Services & Maintenance: Incandescent Lamp Phase Out

By Pamela Horner
Published in the August 2011 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

On December 19, 2007, President George Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) that changed the landscape for common incandescent lamps and the people who use them. The comprehensive EISA includes increased fuel efficiency standards for new automobile fleets (to 35 mpg by 2020), updated efficiency standards for electric motors, and requirements for federal agencies to reduce their energy consumption by 30% by 2015.

Lighting energy
It’s estimated that one billion incandescent lamps are purchased in the U.S. each year. In its current form, the EISA legislation will curtail that number significantly beginning next year. (Photo: Comstock Images)

The biggest documented energy saver in EISA, however, is the set of standards for common incandescent light bulbs requiring them to use about 25% to 30% less energy than today’s lamps—and at least 60% less energy by 2020. Specifically, EISA mandates a phase out of the least efficient general service incandescent lamps through a combination of wattage caps and minimum efficiency performance standards. These phase outs begin January 1, 2012 (referring to date of manufacture) for lamps with higher lumens and wattage, and they progress until 2014.

What Are The Regulations?

When interpreting product legislation and regulations, it is critical to understand how the government defines a particular regulated product. In other words, if a product doesn’t fit the definition, it isn’t regulated. In EISA, a general service incandescent lamp is very specifically defined:

  • It has a filament (which means both incandescent and halogen versions are covered by the law).
  • It has a medium screw base.
  • If it is clear, inside frosted, or soft white, it produces between 310 and 2600 lumens.
  • It is an A shape; it is a G (globe shape) less than or equal to 5″ in diameter and greater than 40 watts; or it is a B, S, F, CA, or BA shape greater than 40 watts.
  • It is line voltage capable of operating between 110 and 130 volts.

Just as important is to know what this regulated lamp is not; for example, it is not a three-way lamp; it is not a low voltage lamp; it is not a colored lamp (red or blue for example); it is not 150 watts; and it is not a rough service, appliance, or vibration service lamp.

One more thing: the EISA standards for general service incandescent lamps do not apply to compact fluorescent or LED replacement lamps. The law presumes those technologies will be suitable energy efficient replacements for less efficient incandescent (or halogen) lamps, but they are not covered by the standard illustrated in the table below.

[To figure the new minimum lumens per watt (LPW) for each of the four lumen categories, divide the lowest number in the lumen range by the new maximum wattage for that range. For example, the first category above that contains today’s 100 watt incandescent lamp now has a minimum performance of 1490 lumens divided by 72 watts, or 20.7 LPW. That is 23% higher than today’s 100W soft white lamp, which produces about 1690 lumens.]

Note that the table shows that for each category, the effective dates for California are one year earlier than for the rest of the U.S. This is because California already had standards in place for these lamps, so the state was allowed to adopt the federal standards earlier.

A Look At LED Lighting

By Ted Stouch

Even considering the energy efficiency and other environmental benefits they can provide, LED lighting has still not been widely adopted in interior lighting applications. However, recent trends have been growing more favorable toward the use of this solid-state form of illumination. Facility managers (fms) who choose to retrofit with LEDs can reduce their energy bills significantly. But an important step in ensuring savings is to seek the right companies to educate them about the best product for their needs amongst the vast selection of LEDs on the market.

LEDs Emergence In Facilities
The amount of energy wasted in most buildings is enormous, and reducing energy costs for lighting used has been a main driver of change within the industry. The current wave began in earnest in the 1990s, and that transformation involved upgrading older, inefficient lighting lamp technology such as T12, HID lamps and fixtures, and magnetic ballasts with newer, more sophisticated T5 and T8 lamps and fixtures. The second wave (in motion since about 2006) has been replacing incandescent lamps with CFL lamps (see article on page 16 for an in depth look at this shift).

Taking place today is a third wave—one in which LED lighting is gaining ground faster even than some experts have expected. When LEDs first came out, they were typically used for indicator lights such as exit signs. As the technology advanced, they became suitable for outdoor signage and fluorescent and neon lighting replacement. Now the technology has evolved and has increased capabilities. LEDs are brighter, more energy efficient, durable, and have an extremely long lifetime. They are increasingly found in use for exterior and interior commercial and industrial applications.

Making The Move To LED Lighting
LEDs have already eclipsed incandescent sources in terms of efficiency, and when fixture performance is considered, they are powering past compact fluorescent and HID lighting in real world applications. They offer long service life, compact size, and greater directional control. As the performance of LEDs continues to show immense results in increased light output and decreased energy consumption, the technology becomes a promising choice for general illumination in facilities.

An LED lighting retrofit can not only reduce electricity consumption and maintenance costs, but can also improve the way a building supports its occupants, because these products provide a high quality white light whether the space is a warehouse or a general office setting.

In addition, LEDs are 25% to 70% more efficient than CFL and HID sources. They also reduce heat output, which in turn reduces required HVAC operations. Maintenance costs also decrease, because relamping, ballast replacements, and cleaning are needed less often.

Further, some LED products are sustainable and 100% recyclable at the end of their projected 50,000 to 100,000 hour life. LEDs also provide an environmentally friendly profile since they do not contain mercury.

Another technical benefit that fms should consider is that an LED lighting system has the ability to restrike instantly after a power outage, which eliminates downtime. That is important for organizations that want an aggressive disaster preparedness program that must kick into high gear immediately after an event occurs. With some other technologies, a power outage can last as long as 15 minutes while the lights enter restrike mode.

Making The Choice

With multiple LED products on the market, and each having different technical specifications, the process of determining the best system can become overwhelming. LEDs are also more expensive than traditional lighting technologies, so there is the “numbers case” behind any decision. But fms should not rule out LED lighting before obtaining useful information on the technology and its benefits. Government and utility rebates provide an incentive for lighting retrofits, especially for fms who walk the tightrope between addressing escalating energy bills against the backdrop of tightening budgets.

So, before closing the door on the adoption of LEDs, it is important to become informed. Fms can work with a company that takes a proactive approach in assisting with light output, ROI, and other lighting and energy comparison tools. A company assisting an fm in this process should be experienced in retrofitting different LED applications and have a technical background on the various manufacturers and products.

The bottom line in evaluating LEDs for a facility is ascertaining if a system will deliver high quality, high performance, and efficient lighting. It should deliver the amount of light required where it is needed with a minimal amount of additional requirements (such as effective heat dissipation and robust power delivery).

With lighting as one of the largest energy expenses in buildings, fms should invest time into looking into adopting LED technology as a primary light source in retrofitting their lighting. Energy efficiency projects come in all shapes and sizes, and it is essential to evaluate all aspects of a lighting retrofit opportunity.

Stouch is president/CEO of Action Services Group.

What Does This Mean For Purchasing?

Facility managers (fms) who are using general service incandescent lamps in their buildings already know there are more energy efficient replacements on the market. But, beginning in 2012, decisions about alternatives will be front and center. Fms will need to be keenly aware of the choices available to them and should know how each choice can be expected to perform.

Here are a few tips for successfully navigating the transition from general service incandescent lamps.

  1. Lumens. More than ever, it will be important to know that light output is not measured in watts; it is measured in lumens. For a given lumen output desired for an application, the fewer watts one can find to deliver those lumens, the more efficacious the lamps will be and the more energy that will be saved—provided fms install controls to limit use appropriately.
  2. Technology Options. EISA does not mandate the purchase or use of one specific technology option. There are at least three different options on the market today that can be used to replace the standard incandescent lamps. All of them save energy compared to incandescents, but fms will need to pay more attention than ever to the performance characteristics of these replacements.
    a. Halogen. As a kind of “souped up” incandescent, halogen replacement lamps are about 25% more efficient than standard incandescent and are easily dimmable. Rated life ranges from slightly longer to three times longer.
    b. Compact fluorescent (CFL). This type of lamp provides about three to four times the efficiency of an incandescent. There are dimmable versions, but fms should ask the lamp manufacturer for a list of compatible dimmers. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury to ensure efficient operation, so in many states they are subject to proper disposal regulations at end of life.
    c. Light emitting diode (LED). These solid-state products provide three to four times the efficiency of an incandescent lamp and a far longer life. There are dimmable versions, but like CFLs, it is important to obtain a list of compatible dimmers from the LED lamp manufacturer (see sidebar for more on LED lighting).
  3. Color choices. Fms don’t need to know much about the “flavor” of white light they will get when choosing incandescent or halogen. But CFLs and LEDs come in a variety of white light appearances. If not already familiar with the terms “warm” and “cool” and the concept of color temperature, now is the time to study up on this important concept so that lighted spaces meet appearance expectations of those using the building.

Incandescent lighting is undergoing a major transformation. Fms who identify their various options now will be prepared well in advance of regulatory deadlines.

Horner is senior director of government and industry relations for OSRAM SYLVANIA in Danvers, MA. She holds a BS in English from Iowa State University and an MS in Lighting from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. With more than 35 years experience in the lighting industry, she is a past president of the Illuminating Engineering Society. Read more about color choices here.