By: Craig DiLouie
In July 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced major energy conservation standards for commercial general-service fluorescent lamps. The rules, which became effective July 14, 2012, regulated 4´ T5, T8, and T12 lamps as well as 8´ T8 lamps, strengthening previous standards while extending their reach. The result was the elimination of a majority of T12 lamps from the market.
Also slated for elimination was 700-series 4´ T8 lamps. These are lower-color-rendering T8 lamps with a 70 to 79 color-rendering index (CRI) rating.
However, the DOE granted a two-year extension for the deadline for 700-series T8 lamps to products manufactured by GE Lighting, Halco Lighting, OSRAM Sylvania, and Philips Lighting. The new deadline for compliance was July 14.
The extension was granted due to the rare earth materials supply crisis. Fluorescent lamps utilize phosphors coating the lamp bulb to convert ultraviolet energy into visible white light. Application of rare earth phosphors, used in addition to or instead of traditional halophosphors, produces higher efficiency, color rendering, and lumen maintenance.
As demand for rare earth materials increased in the mid-2000s, China, which at the time controlled 95% of the world’s supply, began limiting exports to ensure a steady supply for its domestic industries. The result was rising costs and lamp prices coupled with increased demand for 700-series lamps, which contain 70% less phosphor content than 800-series (80 to 89 CRI) lamps, hence the request for a regulatory extension and its acceptance by the DOE.
tED has confirmed that GE Lighting, Halco Lighting, OS-RAM Sylvania, and Philips Lighting have not applied for a new extension of the exemption, as the rare earth materials supply crisis has largely abated. Unless manufacturers offer new products that satisfy the energy standards, a majority of these products will be removed from the market. Distributors, meanwhile, may continue to sell 700-series 4´ T8 lamps until inventories are exhausted.
*For more information go to http://www.tedmag.com