General Service Lamps

THE PRODUCT:

About half of all light bulbs used in the U.S. are the familiar pear-shaped “A-type” bulbs. Other types commonly found in homes include reflectors, decorative and other bulbs of many shapes and sizes. There are over six billion light bulbs in use in the U.S. today (not counting fluorescent tubes).

Before 2012, A-type bulbs usually came in 40, 60, 75, or 100-watt incandescent versions. Then federal standards kicked in and most incandescent A-type bulbs were replaced by slightly more efficient halogen bulbs, and much more efficient compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs. Today, most A-type general service lamps sold use light-emitting diode (LED) technology. LED bulbs use less energy and last longer than incandescent, halogen or CFL light bulbs.

THE STANDARD:

The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 set standards for A-type light bulbs requiring them to use about 25-30% less energy than the traditional incandescent light bulbs. The efficiency standards, which were phased in between 2012 and 2014, set the maximum wattage for light bulbs, regardless of technology, according to brightness or “lumens” as shown in the table below.  

EISA 2007 Standards for General Service Incandescent Lamps (A-type bulbs)

Phase I

Rated Lumen Ranges Maximum Rated Wattages Minimum Rated Lifetime (hrs) Effective Date
1490-2600 72 1000 hours January 1, 2012
1050-1489 53 1000 hours January 1, 2013
750-1049 43 1000 hours January 1, 2014
310-749 29 1000 hours January 1, 2014

These standards required that A-type light bulbs reach between 10-20 lumens-per-watt efficiency, depending upon the wattage of the bulb.

Phase 2

EISA also required the Department of Energy to issue a second phase of general service lamp standards by January 1, 2017. Congress also wrote a “backstop” standard into EISA that would be triggered if DOE failed to meet the new standard deadline. DOE did miss the January 1, 2017 deadline and now all general service lamps sold in the U.S. must meet the backstop standard of 45 lumens-per-watt starting January 1, 2020. DOE also expanded the definition of general service lamp beyond A-type bulbs to include reflectors, decorative and other bulbs with different bases. LED and CFL technology can meet the 45 lpw minimums, but incandescent or halogen technology cannot.

KEY FACTS :

Incandescent light bulbs have been around for more than a century. Over time consumers became accustomed to buying bulbs based on their power, or “watts”, rating (40, 60, 75, 100) as a proxy for the brightness of the bulb. However, newer lighting technologies produce more light using less electricity, and a direct measure of light bulb brightness – lumens – allows the comparison of bulbs that use different technologies. The Federal Trade Commission requires lighting products to carry labels stating both lumens and watts, as well as information about lifespan, light quality and yearly energy costs. The table below shows information for halogen and LED light bulbs that are comparable to a 60-Watt incandescent bulb. The cost of lighting with LEDs is about 75% less than lighting with halogen light bulbs.
 

Bulb Type

Lumens

Watts

Price

Life (years)

Annual Cost

Halogen

600

43

$1.49

1.5

$5.69

LED

840

9.5

$2.39

17.9

$1.17

Notes:    1. Typical halogen and LED light bulbs for sale at a major U.S. retailer on 5/2/19.

              2. Annual cost includes yearly share of bulb purchase plus electricity charges.

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Timeline

Federal Date States
Potential Effective Date of Updated Standard 2025
Updated DOE Standard Due 2022
2020 WA Standard Effective
2020 VT Standard Effective
2020 CO Standard Effective *
2020 NV Standard Effective
2019 WA Standard Adopted
2019 CO Standard Adopted
2019 NV Standard Adopted
2017 VT Standard Adopted
2012 NV Standard Effective *
1st Federal Standard Effective 2012
Test Procedure - Last Revised - Active Mode 2012
2011 CA Standard Effective
2008 CA Standard Adopted
EISA Initial Federal Legislation Enacted 2007
2007 NV Standard Adopted
1st Federal Standard Adopted (Congress) 2007
2006 CA Standard Effective
2004 CA Standard Adopted
EPACT Initial Federal Legislation Enacted 1992

* State standard never went into effect due to preemption by federal standard.

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