inefficient.
2012 - 2014
The first tier of EISA restrictions phased out 60-watt incandescent bulbs nationwide.
California adopted the next tier of EISA restrictions, requiring A-shape GSLs (general service lamps) to achieve a minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt. The rest of the country was supposed to follow in 2020.
15 state attorneys general sued the Department of Energy – including California, New York City, and Washington, D.C., over the reduction of EISA. Large environmental groups sued as well.
California Energy Commission (CEC) voted to move forward with further restriction of the sale of general service lamps. This falls under Title 20.
January 1, 2020
New restrictions on general service lamps start in California.
Which light bulbs are banned in California?
Here’s the easiest way to put it: Starting January 1, 2020, all general service lamps (GSLs) must have an efficacy of 45 lumens per watt to be legally sold in California. Lumens per watt (LPW) is a unit of efficacy, or the rate at which a lamp is able to convert power (watts) into light (lumens).
Does this sound like jargon? The bottom line is that light bulbs are now required to produce a minimum amount of light per watt used or they cannot be sold in California.
That standard has been enforced on A-line GSLs since January 2018 (this is the shape you typically think of putting in a table lamp). But now, the restriction expands to all general service lamps, including reflector lamps and candle-shaped light bulbs.
Here's how the newest restrictions practically apply to you: almost all halogen and incandescent light bulbs will no longer meet the standards in California. Apart from a few exceptions, you'll only be able to buy CFLs and LEDs.
We work hard to make lighting easier, so here is a list of products that will now be restricted based on information from our manufacturer partners and our understanding of the regulations:
- All reflectors: R14, R16, R20, BR30, and BR40
- All PARs: PAR20, PAR30, and PAR38
- All MR16: bi-pin and GU10
- All high lumen A-shaped lamps
- All A19 halogen
- A19 3-way incandescent lamps
- Rough service, shatter resistant, and vibration service lamps (such as A19 silicone coated)
- Décor lamps (B-shape, C-shape, F-shape, G16.5, G25, G30) between 310 and 3300 lumens
- Candelabra and intermediate base lamps between 310 and 3600 lumens
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes you need that heat-resistant incandescent light bulb, like in ovens. Overall, 26 lamp types will be exempt. That includes specialty light bulbs, like appliance lamps, black light lamps, bug lamps, colored lamps, and more.
The restrictions are fully outlined in Title 20, Section 1004. As of the publishing of this article, the California Energy Commission has not updated Title 20 documentation on its website. Here is a link to the new Title 20, Section 1004, sent to us by the CEC. The CEC also published this regulatory notice on November 27, 2019 which also links to the new section 1004.
Which light bulbs can be sold in California?
Starting January 2020, California’s restrictions limit light bulbs to mainly LEDs and CFLs. CFLs were created as a more energy-efficient option over incandescent and halogen light bulbs. Then, LEDs emerged on the market as an even more energy-efficient option.
However, not all LEDs and CFLs are Title 20 compliant. We explain the other restrictions for lighting products in this blog post.
It’s important to check to make sure a product can be sold in California before you buy. To simplify the process, we created a filter for our online store. We'll continue to work on keeping this filter updated with the latest regulations.
Benefits of the changes
California expects major energy changes because of the light bulb restrictions.
To help give you a little perspective, let's compare the wattage between an incandescent light bulb and an LED light bulb. A standard A-line incandescent bulb uses 50 watts. That's the measure of power the light bulb consumes. An LED A-line bulb uses 9 watts — a 41 watt savings for each bulb.
The California Energy Commission predicts these standards alone will save 4,000 - 13,600 gigawatts. What does that mean in dollar amounts? A predicted savings between $736 million and $2.4 billion.
Our goal is to stay up to date on all of the industry changes. We will watch these light bulb restrictions in California, as well the lawsuit challenging the rollback of EISA standards.
As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.