Light Bulbs to be Gone by Year's End

Effective January 1, 2012, it will be a federal offense for any company, organization, or individual in the United States to manufacture or import 100 watt incandescent light bulbs for general use lighting. Dennis Buffington, professor of agricultural engineering at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, said California already has banned 100 watt incandescent bulbs starting this year. The reason for the ban is the availability of other lighting alternatives today that are considerably more energy efficient than the incandescent bulbs.

Smaller sizes of incandescent bulbs will be banned at later dates. Effective January 1, 2013, 75 watt incandescent bulbs will face a similar ban; the 60 watt and 40 watt incandescents will be banned effective January 1, 2014.

“Specialty incandescent bulbs will not be subject to these bans,” Buffington said. “Specialty bulbs include three-way bulbs, appliance lights, bug lights, colored bulbs, vibration-service and rough-service bulbs, and bulbs used for marine and mining applications.”

When searching for an alternative to incandescent bulbs, Buffington advised, evaluate the lights on the basis of lighting efficiency, expressed as lumens per watt. The wattage rating of a bulb merely indicates the wattage of electricity required for input to the bulb. The light output is measured in lumens. Thus, lighting efficiency is expressed as lumens per watt.

“The compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) produces about four times the amount of light that an incandescent bulb produces on a per-watt basis,” Buffington explained. “An additional benefit is that the CFL has a life span of about 10,000 hours versus 1,000 hours for a typical incandescent. A disadvantage of the CFL is that the bulb contains both mercury and lead – potentially hazardous heavy metals.”

Although CFL bulbs contain significantly less mercury and lead than they did a decade ago, the bulbs still must be handled in a responsible manner for disposal, Buffington cautioned. Most home improvement stores now have drop-off sites for proper disposal of the burned-out CFL bulbs.

April 2011 RENDER | back