Preparing for California’s Ban on Fluorescent Lighting

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Last updated: June 24, 2024

California has joined a growing list of U.S. states enacting bans on the future sale or distribution of fluorescent lighting technology. See effective dates, what this means for incentives, and how you can prepare your business.

About the ban and effective dates

A significant shift towards more sustainable lighting options is underway, as an increasing number of states across the U.S. have either enacted or set to officially enact bans on the sale of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and linear fluorescent tubes (T8, T5, T12).

California joined that list, as state lawmakers passed AB-2208, which sets the effective dates below prohibiting the sale or distribution of fluorescent lighting technologies:

  • The sale or distribution of screw-in or bayonet-base CFLs starting January 1, 2024.
  • The sale of distribution of pin-based CFLs and linear fluorescent lighting starts January 1, 2025.

Why ban fluorescents?

Fluorescent lights contain mercury – which is a toxic heavy metal that is used in CFLs to help them emit light more efficiently.

When CFLs break, that hazardous mercury is released into the environment. Research shows that this takes a substantial toll on both the environment and the health of humans and animals. Mercury also creates serious (and costly) waste disposal challenges.

On top of the mercury concerns, modern technologies like LEDs are substantially more energy efficient and have a longer lifespan – with top-quality LED fixtures offering rated lifespans of 100,000+ hours.

These factors contribute to the growing consensus that moving away from fluorescent lighting is both an environmental imperative and an economic advantage, leading to the current wave of statewide bans.

Do you think your business might be affected by impending bans on fluorescent lighting? To learn more about the details of these bans and how to prepare your business for the switch to LED alternatives, find out more by reading Active List of U.S. States Banning Fluorescent Lights.

How impacted businesses can prepare for impending bans

While a lighting project may seem daunting, LED systems offer substantial energy savings (reductions as high as 70-80%) while making huge enhancements to your overall working environment when done correctly. Keep these considerations in mind as you begin preparing for an LED future.

Consider optics and grid design

Updating fluorescent fixtures to LED through a 1:1 replacement approach often leaves immense value on the table. Work with a lighting designer to build out a photometric plan that ensures you produce even and consistent light throughout your space, validate that light level standards are met, and that your LED upgrade uses the least amount of energy possible.

Be cautious of TLED replacements

Traditionally designed to be a retrofit replacement for fluorescent tubes in compatible luminaries, LED tubes (TLEDs) were an attractive option offering significant cost and energy savings. When specified and installed correctly, they can reduce electricity consumption by over 50% compared to T8 fluorescent lamp technology.

However, understand the safety and quality concerns with TLED bulb swaps.

We have heard a number of stories from customers who came to us after having bad experiences with TLEDs and substandard LED “solutions” — including severe fires that led to costly production shutdowns.

Perform an energy audit

Lighting energy audits are an essential step for understanding how much energy your lights are consuming, where you need light level improvements, and how an upgrade would impact your space. Audits also allow businesses to determine when they will receive a return on their investment, as well as understand tradeoffs when evaluating different upgrade options.

PEC clients receive a complimentary on-site energy audit as the first step in any project we take on. Request an audit at the link below to see what value is tied up in your lighting system — no commitment is required.

California businesses can leverage zero-interest, $0 capital funding through On-Bill Financing (OBF)

For businesses that are looking to upgrade to LED but face budgetary constraints, or just simply want to preserve cash on hand, On-Bill Financing (also known as “OBF”) presents a fantastic option.

OBF allows California businesses to fund energy-efficiency upgrades using the calculated monthly energy savings gathered from the project.

0% interest loans are issued from utility providers to the businesses to cover the upfront cost of the project. The project is then paid off each month using the predetermined monthly energy savings. Payback terms are also structured to ensure that the monthly payment never exceeds the monthly savings amount — providing a cashflow-positive solution to help you get into compliance before bans take effect in 2025.

Want to learn more about OBF? Read more on our blog, LED Lighting in California: Unique Impact for Industrial Spaces in 2024.

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PEC is North America’s most innovative energy optimization company, helping some of the world’s largest businesses design, develop, and deploy custom energy solutions. Whether working with single sites or expansive portfolios, we exist to help our clients extract full value from every addressable energy opportunity – with ease.

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