Bulb Legislation

Understanding the "Ban" on Incandescent Light Bulbs

A few years ago, the United States Federal Government passed legislation designed to gradually phase out energy-wasting incandescent bulbs. There is a lot of confusion about this legislation and what it means for the average consumer. In the lighting industry, we measure the amount of electricity it takes to power a bulb in watts and the amount of light the bulb emits in lumens. Traditionally, there was a direct correlation between these two. But advances in technology changed this and now one can achieve the same amount of lumens (illumination provided) with far less watts (energy expended). There are also alternatives to incandescent bulbs, such as LED (light-emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) options. The bulb ban prevents the production in America of incandescent bulbs from 40W-100W, with some exceptions. Existing bulbs may still be sold and new bulbs that provide the same amount of light but with less expenditure of heat and energy can still be produced and sold.

Just want the gist?

You’re fine! We wouldn’t sell you something that you couldn’t keep using through the foreseeable future. That’s not our style. Every one of our fixtures is compliant with the law, and is set to use efficient bulbs that effectively illuminate, conserve energy, and provide aesthetic pleasure. We sell replacement bulbs, incandescent and LED, for all of our fixtures, and they are also available elsewhere.

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In 2007, as a result of new bulb technology, the federal government passed the “Energy Independence and Security Act” to reduce commercial and household energy consumption.

Many bulbs are exempted from the law, including the majority of those used by our lighting fixtures. All of our fixtures, including those that are affected by the law, are already equipped to accept today’s energy-efficient bulbs without modification.

The Energy Independence and Security Act regulates the maximum wattage of certain “medium-base” household light bulbs. The law does not ban any particular bulb type, but sets limits for energy consumption. It will not affect the “brightness” or lumens of the medium-base bulbs that are available. Implementation is gradual; it began in 2012 and will be complete by 2020.

The vast majority of bulbs that we specify for Corbett Lighting fixtures are NOT affected by this law. This is because “candelabra” bulbs (the small, decorative bulbs used in chandeliers, pendants, sconces, and many bath bars) are exempt from the new regulations. The 60 and 40 watt incandescent candelabra bulbs that we specify for the majority of our fixtures will continue to be available. Additionally, the antique-style filament bulbs (“Edison bulbs”) that we specify for several of our fixtures will remain available in traditional wattages. Finally, three-phase incandescent bulbs are also not affected by the law.

The law affects only Corbett Lighting products that use medium-base bulbs, excluding those that use antique or “Edison style” filament bulbs. These primarily consist of ceiling-mount fixtures (flush and semi-flush mounts) and portable lamps. As of January 2014: 100, 75, 60, and 40 watt medium-base incandescent bulbs are no longer being manufactured—though inventory may remain on store shelves. There are a variety of bulbs available now that will deliver the same light output (lumens), with the same “warm” color as traditional incandescent bulbs, while consuming far less wattage. Many of these choices are also fully dimmable.


Here are some guidelines for choosing energy-efficient medium-base bulbs:

Energy-efficient bulb types include halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescents (CFLs), and light emitting diodes (LEDs):

Energy-efficient halogen incandescents have a glowing filament, like traditional incandescent bulbs; however, the filament is encased in a capsule of gas. Not only does this increase the bulb’s efficiency, it extends its operating life. These bulbs have the same shape as traditional, “type A” incandescent bulbs. All halogen incandescents work with existing dimmer switches.
CFLs are ballasted fluorescents that are fabricated to the same dimensions as a traditional incandescent bulb. CFLs are engineered to start within one second and not flicker. Though these bulbs cost more up-front, their substantial energy savings will typically begin saving you money after 9 months of use. Plus, CFLs last 8-15 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
LEDs use semiconductors to convert electricity into light. Though the initial cost of LEDs is often highest among the energy-efficient options, you can save more money over the lifetime of the LED bulb than with any other option. An LED can last 25 times longer than a traditional incandescent.
Wattage does not equal brightness. Wattage only indicates energy consumption. Energy consumption is not the same as light output, or lumens. Energy-efficient bulbs can deliver the same lumens that were offered by the 100 and 75 watt incandescent bulbs that have already been phased-out, as well as the 60 and 40 watt incandescent bulbs that will soon be removed from store shelves.

Select medium-base bulbs by “lumens,” not wattage. As part of the new law, bulb manufacturers are labeling packages with a bulb’s light output or lumens. For comparison:
A 100 watt incandescent bulb gives off approximately 1600 lumens.

The same number of lumens can also be achieved with a
  1. 72 watt halogen incandescent
  2. 23 watt CFL
  3. 21 watt LED
Each bulb will be just as “bright”; however, the halogen incandescent uses 25% less energy, the CLF uses 75% less, and the LED close to 80% less.

Here are the energy-efficient equivalencies for common incandescent bulb wattages:

100 watt incandescent bulb = 1600 lumens = 23 watt CFL/21 watt LED
75 watt incandescent bulb = 1100 lumens = 20 watt CFL/16 watt LED
60 watt incandescent bulb = 800 lumens = 13 watt CFL/10 watt LED
40 watt incandescent bulb = 450 lumens = 10 watt CFL/8 watt LED
Energy-efficient bulbs can produce light with the same “warmth” as traditional incandescent bulbs. “Color temperature” determines whether we perceive light as warm (yellow) or cool (white/blue). Color temperature is measured in Kelvin. A traditional incandescent bulb measures approximately 2700 K. Counter to expectation, the higher the Kelvin temperature, the cooler the light’s color. New package labels will list the color temperature of the bulb in Kelvin and show where that rating falls on a scale of warm to cool.

Our portable lamps are equipped with full-range dimmer switches. Be sure to purchase dimmable bulbs. Fully dimmable bulbs are available in all energy-efficient options, including halogen incandescent, CFL, and LED.
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