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Shedding Light on the Incandescent Phase-Out


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CannonDesign's Illuminating Ideas newsletter.

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Shedding Light on the Incandescent Phase-Out

  1. 1. Issue 1 | Volume 4 | 2014-01-15 Illuminating ideas from the CannonDesign Lighting Studio Educating Colleagues in the Art and Science of Lighting Shedding Light on the Incandescent Phase-Out the hoarding of 60 Watt and 40 Watt Bulbs Begin” (USA Today, Dec. 2013), “Last of the Incandescent Light Bulbs Banned” (LA Times, Jan. 2014), and “Dark Times Ahead: Incandescent Light Bulb Banned in 2014” (Daily Caller, Jan. 2014), it’s no surprise that the public’s reaction is widely negative. In our country, founded on the tenets of liberty and freedom, it’s fairly easy to understand how a ban on anything would put our backs up. The concept of outright prohibition has been met throughout our history with adversity; we simply don’t like being told what we can’t do. That’s why it’s critical to quash the misnomer “ban” and understand that what’s really been adopted is a gradual process of increasing our country’s efficiency as it pertains to consuming lighting resources through innovation and improvement. Ultimately, the legislation has forced manufacturers to focus R&D efforts on improving lamp technology – which many have successfully done - while simultaneously compelling consumers to learn about more efficient alternatives. If you haven’t heard about the “Ban on Incandescent Light Bulbs” by now, it’s time to re-acquaint yourself with your favorite news source. As of January 1st, traditional 40 and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs can no longer be made or imported into the United States, part of the multiyear phase-out of the traditional source under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act signed into law by George W. Bush. The two lamps, which account for about half of all standard bulb sales, follow the rolling phase-outs of the 100 and 75-watt lamps, which went into effect in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Quick facts on the EISA legislation: • • • • It only affects “general service incandescents”, defined as medium screw-base lamps producing 310-2600 lumens, which effectively mean the 100, 75, 60, and 40-watt bulbs that we know and love. It mandates that these lamp types must use 27% less energy by 2014 or they can no longer be sold. It specifically excludes all other incandescent lamp types and shapes, including PAR and MR16 reflector lamps, decorative lamps, 3-way lamps, candelabra base lamps, and all sorts of specialty and rough service lamps. By 2020, general service (medium screw-base) incandescents will be required to meet even more stringent efficiency standards. Again, all other incandescent lamp types will be exempt under the current legislation. Like it or not, we (as in, the human race) are in a critical situation when it comes to energy consumption, and by many metrics the United States is the world’s biggest glutton. The majority of Americans say they were not aware the phase-out was coming, which explains the recent onslaught of media coverage. With headlines like “Let (Source: The Energy Collective) 1
  2. 2. Option 1: Stick with incandescent if you love incandescent. Just as the legislation was designed to encourage them to do, major lamp companies like GE and Philips have taken the EISA’s mandate to reduce incandescent power consumption by 27% and have introduced high efficiency incandescent versions of the lamps being phased-out. The new and improved versions of these lamps cost about a dollar more than their “banned” cousins, but that cost is recovered over the course of the lamp’s life through its reduced energy consumption. Pop in the replacement and you’re good to go, and you’ll save a few nickels a month to boot. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Of the nation’s total energy use, lighting accounts for roughly 19%, with 71% of that lighting energy spent in residences and the other 29% consumed in the commercial and industrial sectors. The takeaway: the gross majority of our country’s lighting power is eaten up in our homes – making improving residential lighting an obvious choice when targeting areas to improve energy efficiency. And there’s a second reason to target residential lighting: the primary lighting instrument used in residential lighting applications, the incandescent “A” lamp, is inherently inefficient. The A lamp has remained largely unchanged since its inception in the 1800s. In short, a tightly coiled wire filament is placed in a glass bulb filled with inert gas. As electricity flows through the lamp, the filament actually resists the flow, causing it to heat until it glows, or “incandesces”. This method is extremely ineffective; its job is to create light, but because of this resistance only 10% of the energy it consumes is actually converted into visible light. The other 90% of the energy is emitted as heat - AKA, waste. The metric we use to define how well a light source does its primary job – or, how much visible light (lumens) a source produces per watt consumed, is called “luminous efficacy,” and the higher the efficacy the more efficient the source. Incandescent lamps have efficacies of roughly 12 lumens/watt, while newer alternative technologies like CFLs and LEDs have efficacies several times that amount. (Source: GE) Option 2: Swap out your A lamp for an LED or a CFL for even more energy savings. Premature introduction to the market with poor consumer education has given both of these technologies a bad rap, and the importance of making informed decisions when using either can’t be overstated. However, both technologies have stabilized and are perfectly good replacements for incandescent A lamps in many household applications, like table and floor lamps, pendants, and surface mounted ceiling or wall luminaires. The DOE has made selecting an appropriate, high-quality replacement lamp easier by requiring a “Lighting Facts” label on all packaging indicating light output, wattage, color temperature and color accuracy. (Source: Philips) So, if there are more energy efficient solutions, which obviously translate to lower energy consumption followed by lower electric bills, why are We The People so reluctant to give up our A lamps? Chiefly, because they’re familiar, they’re cheap, and we don’t know any better. But with the legislation in full effect, it’s time to get savvy on our options to make the switch as painless as possible. 2
  3. 3. If you’re controlling the new source with a dimmer, check for dimming compatibility (which is available from all reputable lamp manufacturers). Dimmer companies like Lutron and Leviton have done a great job introducing new products for these sources that are reliable and reasonably priced. If you’re concerned about the toxicity of CFL mercury content or return on investment given the increased upfront costs of these alternatives, click the embedded links for some great articles that will put your mind at ease. As constituents, we all want to know the policies being created in Washington D.C. not only trend positively for the greater Union, but also have a direct and constructive effect on our own personal lives. The lighting efficiency requirements in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act empower our country to decrease our consumption of natural resources while concurrently keeping more money in the wallets of the American people. Seems like a bright idea to this lighting designer. Written by Sara Schonour Option 3: Rethink your lamp choice. Are you using an incandescent A lamp in a recessed downlight? If you are, you’re already wasting about 50% of what little lighting power the omni-directional shape emits. Choose a reflector style PAR incandescent lamp (not on the phase-out list) instead, which directs all of its light in the right direction, or take it one step further and consider an LED or CFL PAR replacement to save up to 80% of the consumed electricity. Lighting can be a complex topic - we’re here to help! If you have questions about this article or anything relating to the world of lighting design, don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of the CannonDesign Lighting Studio. Haley Darst, Intern LC, Jr. Assoc. IALD, EIT, LEED BD+C Boston Carina J. Grega New York City Sara Schonour, LC, Assoc. IALD, EIT, LEED AP, CDT Boston Option 4: Hoard the phased-out lamps while you still can. While it’s not the preferred option, it’s certainly one you can choose to take, as stores are allowed to sell their stock of existing A lamps until they run out. If you’ve got the closet space and enjoy overpaying for lighting in your home, stockpiling inefficient light bulbs is your American right. Raisa Shigol, LC Chicago Ray Soto, LC, LEED AP, CDT Grand Island Kate St. Laurent, LC Boston 3