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US Light Bulb Phase-Out's Next Step Begins Next Month 1146

Posted by timothy
from the word-from-on-high dept.
SonicSpike writes "Light bulb manufacturers will cease making traditional 40 and 60-watt light bulbs — the most popular in the country — at the start of 2014. This comes after the controversial phasing out of incandescent 75 and 100-watt light bulbs at the beginning of 2013. In their place will be halogen bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs, LED bulbs and high efficiency incandescents — which are just regular incandescents that have the filament wrapped in gas. All are significantly more expensive than traditional light bulbs, but offer significant energy and costs savings over the long run. (Some specialty incandescents — such as three-way bulbs — will still be available.) ... The rules were signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007. They are designed to address gross inefficiencies with old light bulbs — only 10% of the energy they use is converted into light, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which has a handy fact sheet about the changes. The rest is wasted as heat. But the rules have drawn fire from a number of circles — mainly conservatives and libertarians who are unhappy about the government telling people what light bulbs they can use. They argue that if the new ones really are so good, people will buy them on their own without being forced to do so."
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US Light Bulb Phase-Out's Next Step Begins Next Month

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  • CFLs still suck (Score:2, Informative)

    by russotto (537200) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:00PM (#45697813) Journal

    Which is why the environmentalists need to force them on us. LEDs suck too, but less so. When someone comes up with a phosphor which can decently approximate a blackbody spectrum, let me know. Until then, phosphor-based lights will continue to suck.

  • Halogen (Score:4, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:01PM (#45697829) Homepage Journal
    The summary states that gas-filled incandescents [] will still be available.
  • Not 10% (Score:5, Informative)

    by second class skygod (242575) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:02PM (#45697841)

    If standard incandescent light bulbs delivered 10% efficiency, we wouldn't be as important to switch to other types.

    100% efficiency is about 683 lm/W. A standard 60W bulb gives about 14 lm/W or about 2% efficiency.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Informative)

    by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:10PM (#45697903)

    It's freaking cold outside!!

    I wasn't the smartest cookie in my Systems and Control course, but even I understood that the alternative to increasing the input heat flow was decreasing thermal conductivity.

  • Re:CFLs still suck (Score:4, Informative)

    by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me&hotmail,com> on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:18PM (#45697985) Homepage Journal

    Cree has finally got their bulbs out and they're dirt cheap - $12 apiece for 60watt equivalent bulbs at the big box store. I actually had to go back for some 40watt ones as they 60s proved too bright in a few applications. The light distribution was also decent unlike many of the early LED. Phillips also makes a good bulb and they even use phosphor so help even out the light. Earlier ones looked like bug lights when turned off but provided great lighting. Strip LED work wonderful under cabinets and use far less than halogen spots. I've even replaced my outdoor floods with LED and am saving a pile of juice over the 60+ watt units I had.

    That said, after swapping out nearly all of my incandescent bulbs I'm not seeing a ton of change on the electric bill. Juice is cheap here and I'm pretty good about turning out lights but these bulbs will last and last so it's all good. I have only a sparse few curly bulbs left and maybe two incandescent in places that make sense and aren't used often. It's a great time to switch and I see no reason not to.

    Now, if I could just find some cheap LED and fixtures for my fish tank I'd be all set!

  • Makes 'em Feel Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by craigminah (1885846) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:27PM (#45698093)
    I'm all for being environmentally friendly but CFLs are nasty...look what you gotta do if you break one: []

    On the surface, this seems great...much more energy efficient (e.g. less electrical consumption, less energy converted to heat, etc.), good quality of light (finally), and they last a long time, but the mercury threat will spell the demise of these. Unfortunately, it will take a few decades of these being tossed into the waste stream and the obligatory horrific mercury-caused maladies as it "may be toxic to blood, kidneys, liver, brain, peripheral nervous system, central nervous system." Fantastic...environmentalists and politicians making decisions based on emotions rather than on science.

    LED bulbs aren't much safer as they may contain "lead and nickel, the bulbs and their associated parts were also found to contain arsenic, copper, and other metals that have been linked to different cancers, neurological damage, kidney disease, hypertension, skin rashes and other illnesses in humans, and to ecological damage in waterways. UC Irvine’s Oladele Ogunseitan said that while breaking a single bulb and breathing its fumes would not automatically cause cancer, it could be the tipping point for an individual regularly exposed to another carcinogen."

    I'm advocating torches and if you buy three torches at my online store you'll get a free pitch fork...perfect for the looming protests before the next election cycle...they make great stocking stuffers too...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:41PM (#45698233)

    European here. Almost all the CFLs in use in this house are still the first ones that replaced the incandescent bulbs years ago. We've had some duds that lasted only one to two years, but even those saved their money's worth in electricity. The color is fine. No light without shadow, here's the long list of complaints: CFLs are typically not dimmable, and they take a split second to turn on.

    Anyway, LEDs are even more efficient, they turn on instantly and quite a few are dimmable. None of the LEDs have stopped working yet (2 years since installation), so I can't give you a first-hand account of their failure rates or modes.

  • LEDs are ready (Score:4, Informative)

    by Idou (572394) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:45PM (#45698271) Journal
    On outside lights that I run 12 hours a day (er, "night"), LEDs had a very short payback on electricity savings. Six months, I believe. In fact, I later bought an EV and a large portion of my commuting electricity was covered by electricity savings from that very small investment. I am now converting over the rest of the house as bulbs die, prioritizing usage level and difficult to change light bulbs.

    LEDs are already here for those who like to make investments instead of "consume" things.
  • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Informative)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:50PM (#45698315)
    You voted for Bush. Bush Signed it. What is the problem?
  • by sjbe (173966) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:53PM (#45698343)

    12$ for a light bulb is not "cheap".

    Yes it is, IF the bulb lasts for 20 years as advertized. A 60 watt equivalent LED will draw around 12-14 watts and is supposed to last over a decade. So that IS cheaper than a $1.00 incandescent you'll have to replace 10 times So yes it is cheap if you actually account for all the costs.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Informative)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:57PM (#45698379)

    If that were true then why do all air based heat pumps include heating coils that kick on well above 15F?

    Because you are lying. I own one that claims performance to -40 and doesn't include "heating coils" (prresuming you mean electric heating elements). So "all" is true only for the one 40 year old model you saw once, and since closed your mind and spread lies.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:06PM (#45698447)

    What exactly is the efficiency of a heat pump when the outside air temp is below 20F like it is in the upper midwest this week?

    According to the Unversity of Minnesota (folks who ought to know a thing or two about cold upper Midwest temperatures), a properly installed heat pump can achieve efficiency equivalent to an 80 AFUE gas furnace. []. When folks down South install heat pumps they generally take shortcuts during the install, trading off easier installation for lower efficiency, but that's their fault.

    U of Minn does point out that high-efficiency gas furnaces (90+ AFUE) are cheaper to operate but at a cost of more environmental damage.

    So you tried to be snarky and instead got a chance to learn something.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:07PM (#45698451)

    Any decent CFL bulb costs around $6 (or a lot more if you care about the light it produces). You can get crappy ones for about 1.30 each in bulk, which really poor people do not have the luxury to buy in... and those bulbs will last hardly longer than an incandescent (I know as I've been using them for years in closets).

    That's also why I mentioned $50 LED bulbs; if you are going to get light to produce where humans need to see that's about the base level for a light with a good CRI (color rendering index) rating like Cree offers (well, now really more like $40 it would appear for a good flood).

    Funny you didn't complain about my being wrong about incandescent costs. In bulk (which you started) you can get a 60 watt bulb for .40 each or less.

    I know you didn't want me to respond with bothersome facts, but there you have them.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:3, Informative)

    by russotto (537200) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:15PM (#45698495) Journal

    What exactly is the efficiency of a heat pump when the outside air temp is below 20F like it is in the upper midwest this week?

    1.0 or less. Because despite all the theoretical nonsense others have posted, an air-source heat pump simply won't work with the outside temperature below 20 degrees, so you'll be running on auxiliary heat. To make it worse, the heat pump might run a defrost cycle, pulling heat generated by the strip heaters out of the house to warm the outside coils.

  • by King_TJ (85913) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:32PM (#45698627) Journal

    Actually, I purchased a few of the claimed "instant on" CFL bulbs that General Electric started selling.

    They're, IMO, even more annoying than the regular CFL bulbs! It seems the way they achieve "instant on at full brightness" is by sending more than the usual amount of current through it for the first few seconds, resulting in the bulb coming on extremely brightly when you first turn the switch, followed by it dropping back to normal brightness. I found it really distracting.

    For the record, I don't see what's not to be impressed about with the libertarian arguments? They hit the nail on the head, IMO, as to why forcing a technology change via govt. regulation yields poor results. I voluntarily switched quite a few of my incandescent bulbs out with alternatives, long before these bans began. Obviously, I'd voluntarily switch out the remaining traditional bulbs if there weren't VALID reasons not to in certain cases. Cost is a big one.... For example, I have some enclosed fixtures where the CFL bulbs just fail from cooking themselves inside the glass domes covering them up. They last maybe 3-6 months, followed by intermittently flickering on and off. Removing them to examine them reveals burn marks around the white plastic base, where the circuity is contained. It's not cost effective to replace entire light fixtures to resolve this!

  • by hb253 (764272) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:42PM (#45698705)

    Well, I just bought a reasonable 72 Watt bulb with the output lumens equal to an older style 100 Watt bulb. Seems like a no-brainer to me. I get a lower electric bill without having to use an ugly CFL or super expensive LED.

    Remember the ban is on older inefficient incandescent bulbs, not incandescent bulbs in general.

    The news organizations and tin foil hat wearing types are focusing on the "ban" part for their own ends.

  • by jratcliffe (208809) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:54PM (#45698787)
    The mercury "issue" is a complete red herring. Using incandescents requires more power. A large chunk of that power comes from coal. Burning coal releases mercury - a lot MORE mercury than would be released if EVERY burned out CFL were just tossed into a landfill. How much mercury do power plants emit to light a CFL? About 50 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S. is generated by coal-fired power plants. When coal burns to produce electricity, mercury naturally contained in the coal releases into the air. In 2006, coal-fired power plants produced 1,971 billion kilowatt hours (kwh) of electricity, emitting 50.7 tons of mercury into the air—the equivalent amount of mercury contained in more than 9 billion CFLs (the bulbs emit zero mercury when in use or being handled). Approximately 0.0234 mg of mercury—plus carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide—releases into the air per 1 kwh of electricity that a coal-fired power plant generates. Over the 7500-hour average range of one CFL, then, a plant will emit 13.16 mg of mercury to sustain a 75-watt incandescent bulb but only 3.51 mg of mercury to sustain a 20-watt CFL (the lightning equivalent of a 75-watt traditional bulb). Even if the mercury contained in a CFL was directly released into the atmosphere, an incandescent would still contribute 4.65 more milligrams of mercury into the environment over its lifetime. []
  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jratcliffe (208809) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:59PM (#45698823)
    You're seriously basing your claim that LED costs more based on an article which uses a $119.99 price for an LED bulb??? That article is more than four years old at this point. You can get a 60W equivalent at any Home Depot for $13 or less. Plug that number in, and you're looking at $37.50 for LED vs $188 for incandescent, or about 1/5 the cost.
  • by Harlequin80 (1671040) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:07PM (#45698887)

    I have replaced almost all of my lights with LEDs. For 90% of the house I actually replaced the whole fitting with flush mounted LED down lights. Each downlight cost me $36 AUD. (about 32 US) and produce 800lm. They look much nicer and gave my house a more modern look. On top of that I really like the light they produce. I know this is a taste thing but we went 6000k throughout. It takes a little while to get used to it (about a week or two) but now I find the "warm white / Yellow" to look dirty to my eyes.

    On a power consumption side I have one of those electricity usage sensors in my meter box which gives me real time electricity consumption. When I turn those lights on they basically don't register on the meter at all as the bounce between readings is greater than their usage.

    My electricity cost is 27c / kwh. So a 100w bulb will eat basically 65c per day (assuming on all the time). These use under 10w and are rated with mttf of 50,000 hrs. Even halving the life time I am saving $600 in electricity costs alone.

    The cost here for drop in replacements is about $20. More expensive than an incandescent of course but they simply don't seem to fail. I fitted 9 of these during our update - 4 to hanging fixtures and 5 to a vanity rail.

    Drop in - []
    Down lights - []

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:19PM (#45698989)

    Reasonable alternatives would not be priced at $27 a pop or pose a serious mercury contamination risk for disposed of bulbs

    Get a clue. You can buy good 10w (60w equiv) LED light bulbs for $4 a pop on eBay. I bought a batch of 10 from this guy []. They come on instantly, are very bright, and contain no mercury. Even after an hour, they are barely warm. Unlike CFLs, they work in the cold, so you can use them for a porch/garage. They are made of impact resistant plastic. While installing one, I accidentally dropped it 8 feet onto a concrete floor. It bounced, but didn't break. So far, I have had zero failures. Since the seller has a 99.4% approval rate, my guess is most other customers are happy as well.

  • by khayman80 (824400) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:46PM (#45699181) Homepage Journal

    Pardon me for nitpicking a bit, but incandescents are not "continuous spectrum". Generally speaking, they are more continuous than fluorescents and LEDs, but continuous they are not.

    MIT society of physics students []: "one can observe a continuous spectrum by looking at an incandescent light bulb."

  • by blue trane (110704) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:49PM (#45699211) Homepage Journal

    Did our ancestors imagine they were giving the Federal government the right to ban speech? And yet the second president did.

    The point being, these "originalist" arguments are silly because there were as many arguments about what the Constitution granted during the very first administrations as now.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @08:14PM (#45699393) Journal

    Your estimates are also based off $0.10 per kWh, which is cheaper than even the cheapest states in the US.

    $0.10/kWh is about what we pay in Washington State (PSE), actually.

  • Making smart choices (Score:5, Informative)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @08:18PM (#45699433) Homepage Journal

    They argue that if the new ones really are so good, people will buy them on their own without being forced to do so."

    This assumes that the consumers will make smart choices with regard to the value of money now, and the value of money in the future. Looking at the use of credit cards in the USA, it is blindingly obvious that consumers do not make smart choices in this way.

    I'm not a fan of legislating things off the shelves, but the argument that good products will succeed just because they're good, especially when the goodness drizzles in over some long time period... that's just not going to fly.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @08:35PM (#45699599) Homepage Journal

    That "super expensive LED" costs about $13, and will save you a LOT of money over an incandescent over its lifetime. That's with a ten year warranty.

  • by Guppy (12314) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @08:42PM (#45699651)

    Reasonable alternatives would not be priced at $27 a pop or pose a serious mercury contamination risk for disposed of bulbs, or evacuation [] in the case of broken ones.

    A bit of perspective here. I worked out the numbers once, and found that a typical CFL has about as much mercury as ~5lbs of swordfish steaks. So if a CFL is a serious mercury contamination risk, then all over the U.S. there are seafood vendors who are shipping around what are essentially batches of mercury contamination, for people cook and eat.

  • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @08:54PM (#45699709) Journal

    Speaking of numbers, did anyone else here gag when reading in the post that incandescent bulbs are 10% efficient? Try 2% efficient at creating light we can read by... all that infrared they put out just keeps you warm. The poster must have gotten incandescent efficiencies mixed up with the latest and greatest bulbs - LED bulbs from Cree, which can do 11% efficiency. Still, most of that energy becomes heat. There's still room for a lot of improvement.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <> on Sunday December 15, 2013 @11:23PM (#45700575) Homepage

    5500lm led bulbs are widely available here at low cost, and even when I'm in luddite Britain I can get 1500lm which are brighter than 100w incandescents and have better colour.

    If led bulbs are bad in your market that's because your market has failed to provide good ones at reasonable prices. I see that you can get some okay looking ones on Amazon though. Don't they deliver to you?

  • by Caffinated (38013) on Monday December 16, 2013 @12:41AM (#45700935) Homepage

    ...Government has decided that it is a bad decision for people to not purchase health insurance. I know many perfectly reasonable, rational people who did not purchase health insurance before the ACA because it was not worth it to them. I made the opposite decision; but there is no way that I could ever objectively come to the conclusion that their decision (or mine) was a good or bad one. Value is entirely subjective and for someone to impose their own subjective values onto another is asinine, coercive, and straight up maddening.

    Except the value of insurance isn't subjective from the perspective of everyone else. If one of those "reasonable, rational people who did not purchase health insurance" gets hit by a bus and has the good luck to survive, then almost certainly it'll be everyone else paying for their treatment in one way or another. That's a direct 'objective' reason why having everyone be covered is beneficial, but there are other reasons why the requirement is there.

    One such reason would be that removing the ability of insurance companies to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions pretty much compels something like it. Otherwise your perfectly reasonable, rational people would just wait until they got sick and buy insurance, and drop it as soon as they were better. That behavior would, of course, destroy the insurance market pretty quickly, which might be a bit of a problem.

  • by macpacheco (1764378) on Monday December 16, 2013 @01:46AM (#45701171)

    I really don't understand this.
    It looks like the math is wrong.
    An incandescent light bulb that draws 60W is actually hot enough, It will burn my hand if I touch it for more than one or two seconds.
    A 17W compact fluorescent that is aparently BRIGHTER I can touch without issue for a long time. They actually seem to dissipate almost no heat (even 15W worth of heat would be noticeable, my ARM Chromebook uses less than that, and actually gets warm on its bottom).
    So, My impression is that CF lights are at least 3 times more efficient than incandescents !
    Finally, here in Brazil he already went through the mandatory migration to incandescents, they cost about twice as much, and seem to use 1/4th the electricity (the least powerful lamp at 13W seems to be just as bright as a 60W incandescent), so unless you almost don't use the lamp, it's a great deal.
    Again, getting heat from electricity is a VERY STUPID idea. Forget about it. From the power plant to your outlet about 2/3 of the power is lost (50% at the power plant if has latest generation combined steam generator, the rest in the various transformers and transmission line losses), while you can burn heating oil, natural gas or just wood locally.

  • by femtobyte (710429) on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:47AM (#45702877)

    I'm guessing the typical American goes through more lightbulbs in their house than 5lb swordfish steaks (can't speak for your personal diet), so it makes sense to work on reducing pollutants at the largest overall sources (rather than more intense but rare ones). Also, CFLs are a source of new mercury pollution, while toxins in fish are the end result of humans dumping all that bioavailable mercury into the environment: phase out anthropogenic mercury pollution, and eventually your seafood will be safer to eat. Stopping swordfish consumption won't fix the problem light stopping mercury use in CFLs/etc. will.

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