Category: Legislation + Regulation

Efficiency Laws Are Retiring Lighting’s Workhorses

Incandescent general-service and reflector lamps, and fluorescent magnetic, mercury vapor and probe-start metal halide ballasts, are being targeted by efficiency legislation. As a result, some of lighting’s most venerable workhorses…

Incandescent general-service and reflector lamps, and fluorescent magnetic, mercury vapor and probe-start metal halide ballasts, are being targeted by efficiency legislation. As a result, some of lighting’s most venerable workhorses are being retired. Their new competitors are simply too efficient and better performing.

Light Bulb Crash

The electronic ballast’s rapid rise to dominance of the fluorescent ballast market, for example, will be complete starting in 2010. With passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005), ballast manufacturers will begin phasing out production of their last magnetic ballast models starting July 2009.

Then on July 1, 2010, luminaire manufacturers will stop selling fluorescent luminaires with magnetic ballasts—with a few exceptions—and ballast manufacturers will stop producing replacement ballasts that don’t pass the efficiency requirements.

In the high-intensity discharge (HID) family, mercury vapor and probe-start metal halide ballasts are being targeted.

Mercury vapor isn’t specified very often anymore, but still has a large installed base. EPAct 2005 eliminated manufacture and import of these ballasts as of January 1, 2008. While there may be options to lose the ballast but keep the mercury lamp, owners of installed systems should be encouraged to consider upgrading their lighting to other sources such as metal halide. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) contains technical corrections to EPAct 2005 enabling specialty ballasts.

Starting January 1, 2009, EISA 2007 enacts regulation of the efficiency of ballasts in new luminaires containing 150-500W metal halide lamps, with some exceptions; compliant luminaires will bear a capital “E” printed in a circle on their packaging and ballast label. In a nutshell, probe-start magnetic ballasts for operation of lamps up to 400W will be virtually eliminated from new luminaires and, with them, most 175-400W probe-start metal halide lamps. Alternatives include fluorescent and pulse-start metal halide luminaires, which in almost all respects are more efficient and better performing.

EISA 2007 also took aim at the iconic incandescent lamp with efficiency standards targeting reflector lamps in June 2008 and general-service lamps starting in January 2012.

Regarding reflector lamps, there are notable exceptions, but most incandescent reflector lamps have been phased out. Demand is expected to shift to halogen, which does comply; check with manufacturers about substitutions.

Regarding general-service screw-in incandescent and halogen lamps, today’s offerings will be virtually eliminated—100W lamps starting January 1, 2012, 75W lamps starting in 2013, and 40W and 60W lamps starting in 2014. However, this oldest of lighting technologies may survive if it can be reinvented with a higher efficiency, although this seems doubtful since GE recently announced that it was giving up on its high-efficiency incandescent (HEI) lamp. Meanwhile, energy-saving halogen bulbs are available and more are expected within the next few years.

Of these efficiency regulations, almost all of them target technology that, in some cases, is so obsolete it’s surprising the market hasn’t finished them off on its own. For example, probe-start luminaires were being installed in new buildings that were immediately ripe for retrofit to fluorescent luminaires for up to 50% energy savings. For almost all of the targeted technologies, highly efficient and better-performing substitutes are available. The exception is the general-service incandescent lamp: The compact fluorescent still has some performance issues, such as the fact that dimmable models exhibit problems while dimming on line-voltage dimmers, and it simply isn’t suitable for all incandescent applications. Let’s hope tomorrow’s LEDs can do better.

Incandescent reflector lamps. Fluorescent magnetic, mercury vapor and probe-start metal halide ballasts. They’ve had a good run, but now it’s time to gracefully retire.

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President Obama Likely to Address U.S. Energy Demand

And that will probably include lighting, too. Calling energy efficiency America’s “cheapest, cleanest, fastest energy source,” President Obama’s energy plan targets a reduction in electricity demand of 15% from projected…

And that will probably include lighting, too.

Calling energy efficiency America’s “cheapest, cleanest, fastest energy source,” President Obama’s energy plan targets a reduction in electricity demand of 15% from projected levels by 2020, including efforts to make all new buildings 50% more efficient and all existing buildings 25% more efficient.

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With a clear mandate and Democrats holding a strong majority in both houses of Congress, Mr. Obama is in a position to see his energy plan become law fairly quickly.

Lighting will play a major part in achieving these goals both as a critical part of any effort to upgrade the efficiency of a building and as an appliance regulated by efficiency standards

The potential problem here is that policy makers, not being lighting people, do not always make decisions that reflect human needs for good lighting. Despite the strong lobbying efforts of some of the larger lighting manufacturers, it seems like the lighting community too often finds itself reacting to policy set by others instead of shaping policy themselves.

In the January issue of Illuminate, a magazine I produce as a supplement to Architectural Products, I called for the funding of an industry lobbying organization to represent the interests of good lighting to policy makers such as code-making and standard-setting organizations, state and Federal governments, regulatory bodies such as the U.S. Department of Energy, and other industry groups such as the U.S. Green Building Council.

This organization would not belong to one particular interest in the lighting industry but span multiple organizations to make sure there is broadest possible representation.

For more information (PDF) about President Obama’s energy plan published when he was then candidate Obama, click here.

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GE Suspends Work on the HEI Lamp

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 regulates the efficiency of general-service 40-100W incandescent and halogen screw-in lamps starting in 2012. With only a few exceptions among energy-saving screw-in…

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 regulates the efficiency of general-service 40-100W incandescent and halogen screw-in lamps starting in 2012. With only a few exceptions among energy-saving screw-in halogen lamps, today’s incandescent lamps do not comply and will therefore be eliminated.

Light Bulb Crash

The good news for incandescent fans (and those who simply want choice in residential sockets, or use dimmers) is that the law does not present an outright ban on incandescent lamps but instead approximately doubles the efficacy of today’s lamps. After the passage of the Act, GE announced that it intended to launch a compliant high-efficiency incandescent (HEI) lamp by 2010.

The bad news is that GE has suspended work on the lamp. The company issued a brief statement:

“GE Consumer & Industrial and GE Global Research have suspended the development of the [HEI lamp] to place a greater focus and investment on what we believe will be the ultimate in energy-efficient lighting—light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs).”

While there may still be some options for consumers interested in retaining incandescent lighting, generally demand is expected to shift to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which have been rapidly gaining share of market against incandescents in recent years.

Right behind the CFL, however, is LED and OLED lighting:

“Research and development of these technologies is moving at an impressive pace and will be ready for general lighting in the near future,” said GE. “LEDs and OLEDs used in general lighting are now poised to surpass the projected efficiency levels of HEI along with other energy-efficient technologies like fluorescent, and have the additional benefits of long life and durability.”

Philips Lighting similarly recently indicated that it would not be investing in R&D for CFLs but instead focusing on LED lighting. Kaj den Daas, chairman and CEO of Philips Lighting, said it’s not spending any money on CFL R&D but is instead focusing most of its R&D budget–5.2% of the company’s global lighting revenue–on research into LED light sources.

Omnidirectional LED lamps bombed in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) product testing over the past 2+ years and are therefore not yet considered ready for prime time as a replacement against workhorses such as 60W incandescent A-lamps. To speed things along, DOE created a $10 million L Prize offered to whomever can produce a high-performing LED replacement lamp for 60W incandescents, and is expected to release final ENERGY STAR criteria for LED replacement lamps in summer 2009.

DOE is optimistic, expecting a replacement lamp to be developed in the next 1-3 years.

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