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Light Bulb Ban Produces Hoarding In EU, FUD In U.S. 1080

Posted by timothy
from the top-down-is-the-current-paradigm dept.
Lucas123 writes "The very thought of losing that pear-shaped giver of warm, yellow light drove Europeans to hoard Edison's invention [Note: Or possibly Joseph Swan's invention; HT to eldavojohn.] as the EU's Sept. 1 ban on incandescent light bulbs approached. China's ban on incandescent lamps starts Oct. 1. And, in the U.S., the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 effectively began banning the 100W bulb this year and will ban the most popular bulbs — the 75W, 60W and 40W screw-in incandescent bulbs --over the next two years. The end standard requires bulbs to use 65% less energy by 2020. But Republicans in Congress continue to fight the ban by hamstringing the energy efficiency standards through appropriations legislation, cutting off funds for the enforcement of the light bulb ban."
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Light Bulb Ban Produces Hoarding In EU, FUD In U.S.

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  • Re:Ban is dumb (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @11:09AM (#41449667) Journal
    Agreed, cigarettes are harmful too, but it's still legal to sell them. They just get taxed into oblivion. The same should be true for incandescent light bulbs.
  • Re:Labelling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @11:17AM (#41449799) Journal

    > the spread was too narrow.

    Yup. We put up some track lights and found the LED bulbs would illuminate a small patch of floor, but blind you if you looked directly into it.

    In order to have lots of light and stay within the current rating of the track, I mixed them 50/50 with halogens. The halogens lit the room, the led were set to be pointing at things like desks that benefit from better illumination.

    LED room lights have a way to go before they're a complete replacement.

  • Re:Ban is dumb (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stirling Newberry (848268) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @11:17AM (#41449807) Homepage Journal
    Energy use is heavily subsdized, and the same people who hate bans, hate taxes even more. People aren't willing to pay taxes, so the next rung down has to be used.
  • Re:Labelling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcmonkey (96054) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @11:24AM (#41449899) Homepage

    Came here to say the same.

    I could mod you up, but instead I'll just say, every time I bitch about warm up time in one of these threads, someone replies that I should buy a bulb made this century or by a good manufacturer. Yet no one ever has an example of which ones are the "good manufacturers."

    I had a service come in to do an energy audit on my home. I expected to hear a lot about insulation and drafty windows. Instead the guy just went through and changed all the bulbs he could to CFLs. I've also purchased CFLs in the past. These are GE and Sylvania bulbs.

    1. These bulbs do not last as long as advertised. I've been in my house for 8 years and there are fixtures that have had bulbs burn out at least twice (ie, fixtures on their 3rd CFL bulb in 8 years).

    2. Dimmable? If you consider going from off to warming up to on dimmable, then yes. If you mean on demand dimmable with a dimmer switch, then no not dimmable.

    3. Warm up time. True story: a couple days after I had my "energy audit" I'm a the foot of my stairs and flip the switch for the lights at the top of the stairs.

    Nothing happens. It's a 3-way with the other switch at the top, so I flip it back, wondering if the lights were on and I had just turned them off. But still nothing. I give another few flips, still nothing. I'm very puzzled, because light switches are usually very reliable. I don't remember ever having to replace a regular light switch that stopped working.

    Then I look up. The switch is working. The lights are coming on. It's just they are so dim, unless I am looking directly at the bulbs, I can't tell if they are on or off.

    My daily routine used to be to come home from work, go to my bedroom, turn on the over head light, change out of my work gear in to evening wear, and then go about my night. Now, I come home, go to the bedroom, turn on the over head light, turn on the night stand light, make sure I leave the door open with the hall light on, so I can see while I'm changing. By the time I'm done, all the bulbs have warmed up and I'm squinting from the brightness, but by then I'm leaving the room and turning all those lights off.

    So if someone has a line on CFLs that don't need minutes to warm up, please share! Until then, I'm going through what CFLs I have and as they burn out, replacing them with real light bulbs that work.

    I realize technologies take time to mature and I understand the concept of a public beta test, but CFLs are being pitched as a final product when they aren't nearly as good as the thing they are supposed to replace.

  • by danomac (1032160) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @11:25AM (#41449915)

    I can attest to this - I have retrofitted (over a year or so) my whole house with the Philips LED bulbs.

    I have a fixture with multiple bulb sockets, I put in a 60W incandescent in one and the Philips LED in the other, and I could not see a difference in colour temperature at all. They stay warm-ish to the touch so you don't have to worry about spot heating problems in your home, they're great. Now they just need a bulb that can operate in an enclosed fixture.

    It did help that our local power utility subsidized these bulbs, they're expensive - between $40 - $50 a pop. I got mine for half price because of the subsidy.

  • by Endlisnis (208453) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @11:27AM (#41449969)
    All electric heaters are 100% efficient. Now, sometimes, some of the energy gets (temporarily) stuck as visible light, or sound or something else, but it all, eventually ends up as heat. It's just as efficient to heat your house with incandescent light bulbs (or even compact florescent light bulbs) as traditional baseboard heaters -- as long as you keep your curtains shut.
  • Re:republicans (Score:1, Interesting)

    by maroberts (15852) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @11:34AM (#41450083) Homepage Journal

    Democrats complain Republicans don't focus on jobs, but when this lightbulb legislation shutdown a factory and many people lost their jobs and Republicans try to prevent that, Democrats complain.

    Why should it cost jobs? I'm pretty certain most of the CFC/LED bulb technology is western in origin, and the markups on such bulbs are probably bigger than the old filament bulbs, so why is there not a shiny US factory making these things?

  • by drdrgivemethenews (1525877) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @11:37AM (#41450135)
    Unbelievably bad, that is. The light is poor and barren. I have yet to see a "100w equivalent" that was even close to being as bright as a 100w incandescent. Some of them have a power factor of 0.5, which means they're actually half as "energy efficient" as the label says. And "long-lasting"? Not in my experience. But hey, at least they're expensive.

    The lighting industry has got to be gleefully rubbing its hands over these regulatory moves.

    The building inspector made me replace 160 watts of very nice halogens in my new kitchen with 160 watts of fluorescents because the code says half of the lighting in a kitchen has to be "energy efficient". The overall lighting level went down considerably with this change, in part because the halogens give directed light and decent looking fluorescents don't, and also because halogen light is a lot nicer. Of course the change was reversed the same day the inspector signed off. The $120 fluorescent fixture I was forced to buy now illuminates an area of my home that I don't spend much time in--the laundry room.
  • Re:Democrats (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @11:37AM (#41450139)

    LED lights would save more electricity, last a LOT longer, but cost a LOT more. Thanks, guys.

    Lets buy five 2000 hour 100 watt old fashioned filament bulbs for $5
    100 watts / 1000 watts per KW * 0.10 dollars per KWh * 10000 hours total use = energy cost of $100 of highly govt subsidized electricity (real cost probably higher)

    Lets buy the equivalent number of lumens in a 10000 hour LED I donno 8 watts or something for $50.
    8 watts / 1000 * 0.10 * 10000 = $8 of highly subsidized electricity

    Old fashioned total cost is $105. LED total cost is $58.

    There's some cultural socioeconomic stuff going on too. I wouldn't be caught dead buying filament bulbs because that's poor people budgeting prioritizing up front cost over long term cost (look, its only $1 upfront instead of $50, that means you could buy $49 of malt liquor today, that kind of brilliant budgeting helps poor people stay poor).

    I've been fooling around with LED lightbulbs (sometimes, unfortunately at great cost) for a decade or so. AKA I've been one of those early adopters with arrows in my back so you cheap bastards can now pay $25 for something better than I paid $150 for as a novelty a decade ago. They really do last 10000 hours when not abused. Two great ways to destroy a LED bulb : 1) Never dust it, because it never burns out so you ignore it, until its encrusted in a thick layer of dust, over heats, and poof. 2) Enclosed fixture, even worse outdoors in hot summer right after sunset, that's just not gonna live long Avoid those two scenarios and they really are a better, cheaper solution.

    Its also weird as a lifestyle thing where in a big enough house you burn out a couple old fashioned bulbs every month, so you keep a stockpile and buy them at the food store as a regular purchase. Once you go LED they burn out so rarely that 1) Its a noteworthy event 2) you don't keep a stock on hand of replacements (well, you could I guess, but just like I don't keep spare major appliances around ... Although a RAID array of clothes washers would help when a backlog accumulates)

  • Re:republicans (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bennomatic (691188) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @11:47AM (#41450323) Homepage
    What Republicans? I miss Republicans. The people marching under the GOP banner are a whole different animal than the Republicans I grew up with. I really enjoyed hating Reagan, and I kept up the fight against Bush 1 even though I knew that in many ways, he wasn't so bad. It really got bad with Bush 2--not so much the man, but his ultra-right brain trust--and the election of a (in the eyes of his detractors) mulatto kenyan indonesian communist fascist nazi muslim anti-white racist intellectual just boiled the right-hand fringe to a froth. That "froth" are not, in my eyes, Republicans. They're like the Republican version of a zombie invasion.
  • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @11:51AM (#41450397)

    Have you ever taken a CFL apart? I have. There's an astonishing amount of electronics in that small base; it's required to transform line voltage into a potential sufficiently high to ionize the gas in the fluorescent tube. How much energy goes into the manufacture of these electronic components? How much of the electronics is either re-used or recovered as raw material when these bulbs are 'recycled', as opposed to the materials, (and the energy that went into their manufacture), being disposed of in landfills? I have been unable to find answers to these questions, and I think they're important. There's a lot more 'stuff', in a CFL, with a much wider range of chemical compositions, than in an incandescent bulb, so it's harder and more energy-intensive to fully recycle.

    Then there are the special interests of the various stakeholders and their lobbyists - for a discussion of this, see [] . Does anyone really believe that 'saving energy' is a primary, or even an important, motivation for the manufacturers and patent holders of CFLs? Given that, what might they be hiding, and how much spin has been applied to the figures the provide vis-a-vis total energy savings?

    If the powers that be were really serious about saving energy and the environment by encouraging CFL use, they would mandate two things: 1) A a high minimum standard of longevity for the electronics in the bases of CFLs, and 2) A means of replacing the tube only when it burns out, so the most complex and least homogeneous part of the bulb, (the base with its electronic circuitry), can be re-used numerous times. But guess what? That reduces the profit margins and raises both the cost and the price, making the whole proposition both less economically attractive and less politically palatable. If 'energy saving' was the true motive behind this legislation, these things would have been incorporated into CFL design by now.

    The problems of the EMI and RFI that CFLs generate, and their crappy power factor, are points for further investigation for those interested. As are the problems with LED lights and their greater negative effects on melatonin production, with the accompanying decrease in health for those exposed to them.

    This whole topic is a lot more complex and nuanced than most people realize, and I suggest that anyone reading this might want to do a little digging before giving in to a knee-jerk reaction of either "But, but... the environment!" or "But, but... I like the old ones!"

  • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @12:04PM (#41450623)

    All electric heaters are 100% efficient.

    ... but using electricity for heating is still a waste. Most electricity is actually produced from heat (which itself comes from a coal fire, a gas fire, a nuclear reaction, ...), and it is this first conversion (from heat to electricity) that is very inefficient (due to second law of thermodynamics).

    So the overall sequence is heat -> electricity -> heat, and it is wasteful due to the first step.

    Better skip the intermediate step, and directly burn gas or fuel in a home furnace, rather than waste energy by using electric heating.

    Actually, one great way to make power stations more energy efficient is cogeneration, i.e. to use their waste heat to heat the surrounding houses and businesses (wouldn't obviously fly for nukes, but is commonly done for gas-fired power plants).

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @12:10PM (#41450717)

    Actually it's even better than that - almost all other types of modern heaters heat the air, which then heats everything else, especially the ceiling where the hottest air pools. As a result much of the heat gets sucked out of the house through the walls and ceiling and any air-gaps.

    Infrared heaters instead heat the things in the room - people and surfaces - and if aimed well you can keep much of the heat off the walls and ceiling. One of the major benefits of this is that you can keep the air temperature significantly cooler, which reduces heat loss as well as allowing your body to regulate it's temperature more easily.

    If you think about it IR heating is the traditional norm - an open fire sends virtually all hot air straight up - what warms you is the IR. Likewise standing near a sun-warmed rock or a Scandinavian style tile oven/masonry heater which can keep a whole house warm all day with just a few handfuls of sticks - the folks who've been living with serious cold for centuries long ago figured out that heating the air is silly.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @01:37PM (#41452099)

    Likewise standing near a sun-warmed rock or a Scandinavian style tile oven/masonry heater which can keep a whole house warm all day with just a few handfuls of sticks - the folks who've been living with serious cold for centuries long ago figured out that heating the air is silly.

    Speaking as someone who lives in Minnesota, the freezer of the continental United States, no... we haven't. We still have large, bulky furnaces that costs hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars per month to run in the wintertime. Thanks to environmental concerns and zoning regulations, it's very difficult, if not impossible, to get any kind of conventional wood burning stove installed in a residence. A stupidly simple double-barrel wood stove costs only $50 a month to run, and it can heat many thousands of square feet, even with minimal insulation.

    I'd say that the use of electric or natural-gas furnaces is really a step in the wrong direction -- it may be more advanced technologically, but it's worse for the environment and your pocketbook. The only reason people use them is convenience and because it's illegal to use anything else. Also, because the modern man living in suburbia is stupid. Half of them can't even manage to start a fire without a ludicrous amount of matches and newspaper; Most of them get fire-starter bricks because they fail so hard. But I grew up in the country -- I can start a fire with just a napkin, two rocks, and two first-fulls of grass. The things people forget because of modern conveniences...

  • by afidel (530433) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @01:38PM (#41452135)

    You are arguing the wrong thing, a heat pump can produce a BTU load of more 3,415 BTU per hour per kw which is where the efficiency of greater than 100% is coming from. Sure, they aren't creating more than 3,415 BTU per hour per kw, but most people don't care about the thermodynamics of the universe, just the energy that is required to heat or cool their domicile.

  • by mellon (7048) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:02PM (#41452551) Homepage

    Heat pumps work by moving heat from a source to a sink, not by generating heat (although of course they do generate heat because they aren't 100% efficient in what they do: pumping heat). So as long as your source has heat to move, you can deliver significantly more heat to the sink than you could get by putting the same energy into a resistive heat emitter. Our house in Vermont is heated by a single 12.5kbtu air-to-air heat pump. The source is outside air; in the winter, we cool the air passing over the exterior device, but a fan continually blows air across it so that we are never cooling the same air. You may think winter air is cold, but tell that to a space alien with liquid helium blood. To them it's fatally hot. So the air is maybe ten or twenty degrees cooler after it passes through the exterior heat exchanger, but there's a relatively endless supply of warm (say, 0F) air to replace it. Consequently, we get a nice multiplier over resistive heat: while the net heat delivered to the system as a whole is the same, the heat delivered to the conditioned space is three times greater. Physics is full of win.

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