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BLOG - Incandescent CA ban

California's light bulb ban

Posted by Scott Anderson on


BLOG - incandescent bulb

California has led the way on energy efficiency for years. It was the first state to add restrictions to some incandescent and halogen light bulbs.

Plus, the state has additional restrictions to LEDs outlined in Title 20

Here are the 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.

September 2019

The Department on Energy (DOE) rolled back restrictions on GSLs. 15 state attorneys general sued the DOE – including California, New York City, and Washington, DC. Large environmental groups sued as well.

November 2019

California Energy Commission (CEC) voted to move forward with further restriction of the sale of general service lamps. This falls under Title 20.

December 2019

The Department of Energy officially reverses standards for general service lamps and preempts ALL states from enforcing standards.

January 1, 2020

New restrictions on general service lamps started in California.

January 2020

Two lighting associations dismissed their lawsuit over California's light bulb ban, so the state moved forward with restrictions.  Here is a statement from the CEC.

Which light bulbs are banned in California?

General service lamps (GSLs) that do not meet a minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt (LPW) are no longer for sale in California. In May 2022, the federal government adopted regulations on GSLs that mirror California's, so most GSLs will no longer be for sale in the United States. 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).

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. 

California began phasing out A-line GSLs in January 2018 (this is the shape you typically think of putting in a table lamp). Now, all general service lamps, including reflector lamps and candle-shaped light bulbs, are no longer for sale.

Here's how the newest restrictions practically apply to you: apart from a few exceptions, you can only buy CFLs and LEDs.

Shop Title 20 Compliant Light Bulbs

We work hard to make lighting easier, so here is a list of products that are now restricted:

  • Most reflectors: R14, R16 (R20s under 310 lumens are allowed)
  • All PARs: PAR20, PAR30, and PAR38
  • All MR11 and 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
  • Most T10s

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. Here is a link to the new Title 20, Section 1004, sent to us by the CEC.

The energy commission also posted a frequently asked questions section for general service lamps.

Now that the federal government has applied these restrictions, you can read more about the overall regulations here.

Which light bulbs can be sold in California?

Right now, primarily on LEDs and CFLs can be sold in California. 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.

The restrictions do not currently include other types of lighting, like linear fluorescents and HIDs.

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. 

Our LED Buying Guide is meant to make lighting easy for you.

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.

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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