Small-diameter directional lamps


Small-diameter directional lamps are used in track lighting in stores, hotels, restaurants, museums, and, increasingly, in homes. They are 2.25 inches in diameter or less and include multifaceted reflector (MR) lamps and parabolic aluminized reflector (PAR) lamps operating at 12, 24 or 120 volts Directional lamps with light output less than 850 lumens and rated at greater than 300 hours of life are covered by the standard. The standard covers GU 11, GU 5.3, GUX 5.3, GU 8, GU 4 and medium screw base (E26) lamps.


The California Energy Commission (CEC) adopted standards for these lamps in January, 2016, the first such standards in the US. The standards covers all types of lighting technologies and require either:

  • a minimum efficacy of 80 lumens per watt (lpw) or
  • a minimum efficacy of 70 lpw and an efficiency score of at least 165, where the efficiency score is the sum of the luminous efficacy (in lpw) and color rendering index (CRI).

The standards also require a minimum rated life of 25,000 hours as determined by test procedures also included in the ruling. Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) is the only technology that currently meets these requirements so the standards would essentially hasten a move to LED technology for small-diameter directional lamps. However, small diameter LED lamps with an E26 base must meet California state standards for LED general service lamps, which are even more stringent.

The CEC estimates that California consumers will save more than $4 billion over the first 13 years and conserve enough electricity to power about 400,000 average homes.

The standards apply to lamps manufactured on or after January 1, 2018.


When the standards take effect in 2018, CEC estimates that 16 million small diameter directional lamps will be in use in California, about 12% of the 130 million installed nationwide. Currently, more than 90% of the installed stock of these lamps use inefficient incandescent technology. The standards are expected to reduce energy consumption by small diameter directional lamps in California by 80%.

*lamp is the industry term for light bulbs


Federal Date State
2018 CA Standard Effective
2016 CA Standard Adopted

Timeline reflects state standards from 2001 to present; federal standards from inception to present.

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