New federal restrictions on lighting products
Posted by Scott Anderson on
The end of traditional incandescent and halogen light bulbs is here in United States. The Department of Energy issued new rulings in May 2022 that require lighting products to meet new standards.
The latest decision changes the future of the lighting industry. Fewer products will be available for sale. Manufacturers face the challenge of continuing to make more energy-efficient products. Overall, consumers are now limited to two types of general service lighting products: LEDs and CFLs.
The new ruling from the DOE has been a longtime coming. First, we'll dive into the complicated timeline of how we got here.
Then, we'll take a look at the new restrictions that essentially eliminate most incandescent and halogen products in the U.S. Click here to jump ahead to the products that will be restricted and the exemptions.
Finally, we'll take a look at your options if you rely on incandescent and halogen products. Click here to jump ahead to our recommendations.
State light bulb bans: How we got here
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.
DOE publishes a “definitions rule” to expand scope of GSILs and GSLs, effective January 1, 2020
The Department on Energy (DOE) rolled back restrictions on GSLs and GSILs.
New standards do not take effect. 15 state attorneys general sued the DOE – including California, New York City, and Washington, DC. Environmental groups sued as well.
President Joe Biden's administration orders review of all standards affecting climate change
DOE issues final rules for definitions of GSIL and GSL; enforcement discretion for phase out
Full enforcement of GSLs and GSILs in effect starting August 1, 2023 (this date is earlier for manufacturers)
In 2007, President George W. Bush signed the EISA (Energy Independence and Security Act) into law. The goal was to promote energy efficiency across the country. EISA impacts more than just light bulbs, but includes guidelines for general service lamps (GSLs).
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is tasked with updating these rules. In January 2017, the DOE passed an expansion of the definition for GSLs. The new definition required GSLs to meet a minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt.
Without all the jargon, the new definition required lighting products to be more energy efficient. Traditional lighting products like incandescent and halogen light bulbs would no longer be for sale. The restrictions were supposed to go into effect for ALL states on January 1, 2020.
But just a few months before that – in October 2019 – the Department on Energy (DOE) withdrew the new federal definitions for a general service lamp. The definition for a GSL reverted back to old standards.
The DOE's actions triggered a lawsuit from dozens of states and cities across the country. Some states decided to move forward with more energy-efficient lighting requirements. Other states decided to add restrictions to lighting products NOT outlined in EISA (like high-CRI linear fluorescents).
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden's administration ordered a review of all standards affecting climate change. The DOE also issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) for 45 lpw general service lamps.
In May 2022, the DOE issued final rules for the definitions of GSLs and GSILs.
New requirements for incandescent and halogen products
The Department of Energy's new rulings did two things:
- Added new definitions of General Service Incandescent Lamps (GSILs) and General Service Lamps (GSLs)
- Added a 45 lumen per watt backstop for GSILs and GSLs (all CFL and LED products meet that requirement and will continue to be sold)
What is a General Service Incandescent Lamp (GSIL)?
According to the DOE's new ruling, a General Service Incandescent Lamp:
- Is a standard incandescent or halogen type lamp intended for general service applications
- Has a medium screw base
- Has a lumen range of 310-2600 (Modified spectrum range 232-1950 lumens)
- Is capable of being operated at a voltage range at least partially within 110 and 130 volts
Exclusions for GSILs include:
- Appliance lamp
- Bug lamp
- G-shape lamp with a diameter of 5”
- Left-hand thread lamp
- Marine signal service lamp
- Plant light lamp
- Sign service lamp
- Showcase lamp
- Black light lamp
- Colored lamp
- Infrared lamp
- Marine lamp
- Mine service lamp
- R20 short lamp
- Silver bowl lamp
- Traffic signal lamp
What is a General Service Lamp (GSL)?
According to the DOE's new ruling, a General Service Lamp is a lamp (of any technology – incandescent, halogen, LED, CFLi) that:
- Has an ANSI base (with the exclusion of light fixtures, LED downlight retrofit kits, and exemptions for specific base types)
- Has an initial lumen output of greater than or equal to 310 lumens (or 232 lumens for modified spectrum GSIL) and less than or equal to 3,300 lumens
- Is able to operate at a voltage of 12V or 24V, at or between 100 and 130V, at or between 220 to 240V, or of 277V for integrated lamps, or is able to operate at any voltage for non-integrated lamps
- Is not a light fixture
- Is not an LED downlight retrofit kit
- Is used in general lighting applications
Exclusions for General Service Lamps:
- Appliance lamps
- Black light lamps
- Bug lamps
- Silver bowl lamps
- Colored lamps
- G shape lamps with a diameter of 5 inches or more
- General service fluorescent lamps
- Sign service lamps
- High intensity discharge lamps
- Infrared lamps
- J, JC, JCD, JCS, JCV, JCX, JD, JS, and JT shape lamps that do not have Edison screw bases
- Showcase lamps
- Lamps that have a wedge base or prefocus base
- Left-hand thread lamps
- Marine lamps
- Specialty MR lamps
- Marine signal lamps
- Mine service lamps
- Plant light lamps
- Traffic signal lamps
- Other fluorescent lamps
- R20 short lamps
- MR shape lamps that:
- have a first number symbol equal to 16 (diameter equal to 2 inches) as defined in ANSI C79.1–2002
- operate at 12 volts, and
- have a lumen output greater than or equal to 800
- Reflector lamps that have a first number symbol less than 16 (diameter less than 2 inches) as defined in ANSIC79.1–2002, and that do not have E26/E24, E26d, E26/50x39, E26/53x39, E29/2
- S shape or G shape lamps that have a first number symbol less than or equal to 12.5 (diameter less than or equal to 1.5625 inches) as defined in ANSI C79.1-2002
- T-shape lamps that have a first number symbol less than or equal to 8 (diameter less than or equal to 1 inch), nominal overall length less than 12 inches, and that are not compact fluorescent lamps
Some of the exceptions above have tighter restrictions with the latest federal updates. For example, there is now a minimum wattage for infrared heat lamps that will result in some lower wattage heat lamps being discontinued without equivalent wattage replacements.
Anything outside of the definition of a GSL or GSIL will no longer be for sale in the United States. In most cases, federal law prohibits states from enacting their own legislation. However, existing state laws for products not covered in these definitions will remain in place.
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.
What's next: Enforcement for new lighting requirements
Exact details of enforcement remain unclear; however all sales of GSLs should be stopped by August 1, 2023 at the latest. Outside of the exemptions, most incandescent and halogen bulbs will not be able to meet new requirements and cannot be sold. For general applications, the options will primarily include CFLs and LEDs.
I need incandescent or halogen bulbs. What are my options?
If you need incandescent or halogen bulbs (outside of those included in the exclusions), you have two options: stock up now or find a compliant replacement product.
On our website at shop.regencysupply.com, we offer suggestions for compliant replacement products. Simply search for the product you typically buy and look for the "show compliant replacement products" option.
If you have a commercial building with hundreds of incandescent or halogen lighting products, now is a good time to go ahead and upgrade your lighting. Our lighting experts have years of experience and can provide the best options for your application. Contact us to get started today.