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California Takes the Lead on Light Bulb Efficiency

Inefficient bulbs were banned as of January 1 even as Department of Energy attempts to roll back standards

The Department of Energy attacked new light bulb efficiency standards this fall, but the state of California is pressing ahead just the same. Illustration courtesy of Jessica Russo/NRDC.

California has once again demonstrated its environmental leadership by adopting updated energy efficiency standards that prohibit the sale of inefficient light bulbs in the state as of January 1, 2020. California’s state-level action is needed because of the Trump administration’s Department of Energy (DOE) efforts to illegally overturn the national standards that were due to go into effect on that date and complete the phaseout of inefficient light bulbs.

Back in 2007, President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) that laid out a 12-year plan to transition new bulb sales away from energy-wasting incandescents and halogens to dramatically more efficient alternatives. As required by EISA, DOE reviewed the scope of bulbs covered by the standards and after a thorough process, removed the no-longer-warranted exemptions for some bulbs, including three-ways (bulbs that can operate at three light levels), reflectors, candle- and flame-shaped bulbs, and round globe bulbs. DOE added these bulbs because more efficient versions are now readily available. As a result, the bulbs that go into 2.7 billion U.S. lighting sockets were due to be subject to the 2020 efficiency standards.

Why California needed to act

However, the Department of Energy launched two attacks on the federal standards this past fall—the first was to withdraw the updated definitions, thereby cutting in half the number of bulbs covered by the lighting efficiency standard, and the second was to leave the 2012 standards unchanged despite being required by Congress to update them. These actions are unlawful, and California is striking back.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) voted to adopt the federal regulations as they were originally drafted, including the updated definitions published by DOE on Jan. 19, 2017. This means that as of January 1, it is illegal in California to offer for sale everyday household light bulbs of various light outputs and shapes that fail to meet the minimum efficiency standard of 45 lumens per watt (lumens are the amount of light and watts are the power consumed by a bulb).

Consumers have a wide range of LED light bulbs to choose from that deliver the same amount of light as the old incandescent and halogen bulbs while using a fraction of the energy. For example, the LED bulb that replaces the old-fashioned 60-watt incandescent only uses 10 watts. In addition, the LED bulb will last at least 10 times longer, saving the consumer the hassle and cost of annual light bulb replacements.

Note: Where an efficient replacement bulb does not exist, like those used in ovens and where a LED substitute would fail due to the surrounding high temperatures, incandescent and halogen bulbs will remain exempt and available for purchase.

Californians will save big time

According to the CEC, the California standards will save an additional 4,000 to 13,600 gigawatt-hours of electricity once the current stock of bulbs turns over. That translates to between $736 million and $2.4 billion in annual savings for California businesses and households. These figures are above and beyond the savings already occurring due to California’s existing standards that went into effect in 2018 for a few types of bulbs in the home (the pear-shaped A-lamps typically used in table lamps, and small diameter reflector lamps used in track lighting). The efficiency standards will also help prevent the release of millions of tons of climate change pollution from power plants having to generate the extra electricity to keep the inefficient bulbs lit.

Kudos to California for taking this important action despite the likelihood of future lawsuits from the lighting companies, which are desperately trying to preserve their ability to sell energy-wasting incandescents to less-informed consumers for as long as possible.

Let’s hope California’s actions serve as a wake-up call for retailers across the nation to phase out inefficient bulbs in all their stores regardless of inaction/rollbacks from DOE. Who is going to join IKEA and Costco, which stopped selling incandescents a few years ago? What say you Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart?

-Noah Horowitz is director of the Center for Energy Efficiency Standards, Climate & Clean Energy Program, at the Natural Resources Defense Council. This post originally appeared at the NRDC Expert Blog.


  1. Photojomei | | #1

    Is GBA becoming a biased media outlet. This is the second article where unreliable tech or Eco-ideology is pushed on the individual. LED bulbs have shown to be having reliability problems with flickering in older sockets, longevity, and their cost. Now forcing people to take a bad product that will not have any issues addressed.

    1. RussMill | | #2

      I agree. It is turning into a left wing media source pretty much since Martin semi retired. And reprints from Finehomebuilding are more frequent. I pay for both.

      Brian, I think the world of you but, is this the direction you are taking GBA? There are more opinion pieces than fact pieces appearing lately. Or so it appears to me.

      1. GBA Editor
        Brian Pontolilo | | #9

        Hi Joe and Russell,

        I think it is safe to say that GBA has never been shy of having opinions in our content. In fact, we value them. Still, I hope that when you are reading a building, product, news, or similar article (particularly the stuff that is behind the paywall), the opinions are coming from the sources we use to research the topic. When something is an author's opinion, that should be clear and if it is not, we know you will call us out on it.

        Since June, a few things have changed around here. First, Martin is now retired and on a bi-weekly blogging schedule.

        Second, we put an emphasis on products. If you have been visiting GBA for a while, you probably remember that we used to have a product guide that was a partnership with Building Green. Unfortunately, we lost that product guide a few years ago and lost an important aspect of our content. We're starting to rebuild that resource. If you click on "Product Guide" in the blogs drop-down menu at the top of the page, you'll see that we have added over 20 product pieces in the last six months or so.

        Finally, we've added Andy Engel as a blogger. Andy is only a few posts into his blog called "It's Not That Hard." Andy brings decades of knowledge from his career as a builder, remodeler, and building journalist to GBA. He's also super-practical and is sure to bring interesting building projects, insights, and perspective to us via his bi-weekly posts.

        That's what's new and that's what is behind the paywall, plus some occasional one-offs and some FHB content that we feel GBA Prime members should have access to.

        Here's what's the same:

        We continue to have the Q&A Spotlight every other Monday; two building science blogs from Allison Bailes per month, one post from Peter Yost per month; guest blogs from owner/builders; guest blogs on building, energy, and environmental issues aggregated from around the web (like this article); and news stories when something seems important or relevant enough to share.

        All of this content is free.

        But there has been no change in bias or direction and I think you can see that for yourself by look back at articles from over the years.

        I'm open to suggestions, article ideas, etc. You can email me at [email protected].

        1. Photojomei | | #15

          Brian Pontolilo , it's exasperation really as I just had to deal with an LED light issue to hear the latest trend after no more fossil appliances (gas stoves, heating equipment in some state, after the deep freeze experience last year), Without the counter point of technology reliability or cost, or even if the infrastructure can handle the new demand, not to mention how this could effect the home owners and future home owners, and cost of home ownership.

          I remember hearing about heat pump technology was "the thing" back in the 80's and radiant heat, which was pushed, failed and took time to recover from consumer backlash. My frustration comes because we're pushing green technology to meet our social conscious or social whims, not because it's better or refined for mass production and/or application. Not to mention the fact that the problems with LEDs are still being addressed at this point and now being forced to use them.

          Stephen Sheehy; you realize Not really, is the same as saying Virtually trouble free. I guess those have problems with their LED working don't matter, because you have no problem with LED lights.

          Technology I'd like to bring back? I want bring horses back as an acceptable form of transportation and to repeal anti-horse laws in cities. They're smarter then cars and the rider can down 6 Mojitos, 12 cerveza (with lime wedges), unknown amount of sangria, and you can't run into another rider no matter how hard both riders try (see horses like most animals are smarter then humans). 100% effective anti theft with ejection seat action (or if rider tick off horse), give off less emissions that can be recycled (more useful the political droppings or officials for that matter), and are not fueled by fossil fuels but by hay made locally grown, supporting local farmers (Made in 'Merica and not in a Chinese Re-educational and organ harvesting facility.)

          Andy, Advisor is also in the title as well.

          Progress is by displacement of technology by better technology, not because the technology is forced by requirement. Don't expect companies to improve their products if they don't have to.

          If anyone has flown on a plane, the engines are not more efficient they just cram more people in per flight and fly slower.

      2. n7ws | | #24

        I agree too.

    2. STEPHEN SHEEHY | | #5

      Unreliable? Not really. I have a house full of leds and have had zero issues. Five years after moving to our new house, every led is still working.
      Progress isn't a liberal plot.
      Incandescent bulbs burn out quickly, and waste about 90% of the electricity as heat, not light.
      You want to bring back leaded gas?

      1. Yupster | | #6

        My Dad won't ever purchase another LED bulb again. He bought over 100 of them, retrofitted the house, the shop, all the outbuildings. Not a single bulb lasted longer than 6 months. There was a warranty but it took TWO years to get the bulbs replaced. No doubt it was a faulty model or just a low quality manufacturer but I could see why some people might be spooked by having their options eliminated. And when you have to change dozens of bulbs on 18' get bitter...

        1. rsmith02 | | #7

          Earlier generation LEDs weren't great. I stuck with CFLs for a while as they were a known quantity. They are still available.

          But I have LED bulbs now that are going on 5 years. Let's be real though, if those ceilings were incandescents you'd be up there changing them annually anyway.

          No idea what the "left-wing" chatter is about. GBA has been pro-efficiency since the beginning. I believe in naming names and if the Trump administration is on the wrong side of green buildings we need to speak out.

          1. Yupster | | #11

            These weren't early generation LEDs, they would be about 4 years old now. Two different brands, (the store didn't have 100+ bulbs left of the same brand, so they sold him some others at the same price). The incandescents only got changed every few years and cost a fraction of the price. Again, it was probably bad luck but I doubt he is the only one who's been burned. Once burned, twice shy...

        2. Expert Member
          Dana Dorsett | | #13

          >"...when you have to change dozens of bulbs on 18' get bitter..."

          Out of curiosity, is the bitterness due to the product not meeting it's advertised lifecycle, or that the replacement rate was actually higher/faster than incandescent versions?

          >"There was a warranty but it took TWO years to get the bulbs replaced."

          OK- what were they replaced with? (The warranty-replacement LEDs, or something else?)

          >"I could see why some people might be spooked by having their options eliminated"

          The only options being eliminated are incandescents, which are known to have a limited lifecycle.

          There are always going to be fiercely independent types with the attitude:

          "You can have my incandescent light bulbs when you can pry them from my burnt-to-a-crisp dead hand."

          ...but taking short lifecycle low efficiency options off the market by regulation isn't a financial burden to consumers writ large. As with open burning restriction regulations, sometimes the broader interests of the public supercede the interests or desires of individuals. If a regulation is too onerous, vote to change it.

          1. Yupster | | #14

            My Dad is extremely careful with his money (raising 15 children on a carpenters pay will do that to you), so if he pays a premium price for a product heavily advertised to reduce costs, only to have them cost more in a very short time, the product is going to feel the brunt of his wrath. Forever. :D

            They eventually gave him new LED bulbs, but they were floodlight type bulbs which didn't work in his fixtures anyway. So now I have a lifetime supply of bulbs for myself.

            The other thing that isn't considered is incandescent bulbs work great for other things. A pigtail and a 60w bulb works great for keeping your cordless tool batteries and caulking warm in your work trailer, or keeping your hot tub lift mechanism from icing up. Are there other ways to deal with this? Sure! But regulating away a useful CHEAP product can reasonably raise the hackles of those who still find that product very useful. Sometimes a necessary evil, but I would argue that LED's are such a superior product that making them the only option isn't necessary. They will eventually take over the market on the basis of their form factor versatility and energy savings.

            Canada basically banned the import of all your typical incandescent bulbs back in 2015, they still have some existing stock of incandescent bulbs hanging around. Our local Rona had incandescent bulbs on the shelf at a 80% reduction in price, making them basically free. They still took weeks to clear them out. LED's have taken over. Was this driven by the import ban or the drastic price drop in LED bulbs over the past few years? I have no idea but I'd rather see a market based solution than a heavy handed regulation.

        3. gusfhb | | #37

          I am not buying this
          I started buying CFL's in the 80's
          I have a exterior flood light that is at least 20years old. Still running.
          I started buying LEDs for this house in 2010.
          Not one
          not ONE has failed.
          Yes the cheap Chinese CFL''s we lost about 10 percent in a year.
          But even the cheap LEDs have proven reliable.

          1. user-7665154 | | #50

            Yupster, I don't know what kind of bulbs your dad bought, but it sounds like something was rotten in that purchase. I’m sorry for your dad. I've had a very different experience. I have been filling my house with LED bulbs for 5 years. I have a large house, and we have many bulbs. I was happy to be an earlyish adopter and pay up for the initial bulbs. Mostly Cree, some Phillips, Feit, and some Amazon smaller brands for MR16 and GU10s. I must have, very roughly guessing, 100 bulbs. My experience has been like Stephen Sheehy's. I've had only a handful of them go bad and the companies have been very good at honoring their warranties. If I had been using incandescents, I'd have been on the ladder every other day. Not a bad deal since I'm saving up to 90% on our light-related electricity usage.

            And then there's the bigger picture--which is much more important. In 2017, I interviewed Tom Falcone, the CEO of the Long Island Power Authority. He talked about the fact that the previously forecasted need for power plants in 2030 on Long Island had declined by ~1,700 megawatts (MW) since 2013, the equivalent of 3-5 large baseload central station power plants. And that was attributed to greater adoption of energy efficiency and rooftop solar. That's huge. And that effect was not limited to Long Island, but consistent with state and national trends.

            Given the global, urgent challenges we're facing with climate change, I'm happy to deal with returning a few bulbs, occasional flickering when I use the wrong dimmer, or other complaints people lodge against LEDs.

            Our house's electricity is mostly solar-generated. We've got another 30 panels coming this week that should come pretty close to covering our entire usage, including our geothermal heating/cooling, coming heat pump water heater, and everything else.

            And a couple of words on the perception that this is a free market economy, and as such, not the place for a government phaseout of bulbs. A free market economy is one where those who use our resources, pay for them. So if fossil fuel and other industries are using our air, polluting our waters, and causing tens of thousands of premature deaths each year from air pollution, they ought to be paying for it--but they're not. These externalities are not handled well by free markets in the real world. I like this quote: "A pure free market does not provide for the greatest social good, only the greatest good to those with the means to exploit weaknesses in a free market system." So there is a place and a need for government regulation. Without it, we could have air like Beijing and rivers that can burst into flame.

            I'll add that given the impacts of climate change that are happening and predicted, we need to do all we can, as soon as we can. And even if we do that, I’m sad to say that it may well be too late to avoid the worst consequences. LED bulbs need to be a part of the equation going forward.

      2. Expert Member
        Michael Maines | | #10

        @Stephen Sheehy, "Progress isn't a liberal plot"

        Hear, hear!

        1. Expert Member
          Dana Dorsett | | #17

          Progress IS a liberal plot- didn't you know? Just TRY to deny it...

          Even REALITY has a liberal bias (in the world according to Colbert)- so does arithmetic.

          Don't get sucked into viewing everything through a partisan lens, whichever partisan viewpoint you tend to favor. It's easy to miss stuff that way.

      3. JC72 | | #36

        My office is 100 percent LED and after 3 years they finally might have fixed the constant flickering and/or failure of some lights.

        Thank god nobody is epileptic.

        As for incandescent, here's a fact. In my home approx 80 percent of the incandescent bulbs are 19 yrs old. Yes..I said 19 YRS old. We have about 15 incandescent in our master bathroom & bedroom and all but 3 are original. Shocker!

        In fact in my 3/2.5 townhome the only bulbs we change the most are two table lamps (compact fluorescent) and kitchen lighting (two fluorescent).

        My point: Occupant behavior has as large or larger impact than choice of bulb. Now if I could only get my wife to agree to spend the money on fixing our duct work and new windows, but I might as well try to build a new house.

    3. gusfhb | | #38

      By all means return to wherever you wish to read only those news articles that you agree with politically


      This is a factual article.
      Your claims of bias are related to what exactly?

  2. ohioandy | | #3

    Guys, it's right there in the URL: GREEN Building Advisor. Most of us surf to this site frequently in our quest for the latest news, product information, discussion, and even opinions about all things related to energy efficiency, responsible building, environmental stewardship, and social policy. This article uses some polemical language which pushes it more towards commentary than news, but if you find that offensive than I'm not sure why you're here. Joe, have you actually purchased LED bulbs lately? They're now as cheap and reliable as incandescents ever were, only on the whole they last many times longer and use a fraction of the current.

  3. capecodhaus | | #4

    Most things in life change, and all good things end. Not many exceptions to this rule.

    I wish we could for just a moment have Alex Jones run GBA.

    1. STEPHEN SHEEHY | | #21

      The same Alex Jones who got arrested this morning for DUI?

  4. user-723121 | | #8

    LED bulbs just like CFL's have taken time to refine and improve. I have been using them since they first became available, for me, much more reliable than CFL's. The 2700k LED's are pleasing in color. I have a customer with 8 Cree Par 38 LED in the kitchen going on 6 years and no failures yet. I think I have had only a couple fail in the course of 7 or 8 years. I replaced my (2) 40 watt decorative incandescent bulbs in the foyer light with (2) LED using 3.3 watts each. The planet is on fire, time to replace with LED.

    I have been a subscriber to GBA almost from day 1 and I find the level of discussion lately to be of the highest quality since I joined. The analysis of heat pumps, wall systems, moisture control, foundations, all of it top notch. I am a lifelong building contractor with many years experience in high performance buildings, I learn something everyday on GBA.

  5. exeric | | #12

    This is an excellent article. Lets be real also. The haters among us usually hate California. We Californians know it. If it had been a midwestern state heading this push for LEDs I doubt there would be the same visceral reaction among some quarters.

    1. JC72 | | #39

      I've found that the only people who really hate California are Californians who've left the state.

      1. exeric | | #42

        Interesting observation. You may be right.

  6. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #16

    >"The other thing that isn't considered is incandescent bulbs work great for other things. A pigtail and a 60w bulb works great for keeping your cordless tool batteries and caulking warm in your work trailer, or keeping your hot tub lift mechanism from icing up."

    That's great and all, but the consequences of regulations vary a lot by location. Somehow I don't think regulating 3-way bulbs and candelabra bulbs to an updated efficiency standard is going to affect those "...other things..." much.

    In Germany incandescent bulbs are still available from agricultural supply houses as as "poultry heaters", but can't be marketed as a lighting solution for homes. In most of California they don''t need to keep the batteries & caulk warm- ever! But they might still need some for getting the eggs to hatch on schedule, and may even be doing the German approach (I don't know whether they do or not.)

    In most of California there is a significant air conditioning load, and every 3-4 watts of unnecessary heat from a lighting appliances takes another watt of AC to move that heat out. It's important for the grid management overall to limit peak grid loads wherever possible.

    >" I'd rather see a market based solution than a heavy handed regulation."

    Wouldn't we all?

    What's YOUR proposed market based solution for managing California's electricity use?

    1. Yupster | | #18

      Hah, I don't have one. Don't intend to make one either. I just plan to enjoy the LED's in my own home, listen to my Dad rant about these regulations, and keep doing my job to the best of my abilities and hope others do the same. :) Oh, and vote to express my opinion for less heavy handed regulation.

      1. exeric | | #19

        It's important to remember that your heavy handed regulations may not be so heavy handed to Californians. It is easy to be persuaded that government is always bad and free enterprise and the market is always right. That's far from the case. I also think many people of Michigan would object if the present federally led government would retract the more recent water quality rules locally enacted there. Is that so far fetched for that to happen if the Trump administration won the next election but Michigan went against him? We Californians know that stranger things are possible. Be careful when you say some other region of the country cannot have some of their own regulations for their local situation. It might come back to bite you and you would have no room to complain. (Pot meet Kettle)

        1. Expert Member
          Dana Dorsett | | #20

          >"Be careful when you say some other region of the country cannot have some of their own regulations for their local situation. "

          Or even another country entirely (such as Yupster's Canada, mayhaps? :-) )

          The consortium of US states bound by their local statute to California auto emissions rules has made it a de-facto US national regulation. The California ,Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia participants add up to a huge fraction of the US car market, making it too difficult & expensive for manufacturers to support non-compliant models to be sold only in other states.

          That makes it far from a "...a local situation...", yet still something I personally support California's (and other states') right to do.

          The light bulb story is a bit simpler to deal with, but CA is a big enough tail to wag the US policy dog sometimes, and even move markets well outside of what regulations address directly. The cost of PV in the US broadly would likely be much higher and far less developed had it not been for CA's earlier feed in tarriff and other subsidy supports. That's a far bigger net affect than any influence CA might have regarding other states' regulations of light bulbs.

        2. JC72 | | #40

          IJS, in the last 100 yrs or so there really never has been a free market in the US. Let alone a free market which also respects private property rights.

  7. kyeser | | #22

    If Led lights' light weren't so horrible than this wouldn't be horrible.

    We have LED mixed throughout the house I'm currently building, and you can't walk by a room that has LED in it and notice how flickery and annoying the light is compared to the rooms lit by incandescents.

    Sure cheaper output is great but the quality is horrible. We've installed plenty of LED fixtures, recessed cans, etc. over the years by many different manufacturers but I can honestly say that they are all poor quality substitutes to the good old incandescent.

    Lighting effects so many things when it comes to mood, and tone and the overall feel of a space. Use incandescents in areas you frequent at night as they do not produce as much of the melatonin blocking blue light that LED's emit.

    1. stickerbush | | #23

      Interesting, we completed our home a year ago, 100% LED lighting, and we're very happy with the quality of the lighting. Most of the fixtures used 2700K lamps so it looks very much like incandescent. Everything is dimmable, no flickering, that would drive me nuts.

    2. Expert Member
      Dana Dorsett | | #25

      >"We have LED mixed throughout the house I'm currently building, and you can't walk by a room that has LED in it and notice how flickery and annoying the light is compared to the rooms lit by incandescents."

      That sounds more like it's a power quality issue, or poorly designed LED assemblies.

      The internal flicker rate of LED bulb replacement assembly power supplies is in tens of thousands of kilohertz (orders of magnitude faster than AC line frequency). With less-filtered internal LED supplies "dirty" AC power can cause some amount of fluctuation, fluctuation that the thermal mass of most incandescent filaments would filter out. Dedicated LED light fixtures have more physical space to work with for power supply & line filtering than Edison base replacement LEDs, and rightly SHOULD be less susceptible to low AC power quality.

      If the power quality is bad enough to cause better than average LEDs to flicker you may have bigger issues to worry about, such as illegitimate loops in the neutrals in the house wiring, or abysmal power quality coming in from the local distribution grid (which can be filtered or compensated for ahead of the panel, if need be.) Generally low power quality and WAY out of sync power factors common on the outer fringes of a substation's reach, particularly on very long runs in rural areas. In some cases even a rooftop PV's inverter can fix some of those local issues, but there are purpose made devices for power factor correction & surge suppression (beyond mere clipping of voltage spikes).

    3. m854 | | #26

      There are LEDs that get warmer when you dim them, and they do a very good job of simulating the look of incandescents. Phillips and Ikea make good ones, but I'm sure there are others. There are also bulbs where you can program them to any color (Phillips Hue) if you want to avoid blue light at certain times of day.

      There is a range of quality among LED bulbs, so it's always a good idea to buy one bulb and try it before you buy a bunch. But price is not a big factor. Some of the cheapest LED bulbs I have ($0.50-$0.75 each) are great, and even dimmable. Some of the worse bulbs I have are some high Color Rendering Index (CRI) 100W equivalent that I probably paid $10 each for. One died early, and all of them have enough of a turn-on delay to be annoying.

      I have several brands of bulbs, and the only LEDs that I find unacceptable are the ones built into one of my bathroom fans. It's not adequately filtered, so the light makes a stroboscopic effect if I wave my hand under it. I've never seen a screw-in LED bulb that does that.

      Flickering could be caused by using a non-dimmable bulb with a dimmer, or using a dimmable bulb with an older dimmer that was not designed for LEDs. Old dimmers often work with dimmable LEDs with no problems, but sometimes they don't.

    4. n7ws | | #28

      As a licensed radio amateur of over 60 years and a retired EE I have some opinions about these "efficient" devices we've become subjected to.

      Every one of them contains a little AC to DC converter that takes the 120 V 60 Hz (in the US) and "chops it up" into higher frequency pulses that are then converted to pseudo DC used to activate the semiconductor device(s) that provide light (LED) or run microprocessors that do other things. Generally speaking, the higher the frequency of the pulses, the greater the efficiency. Unfortunately, and I won't go into the math that explains it, when you do this "chopping" unless you do some filtering, you not only get the desired frequency, you get multiples of that frequency that are high enough that they couple into the wiring which then acts as an antenna and radiates them just like any other radio frequency signal.

      Should you doubt this, Chamberlain, among others, who manufacture garage door openers specify specific LED brands for use in their products. Other LEDs interfere with the RF receivers in the openers. More info here:

      Another nasty aspect, at least in my house is the acoustic (audible) noise put out by some LEDs. My kitchen has recessed cans in a 14-foot high ceiling. I need a lot of lumens. To replace the halogens floods that I used to use, I had to resort to LED spots, which are harsher and put out a buzz that drives us crazy.

      1. Expert Member
        Dana Dorsett | | #29

        >"Generally speaking, the higher the frequency of the pulses, the greater the efficiency. "

        Uhhh... not really (or even "generally").

        Going higher in frequency allows for smaller capacitors and inductive components in the converter, but not higher efficiency. Getting the size small is essential for Edison base replacement units, which causes both quality and efficiency to suffer relative to "permanent" LED fixtures, where the power supply can be better filtered or even shielded (and sometimes are.)

        Full disclosure: I have designed switching power supplies for LEDs in IR illuminators used for scientific & industrial imaging applications, as well as supplies for super-luminescent LEDs on fiber optic gyroscopes used for space satellite navigation. (And yes, the cheap Edison base LED bulb supplies are pretty lousy in comparison, by almost any measure except size & price. :-) )

        1. Yupster | | #31

          Not to hijack this thread but maybe to hijack it a little bit, I've got a 85w LED fixture that uses uses "strip leds" that just started emitting a loud buzzing and all the other LED potlights on the circuit started flickering. If I turn off the main fixture via the remote, the potlights stop flickering and operate normally. My best guess is the TRIAC compatible dimmer switch and the remote operated dimmer in the main fixture are messing each other up.

          I was just going to start troubleshooting it but you seem like you might know a thing or two about LED power supplies, maybe you can make this simple for me? Do I need a different transformer in the fixture or am I on the wrong trail altogether?

          Also, you work on equipment that goes to SPACE? :O

          1. Expert Member
            Dana Dorsett | | #32

            I'm not going to speculate as to what trash your 85 watt LED fixture is throwing out. If it had been operating fine and just started having issues, something has failed.

            SCR/TRIAC dimmers spread their own RF trash out on the wiring (and radiation into the ether) and are often susceptible to conducted or radiated RF trash from other sources. Those emissions & susceptibilities usually get worse when there are illegitimate loops & ground connections on the neutral wiring. Some dimmers are much worse than others, and some Edison base LEDs only work reasonably with a limited list of dimmers. Good luck sorting it out!

            I'm not currently working on any equipment that slated to go into space, but I have in the past. I used to think specs for SPACE grade electronics were more than just a bit ridiculous, until I was more recently tasked with designing sensitive charge sensitive amplifiers & power supplies for radiation detectors, all of which need to survive & operate inside sealed spent nuclear fuel rod storage casks for years. :-) (There's a tough set of problems, and a limited set of options.)

        2. n7ws | | #33

          Jeesus I'm trying to write for lay people. I'll stop there and not get into a peeing contest.

  8. woobagoobaa | | #27

    The author could have made his points more effectively without the aggressive flourish. "Illegal overturn", "attacks", striking back". Give it a rest. I come here to learn and get away from the FOX/MSNBC noise.

    I buy LEDs because they are cost effective and get better every year. And I have also had issues with early failures, dimmer issues, etc.

    1. Expert Member
      Dana Dorsett | | #30

      >"I come here to learn and get away from the FOX/MSNBC noise."

      Personally I don't find it very hard to mentally filter that kind of noise. Clearly YMMV. We all have different sensitivities, but in a hyper partisan era it's possible to become TOO sensitive?

      The topic here is relevant to "green building", including at least part of the spin, since the current administration makes no bones about it's desire to dial back regulations on any number of fronts (including efficiency regulations), some of which are being replaced by state regulations such as this move by California.

      The spin delivered is about what I'd expect from the NRDC, but that doesn't detract (much) from the topical relevance. Efficiency isn't the only aspect of green building, but it's an important piece, and a piece with lots of regulatory influences surrounding it. Removing the former exclusion of a few bulb types from the broader bulb efficiency requirements seems rational, and no BFD, despite the author's insistance that "Californians will save big time" with this move:

      The "...additional 4,000 to 13,600 gigawatt-hours of electricity once the current stock of bulbs turns over" is probably NOT referring to just the 3-way & candelabra bulbs. The total annual power generation in CA is less than 300,000 gigawatt-hours, which would mean the states' 3-way & candelabra bulbs would need to be 1-5% of the entire load for the state, a state with a lot of air conditioning and other heavy electricity uses. (No link was included for the CEC report from which those numbers were derived, and I'm not inclined to go googling up the source.)

      1. woobagoobaa | | #41

        The topic is absolutely relevant, my comment in no way partisan. Dana, if you attack me and I strike back, violence has occurred. The editorial flourish is juvenile. Lets keep it civil and fact based please here on GBA.

        1. Expert Member
          Dana Dorsett | | #43

          > Dana, if you attack me and I strike back, violence has occurred.


          Were you attacked?

        2. capecodhaus | | #44

          I must have got lost lyrics~ wooba gooba . Stay calm and carry on. Go nail some plywood.

  9. charles3 | | #34

    Have we now reached a point where reliable LED alternatives exist for every shape and base of incandescent? How does one choose a top quality LED lamp?

    1. m854 | | #35

      I can't find a dimmable LED replacement for a halogen tube for a lamp.

    2. gusfhb | | #45

      I would still go with brand names, everything is made offshore but one hopes larger companies have better quality control

      1. charles3 | | #47

        What constitutes a "brand name"?

  10. gusfhb | | #46

    The upside to the influx of rightist commentary here is that it means the reach of GBA has gotten to the point of being noticed

    1. krom | | #48

      Liked this place much better when I could come here and get information without someone's politics tied to it.

      "rightist" lol There are 1 or 2 people who said they prefer free markets over being forced to do what the gvt says, but the vast majority of commenters in this thread are still left of center.

      BTW heavy handed regulations are heavy handed whether they are applied to those who know it, or to sheep that aren't smart enough to realize it.

  11. krom | | #49

    I've delt with LED issues and dearly miss the light fromincandescent bulbs.
    Flickering, headaches, early failure, all the above.
    Not sure what to do going forward.. I am here gathering info and suggestions for an upcoming build, but after work converting to led 2 years ago I'm now at a loss

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