I’m sure you must have noticed by now that a person can no longer walk into a store and purchase a new 100 watt incandescent light bulb. In fact you can no longer purchase a 75 watt incandescent bulb either. Or as of January of 2014 the 40 watt and 60 watt are also no longer on store shelves. This is due to a government mandate passed in 2007 that basically banned incandescent lighting. It didn’t actually ban the incandescent bulb but it did stipulate how many lumens per watt a light could produce after a certain date. This old technology couldn’t meet the mandate. The 100 watt incandescent lamps went in 2012 and the 75 watt the next year until the final ban in 2014.
A Better Way to Light Your Home
If you are into energy efficiency at all you will understand the reasoning behind this. Incandescent lighting technology is a 100+ years old. It used to be the only game in town so to speak. When the electric light bulb was invented incandescent was the only technology that would product a light that would stay burning for a reasonable amount of time without being extremely fragile, and was affordable. The drawback is it is terribly inefficient. A 100 watt incandescent lamp gives off 95% of the energy it consumes as heat. Only 5% is given off as light. This is not only a drain on our power but it adds an unwanted load to our air conditioning systems also.
Replace Your Home Lighting with CFLs and LEDs
We now have decent replacement lamps for incandescent using either LED or CFL technology. When the first CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) came out about 30 years ago they came from Japan. And for some reason they only shipped CFL’s in 2700 Kelvin. Kelvin is the color temperature of the light. A CFL in 2700 Kelvin puts out a brownish light. In addition, when first sold the makers touted a faulty wattage conversion chart. It was said a new 13 watt CFL was equal to a 100 watt incandescent bulb and a 9 watt was equal to a 75 watt. We now know it takes a 23 watt CFL to equal a 100 watt and 18 watts to get you the same light as a 75 watt incandescent. Couple that with the brownish light from the low Kelvin, and people found they couldn’t see to read by the new technology. And couldn’t see to do much else, so they were thrown away and people swore off them. It’s taken 30 years to get folks to try them again.
Use the conversion I just mentioned and look for bulbs in the 4100-5000 Kelvin range and you’ll have plenty of light to read by. Just remember that CFL’s take a few minutes to come to full brightness.
We now have LED lamps for inside the house use and they work fine. The conversion is even less wattage with these then with a CFL. About a 14-16 watt is equal to a 100 watt and a 10-11 watt is a 75 watt. The drawback of the LED’s are they can interfere with RF signals. There was an instance of putting LED bulbs in a garage door opener. The remote refused to work until they were taken back out. We installed some LED retrofit can lights and had problems with the radio signals getting in. People don’t use the radio much anymore but it’s the same technology that runs our cordless phones.
The old style fluorescent lamps are going away also. Again, not banned but because of new requirements we mandated that can’t possibly be met. The old T-12 lamps (the bigger bulbs, the number refers to bulb diameter in 8th of an inch) are giving way to the new style T-8’s. And ever since 2010 it’s been illegal to manufacture or import magnetic ballast. Those were the kind that flickered and hummed. The new electronic ballast do not do that. A good way to tell is see how long it takes for the lamps to light. The electronic ballast light the lamps almost instantaneously.
Converting to New, High Efficiency Bulbs
Commercial is a bit different than residential lighting. It’s usually a matter of changing out the old T-12 fluorescent tubes to the newer T-8 style. The same mandate that outlawed magnetic ballast is also requiring that fluorescent tubes produce a certain “CRI” (Color Rendering Index. Since). Hardly anyone uses the old 8’ lamps so not too many manufactures are going to be willing to pay the cost to reengineer the technology to make 8’ tubes meet the CRI specification. And the few that do will be able to price those lamps at whatever the traffic will bear. For this reason, and because the 4’ T-8 lamps last a lot longer than the 8’ lamps, we convert all 8’ fixtures we find to hold 2-4’ lamps instead of the one 8’ lamp.
Cut Your Warehouse Lighting Costs
In addition to the fluorescent tubes, commercial establishments tend to have other types of lighting that are very expensive to run. The big “high bay” lights you see in enclosed warehouses can now be replaced with a 6 tube fluorescent fixture that gives the same amount of light. You are replacing a 400 watt high bay fixture with a 4’ fluorescent with six tubes that burns only 192 watts. That’s quite a savings. But the big bucks is in the parking lot lights. These pole and wall pack lights run at 400 to 1000 watts. They are usually metal halide or mercury vapor, or even high or low pressure sodium. We can retrofit an induction lamp and ballast into the existing fixture and reduce the wattage to 200 watts in place of a 400 watt and can go to a 400 watt induction in place of the 1000 watt. When you can save 600 watts per fixture, and figure those lights burn all night it can amount to a large savings. We’ve completed projects where the potential savings amount to multiple thousands of dollars per month!