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Ceiling Fan Lights
How does the Department of Energy legislation for ceiling fans affect ceiling fan light fixtures?

Continue to Part 2: Airflow testing and labeling requirements for ceiling fan motors.

4-light ceiling fan light fixture

The description of the lighting fixtures on most websites (including ours) is most likely incorrect as pertains to the socket type, bulb type and wattage of the fixture. This is because of changes in legislation from the Department of Energy (DOE) with regards to lamping requirements for ceiling fans.

Because most manufacturers are transitioning between non-standardized, older standards and future standards, it is important that consumers are aware that there is no current way for us to know at what point any manufacturer will begin shipping fan lights that meet the latest standard. Therefore, you must be aware that the information supplied on our site regarding fan light fixtures is most likely not accurate.

As time passes, all manufacturers will eventually no longer have older fixtures on their shelves and will be able to supply us with more concrete information regarding every light fixture that they ship. But until then, unfortunately, we have no control over the actual specifications of the fixture you may receive.

For clarification, we have copied an informative letter that we received from Montecarlo Fan reproduced below:

To Our Valued Customers,

On January 1, 2009 important new standards will go into effect as mandated by the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005). New standards set forth by the Department of Energy will benefit consumers by encouraging the use of energy efficient ceiling fans and light kits. Monte Carlo Fan Company is committed to helping to make a smooth and seamless transition. All pre-EPACT inventory that arrives in our warehouses before 12/21/08 can be sold until stock is depleted. Ceiling fans, light kits and fitters have been assigned new item numbers that are similar to their former item numbers to help you manage the transition of inventory in coming months.

The U.S. Department of Energy established test procedures and energy conservation standards for ceiling fans and ceiling fan light kits per the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005). The standards for ceiling fan light kits apply to certain socket types as of January 1, 2007 and other socket types on January 1, 2009.

Requirements apply generally to all fans and including separate fan speed and lighting controls, adjustable speeds and reverse. The most significant impact of this legislation was the effective elimination of the medium screw base incandescent lamps from fan light kits, moving the industry to candelabra and intermediate base sockets. On January 1, 2009 the requirements will tighten, essentially requiring that light bulbs be included in the manufacturer's carton and that light kits operate with no more than 190 watts total. Below we will cover the classification of ceiling fan light kits, wattage limitation, and lamping requirements (note the ce3iling fan light kits include integrated and attachable kits sold with the fan or separately).

Ceiling Fan Light Kits & Ceiling Fans with Integrated Lighting

There are three classes of ceiling fan light kits with different requirements for each:

  1. Ceiling fan light kits with medium screw base sockets must be packaged with screw-based CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) that either meet Energy Star v3.0 for CFLs or its energy efficiency equivalent.
  2. Ceiling fan light kits with pin-based sockets for fluorescent lamps must include lamps that meet Energy Star v4.0 for Residential Light Fixtures, example 40W T9 circline bulbs.
  3. Ceiling fan light kits with any other socket type. This is the largest class of light kits and includes candelabra, intermediate screw-base, bi-pin halogen sockets and GU24 sockets. The light kit manufactured on or after January 1, 2009 cannot be capable of operating with lamps that total more than 190W and must be packaged with light bulbs that do not total more than 190W. While there are certain exceptions, this basically requires the addition of an electronic limiting device to fans with light kits to meet the 190 watt limitation.

Explanation of 190 Watt Limit & Current Limiting Devices

In order to limit the wattage used by the light kit, it is necessary to limit the current (amperage). For nominal 120VAC systems, this equates to a maximum current of 1.583A. Due to normal tolerances in the line voltage and draw from the lamps, the 190W/1.583A "limit" can vary as well. This requires that the limiting device accommodate this variance. Although the DOE recognizes that there are various limiting technologies that can be used and has not specified any particular technology, essentially electronics are require for proper performance. Further, the device must be able to operate within a short period of time (no more than a few minutes). A device that operates within one minute would be acceptable. The available technologies include single-shot fuses, re-settable mechanical overloads and electronic limiters. However, electronic limiters seem to be the only viable option for the typical light kit with incandescent light bulbs.

Notable Exceptions to EPACT and 190 Watt Limit:

  1. Hugger Ceiling Fans are considered to be outside the EPACT definition of a "Ceiling Fan" which is a "non-portable device that is suspended from a ceiling for circulating air via the rotation of fan blades" and therefore not subject to EPACT requirements for ceiling fans.
  2. Accent Lighting (example, Ceiling Fan Uplights) with sockets other than medium screw base or pin-based for fluorescent light bulbs are not subject to the 190 watt limit. The three reasons provided by the DOE are:
  • The purpose of accent lighting is not to provide direct light
  • This is consistent with their regulation of light kits with medium screw-base sockets and pin-based for fluorescent light bulbs.
  • That the DOE is primarily concerned with energy consumption by the ceiling fan light kit with the primary purpose of general illumination


Ceiling fan manufacturers must be able to demonstrate compliance but currently are not required to submit compliance certification reports. This certification process is in development and will be required at some point in the future.

Continue to Part 2: Airflow testing and labeling requirements for ceiling fan motors.

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