Governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs for general lighting in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives. Phase-out regulations effectively ban the manufacture, importation or sale of incandescent light bulbs for general lighting. The regulations would allow sale of future versions of incandescent bulbs if they are sufficiently energy efficient.
Brazil and Venezuela started the controversial phase-out in 2005, and the European Union, Switzerland, and Australia started to phase them out in 2009. Likewise, other nations are implementing new energy standards or have scheduled phase-outs: Argentina, and Russia in 2012, and the United States, Canada, Mexico, Malaysia and South Korea in 2014.
Objections to replacement of incandescent lamps for general lighting mainly include the higher purchasing cost of alternative light bulbs. To mitigate the effects of these concerns, various programs have been put in place ranging from subsidies for lamps to improved standards for measurement of performance and for labelling products. Manufacturers develop fluorescent lamps with reduced mercury content compared to original designs, and recycling programs are intended to prevent mercury release. New lamp types offer improved starting characteristics, and dimmable types are available.
The light from an incandescent source is similar in character to that from a Planckian "black body" in spectral distribution, that is, the bulb, as the filament heats up, produces light from wavelengths throughout the visible spectrum. Alternative light sources use phosphors or combinations of mono-chromatic LEDs (red, blue, green) to produce "white" light, giving significantly irregular spectral distributions which can result in color casts in photography and differences of color matching when compared to incandescent light or daylight.
Halogen lamps are a type of incandescent lamp with improved efficiency over regular incandescent lamps. Though not as energy efficient as other alternatives, they are up to 40 percent more efficient than standard incandescent lamps designed for a 2000-hour life. Depending on size, voltage, and designed life, small low-voltage halogen lamps can have 70% higher efficacy than large line-voltage lamps. The high operating temperature of halogen bulbs may be a safety hazard in some applications.
A compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) uses a fluorescent lamp tube which is curved or folded to fit into the space of an incandescent bulb and contains a compact electronic ballast in the base of the lamp. Compared to general-service incandescent lamps giving the same amount of visible light, CFLs use one-fifth to one-third the electric power, and may last eight to fifteen times longer. Newer phosphor formulations have improved the perceived color, with "soft white" CFLs judged subjectively similar to standard incandescent lamps. Objections more specifically relating to compact fluorescent light bulbs include the different quality of light produced by phosphor-based lamps compared to incandescent lamps and that compact fluorescent light bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, a potent neurotoxin, which is especially dangerous to children and pregnant women, and made more serious by the confined area mercury would be dispersed in the event of a breakage indoors. Environmental concerns about mercury contamination from CFLs have been raised, but CFLs can be shown to result in less mercury in the environment compared to traditional incandescent bulbs due to the significant reductions in power plant emissions. Thus, use of energy-efficient bulbs can actually reduce the amount of mercury released into the environment.Compact fluorescent lamps start poorly when very cold, and most types cannot be dimmed. A few specialist applications are unsuitable for CFLs.
Light emitting diode (LED) lamps are used for both general and special-purpose lighting. Compared to fluorescent bulbs, their advantages are that they contain no mercury, they turn on instantly at any temperature, their extremely long lifetime is unaffected by cycling on and off, they have no glass to break, and they don't emit UV rays that fade colored materials. LED lamps radiate almost no heat, and can be either multi-directional or unidirectional, eliminating the need for a mirrored reflector in the bulb or fixture. LED lamps can emit saturated colored light. Disadvantages include spectrum limitations due to discrete emission colors, and higher up-front cost than incandescent bulbs.
South Africa is in stage of phasing out incandescent light bulbs in 2016.
Since January 2016 the importation of incandescent light bulbs has been banned in Zambia.
China will ban imports and sales of certain incandescent light bulbs starting October 2012 to encourage the use of alternative lighting sources such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), with a 5-year plan of phasing-out incandescent light bulbs over 100 watts starting 1 October 2012, and gradually extend the ban to those over 15 watts on 1 October 2016. Another source, however, has indicated that by 1 October 2016, all incandescent light bulbs will be banned. According to this source, 1 November 2011 to 30 September 2012 will be a transitional period and as of 1 October 2012, imports and sales of ordinary incandescent bulbs of 100 watts or more will be prohibited. The first phase will be followed by a ban on 60-watt-and-higher incandescent light bulbs starting in October 2014. By October 2016, all incandescent light bulbs will be banned in China. The final phase may be adjusted according to the results of interim assessment from October 2015 to October 2016.
While not a complete ban, the UJALA plan in India sought to replace 770 million incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs by 2019. This was expected to reduce energy consumption by over 100 billion kWh annually and reduce annual electricity bills by (US$6.2 billion). As of April 2017, 229 million LED bulbs had been distributed across the country.
The states of Tamil Nadu , Kerala and Karnataka in India have banned the use of incandescent bulbs in government departments, public sector undertakings, various boards, cooperative institutions, local bodies, and institutions running on government aid.
In February 2008, president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called for a ban of incandescent light bulbs by 2010 in favor of more energy-efficient fluorescent globes to help cut greenhouse gas emissions and household costs during her closing remarks at the Philippine Energy Summit. Once put in effect, the country will be the first in Asia to do so.
The Government will stop all production, import and sales of incandescent light bulbs by or before January 2014, as part of efforts to save power and to help cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Phase out of 60W and over incandescent light bulbs has been implemented from 1 January 2012. As a measure to increase awareness a national awareness campaign has been initiated by the Ministry of Energy where three CFLs will be sold at a subsidized price to the public.
South Korea has phased out incandescent light bulbs under 150 watts since 2014. The government has prohibited manufacture and import of all incandescent lights. All incandescent bulbs are going to be replaced by LED and CFL light bulbs.
The UK government announced in 2007 that incandescent bulbs would be phased out by 2011. In 2008, the Irish government announced a phase-out of the sale of any light bulbs with a luminous efficiency of less than 16 lumens per watt. Shortly afterwards, all member states of the EU agreed to a progressive phase-out of incandescent light bulbs by 2012. The initial Europe wide ban only applied to general-purpose, non-directional incandescent bulbs, so did not affect any bulbs with reflective surfaces (e.g. spotlights and halogen down lighters) or special purpose bulbs including those used in devices such as household appliances, traffic lights, infrared lamps and automotive lighting. The sale of the most inefficient bulbs was phased out. The first types to go were non-clear (frosted) bulbs, which were taken off the market in September 2009. Also from September 2009 clear bulbs over 100 W were made of more efficient types. This limit was moved down to lower wattages, and the efficiency levels raised by the end of 2012.
In practice, some manufacturers and retailers have found a loophole in the new rules so that some incandescents are still available, marketed as "rough-service" or "shock-resistant" bulbs for industrial use only. Such bulbs are widely available in markets and hardware stores at much lower cost than official alternatives such as CFLs. They also offer improved safety for users by having a faster reaction time, and so users can see hazards when entering a room for example. Since first bans were introduced however, prices of these bulbs have risen by 20-25%. A German importer simply reclassified the lamps as "mini heaters" branded "Heatballs", but that was banned shortly afterwards.
The EU set a target of 2016 to phase out halogen bulbs with two directives EC 244/2009 and EC 1194/2012. The phase out of the first directive EC 244/2009 originally planned for September 2016 was delayed until September 2018. The second directive EC 1194/2012 was upheld, as part of a review of the lighting directive four criteria needed to be assessed before a phase-out could be confirmed. Issues of 'affordability' were under scrutiny, as well as performance, equivalence to existing models and compatibility. The EU confirmed that there was absolutely no reason to delay the ban on mains voltage directional halogen lamps, as all four of the criteria had been sufficiently met. The directive EC 1194/2012 relates to mains voltage directional halogen lamps and means many common halogen reflector lamps such as D rated GU10's are affected.
Norway has implemented the EU directive for the Phase-out of incandescent light bulbs and has followed the same phase out route as the EU. There was a half-year delay in implementing the directive compared to the EU, but the phase out occurred at the same time since the affected light bulbs were no longer available from European sources.
Switzerland banned the sale of all light bulbs of the Energy Efficiency Class F and G, which affects a few types of incandescent light bulbs. Most normal light bulbs are of Energy Efficiency Class E, and the Swiss regulation has exceptions for various kinds of special-purpose and decorative bulbs.
In April 2007, Ontario's Minister of Energy Dwight Duncan announced the provincial government's intention to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2012. Later in April, the federal government announced that it would ban the sale of inefficient incandescent light bulbs nationwide by 2012 as part of a plan to cut down on emissions of greenhouse gases.
On 9 Nov 2011, the federal government approved a proposal to delay new energy efficiency standards for light bulbs until 1 January 2014, when it will become illegal to import inefficient incandescent lighting across the country. In December 2011, Ontario Energy Minister [Chris Bentley] confirmed that Ontario is scrapping the five-year-old plan "to avoid confusing consumers".
The Energy Star program, in which Natural Resources Canada is a partner, in March 2008 established rules for labelling lamps that meet a set of standards for efficiency, starting time, life expectancy, colour, and consistency of performance. The intent of the program is to reduce consumer concerns about efficient light bulbs due to variable quality of products. Those CFLs with a recent Energy Star certification start in less than one second and do not flicker.
In January 2011, the province of British Columbia banned retailers from ordering 75- or 100-watt incandescent bulbs.
Canada's Energy Efficiency Regulations are published on the Natural Resources Canada website.
The Canadian federal government banned the import and sale of 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs, effective 1 January 2014. On 1 January 2015, 40- and 60-watt bulbs were also banned. Retailers will be allowed to sell their existing inventories imported before the bans.
In Utah energy efficiency standards for government buildings were passed in 1999 that, in practice, require the adoption of energy efficient technology, including LEDs, as the technology becomes available.  Utah has also undertaken a number of LED based lighting projects to regain efficiency.
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In December 2007, the federal government enacted the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which contains legislation to make incandescent light bulbs more efficient by setting maximum wattage requirements for all general service incandescent light bulbs producing 310-2600 lumens of light. Light bulbs outside of this range are exempt from the restrictions. Also exempt are several classes of specialty lights, including appliance lamps, rough service bulbs, 3-way, colored lamps, stage lighting, plant lights, candelabra lights under 60 watts, outdoor post lights less than 100 watts, nightlights and shatter resistant bulbs. This effectively banned the manufacturing or importing of most incandescent bulbs of that time.
The timeline for these standards was to start in January 2012. By 2020, a second tier of restrictions would become effective, which require all general-purpose bulbs to produce at least 45 lumens per watt (similar to current CFLs).
The United States Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program in March 2008 established rules for labeling lamps that meet a set of standards for efficiency, starting time, life expectancy, color, and consistency of performance. The intent of the program is to reduce consumer concerns about efficient light bulbs due to variable quality of products. Those CFLs with a recent Energy Star certification start in less than one second and do not flicker. Energy Star Light Bulbs for Consumers is a resource for finding and comparing Energy Star qualified lamps.
In 2011, Republican House members introduced a Better Use of Light Bulbs Act or BULB Act (H.R. 91), which would have repealed Subtitle B of Title III of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. H.R. 2417 failed to pass in the U.S. House.
In 2014 the spending bill proposed by the House effectively blocked the energy efficiency standards in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which would have made incandescent light bulbs obsolete.
In February 2007, Australia enacted a law that will, in effect, by legislating efficiency standards, disallow most sales of incandescent light bulbs by 2010. The Australian Federal Government announced minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for lighting products. The new minimum standard efficiency level is 15 lumens per watt (lm/W). From November 2008, no non-compliant lighting (including some incandescent globes) were imported into Australia, and from November 2009, the retail sale of non-compliant lighting was banned.
According to the current proposal, all regular light bulbs and some other kinds of light bulbs sold from October 2009 have to meet the new minimum energy performance standards. Incandescent light bulbs that meet the new standards, for example high-efficiency halogen bulbs, continue to be available.
There have been some initiatives to encourage people to switch to compact fluorescent lamps ahead of the phase out.
In February 2007, then Climate Change Minister David Parker, Labour party, announced a similar proposal to the one in Australia, except that importation for personal use would have been allowed. However, this proposal was scrapped by the new government in December 2008.
In Argentina, selling and importing incandescent light bulbs has been forbidden since 31 December 2010.
As specified in Interministerial Ordinance 1,007 of 31 December 2010, incandescent light bulbs must perform according to certain levels of luminous efficacy in order to be produced, imported and sold in Brazil. Non-conforming light bulbs are being gradually phased out. As of July 2013, bulbs ranging from 61 to 100 Watts which do not perform accordingly can no longer be produced nor imported, but until mid-2014 they can still be sold.
Since end of June 2016 it has been completely prohibited in Brazil.
The Chilean government has prohibited the manufacture, import and sale of incandescent bulbs since December 2015.
As part of its electricity conservation program, Venezuela has a light bulb exchange program, which aims to replace millions of incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents.
The phase out has been referred to as "light bulb socialism". The consumer preference for light bulbs in the EU is for incandescent bulbs, with many complaining about what was described as the ugliness or the cold, flat, unnatural, dull light emanating from CFLs. Objection has also been raised to being forced to adopt CFLs.
Bulk purchasing of incandescent bulbs was reported ahead of the EU lightbulb ban. Many retailers in Britain, Poland, Austria, Germany and Hungary have reported bulk purchasing, and in Germany, sales rose by up to 150% in 2009 in comparison to 2008. Two-thirds of Austrians surveyed stated they believe the phase-out to be "nonsensical", with 53.6% believing their health to be at risk of mercury poisoning. 72% of Americans believe the government has no right to dictate which light bulb they may use. The Czech Republic President, Vaclav Klaus, urged people to stockpile enough incandescent bulbs to last their lifetime.
Museums and individuals have been stockpiling incandescent lightbulbs in Europe, owing to CFLs' inferior colour representation. The European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation (ANEC) has called for a speedy reduction of the mercury levels contained within CFLs from the current 5mg limit to 1 mg. The European Consumers' Organisation, BEUC, said that phasing out incandescent bulbs will be detrimental for people suffering light-related health issues, and called for the continued availability of incandescent bulbs:
The EU Regulation falls short of the needs of some consumers who need to use the old-style light bulbs for health-related reasons such as light sensitivity. We call on the European Commission to take immediate measures to ensure that people who rely on incandescent light bulbs will be able to buy these bulbs until suitable alternative lighting technologies are available. There are also concerns about the risks to health from the high mercury content of the new bulbs.
A campaign group called SPECTRUM was formed by the charities Lupus UK, Eclipse Support Group, ES-UK, XP Support Group and The Skin Care Campaign as an "alliance for light sensitivity" to oppose "UK and EU plans to phase out incandescent lightbulbs". Their campaign has been picked up and amplified by the British Association of Dermatologists, calling for access to incandescent light bulbs for those who are medically sensitive to CFLs and other non-incandescent bulbs, and the charity Migraine Action, stating that its members still suffer adverse effects from CFLs despite protestations from the light bulb industry.
In the United States, one supporter of the incandescent light bulb is the lighting designer Howard Brandston, a fellow of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers. He has attempted to raise awareness of what he believes are negative effects of the phase out through media outlets and industry forums, and he was invited as one of six experts to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on 11 March 2011.
CFLs, like all fluorescent lamps, contain small amounts of mercury, as both vapor and droplets inside the glass tubing, averaging 4.0 mg per bulb. The inclusion of liquid mercury is specifically prohibited from other domestic products in some jurisdictions, notably Europe.Safe cleanup of broken compact fluorescent lamps is different from cleanup of conventional broken glass or incandescent bulbs. After a proper cleanup, any potential short term exposure offers no significant health risks to adults, including pregnant women, or to children. If all electricity was generated by a coal power plant (which produce about half the electricity the U.S. consumes) and fluorescent light bulbs were all recycled with no mercury being lost, nearly 75% less mercury could be released in power plant emissions if incandescent bulbs were replaced by fluorescents, and with significantly less total mercury release even if no recycling occurred. However, a concern is that broken bulbs will introduce the mercury directly into a populated indoor area. Though more recent analysis indicates that the concerns about mercury release from broken bulbs may be overstated, and can be ameliorated by taking a few simple steps.
No mercury is used in the manufacturing of LED lamps, a different technology replacement for incandescent lamps. In addition, LED lamps do not require warmup time in cold weather, and in fact, perform better in colder temperatures, making them an excellent choice for use in cold locations, such as refrigeration units.
The initial cost of CFLs and LEDs are higher than that of incandescent light bulbs. Typically this extra cost is repaid in the long-term, as both use less energy and have longer operating lives than incandescent bulbs. When bulbs are used infrequently, such as in little-used closets and attics, it may take a long time to compensate for the higher initial cost of the bulb.
The overall energy savings from changing to more efficient lighting depends on the climate. In warm climates, efficient lighting has the additional energy-saving effect of reducing the amount of cooling required. In cold climates increased heating energy demand may offset some of the lighting energy saved with efficient lighting. A report published in January 2008 found that in Los Angeles, where incandescent lighting results in increased air conditioning, electricity savings would pay for the initial cost of CFLs four times faster than in Vancouver, where incandescent lighting contributes to space heating. In all climates, there is a net cost saving from changing to compact fluorescent lighting. The cost of CFL and LED bulbs has declined greatly since 2008, which shortens the time needed to pay off their initial cost.
While the excessive heat produced by incandescent light bulbs is frequently seen as a drawback, in certain applications it is seen as an advantage. For example, automotive applications in cold climates benefit from the radiated heat as it melts potentially visually-obstructive snow and ice on warning lights and signs. The heat is also used to melt the wax inside lava lamps.
Some CFLs may not be compatible with existing dimming circuits such as those using TRIACs, although more dimmable CFLs are expected to become available as the phase-outs continue. Mains voltage halogen bulbs provide a more efficient dimmable alternative to common incandescent bulbs and are readily available.
Dimmable LED lamps are available from several vendors, although not all LED lamps are compatible with dimmers and their color temperature may not lower, as it does with incandescents.
we support decreasing the maximum level of mercury in lamps from the current 5mg in the RoHS Directive, to 1mg. However, as the number of mercury containing lamps will sharply increase in consumer households in the future, we see a need to implement this requirement as soon as possible
The short term nature of the potential exposure (particularly after effective clean-up of broken CFL material) does not constitute a significant health risk to exposed adults (including pregnant women) or children.
The CFL consumes about a quarter the energy and is responsible for nearly 75% less mercury, counting what's inside the bulb
... if they follow the steps described below a broken CFL poses about as much of a health risk as a bite of tuna.