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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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  • by jonbryce (703250) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:01PM (#45697823) Homepage

    They were banned in Europe quite a few years ago, however "rough service lamps" which are less efficient than traditional bulbs are still legal, and a lot of people have started using them rather than move to more efficient bulbs.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:07PM (#45697883)

    I'm not particularly impressed by the libertarian arguments, but I do think that these regulations were phased in a bit too soon. A delay of 5 to 10 years would probably make more sense.

    CFLs really suck. I've tried quite a few different brands, and have tried to like them, but they just seem to have some flaws that can't be fixed. First, and most annoyingly, none of them come on immediately - they start out extremely dim when the switch is flicked, and take 30 seconds to a minute to completely warm up. Secondly, no CFLs made in the past five years come anywhere close to meeting their life expectancy – most of them burn out faster than incandescent bulbs. (I have a couple of old CFLs in a tableside lamp that are still going strong after nearly 10 years, but once the production lines switched to China, quality went to complete crap.)

    LED bulbs are far better – when implemented correctly, they're pretty much indistinguishable from incandescents. But they are also very expensive – about $15 for the Cree bulbs at Home Depot, which are the cheapest ones I've found that have decent online reviews. Hopefully in a couple of years the manufacturing process will mature so that the price will go down without compromising quality.

    As of 2013 there is still no way to get a light bulb that combines the low cost and high quality of an incandescent. As long as that remains the case, the new regulations will be resented by many people.

  • by scotts13 (1371443) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:10PM (#45697897)

    I live in a house with resistance electric heating; and I prefer the quality of light from incandescent lamps. So, I swap them twice a year. Winter, incandescent lamps approach 100% efficiency for me. I also use them outdoors, in places where I need instant start in cold weather, and in specialty uses, like my range hood with an inbuilt and CFL-incompatible dimmer. Point is, I do it intelligently. I love the way politicians think they know better than I do.

  • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:16PM (#45697963)
    The only difference between a "rough service lamp" and "traditional bulbs" is that the filament is more robust and is supported by more framework within the bulb.
  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:24PM (#45698033)

    You are free to choose: that's what the ballot box is for.

    Capitalistic "freedom of choice" is weighted by the size of your wallet.

    Really, and when was the incadescent ban put to a vote of the people? No, the ballot box is only effective on things that those in power (or the people who control them) want it to be effective for.

  • by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:37PM (#45698197) Homepage Journal

    Taxes should be a method for raising revenue, not curbing or controlling spending/markets.

    Says who? Externalities are a market failure, and one of the reasons for government is to correct for market failures.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:38PM (#45698209)

    You might go back and check your calculations. 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?

    Pretty good, actually. [], so we are still talking about more than twice the efficiency of resistance heating.

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

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:48PM (#45698303)

    You might go back and check your calculations. 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?

    Resistive heat, by definition, has a COP (coefficient of performance) of 1.0.

    The average heat pump has a COP of about 3.0 at 47F and only gets down to 1.0 around 0F.

    A modern heat pump with a variable speed compressor like the Carrier 25VNA should have a COP of roughly 1.5 at 0F.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:05PM (#45698441)

    The UK has already been through this process. The new types of bulb have near zero quality control, and the life of the new bulbs vary somewhere between two months to one year on average, with frequent on/off cycles seemingly causing the greatest rate of failure.

    Blair got the British to accept the change with little process by INVISIBLY (no public announcement of an actual government initiative was ever made) having the government massively subsidise the cost of the new bulbs, so for months they could be bought at 0.1 pounds (15 cents) a bulb, or less. Sensible households bought dozens or hundreds of them at these discounted prices.

    The British 'willingness' to change their bulb habits could then be used as propaganda to 'persuade' other nations to follow suite, nations unlikely to realise how extensively Brits were bribed to change over.

    In truth, once you lose access to decent filament bulbs in areas you need proper lighting, you should install a PROPER fluorescent stick in their place. These crappy plug-in direct replacements for filament bulbs are far dimmer than the filament types, cost far more, and have about the same lifetime as a decent filament brand. The new bulbs are great for lamps (less power/heat) and that's about it.

    Also, there are no industry standards for the new bulbs. Their colour output (warmth/spectrum) varies incredibly between makes, and worse the time taken for them to reach adequate brightness after being switched on can range from less than a second to greater than a minute. Clearly, regulation should have ensured they were all 'INSTANT' on, and had accurate descriptions of their colour spectrum on the packaging.

    Who are the puppet masters so powerful that they can pull strings like these, and eliminate sheeple access to a technology which has no current decent replacement? And why are these puppet masters able to assume that an army of vile shills will howl down any ordinary person who raises very reasonable concerns? Having the ability to comprehensively impose your will on the majority, without fear of consequences, is a mark of VERY bad times for Humans. The people in power don't give a flying f**k about which bulb you use, but they do care about practising master-slave power dynamics. They do care about ensuring their mainstream media propagandists and armies of vile shills can scream the sheeple into place. One day soon, it will be demanded of you and your family that you fully back one side in a World War. You are being conditioned for this day.

  • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:18PM (#45698515)

    particularly if you're liable to move in 1-5 years, leaving your lightbulb "investment" behind before it has paid off

    When you're so poor that the cost of CFLs is a noticeable burden, when you move out, you take the bulbs with you. I've seen it with my own eyes. It's gotten to the point that when you move in, you can expect that there will be no bulbs whatsoever. America's poor made that adjustment very quickly.

  • Re:Not 10% (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:32PM (#45698623) Journal

    lumens are a weighted intensity based on human response curves. The 683 max lumens figure comes from degenerate case in which all of the spectral power is concentrated on the wavelength of peak luminous response. It's my understanding that such a lamp would be an intense, monochromatic green. But you'd really be able to see it!

    The 10% efficiency figure, I believe, is found by comparing the radiant flux (total power emitted as light) to the total power input.

    Lumens are a useful rating, if the spectrum of each lamp is comparable - it's a rough, relative comparison of the effectiveness of each lamp.

    However non-blackbody sources have a chance to game the rating by adjusting their spectrum to concentrate on the most effective wavelengths. This may be one reason why some cfls are not living up to their equivalency claims - they're hitting the lumen target, but unscrupulous manufacturers could be using a set of phosphors that puts more energy in the peak response bands and not enough outside them.

    I'm now curious as to whether there are independent spectrum analyses out there for consumers to review.

    I suppose what we need is yet another unit of measure to include the fact that although humans can see one wavelength better than all the rest, we need light across the spectrum to be able to effectively and comfortably observe our surroundings.

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

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:01PM (#45698833)

    "Capitalistic "freedom of choice" is weighted by the size of your wallet."

    I have grown so tired of this utter bullshit.

    "Crony capitalism" is not capitalism. It isn't even close. That's the reason it has a name. "Monopoly" and "oligopoly" are not capitalism. Even Adam Smith, who was basically the originator of the concept of capitalism as a system, recognized that antitrust laws to keep monopolies and oligopolies from forming were a necessary part of the strategy.

    Capitalism is about free market forces. Voluntary exchange. With the exception of antitrust, EVERY government interference in the market, and ALL corporate lobbying that ends up restricting your choices, is an ENEMY of capitalism.

    Don't blame the system for the actions of enemies of the system. That is like blaming the food for somebody burning your crops.

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

    by beelsebob (529313) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:03PM (#45698861)

    Uhh, I'm not sure "LED costs $144.49 over 30,000 hours, while incandescent costs $187.82" really backs up your claim that LEDs are more expensive ;)

    Your estimates are also based off $0.10 per kWh, which is cheaper than even the cheapest states in the US. You also vastly overestimate the power consumption, and cost of LED bulbs. I recently bought 4.5W LED bulbs that are as bright as 60W incandescents, for $13.99 each in safeway.

    If you redo the sums for the cheapest $0.11 and sane price for LEDs, you get $205.82 for the incandescent, $47.55 for the CFL and $28.84 for LEDs.
    If you do the sums for an average $0.14, you get $259.82 for the incandescent, $59.25 for the CFL and $32.89 for LEDs.
    If you do them at the most expensive rates in the US ($0.18 per kWh), you get $331.82 for incandescent, $74.85 for CFL and $38.29 for LEDs.

    That, for me, makes the choice pretty obvious.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BlueStrat (756137) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:11PM (#45698921)

    I live in Wisconsin, seriously, that "waste" heat is NOT wasted! It's freaking cold outside!! I'm an American, I want to be free to choose!

    No problem. You can still get all the cheap incandescent bulbs you want.

    They're bringing in banned incandescent bulbs daily by the tractor-trailer load from Mexico. Just visit your local bodega and ask. The ones around here are selling standard 100W white-frosted bulbs for $25/case, $20 for 75W.

    They never learn. When they ban something people want/need, they create a black market and then they lose all control over that product that they once had, along with any tax revenue.

    Government sure loves it's footguns.


  • by icebike (68054) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @08:22PM (#45699463)

    The money has to come from somewhere. Taxing all citizens so you can give back money to citizens who do as you wish is pretty perverse if you ask me. All it does in assure higher prices for energy saving alternatives. The price of any subsidized commodity will never sink below the subsidy. If you want the price to come down, the last thing you do is subsidize it.

  • LED pricing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @08:32PM (#45699561) Homepage Journal

    Reasonable alternatives would not be priced at $27 a pop

    whoa. Home depot has Cree (excellent brand) LEDs [], 60w equivalent (800 lumens, 25k hours) for about $13.00 -- that's half what you're assuming. You can get them for even less if you buy them a 1/2 dozen at a time. And they will save you a LOT of money as compared to an incandescent, and a reasonable amount compared to a CFL.

    We went to all CFLs here (large home, lots of lights) a few years ago, went through the usual spate of infant mortality problems and finally ended up with an installed set that were dependable after spending WAY more than we planned on replacement CFLs. When home depot hit $13/LED-bulb, we began to replace those CFLs with Cree LEDs. No dead ones yet, they're all working fine and output is steady. They can be dimmed. Zero RFI. Great color, too. There's one over my desk as I type this. We expect to have the entire house done other than speciality lights by the end of 2014.

    The numbers are highly compelling: Any geek who hasn't actually looked at the cost savings should be ashamed. If for no other reason than you can use that money for something else, but the environmental issues are significant, not to mention it's really nice not to have to worry about changing bulbs all the time.

  • by dj245 (732906) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @09:52PM (#45700071) Homepage

    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.

    The highest output LED's barely scratch 1100 lumens. And those are the $30 apiece ones. The cheapie LEDs usually do not exceed 800 lumens. A traditional 100 watt bulb is in the 1600 lumen range. The 27-30watt CFLs come pretty close to 1600 lumens. Retrofitting fixtures to use double the amount of bulbs isn't really feasible.

    I have all CFLs in my house with 1 experimental LED. The LED room is pretty dark compared to everywhere else. We need a higher output LED bulb, which doesn't exist yet. And we need that cutting edge technology, after it arrives, to become common and cheap. LEDs have a LONG way to go still.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <> on Sunday December 15, 2013 @11:17PM (#45700535) Homepage

    You used to be able to dump all your waste in the local river rather than paying for disposal. Sorry, but we have to share the environment we live in.

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

    by dunkelfalke (91624) on Monday December 16, 2013 @05:57AM (#45701975)

    Actually, the

    without regard to best practices, well past its design lifetime in a seismically-active tsunami zone

    part says everything that needs to be said about the safety of the nuclear power industry.

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday December 16, 2013 @08:42AM (#45702589) Homepage

    They "oversold" CFL with these arguments - I bought about a dozen CFLs in the 2006-2008 timeframe, by 2012 at least 1/2 of them had died - hardly meeting their advertised lifetime claims.

The person who's taking you to lunch has no intention of paying.