Is there an incandescent bulb ban? Right now, it depends on where you live.
Through series of lawsuits and other boring details (no sugarcoating here), there are currently three states enforcing a ban on some incandescent light bulbs:
What’s next, how did we get here, and which products are impacted? Those are some of the questions we’ll be addressing.
- Incandescent light bulb ban
- Can you still buy incandescent light bulbs?
- What incandescent light bulbs are still available?
- Incandescent bulbs vs. CFLs
- Incandescent bulbs vs. LEDs
Incandescent light bulb ban
Incandescent light bulbs are used in homes and commercial buildings every day. We have hundreds of incandescent light bulb products available to purchase on our site (unless you live in states with current restrictions).
Former President George W. Bush signed EISA (Energy Independence and Security Act) in 2007. The first tier of standards took effect between 2012 and 2014 and officially phased out 60-watt incandescent bulbs.
Another round of EISA restrictions was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020, but the Department of Energy decided to revert back to previous standards.
The new standards would have required everyday light bulbs (called general service lamps) to use 65 percent less energy than the traditional incandescent light bulbs, but still deliver the same amount of light.
This is when the lawsuits began. Several states, cities, and districts sued the Department of Energy. California, Nevada, and Washington have decided to go ahead and ban some general service lamps.
Other states have decided to ban some high-CRI linear fluorescents. You can read details about each state in this article.
Can you still buy incandescent light bulbs?
The short answer is yes (at least for now). Even in states where there are restrictions on general service lamps, some incandescent light bulbs are still available for purchase.
Manufacturers have stepped up to the challenge to meet the current EISA standards. Today’s incandescent light bulbs are, on average, doubly as efficient as they were when EISA was signed into law.
But that likely won't be the case for long. The Department of Energy is already working on the next round of updates for general service lamps, which will likely be more restrictive. These changes could go into effect by 2025.
The restrictions will likely require general service lamps (GSLs) to meet a minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt. Without all of the lighting jargon, that means they must produce more light using less energy.
Most of the incandescent and halogen products on the market today cannot meet that standard. Most LEDs and CFLs will be able to meet the standard.
What incandescent bulbs are still available?
If you visit the incandescent section of our online store, we have more than 700 incandescent light bulbs for sale. Obviously, there is no shortage.
But the products themselves are different from the incandescent light bulbs made even five years ago. Manufacturers reduced wattages by about 30 percent, but kept a similar light output (lumens in technical lighting terms).
For example, the equivalent of an old 60-watt A19 incandescent uses 43 watts, on average. The equivalent of a 100-watt A19 incandescent, meanwhile, uses 72 watts for the same lumen output.
There are a few caveats that should be noted here.
First, as we mentioned, some products are banned in certain states. You can use the filters on the side of the page to help you narrow down and find the right products.
Second, some incandescent products are exempt from meeting current EISA standards. Light bulbs for certain applications — like heat lamps, for example — do not need to meet the new standards.
Third, as manufacturers reduced wattages, the light color (or color temperature) also changed. Some aren’t happy with the color of modern-day halogen-based incandescent bulbs, as halogen tends to emit cooler colors.
Pre-EISA incandescent bulbs might have had a Kelvin temperature of 2400K or 2700K while today’s incandescent bulbs will often have a color of 3000+ K.
Incandescent bulbs vs. CFLs
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) were the first lamps to really barge into the market and gain a foothold against incandescent light bulbs. They’ve always been much more energy efficient but have a handful of cons that most businesses and consumers like to weigh into their decision-making process.
- CFLs contain mercury – a toxic metal which is bad for the environment and people. This means they must be recycled properly.
- A lot of CFLs don’t dim, making them incompatible with dimmable fixtures you might have in your building or home.
- When compared with an incandescent, the color rendering index (CRI) of a CFL is quite limited.
- Many CFLs come in a spiral shape, causing a lot of people to opt for a traditional bulb-shaped lamp to preserve certain aesthetics.
Comparing average household lamps – Incandescent vs. CFL
|Old incandescent||New (halogen) incandescent||CFL|
|Lumens (light output)||780||780||780|
|Wattage (energy usage)||60||42||10|
|Lumens per watt||13||18.5||78|
If you're looking for LED replacements for pin-based compact fluorescents, try these products.
If you're looking into adapters as a CFL to LED retrofit solution, start here.
Incandescent bulbs vs. LEDs
LEDs continue to carve out a bigger territory in the lighting world. A significant part of that trend is tied to the technology’s drop in price, making them immensely more competitive.
The other part of that trend? Energy efficiency. The long lifespans of LEDs combined with their incredibly low energy usage rate give them a corner on the energy efficient lighting market. There is simply no comparison to LEDs in terms of energy efficiency alone.
But if you’re familiar with the calling card of LEDs — energy efficiency — you’re probably equally as familiar with their Achilles heel: cost. LEDs used to cost as much as 40 times more than modern incandescent light bulbs. But, as mentioned above, they’ve come down in price big time.
Today’s LEDs are maybe five or seven times more expensive than a comparably bright incandescent. But the flip-side of this is the massive energy savings. In most cases, LED light bulbs pay for themselves in a matter of months when replacing LEDs.
Comparing average household lamps – Incandescent vs. LED
|Old incandescent||New incandescent||LED|
|Lumens (light output)||780||780||780|
|Wattage (energy usage)||60||42||5|
|Lumens per watt||13||18.5||156|
Questions about incandescent light bulbs
There you have it – all the facts.
Were all incandescent bulbs strictly banned by the federal government? No, they were made dramatically more energy efficient (unless you live in California, Nevada, or Washington, but even in those states not all bulbs are banned).
Are incandescent bulbs on the verge of being pushed out of the market? It depends on the next set of regulations, but it looks like we are headed in that direction.
Can you still purchase incandescent bulbs? We have them here, with certain restrictions based on state.
Are you looking to upgrade to more efficient LED bulbs? We have those, too.