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Government Politics Technology

Incandescent Bulbs Get a Reprieve 767

An anonymous reader writes "A new budget deal reached today by the U.S. Congress walks back the energy efficiency standards that would have forced the phase out of incandescent bulbs. 'These ideas were first enacted during the Bush administration, via the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Incandescent bulbs were unable to meet the standards, so they would eventually be forced off the market in favor of LEDs and compact fluorescent bulbs. But Republicans have since soured on the bill, viewing it as an intrusion on the market and attempting to identify it with President Obama. Recent Congresses have tried many times to repeal the standards, but these have all been blocked. However, U.S. budgets are often used as a vehicle to get policies enacted that couldn't pass otherwise, since having an actual budget is considered too valuable to hold up over relatively minor disputes. The repeal of these standards got attached to the budget and will be passed into law with it.'"
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Incandescent Bulbs Get a Reprieve

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  • Re:Freakin' Riders. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @06:20PM (#45957931) Journal

    I really suspect that generations from now, the human race will look back at CFLs and say WHAT were we THINKING?

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @06:20PM (#45957937) Journal

    That's good to hear. Each attic or rarely used closet doesn't need a $30 light bulb when a 30 cent light bulb will do just fine.
    Using CFLs in such roles wastes 95% of the resources used to make them. There's a reason CFLs are so much more expensive -
    that cost represents resources used in their manufacture, wasted resources for rarely used locations.

    Also my ceiling fans have built in dimmers. Other than the one fan/light we use often, it would be stupid and wasteful to throw out all our ceiling
    fans and buy entire new ones just to have a CFL capable dimmer.

  • Re:Freakin' Riders. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shados ( 741919 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @06:21PM (#45957959)

    I used to like CFL, but disposing of them in an environment friendly manner is a pain, and since they stop working way before they're supposed to, you have to deal with that a little too often for my taste.

    I recently bought a place (fairly large loft, so it uses track lighting...maybe 30-35 bulbs), and about 1/3rd of the bulbs needed to be replaced. They're a pain to change, so I went ahead and got LEDs... they weren't much more expensive than CFL.

    Unless I get surprises like I did with CFL originally (and from reading around, I shouldn't...), they're so much better. Light looks more natural, use less energy, equivalent bulbs are brighter, they're harder to break, and they're more reliable... Pretty cheap now too.

  • Tax, not ban (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @06:27PM (#45958039) Journal

    Why not just gradually tax incandescent bulbs higher over time? Give the alternatives time to ramp up economies of scale.

    And, that tax money could go toward renewable energy R&D.

  • Re:Good riddance (Score:4, Interesting)

    by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @06:28PM (#45958055)

    CFL's last much longer if you use them in fitted designed for CFL's.

    The base of them must be kept as cool as possible, so the capacitor inside doesn't dry out. If the light fitting has restricted air flow, this can lead to higher temperatures and shorter lifespan.

  • Re:Wattage? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @06:28PM (#45958077) Journal

    Does this go all the way back to the 100W bulbs that were banned a while back? Or only the recent banning of >40W?

    I'll let you in on a little secret: 100W incandescent bulbs are still available. The ban had a loophole for "hard usage incandescents" used in (for instance) outside industrial applications. They're available on Amazon, cost about $2.50 each, and last significantly longer than commercial incandescents. Now that the longevity of CFLs have been value-engineered to worthlessness, I'm switching back to "hard usage" incandescents as my CFLs burn out. I'm interested in LEDs, but I suspect that by the time the price drops significantly, they will also have lost much of their longevity advantage.

  • Re:Freakin' Riders. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @06:32PM (#45958141) Journal

    More like: they thought it was a good thing to ban a simple glass tube with a filament in it and replace it with a circuit board with electrolytic capacitors and a glass tube with mercury vapor in it?

  • Greetings from EU (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hsa ( 598343 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @06:35PM (#45958183)

    ..where incandescent bulbs are banned.

    The prices of bulbs will soar, even for the transition period and quality remains the same. The cheap LEDs are far from natural color, and compact fluorescent bulbs will not illuminate as much after a year or so.

    Just look at us - and don't go down this route..

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @06:41PM (#45958267) Journal

    Halogen bulbs use a vapor cycle where the tungsten burns off the filament, collects on the quartz envelope, then vaporizes off of the hot envelope and recollects on the filament. Used with a dimmer, the temperature won't be high enough to vaporize it and the lifecycle becomes tens of hours rather than thousands of hours.

    Let me repeat that last part - they WILL last for 10,20, maybe 50 hours with a dimmer. Then they die.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @06:59PM (#45958563)

    Nope. Evaporation of the filament happens due to the higher temperature. The reason why halogens are designed that way is so that they can sustain the higher filament temperature, which makes the light whiter and is the reason for the slightly higher efficiency (a bigger part of the spectrum is in the visible range). When halogens are dimmed, they work much the same as normal incandescents, because then the temperature is lower and evaporation is no worse than in incandescents. If they're dimmed significantly, they last much much longer than their rated lifetime (and they're much much less efficient as well when they're dimmed, obviously).

  • Re:Freakin' Riders. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @07:03PM (#45958615) Journal

    In fairness, The life span of early CFLs, back when they were, oh, $12 each, was pretty good. I have two that are still working almost 20 years later with daily use. But the CFLs you buy today in the blister pack of six for $9.99 are pretty much crap. Lots of infant mortality, and on the average they don't appear to last any longer than incandescents used to.

    I like the LED technology, but I'm afraid they'll follow the same path.

  • Re:Freakin' Riders. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @08:28PM (#45959719)

    Oh god, you are saving energy by buying incandescent bulbs. CFL and LED bulbs take much more energy to create, from the plastics involved and electronic components and the circuit boards. Add on top of it the weight of the bulbs. Why is weight important? Think about shipping costs. A CFL and LED bulb is more than twice the weight of incandescent. How much more fuel and energy is it taking to ship them? This is even more drastic when you think of container ships of CFLs and LEDs coming from over seas.

    Then we get them to our homes and screw them in and save energy. But how much do they save $$$ over the life of the bulb? I have incandescent bulbs that have been running here since I bought my house 13 odd years ago. I have had CFLs that have lasted only a couple of years. A major reason for this is CFLs are not really meant to be used in situations where they are turned on and off allot like bathrooms. It is then recommended that if you leave a room and will be leaving it for less than 15 minutes to leave your CFL on to improve the life span of the bulb.

    Then comes to disposal, incandescents can be easily thrown out. A tiny bit of metal and some glass. CFL and LED bulbs if disposed of properly requires driving them to a place that will handle their recycling. Which means remembering them when you go to such a place and not throwing them out. Then they are shipped back over seas to be recycled which uses a ton of energy (those freighter ships are not ecofriendly you know) and causes yet more pollution. However they are ending up in the landfills because people don't want to take the time to drive them to be recycled. This means they are ending up in landfills not the best place to dispose of the mercury.

    And this is not including risks associated with cheaply made Chinese products that pose a fire risk. When a CFL ballast goes it is suppose to be quick and maybe a wiff of burning plastics. I have had one however not blow. It kept on overheating and filled my daughters room with with the most horrible stench. The CFL casing was blackend and charred.

    So after all this if you take the amount of engergy and waste produced by both types of bulbs over their whole life from creation, to shipping and finally disposal are incandescents really that horrible?

  • Re:Freakin' Riders. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @08:31PM (#45959761) Journal

    A 60W incandescent costs about 40 cents and lasts 0.9 years, so it costs 44 cents per year in replacement costs. At 12 cents per kilowatt-hour and 3 hours per day, it costs $7.89 per year in electricity. Total: $8.33/year.

    A 13W CFL bulb (60W-equivalent) costs about $2.50 and lasts 5 years, so it costs 50 cents per year in replacement costs. At 12 cents per kilowatt-hour and 3 hours per day, it costs $1.71 per year in electricity. Total: $2.21/year.

    A 9.5W LED bulk (60W-equivalent) costs about $13 and lasts 22.8 years, so it costs 57 cents per year in replacement costs. At 12 cents per kilowatt-hour and 3 hours per day, it costs $1.25 per year in electricity. Total: $1.82 per year.

    What's missing in these calculations is the opportunity cost of capital, which may make LEDs more expensive overall than CFLs. But it's clear that CFLs are cheaper than incandescents.

  • Re:Freakin' Riders. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @09:39PM (#45960465) Homepage Journal
    I can escape shitty local government by moving five miles. I can't escape shitty federal governance at all - the IRS claims the right to tax me for ten years after renouncing citizenship, and that's if I can get an appointment to go renounce it. Meanwhile, I can't set up life in a foreign country because I can't do something as simple as get a bank account without the poor bank being on the hook to provide all my info to the IRS, which is possibly against EU privacy laws.
  • by littlewink ( 996298 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:32AM (#45962021)

    I was president of a condo association for 5 years. I made the costly mistake of replacing all outside incandescent lights with CFLs:

    - all CFLs, regardless of brand, failed within two years. Outdoors CFLs don't last as long as the cheapest incandescents, despite all caterwauling to the contrary. Please don't tell me about your special brand: I've tried it and it failed prematurely.Please don't tell me to return them to the store under the 3-year guarantee: if I did that all my time/gas would be spent driving to/from Home Depot/Lowe's/Light Store and changing bulbs.

    - CFLs were frequently stolen. This was an unanticipated cost.

    LEDs are even worse: thieves can spot an LED from 100 yards away and will stop at nothing to steal them (since they're so damn expensive). Great to spend $300 replacing a weatherproof floodlight receptacle and the electrical tubing because a thief tore it off an outside wall to get a $50 LED floodlight.

    CFLs break frequently when used in an outdoor environment. This was especially true in the carport area, where taller delivery/postal/visitor SUVs and trucks would back into a spot and break the bulb, scattering fragments over the vehicle roof and an area larger than the parking space. Cleanup consists of sweeping a strip of driveway and searching for the SUV that has the broken bulb fragments atop it. This is not nearly so worrisome for an incandescent as for the mercury-laden CFL. When one considers that most SUVs belong to parents with children, who are the most likely to be adversely affected by mercury, this is even more troublesome.

    After 3 years I gave up and went back to incandescents, which we will use forever. Savings due to CFLs low electrical usage are not recovered when you include failure and theft in the equation. In fact, incandescents are cheaper even when you include the cost of the rugged models.

    There are good reasons why incandescents have been used for so long. And, as others note, you can heat the chicken coop, keep pipes warm, and do other useful tasks with incandescents. CFLs were a political solution to a non-problem.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!