2013 Government Regulations Affecting the showroom & decorative lighting industries

A look at changes in government regulations and legislation that will affect lighting manufacturers, lighting showrooms & the decorative lighting industries

By David Shiller and Terry McGowan, FIES, LC

It is the end of 2012, and you are likely engaged in business planning for the coming year.  Now is a good time to consider what changes 2013 will bring to the showroom & decorative lighting industries. Some drivers of the industry are harder to predict, such as oil prices, housing trends, and the larger U.S. and global economies.  Conversely, other drivers are easier to predict, such as legislation that has already been passed into law with new lighting regulations taking effect in 2013.

There is no denying that government regulations and voluntary programs significantly impact the lighting industry, both positively and negatively. This article will provide a quick scan of the most significant federal, state, and provincial regulations that are due to become effective in the next couple years. In addition, it will point out a few significant changes to voluntary government programs that will affect our industry.

What many people call “Legislation” as it applies to lighting is really something else and the distinctions may be important.  Enabling legislation, for example, such as the 1992 federal legislation known as the Energy Policy Act (EPACT) set efficiency requirements for certain reflector lamps, but, more importantly, also set up a revision process so that the efficiency requirements would be revisited periodically and more requirements added.  That was done in 1996, 2005, and 2007.  The DOE is charged with the revision task and that includes testing procedures as well.

U.S. – Federal

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA07) was the federal legislation that is phasing out the low-efficiency A lamps that we all grew up with.  This year (2012) saw the phase-out of the 100-watt incandescent A lamp, and similarly January 1st, 2013 will begin the elimination of the 75-watt incandescent A lamp.  The 60- and 40-watt incandescent A lamps will begin phasing out on 1/1/14.  Of course, many new light sources will take their places, most notably:  higher efficiency halogen, CFLs, and LED A lamps.  Lamp manufacturers have lists of alternatives to the phased-out products on their Web sites, plus the lighting industry has set up a Web site for consumer information at:  http://www.lumennow.org .  There is also information on the American Lighting Association (ALA) Web site at:  http://alturl.com/sepmd .

In addition to A lamps, EISA07 also regulates a limited set of decorative lamps, that include:

  • Medium-base G-shape <4” and >40 watt
  • Medium-base F, B, BA, S, and CA shapes >40 watt

In 2011, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued new rules regulating the efficiency of fluorescent lamp ballasts.  The effective date for these new ballast efficiency rules is November 14, 2014.  The rule-making will most affect T12 electronic ballasts, outdoor-sign and resi-only ballasts, as well as T8 and T5 programmed-start ballasts lacking a cathode cutout design.

  • Mercury vapor lamps will be banned effective 2016.
  • ER30, ER40, BR30, BR40, and R20 incandescent reflector lamps will have efficiency regulations become effective some time in 2014, the exact date is still to be determined.
  • Metal halide fixture regulations will become effective 1/1/15.

With all of these impending regulations, the primary impacts on the industry will be replacement availability and potential price increases.  For most of these regulations, products already made by the effective date may be sold; but the non-qualifying regulated lamps cannot be manufactured or imported after the effective date.  Check with your suppliers to see what replacements will continue to be available.

While not regulatory, the federal ENERGY STAR program is a voluntary program with significant impacts on the lighting industry.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently revising the ENERGY STAR lamps specification that will strongly impact general service CFL and LED lamps.  The new specification will likely be completed in early 2013, and become effective in late 2013.  It is too soon to say what this final specification will look like.

Canadian – Federal
A federal amendment has delayed implementation of the low-efficacy incandescent A lamp regulations for two years:

  • to 1/1/14 for 100-watt and 75-watt A lamps
  • to 12/31/14 for 60-watt and 40-watt A lamps

State and Provincial
California is the most active of the U.S. states and Canadian provinces with respect to mandatory legislative requirements.  Such activities are carried out through the California Energy Commission (CEC) and “Energy Codes,” the so-called “Title 20” requirements which are appliance regulations that include lamps and lighting fixtures such as portable lamps and torchieres, as well as the “Title 24” requirements which apply to permanent lighting installed in both new residential construction and remodeling projects of a certain size and larger.  Both Title 20 and Title 24 are revised on a periodic basis.

For example, a revision of Title 24 was completed in 2012 which will become effective on January 1, 2014.  Both Title 20 and 24 refer to an associated document “Joint Appendix JA8” which contains the requirements, including the lumen/watt values, for LED luminaires and light engines.  What drives the California energy codes is the goal to reach “net zero” energy levels for homes by 2020 and legislation called “AB 1109” which calls for reducing statewide electric energy consumption for indoor residential lighting by 50 percent or more (compared to 2007)  by  2018.

An important aspect of California’s energy codes is the requirement to register and certify regulated lighting products offered for sale in California.  Lamps, portable luminaires, permanently installed LED luminaires used to meet Title 24 requirements are included.  The process can be done online using the instructions here:  http://alturl.com/xb7zk

With the adoption rate of CFLs in the range of only 25-30 percent nationwide, including California, the CEC has looked for ways to encourage residential consumers to take out their inefficient incandescent lamps and replace them with the more efficient CFL and LED types by eliminating the objections that consumers have to the more efficient lamps.  Recently, the CEC heard proposals for a “California Quality” screw-in LED lamp standard, which would have “Energy Star +” performance for factors such as rated life, color, flicker and dimming – which seem to be key to consumer acceptance.  That effort, which is expected to be completed yet in 2012, would also help focus additional attention on new energy-efficient lighting products featuring both a high level of performance and quality of light.

Phasing out low-efficacy incandescent lamps is all about energy savings, but there are also efforts to broaden the environmental scope of such efforts to include product sustainability – the idea of designing, manufacturing, operating, and then recycling products into new products while generating the least amount of pollution and using a minimum of material resources and energy.

In the Canadian province of British Columbia, an industry-designed, but mandatory, “Product Stewardship” program has been put into place to recycle luminaires beginning on 7/1/12.  Lamp recycling started on 7/1/2010.

The way it works for luminaires is that manufacturers develop a recycling plan for their particular products – including how it will be funded. No government or other taxpayer funding is permitted. The plan is then submitted to the Product Stewardship Plan, which is a private entity that manages the program for the B.C. Ministry of the Environment.  Manufacturers must also submit an annual report – including financials – that shows how the plan is working.  The plan can include the participation of distributors and retailers.

The phase-out of low-efficiency, incandescent lamps will accelerate a new era of efficient lamps.  In addition to the halogen, CFL, and LED lamps previously mentioned, there are companies developing new solutions, such as higher-efficiency incandescent lamps that would be two to three times as efficient as the incandescent lamps that we grew up with.  Of course, LED lamps are rapidly improving, evolving and dropping in price, every year.

Find the hidden opportunity in the new regulations.

About the Authors

David Shiller is president of Lighting Solution Development, a national sales rep and consultant to the decorative lighting industry, and specializes in energy efficient lighting.

Terry McGowan, FIES, LC is an independent consultant and the American Lighting Association’s director of Technology and Engineering.

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