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back to article US switches off the incandescent lightbulb

US prez George W. Bush yesterday signed a "landmark" energy bill which will see the nation's incandescent lightbulbs phased out in favour of low-consumption alternatives. The bill requires lighting to use "up to 30 per cent less energy", Reuters explains, effectively outlawing the 125-year-old Edison invention. The bill takes …

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Worse than DTV switchover

Its a lightbulb - NOT digital TV.

Its a great step by the USA (we should follow suit but do it in 3 years!), but the timescale seems a bit drawn out!

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Happy

Incandescent bulbs

I thought that the UK had already passed such a bill. This makes the US a bit of a Jonny Come Lately but better late than never.

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Dead Vulture

Not Edison...

Edison didn't invent the light bulb...

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Anonymous Coward

Is this like hydrogen cars - the polution is just displaced ?

whats the energy cost in making a new style bulb over and old one ?

or is it like "polution free" hydrogen cars a con.

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call 0898 007 007 now

I see a big problem with these compact fluorescent bulbs when they are fitted into a table lamp. Say you need to kill someone, you can't break the bulb and push the contact wires into their mouth. You could collect the mercury and poison them with that I suppose but it does not have the immediacy.

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Coat

On the heels of...

Congress pushing the standards for cars up to 80MPG. Could this be a chance to score last minute brownie points with the voters?

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Stop

Yet another...

Yet another country (well it's politicians) fall for the great CFL Con-trick.

They don't last anywhere near as long as they're claimed to.

They're nowhere near as bright as they're claimed to be.

They take forever to get going.

They use more toxic materials (haven't the EU just killed their electronics manufacturing industry by banning lead? Then they mandate the use of mercury-laden light bulbs. WTF)

The total saving in energy from this move is insignificant at best, not even counting manufacture and disposal costs.

Hell, meet Mr. handcart.......

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The real story

Which nefarious organisation has replaced the american pres with a doppelganger? Is it a bunch of well-connected, anarcho-liberal enviromental campaigners, perhaps?

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Woohoo more fools

YEY more fools who have bought the industries lies hook line and sinker.

The CFL only lasts longer if left on long power cycles ie, left on for long periods of time and actually costs more to run if only used in short cycle duty like toilets where it is on and off a lot for short periods of time. It has many problems associated with it and not least introduces mercury back into all our homes after all the environmentalists went nuts trying to get every bit of it removed years ago.

Just proves that its ok to pollute the planet as long as its not with co2

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Flame

Umm...

Is this the same "US prez George W Bush" that I'm thinking of? The one who doesn't like Kyoto, the environment, or the rest of the planet as a whole? The one with the oil empire contacts, both in the US and the Middle East? Wow. I'm impressed.

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Entertainment?

What about the entertainment industry, who frequently run shows (gigs, theatre, etc) with a few hundred KW of lights hanging off the trussing? Are they also exempt or do they too have to come in line?

It's about time the US did something about their energy consumption. This is a good thing to see. Shame it's going to take 5 years to come into effect. Surely it can't take that long to produce enough bulbs?

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RE: Not Edison...

Tesla?

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Halogen?

So is halogen banned too? If so, only mains or also e.g. 12V?

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Not that bad...

I've never replaced a CFL bulb. I got my first about 8 years ago.

Also, the more recent (and I have to say, pricier) ones are full brightness immediately.

There is rumoured to be a dimmable bulb available somewhere in the world, but not it seems in the EU.

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LED Bulbs

I am just waiting for these to become mainstream and a bit cheaper - they provide excellent light, are bright, instant and use way less energy that those pathetic - refuse to use them - "Energy saver bulbs"

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Anonymous Coward

Light bulbs

At least they seem to have recognised that there are applications where CFLs and fluorescent lights are not suitable.

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Gates Halo

Replacement Traffic Light Bulbs??

I remember reading a study that showed that using LED traffic lights benefitted everyone (except the people who have to replace the bulbs) because they are brighter, cheaper to run (although more expensive to create), more compact, and run almost forever (so you don't need the bloke and the ladder).

So why would the American government suddly decide to exempt traffic light bulbs? Could it be that while telling the American people what they must do they would rather not apply the same rules to themselves?

And regarding the use of lighting in entertainment, LED's are making an inroad there too.

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Unhappy

I feel cheated...

..surely there should have been some cheap gag about how many americans it takes to change a light bulb.

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Paris Hilton

Obvious question now

is 'How many Americans does it take to change a lightbulb?'

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Dimmer and dimmer (switch)

That's the end of moody lighting then...

And down lights.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't ignore the heating effect

Incandescents might be seriously inefficient in terms of conversion of energy to light, but don't forget that the rest of the energy is converted to heat. So when we all switch to energy efficient bulbs, we'll have to turn up the heating to compensate. Result - same energy consumption.

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Its amazing that...

...heavy metals such as mercury used to be considered the big environmental evil now because of CO2 hysteria we are filling our homes with the stuff. On top of this the vast majority of people probably don't realise they contain mercury and so are going to just chuck them in the bin.

In about 10 years the environmentalist are going to be going mad at all the poisoned land and conveniently forget they were the ones that encouraged the CFL adoption.

I quite like CFL's but i think the general public is woefully misinformed/uninformed regarding them.

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Boffin

Edison who?

Edison not only did not invent the light bulb but was forced to go into partnership with the man who did: a Brit called Joseph Swan. The Edison Swan Electric Light company has been airbrushed out of American history, but I would have thought the Reg would have stood up for the local lad!

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@Yet another...

Also the extra energy used by an incandescent bulb isn't 'wasted' it's given off as heat, so switching to CFL bulbs increases the amount of energy you use to run your space heating.

Add in the more complex manufacture and recycling and it's doubtful if there's any real saving at all.

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How about...

What if I just switch off 3 of my 10 lights to achieve the same effect? I hate CFLs - they take forever to come up to bright.

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Have they thought this through?

I look forward to the CFL replacements for car headlights and halogen display lighting. Not to mention the millions of desk lights, before we all enter a gloomy, green-tinged, fluorescent Hell...

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Flame

Tried CFL...

and they all went back to the shop.

They're just not bright enough, and when you have poor eyesight (my wife has cataracts) they're just no good.

Add to this all the crap associated with the manufacture of these lamps, the poisons they contain and the huge expense of replacing all the lamps they there is no discernible benefit.

As this legislation been push through by the CFL manufacturers do you think?

I'm off to B & Q shed load of incandescent bulbs...

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Oh my..

And this from the country where a few milligram of mercury let loose on the Unsuspecting Children(tm) can lead to a class action lawsuit. Did lawyers lobby for this too or what?

Note that this saves a bit more than 1/1000th of the annual US CO_2 emission; but are have the production of the light bulbs and the production of the production lines of the light bulbs been accounted for?

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@Entertainment?

Most of the gigs / theatrical performances that I've been to in recent months have been mostly using LED lighting - saving a fortune in leccy bills. The only things LED stage lights are a bit pish for are spotlights and projecting stencilled patterns.

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Unhappy

but what about the longest lasting bulbs...

There are a few at clsoe to 70 - 100 years old, will these be baned too?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longest-lasting_light_bulbs

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What about LEDs?

Perhaps the replacement for incandescents will be LED rather than fluorescent, as white ones are now available. Iff they can produce them with warm enough colours then surely that would be preferable - avoids the mercury issue, I think.

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Alert

CF bulbs are full of Hg/Murcury/Murdercury

CF bulbs are filled with Murdercury. It is state sponsored murder to us CF bulbs over LED. No one will dispose of them correctly, and if they break the can cause mercury toxicity to children.

Children get lead from PVC/plastics, arsenic is found in rice and chicken, and now you want to add Mercury to the environment around kids? And you wonder why autism is skyrocketing? We are killing ourselves with a toxic environment that effects things like epigenetic gene expression and the etiologies of the new sinister brain disorders murdering our children's personalities and causing life long behavioral disorders is from our toxic environment.

The sponsors of CF bulbs are mega-murderers and are part of the cabal of the military industrial complex.

LED bulbs are fine, use less power, and contain no mercury, and if the US would just build nuclear power instead of burning coal for power, the energy use wouldn't be such a huge concern .

DO NOT be fooled in the years to come with companies trying to use the environment to get you to ignore huge issues with what hey are proposing!

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@Jusme

"They don't last anywhere near as long as they're claimed to.

They're nowhere near as bright as they're claimed to be.

They take forever to get going."

Really? Strange. An average light bulb lasts under a year in my flat. Only one of the energy saving light bulbs that I bought in 2000 has packed in so far. Total saving on bulbs (so far) is about £3.

They're nowhere near as bright as they're claimed to be? Well, the 14w bulb that I've got up is just as bright as the 100w bulb it replaced. Maybe my eyes don't work properly and energy bulbs have made me able to see in the dark?

They don't take forever to get going either. Have you actually seen an energy saving bulb since the early 1990s? The ones I have are up to about 80% brightness straight away and up to 100% within a two or three seconds.

The last 6 or 7 companies I have worked for have used energy saving lightbulbs in the stairwells, corridors etc. So there must be sone kind of benefit... Those arch-capitalists might be greedy but they know how to save money!

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Anonymous Coward

FUD

> They don't last anywhere near as long as they're claimed to.

I've never needed to replace one yet, and I've had a them for a decade.

> They're nowhere near as bright as they're claimed to be.

They're eminently comparable, as far as I can tell, and regardless of actual illumination, "good enough" is subjective.

> They take forever to get going.

They're not *instant* but how often do you need peak illumination within 20s of turning the thing on?

> They use more toxic materials...

This is true. Per lightbulb. I have no confidence in any of the figures from either side about which uses more over a 10 year lifespan. They all have agendas and don't explain what they consider.

> The total saving in energy from this move is insignificant at best...

Insignificant? A 75% reduction in power consumed per lumen emitted? That's significant at an individual fitting level. If you're saying that this sort of reduction in lighting energy consumption is insignificant in the greater scheme of things, you're dead wrong. How many "insignificant" 0.1%s does it take to reduce something by 50%? 500, yes? So if we (the world) don't do any of those 500 things that reduce that thing we want to decrease by 0.1%, we won't decrease it at all.

>...not even counting manufacture and disposal costs.

Not counting manufacture and disposal costs, there's no arguing that CFLs use less energy per hour than incandescent. It's only when you start including manufacturing energy that you can even begin to wonder if the difference is that much.

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Coat

@censored

>>There is rumoured to be a dimmable bulb available somewhere in the world, but not it seems in the EU.

There are 6 in my lounge right now - and my lounge is in the EU. Bought them in Germany (also in the EU) about 12 months ago. Megaman is the manufacturer and I've seen them on sale in Blighty (in the EU) too.

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CFL dust to dust

http://globalwarming-factorfiction.com/2007/07/18/compact-fluorescent-lamps/

An interesting analysis. I'm happy to save costs at my end (and they do really last for a long time, since I started replacing bulbs 5 years ago I've only thrown one away, and that was because I broke it, not because it stopped working). But it appears that by making this change we aren't really being all that good to the environment.

To AC - this is about incandescent bulbs not Halogen bulbs which most overhead lights at a gig would be.

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Alert

All your current are belong to me

Wonderful things; if you ignore the odd form factor, slow starting brightness, poor cold performance and environmental unfriendliness. Of course most of them also have a power factor of 0.5 which means your nice lamps are distorting the mains current waveform. Good for the consumer but bad for the generator. Industry used to be penalised for a poor PF via their bills, I assume this will happen for domestic users when enough CFLs are installed. Suddenly they won't appear quite such a good deal.

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Flame

@"ES bulbs are crap" mob

1) "Brightness" ES bulbs come in different brightnesses just like normal bulbs. If the one you have is not bright enough, get a brighter one.

2) "Warm up time" Newer bulbs reach a decent brightness instantly and reach peak within a minute or two. Certainly the one in my room does.

2b) "Warm up time" - The energy used turning on an ES bulb is equivalent to approximately 20s of use. So there is no loss putting them in a bathroom, so long as you get a newer one that goes to full brightness quickly. (Mythbusters did an ep on this, have a look)

3) Lifespan - I've had the same bulb in my room for 4 years and its still going just fine. We have had a pair in the hall for even longer.

My big problem with the ES bulbs is that most of them look horribly ugly sticking out of a wall fitting and so they are only good for "out of sight" kinds of light fittings.

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Anonymous Coward

it's all rubbish

What we really need to do is spend our money and time trying to come up with new ways to produce power.

High altitude wind farms (no not a farm up on a mountain) find the optimum hight for winds, send the farm up (I thought about it when reading about that stupid windjammer) have it tethered to the ground with an umilical. Adjust hight to maintain efficency. You could do similar with solar I suppose.

More investigation into geothermals and fusion.

More time spent on fossil fuel replacements.

Less time and money spent on little plasters (fancy initiatives) - stop listening to hippies.

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Anonymous Coward

It is drawn out to 5 years because ...

... the american president needs that long to figure out how to change light bulbs.

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Alert

"wasted heat"

For all those banging on about the heat from incandescents helping your heating bill - don't forget the summertime, when that heat actually raises your air con bill...

Plus, those who bemoan the long startup times of CFLs are way out of date. The current crop are instant-on (or, at least, most are).

The brightness is also fine, provided you buy the right bulbs. After all, you don't complain that incandescents are "too dim" because you tried to light your living room with a 60W bulb, do you?

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CFL life and power savings

Mythbusters did a show on CFL power consumption during startup...there is a tiny advantage to leaving them on for long cycles, but they are still 2 to 3 times more efficient than incancdescent, measured by dividing the light output by the power consumed.

As to lifetime, we had CFL recessed fixtures installed in our house when we built it 13 years ago. While I started replacing CFLs at about 8 years, there are some that are still the originals. These lights are in the kitchen and hallways, and are used every day.

The mercury, though, is definitely an issue, and one that the authorities seem to be ignoring. A recycling network is definitely a prerequisite before launching a national conversion to CFLs.

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Stop

Heat, mercury

In the UK, where it is cold most of the time, we would need to turn up our heating a little to offset the lower heat output of the CFL bulbs. Of course, if you use gas for heating, this is more efficient and cheaper than using electricity, so you save.

In many states of the US, where it is hot a lot of the year, switching to CFL reduces the load on the air conditioning, so you save coming and going. You don't use power to generate the heat, and you don't use more power pumping it out of the building.

As for mercury, the mercury content of coal is sufficient that mercury emissions from the coal burned to power the incandescent bulb are larger than the amount of mercury in the CFL bulb, so you win. And the mercury is nicely encapsulated for recycling at the end of life.

In any case, inorganic mercury is nowhere near as toxic as most of the anti-mercury lobby would have you believe. Even organic mercury compounds differ markedly in toxicity, largely due to their different retention in the body (compare ethy mercury and methyl mercury toxicity data to see what I mean).

On the gripping hand, LEDs should overtake CFLs pretty quickly. I already use LEDs for some of my home lighting (replacing GU10 mains halogens), but they are currently rather dim.

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Unhappy

Missing the point

Whilst well intended, the political capital and goodwill that has been spent in passing this law could have been used much more effectively.

If we just taxed CO2 emissions according to the cost of the environmental damage that we believe they cause, we wouldn't need to pay the political costs of a complex law with zillions of exemptions on each and every issue (renewable power generation, incandescent light bulbs, big cars, etc.etc.) We'd have one law that was much easier to defend on scientific grounds and which left consumers with an economic choice.

The revenues from such a tax could be used to pay an "un-tax" to carbon sequestration companies. That too, would be easy to justify scientifically and would encourage the sorts of activities that governments *claim* to want to encourage.

Sadly, it seems that both the EU and the US no longer believe in the free market, preferring micro-managing control-freakery instead.

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Black Helicopters

Dimmers?

What bulbs will be used in dimmers?

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What about

Halogen up/downlighters, incandescent spotlights, and candle-style bulbs for starters. Last time I checked there were no fluorescent replacements available.

I guess there may be an energy saving if you live in Arizona, where every Watt saved equates to a reduced burden on the aircon, but for the rest of the world fuggedaboutit!

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Stupid stupid stupid...

Fluorescents (compact or otherwise) are just not good enough to replace the incandescent yet. I have nasty sensory weirdness (that's a technical term don't you know?) and can't cope with fluorescents for any long period of time. Even brand new ones flicker if you're eyes are sensitive enough....

Yuck.

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Boffin

Bushie smart... he make law...

Shows you where the priorities are in this FUBAR country. More and more of this unless Ron Paul wins. Maybe I'll just use candles...

side note: LEDs have been used more at shows. Color Kinetics and variants. The best part of why the crews like them is because they use less power and don't overload the power panels like regular PAR cans. Most clubs don't have adequate power.

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Boffin

@ Entertainment?

As Mark said, you will find now, especially in gigs, LED lighting is more and more being used*. I run a company supplying and operating lighting for gigs but I have also done quite a bit of lighting design, operation and rigging for theatre too and even some of that etc. stoof that you talk about.

My last investment again went to LED lighting. It will, however, never never never replace the conventional generic lighting lanterns. Light output is quite low compared with normal lamps and lanterns used; which means buying more, which means you're getting more and more pushed for space on rigging. They are of course more expensive than the conventional lanterns. Again as Mark said, they're 'pish' for spotlights and projecting stencilled patterns (gobos), really you need an iris or two for that but lets not go there.

But then there's the advantages: Powever availability at venues, low power consumption, low maintenance. Some LED lighting fixtures can be very much 'do what you like with them'. An LED PAR64, for example, even if its RGB, you've got good enough colour mixing which means you can use the lantern for more than one state, possibly all. Although this doesn't cover white, there is always that damn blue tinit from the LEDs.

I will continue to invest in LED lighting for quite a few reasons not even mentioned here. It has it's many uses, not so much in theatre though. It becomes good in that etc. section again though; corporate events and stoof.

*Not entirely true with the magic of AV and their display screens now. (LED)

**And yes I'm talking right, it's called a lamp. A bulb is something you plant in the ground in this industry.

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Tim

Those who tried CFLs years ago... try them again

They've improved a lot over the years. They're not like those cold colour flickering florescent strip lights you used to have in kitchens.

You can get bright ones. Though some people have way too bright bulbs in their living rooms, usually a single harsh light in the ceiling which can cause more eye strain than a set of softer dimmer ones around the edges of the room, which makes the room more appealing anyway and likely you can see the colour of the walls are actually not just dazzling white ;-)

They do last a *very* long time. I've only had to replace one in 7 years!

They're very cheap, especially when you can get them free from electricity company offers ;-)

Many new ones do dim. I dim my UK bought ones from standard DIY stores with no problem at all.

Start up times on some new ones are quite fast now.

There are plenty also that are warm colours now.

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