Incandescent Light Bulb Phase-out

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about incandescent light bulbs being phased out:

Governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs for general lighting. The aim is to encourage the use and technological development of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives, such as compact fluorescent lamp (CFLs) and LED lamps. Brazil and Venezuela started to phase them out in 2005,[1] and the European Union, Switzerland,[2] and Australia[3] started to phase them out in 2009.[4] Likewise, other nations are planning scheduled phase-outs: Argentina,[5] Russia, and Canada in 2012,[6] and Malaysia in 2014.[7]


The Irish government was the first European Union (EU) member state to stop the sale of incandescent light bulbs.[15] It was later announced that all member states of the EU agreed to a progressive phase-out of incandescent light bulbs by 2012.

United States

In December 2007, many of these state efforts became moot when the federal government enacted the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires all general-purpose light bulbs that produce 310-2600 lumens of light[30] be 30% more energy efficient (similar to current halogen lamps) than then-current incandescent bulbs by 2012 to 2014. The efficiency standards will start with 100-watt bulbs in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in January 2014.

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, and plant lights.

By 2020, a second tier of restrictions would become effective, which requires all general-purpose bulbs to produce at least 45 lumens per watt (similar to current CFLs). Exemptions from the Act include reflector flood, 3-way, candelabra, colored, and other specialty bulbs.[31]

In 2011 Rep. Joe Barton of Texas and 14 other Republicans joined to introduce the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act or BULB Act (H.R. 91), which would have repealed Subtitle B of Title III of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Barton wanted people to have the freedom to buy what they wanted, while Rep. Michael Burgess pointed to jobs purportedly lost to China and voiced a fear of mercury problems resulting from CFL use.[32] On July 12, 2011, H.R. 2417 failed to pass by the required two-thirds majority in the U.S. House


As part of global efforts to promote efficient lighting, United Nations Environment Programme with the support of the GEF Earth Fund, Philips Lighting and OSRAM GmbH has established the en.lighten initiative ( The initiative seeks to accelerate global commercialization and market transformation of efficient lighting technologies by working at the global level and providing support to countries. In doing so it aims at promoting high performance efficient technologies, phasing out inefficient lighting technologies, and substituting traditional fuel-based lighting with modern, efficient alternatives, with consideration for environmentally sound technologies (including mercury-free).

Public opposition

The phase out has been referred to as "light bulb socialism".[45] The consumer preference for light bulbs in the EU is for incandescent bulbs, with many complaining about what was described as the ugliness[46][47] or the cold, flat, unnatural, dull light emanating from CFLs.[48][45][49][50][51][52] Objection has also been raised to being forced to adopt CFLs.[53]
Bulk purchasing of incandescent bulbs was reported ahead of the EU light bulb ban. Many retailers in Britain, Poland, Austria, Germany and Hungary have reported bulk purchasing,[46][48][54][55][56] and in Germany, sales rose by up to 150% in 2009 in comparison to 2008.[45] 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.[57] 72% of Americans believe the government has no right to dictate which light bulb they may use.[58] The Czech Republic President, Vaclav Klaus, urged people to stockpile enough incandescent bulbs to last their lifetime.[59]

Museums and individuals have been stockpiling incandescent light bulbs in Europe, owing to CFL's inferior colour representation.[50][60] The European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation has called for a speedy reduction of the mercury levels contained within CFLs from the current 5mg limit to 1 mg.[61] The European Consumers' Organization, BEUC, said that phasing out incandescent bulbs will be detrimental for people suffering light-related health issues,[62] 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."[63]

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 light bulbs'.[64] 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,[65] and the charity Migraine Action, stating that its members still suffer adverse effects from CFLs despite protestations from the light bulb industry.[66]

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,[67][68][69][70] and he was invited as one of six experts to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on March 11, 2011.[71][72]

Environmental and health concerns

CFLs, like all fluorescent lamps, contain small amounts of mercury[73][74] as vapor inside the glass tubing, averaging 4.0 mg per bulb.[75] A broken compact fluorescent lamp will release about 4% of its mercury content. Safe cleanup of broken compact fluorescent lamps is different from cleanup of conventional broken glass or incandescent bulbs.[76] After a proper cleanup, any potential short term exposure offers no significant health risks to adults, including pregnant women, or to children.[77] When considering the mercury content in emissions from coal-fired power plants, fluorescent bulb use can result in about 70% less mercury put into the atmosphere than incandescent bulb use. However, a concern is that broken bulbs will introduce the mercury directly into a populated indoor area.[78][79]
Mercury is not an issue for LED lamps, a different technology replacement for incandescent lamps.[79]


The cost of CFLs is higher than incandescent light bulbs. Typically this extra cost is repaid in the long-term, as CFLs use less energy[80] and have longer operating lives than incandescent bulbs, although some CFL manufacturers have consistently over-estimated the actual usable lifetime of their lights.[81] However there are some areas where the extra cost of a CFL may never be repaid, typically where bulbs are used relatively infrequently such as in little-used closets and attics.[82]


Some CFLs may not be compatible with existing dimming circuits although more dimmable CFLs are expected to become available as the phase-outs progress.[83] Mains voltage halogen bulbs provide a more efficient dimmable alternative to common incandescent bulbs and are readily available, however halogen bulbs are designed to be operated at a specific temperature and therefore are not entirely compatible with dimming.[84]

Dimmable LED lamps are available from several vendors, although not all LED lamps are compatable with dimmers.

Alternatives to incandescent bulbs

None of the alternatives to the incandescent lamp produce light with the same spectral characteristics. An incandescent lamp approximates a black body spectral distribution. All the proposed alternatives use phosphors to produce light and have significantly irregular spectral distributions, which can result in colour casts in photography and failures of colour matching when compared to incandescent produced light or daylight. This may not be a disadvantage for domestic lighting.[85] Moreover, improved phosphor formulations have improved the perceived color of the light emitted by CFLs, and some sources now rate the best "soft white" CFLs as subjectively similar in colour to standard incandescent lamps.[86]

The first widely available replacements for incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps, are now (as of 2010) joined by two alternative technologies - light-emitting diode lamps (LED) and electron stimulated luminescence (ESL) lamps. Both LED and ESL technologies are mercury-free, eliminating the need for special disposal or handling, and both have long lives when compared to incandescent bulbs.

LED lamps are used for both general and special-purpose lighting. Where colored light is needed, LEDs come in multiple colors, which are emitted with no need for filters, and also produce a more robust color than incandescent bulbs. This improves the energy efficiency over a white light source that generates all colors of light then discards some of the visible energy in a filter.
Compared to fluorescent bulbs, advantages for LED light bulbs are that they contain no mercury, that they turn on instantly, and that lifetime is unaffected by cycling on and off, so that they are well suited for light fixtures where bulbs are often turned on and off. LED light bulbs are also less apt to break.[87]

Electron stimulated luminescence technology is about 70 percent more energy efficient than incandescent lamps, and are rated to last up to five times longer than incandescent lamps. ESL lamps produce light by stimulation of a phosphor, a technology used in cathode ray tubes, and produce light of a similar quality.

Heating and cooling

Depending on the climate, the full energy savings and environmental benefits of widespread phase-out and replacement with efficient lighting may vary. In warmer climates, efficient lighting would have an energy saving effect by reducing the amount of cooling required, while in cooler climates, increased heating energy demand may offset some of the lighting energy saved with efficient lighting.

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