A Golden-Glow Rule

Earlier this year, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced new efficiency standards for commercial general-service fluorescent and incandescent reflector lamps. The result is that the least-efficient and lowest cost products will be removed from the market when the rules become effective July 14, 2012.


The DOE rules expand on efficiency rules established by the Energy Policy Act of 1992 by strengthening standards for covered lamp types as well as 8-foot T8 lamps, 4-foot T5 lamps and more wattages of 4-foot T8 and T12 lamps.

The net result is a majority of 4-foot linear and 2-foot U-shaped T12 lamps, many 8-foot T12 and T12HO, and some lower color-rendering 4-foot T8 lamps will be eliminated:

• Most 4-foot F40 and F34T12 linear lamps

• All 2-foot FB40 and FB34T12 U-shaped lamps

• All 75W F96T12 and 110W T96T12HO lamps

• Most 60W F96T12/ES and 95W F96T12/ES/HO lamps

• All 4-foot T8 basic-grade 700/SP series lamps rated at 2,800 lumens

• Some 8-foot T8 Slimline single-pin 700/SP series and 8-foot T8HO RDC-base lamps

Current exemptions will continue to be recognized, including lamps with a color-rendering index rating of 87 or higher, lamps designed to operate in cold temperatures, ultraviolet lamps, and certain other specialty lamps.

Two ramifications are of interest to contractors. First is that fewer lamp choices will be available to purchase, and the new baseline will be lamps that are more efficient and often offer greater color rendering ability and/or longer service life. Note, however, that distributors will not be prohibited from selling noncompliant lamps after the effective date, so they will be able to continue selling them until their inventories are exhausted. Second, this is a good excuse for contractors to call their commercial customers, advise them of their options, and recommend that they switch from their obsolete T12 systems to more efficient T8 lighting systems and controls.

Meanwhile, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 expanded DOE ballast regulations that were enacted in 2002. Contractors should note that by July 1, 2010—with few exceptions—ballast makers will be prohibited from manufacturing magnetic ballasts for full-wattage and energy-saving 4- and 8-foot T12 lamps in new fixtures or even for replacement purposes.


The DOE rules expand on efficiency rules established by the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The result is a majority of incandescent and halogen reflector lamps will be eliminated, and the manufacturing community must produce alternatives. Most affected lamps are 40 to 205W R, PAR, BR, ER and BPAR lamps with a diameter larger than 2.5 inches. The list includes 130-volt (V) lamps operated on 120V with the intention of doubling lamp life with a modest reduction in light output.

Existing exemptions included in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 are expected to remain intact until July 2013, per pending energy legislation. These lamps, common in residential and some commercial applications, include 50 watts (W) and lower BR30, BR40, ER30 and ER40; 45W and lower R20; and 65W BR30, BR40 and ER40 lamps.

Contractors already adapting to the 2007 Energy Act will have fewer halogen options left that comply. If characteristics such as dimmability, lighting quality and intensity are desired, contractors can substitute infrared (IR)-coated halogen reflector lamps that pass the new standards (not all will). In this type of lamp, the IR coating redirects wasted heat produced during light emission back to the filament—raising its temperature and enabling the lamp to produce more light output for the same input watts—boosting efficacy (lumens per watt) by 20 to 30 percent, according to one manufacturer. Alternatively, low-voltage halogen can be recommended.

Other options include compact fluorescent, self-ballasted metal halide and LED lamps, but these currently do not provide performance equivalent to halogen.

As with the fluorescent lamp rules, the incandescent reflector lamp rules will result in a more efficient and more expensive new baseline. Distributors may continue selling noncompliant product after the effective date until inventories are exhausted. Contractors may find it desirable to advise customers about the impact of the rules on lamp choices and recommend good alternatives.

Unlike fluorescents, few alternatives exist in the same lamp family, which means manufacturers will be developing new products based on demand over the next 2 years and will provide guidance on substitutions. By then, there may be other technologies with equivalent performance for much higher efficiency.

For more information, contact your preferred lamp manufacturer or visit www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/residential/incandescent_lamps.html.

Special thanks to Joseph Howley (GE), Susan Anderson (Osram Sylvania) and Brian Vedder (Philips Lighting) for their assistance developing this article.

DILOUIE, a lighting industry journalist, analyst and marketing consultant, is principal of ZING Communications. He can be reached at www.zinginc.com.

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