In step with the beginning of the phase out of incandescent light bulbs in January 2012, the Department of Energy has issued new and amended energy conservation standards for fluorescent light ballasts, which will take effect the same month. Compliance with the standards, applicable to all products manufactured in or imported into the United States, will be required by November 14, 2014.
The new standards are intended to improve ballast luminous efficiency (BLE), the ratio of total lamp arc power to ballast input power. According to DOE, BLE will be improved by 5.7 to 10.8 percent for non-residential instant start, rapid start, and programmed start ballasts in 4-foot medium bipin lamps, 2-foot U-shaped lamps, and 8-foot slimline lamps. BLE improvements for residential ballasts for the same types of lamps range from 5.8 to 7.2 percent. Ballasts used in 8-foot high-output lamps are also addressed in the standards with BLE improvements of 15.1 to 26.5 percent.
The final rule is authorized by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, which directs that any new or amended energy conservation standard must be designed to achieve the maximum improvement in energy efficiency that is technologically feasible and economically justified. Further, the statute requires that any new or amended standard must result in significant conservation of energy.
According to DOE, the standards will produce substantial energy and monetary savings and result in equally substantial reductions in emissions of GHGs and other air pollutants. For example, DOE estimates that the average life-cycle cost (LCC) savings are $37 to $40 for 2-lamp instant start (IS) and rapid state (RS) ballasts that operate commercial 4-foot T8 lamps.
Nationally, the estimated savings include 2.7 to 5.6 quadrillion BTUs of cumulative energy for the years 2014-2043. This amount is equivalent to the annual energy use of 14 million to 28 million homes. The national savings over the same period is estimated in $2010 at between $6.7 billion to $21.6 billion.
Accompanying estimated pollutant reductions are 27-16 million tons of CO2; 22,000-39,000 tons of NOx, and 0.40-1.47 tons of mercury.
The effects will be less luminous for ballast manufacturers. By DOE’s estimate, manufacturers may lose up to 37 percent of industry net present value, or $268.6 million. But this loss will be outweighed by the nationwide benefits, says DOE. The Department also notes that in all product classes, ballasts achieving the standard levels are already commercially available.
DOE’s final rule for new and amended standards for fluorescent light ballasts was published in the November 14, 2011, FR.