Some Light Bulb Education
April 11th, 2012
Status of the Residential Light Bulb
What’s really happening with our beloved 100 watt incandescent light bulb? Here is the new law simplified, the exemptions, and what we recommend you buy for the 100 watt incandescent bulb replacement!
The new law
The legislation is meant to improve the efficiency of lighting. The new law does not mean the old-style 100-watt bulb cannot be sold after Jan. 1, only that it cannot be manufactured. Most retailers are still selling the 100-watt incandescent bulb until supplies run out. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, the traditional 100-watt incandescent bulb has to be more efficient. The 75-watt incandescent bulb is banned as of January 1, 2013, and the 60-watt and 40-watt on January 1, 2014.
Not included in the “ban” are candle bulbs up to 60 watts, rough service (outdoor shatter resistant), 3-way bulbs, colored bulbs (such as pink or yellow bug bulbs), appliance bulbs (stove & refrigerator), plant lights, black lights, and some heavy-duty commercial bulbs. If sales of any of these types double, then restrictions will be placed on them, including maximum wattage and single-pack packaging requirements. California and Nevada will adopt the new federal incandescent bulb standards in 2011 instead of 2012, but the phasing intervals must be maintained.
What are lumens?
Lumens measure brightness (watts just indicate energy use). The standard 100-watt incandescent bulb emits 1750 lumens of light.
What is the best replacement bulb for my 100 watt incandescent bulb?
- 1. The halogen hybrid light bulb is our top recommendation since it has both a halogen filament and an incandescent filament. Halogen bulbs are similar to incandescent bulbs, but they produce much more light per watt (about 28 percent more efficient). They contain no mercury like fluorescent bulbs and cost a fraction of what an LED costs. They provide a warm white light with a bit of the incandescent feel, are more efficient and cost a couple dollars per bulb.
- Other alternatives include:
- 2. Pure halogen A bulbs (without incandescent filament): the 72-watt halogen lamp bulb provides at least the same light as the old 100-watt bulb but the light is “whiter”, meaning that you don’t get the “warm” yellow glow of incandescent but do get truer color. And halogen bulbs remain brighter than CFLs. Besides brightness, halogen bulbs are dimmable and warm up instantly.
- 3. CFL: Even more efficient are compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs, are the spiral-shaped fluorescent bulbs that are commonly seen now). If you get the 2700K (see note c below) version in the A-bulb shape, it will look so much like the former 100 watt incandescent bulb, you can only tell the difference by its size (slightly larger than the incandescents they replace).
- Cautions: Make sure to get a dimmable version (if you use a dimmer) and they still do contain minor amounts of mercury.
- 4. Full spectrum “daylight” bulbs: These are a special fluorescent bulb with bright Natural Spectrum light to lift spirits, sharpen concentration and improve energy levels. They activate your body’s own energy enhancers to make you more alert and productive. (5000-6000K). See Note C below to learn more about the “color” of light.
- 5. LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs: These bulbs have no dangerous ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths and are ultra-efficient and very long-lasting. The 14 watt dimmable LED A19 bulb is the 100-watt replacement but still costs approximately $40-$50 each.
Other important facts
- a. None of the new bulbs are as inexpensive as the traditional bulbs that we are used to, but each of them, including the halogens, use less electricity and last far longer than the old bulbs.
- b. Brighter is not necessarily better! Brightness becomes especially important as you age, when the lens in your eye becomes more rigid and then cloudier. When that happens, more light is needed to provide contrast. But most people prefer a lower-wattage halogen over the higher wattage CFL.
- c. The color temperature of a bulb (how “white” or “yellow” the light appears) is just as important as the lumens that it emits. Higher “Kelvin” bulbs emit a whiter light, whereas lower “Kelvin” bulbs emit a more yellowish light. Whiter light will be in the 4000K-5000K range, bluer light is 6000K and up and 2700K is equivalent to the yellowish warm light you are used to from the incandescent bulb.
- d. d. Other lighting terms: Radiance measures brightness released from the source and luminance measures brightness at the object. Footcandle is the amount of light of one candle on a surface one foot away.