What happens in 2020 could change the lighting industry across the United States.
Right now, there is a big debate that centers around incandescent and halogen light bulbs.
The rules would almost eliminate incandescent and halogen bulbs. However, the Department of Energy rolled back the regulations before they could take effect.
This triggered a series of lawsuits resulting in different rules and regulations for states across the country.
Here is the best way to simplify the situation: Right now, ONLY California can ban products that do not meet a standard of 45 lumens per watt.
Other states have passed laws with a similar standard, but because of pending legislation, the laws cannot be enforced.
Nevada is the only other state that could enforce a restriction, but leaders are still in the process of finalizing standards.
What does this 45 lumen per watt standard mean? And what's the situation for other states?
We'll dive into detail throughout this post, but if you live in the following states, this article applies to you:
Before you read any further, we recommend reviewing the following terms. Click to jump ahead and read more about each one:
California has led the way on energy efficiency for the last decade. The state was the first to implement a 45 lumen per watt restriction on A-shape GSLs (general service lamps) in 2018.
Now, all GSLs in the state must have a minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt. Here is a summary of California's ruling.
Without all the jargon, the 45 lumens per watt standard means light bulbs must provide more light with less power, or they cannot legally be sold in the listed states. The products also have to go through specific testing measures.
California can move ahead with the restrictions because it was one of two states originally given authority from the Department of Energy.
California's restrictions are outlined in what the state calls Title 20. We have a blog post explaining Title 20 more in detail.
If you're looking for Title 20 compliant products, click here to use the filter for our online store.
Currently, Colorado cannot enforce the 45 lumen per watt restriction pending the outcome of a lawsuit. A ruling is expected in late 2020 or early 2021.
If the lawsuit is decided in the state’s favor, the law passed in May 2019 says general service lamps must meet or exceed the efficacy standard of 45 lumens per watt.
Colorado lists several exemptions in the law, which mirror the federal standards that were supposed to go into effect on January 1, 2020. Here is a link if you'd like to review.
Colorado also lists possible punishment if you do not comply with the law. The state attorney general can fine up to $2,000 per violation.
We will continue watching the lawsuit and update this article based on the outcome.
Nevada could enforce exemptions because the DOE gave authority to adopt, just like California.
Nevada's governor signed bill AB54 into law in May 2019 to raise the minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt.
However, the bill does not lay out specific restrictions, so the state is not currently enforcing the law.
When the exemptions are in place, there are hints of possible exemptions. The adopted law says "specialty lighting" or "lighting necessary to provide illumination for persons with special needs" will not be included in the ban.
The state's Director of the Office of Energy has final say on what can and cannot be included in the definition of a GSL. We will continue to monitor the situation as the state looks at its own exemptions.
Currently, Vermont cannot enforce the 45 lumen per watt standard because of the pending lawsuit, similar to Colorado. A ruling is expected in late 2020 or early 2021.
It seems Vermont state lawmakers knew the dispute over GSLs (general service lamps) was coming. The legislation adopted back in 2017 says the state would move forward with restrictions even if the federal government did not move forward with EISA.
If the outcome of the lawsuit is in the state’s favor, it will follow a minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt.
We will continue to monitor the lawsuit and update this article based on the outcome.
Washington state is also waiting on the outcome of the lawsuit to enforce its restrictions.
The law in the state is slightly different from other states.
If the law can be enforced, it would ban the sale of light bulbs manufactured on or after January 1, 2020 that do not meet the minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt.
Washington state also talks about another lighting ban on high CRI fluorescent lamps. Right now, that law will go into effect in 2023, but could be implemented in 2022 if California implements an earlier ban. (We will continue to follow that, too.)
What is a GSL (general service lamp)?
A general service lamp is traditionally an incandescent or halogen light bulb that is used in general lighting applications but can now include fluorescent and LED light bulbs.
Because the DOE rolled back regulations, most states are using the definition of a general service lamp first outlined in EISA in 2007.
Here is the DOE's official definition:
"General Service Lamps (GSLs) include general service incandescent lamps (GSILs), compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), general service light-emitting diode (LED) lamps, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) lamps, and any other lamps that are used to satisfy lighting applications traditionally served by GSILs. GSLs are used in general lighting applications and account for the majority of installed lighting in the residential sector."
What is lumens per watt?
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).
A watt is a unit of power. When you think of watts, think about how much energy a light bulb is consuming.
A lumen is the amount of visible light output, or the amount of light produced by a light bulb.
When you bought your traditional incandescent light bulb, many people paid attention to wattage as a measurement of how bright a light bulb would be. Now, especially with a large amount of LED products on the market, the focus is on lumens. Light bulbs can now produce more light (lumens) with less energy (wattage). Lumens per watt is becoming a more common measurement in the move towards more energy-efficient lighting.
What is EISA?
The first round of EISA restrictions rolled out between 2012 - 2014. That officially eliminated the 60 watt incandescent light bulb.
A second round of EISA restrictions was supposed to take effect on January 1, 2020. It would have required everyday light bulbs to use 65 percent less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs, but still deliver the same amount of light.
However, the Department of Energy (DOE) rolled back the requirement by changing the definition of a GSL in December 2019. Click here for the DOE's ruling.
Questions about incandescent light bulbs
If you have any questions about which products about which incandescent or halogen light bulbs are restricted in your state, please do not hesitate to contact us.