New Law Bans a Beloved Household Item in Oklahoma
If your August has started off like my August, you've had exactly three phone calls already about the government's latest ban on this commonly used and beloved household item.
Yep, the traditional and soft-lighted incandescent light bulb is technically banned in the United States.
My Boomer father is very upset about it, and I totally get it. I utilize lamps around my house and fought the emergence of modern illumination until LED's finally caught up with the past.
The problem with the curly-q CFL bulbs and the early LED's was the lighting temperature. That's the Kelvin measurement you see on the side of the box.
Incandescent bulbs exist in that soft-light category around 3000K, giving off a very warm yellowish glow. Most lighting alternatives went to the high-end of the scale, 5000K-7000K which produced a very bright white light with slight hue of blue.
I have trouble seeing blue light, so while they may have been brighter from a technical aspect, I couldn't see it as well as I could see the yellow light. That's probably why I had modern cars too, I can't see the headlights at night.
Are they actually banned though?
That's a fair question, and the answer is... sort of.
While traditional incandescent bulbs aren't banned in definition, politics were played to effectively ban any light bulb that doesn't meet specific lighting output metrics.
All light bulbs must now emit at least 45 lumens (the measurement of light output) per watt. Incandescent bulbs only produce about 15 lumens per watt as opposed to LED's 75 lumens per watt performance... so yeah, most old-school bulbs are effectively banned.
What about my appliance bulbs, they're incandescent!
The bulb ban is only applicable to lights that stay on for extended periods of time, like those in your living room and bedroom fixtures. Ceiling fans, can lights, lamps, etc...
The incandescent bulbs that are still being produced and used in appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and microwaves are not included in the bulb ban... yet. There will come a time when the powers in Washington force the industry to make a change, but that time is not now.
Can I still buy my beloved incandescent bulbs and use them?
You know, if light bulbs are the thing that radicalizes you, so be it. The answer is yes, you can still buy and use incandescents as long as you can find them. This ban affects manufacturing and import, not retail.
I'm sure you'll start seeing bulbs on Facebook Marketplace any day now for ridiculous prices, and there will likely be people willing to pay for them.
You can also choose to still use incandescent if you want to, that's not against the law yet. All the same, LED technology has finally caught up to the past in terms of how the light looks.
Unless you were the person that swapped out the bulbs, you'd never realize the difference in light. LED also saves on the electric bill, admittedly a very small amount that adds up over the life of the bulb. If you have tall ceilings, you'll probably enjoy not having to swap bulbs all the time like we used to.
Are all LED's the same?
No. Not at all.
When I finally gave in and swapped the entire house over to LED a few years ago, I went through the process of finding the right bulbs. While the industry has standardized for the most part in that time, there are different bulbs that meet different needs.
Just like incandescent bulbs, there are indoor and outdoor varieties that should be paid attention to. They also make lamp-specific LED bulbs that allow different levels of light on a 3-way switch. Dim, brighter, brightest...
We ran a promotion with Batteries+ a few years ago and I somehow ended up with about 100 Duracell-brand LED bulbs for free. I've used them and they've been great. I have to replace them once in a while when the power surges and burns them out, but free is free, right? No complaints on their performance so far.
I'm sure most LED bulbs now are similar, or at least made in the same Chinese factory with different labels on them.
Where to find incandescent bulbs.
If you're dead set on keeping your beloved bulbs, there are places you can find them. The big-box stores will likely keep a small stock of them for the time being. The smaller hardware stores probably have a hefty supply of them too.
If you want to put in the effort, you'd be amazed how many bulbs you can find in the lamps and fixtures at resale places like Goodwill and Salvation Army, on the cheap no doubt.
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