Rumors are beginning Jan 1, 2012; you will not be able to buy light bulbs. The facts are: President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act on December 19, 2007. It requires roughly 25 percent greater efficiency for certain light bulbs and will be phased in from 2012 through 2014. This effectively bans the sale of some of the most popular incandescent light bulbs and will be an interesting time in the supply chain for those products.

This phase out of existing technology incandescent bulbs will start with:

  • 100-watt bulb on 1/1/2012
  • 75-watt bulb on 1/1/2013
  • 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs on 1/1/2014

This does not ban incandescent bulbs; it requires they be more efficient. By 2020 all bulbs will have to be at least 70-200% more efficient than today’s incandescent bulbs.

Bulbs outside this range (roughly, bulbs less than 40 watts or more than 150 watts) are exempt from the ban. Also exempt are several classes of specialty lights, including appliance lamps, “rough service” bulbs, 3-way, colored lamps, and plant lights. CFLs (compact fluorescent) and SSL (Solid State Lighting) or LEDs are small steps towards this goal but both have drawbacks including cold weather starting, dimming and the mercury in CFLs while durability, price and effective light at a distance are an issue for LEDs.

I’m thinking if our best shot at efficiency is less than 30% today, we have plenty of room for improvement. I trust there is a grandchild out there that some day will remember looking at Grandma’s new ultra-white daylight LED light engine above the kitchen sink and remember it as ancient and inefficient technology.

Engineered Products Company Inc. (EPCO) is the premier brand supplier of specialty products to electrical distributors and contractors. Headquartered in Minnetonka, MN (a suburb west of Minneapolis), EPCO has supported the electrical industry since 1976 by supplying a broad range of standard and unique consumables for commercial, industrial, residential and agriculture buildings.