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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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  • Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @03:56PM (#45697795)

    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!

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

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:01PM (#45697819)

      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.

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

        by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:24PM (#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 sjbe (173966) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:38PM (#45698213)

          Really, and when was the incadescent ban put to a vote of the people?

          Right because putting things like that to a popular vote in a republic is a really sane way to govern. There are lots of things that aren't entirely popular that are still the right thing to do. Banning needlessly inefficient technologies when there are reasonable alternatives available is one of them.

          • by Pentium100 (1240090) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:52PM (#45698337)

            Besides, you can just connect a big resistor in series with a halogen bulb. This lowers the color temperature to that of a regular incandescent and probably makes the bulb last longer. As a side effect it makes the efficiency even worse than that of an incandescent bulb.

            While EU kindabanned regular light bulbs, the "specialty" ones are still available. That includes rugged and longer life bulbs, both of which have efficiency rating of "G", while the normal light bulbs had a rating of "E". A 60W long-life light bulb produces about as much light as a 40W regular. OTOH, the color temperature is even lower, so I like them. Both are also labeled "not for room lighting",

            If they ever decide to ban the long-life bulbs as well, I will buy a lot of them. I still have mu stash of ~100 regular bulbs.

            The reason is that I like the light they produce. A point source of continuous spectrum light with a low color temperature. I do not care about the efficiency - after all, my computers use ~1kW and my Bitcoin miners use ~600W, I really do not care about the 40W or 60W that goes to a light bulb.

            • by beelsebob (529313)

              The reason we care about the 40 and 60W lightbulbs is because for each 1000W computer being left on permanently there are 10000* 40 and 60W light bulbs being left on needlessly sucking power.

              * Actual numbers made up on the spot, but honestly, I would expect that we're talking this order of magnitude or higher.

              • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:54PM (#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 macpacheco (1764378) on Monday December 16, 2013 @12:46AM (#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.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              "A point source of continuous spectrum light with a low color temperature. I do not care about the efficiency - after all, my computers use ~1kW and my Bitcoin miners use ~600W, I really do not care about the 40W or 60W that goes to a light bulb."

              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.

              Correct coatings and phosphors for globes though, when done properly, pretty much correct for the spiky output of fluorescents and LEDs. The technology is improving rapidly.

              That is still not to say that I agree with the legislation, though. I agree that encouraging the use of modern efficient replacements for the old bulbs

            • Making smart choices (Score:5, Informative)

              by fyngyrz (762201) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:18PM (#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 PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:35PM (#45699597) Homepage Journal

                How dare the government force me to buy seat belts for my car!

          • by icebike (68054) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:19PM (#45698531)

            Banning needlessly inefficient technologies when there are reasonable alternatives available is one of them.

            Reasonable alternatives would not be priced at $27 a pop or pose a serious mercury contamination risk for disposed of bulbs, or evacuation [epa.gov] in the case of broken ones.
            .
            Contrary to the article and the summary, the payback period on some of the newer bulbs is way longer than the devices actually last in real-life environments. And again, inefficiency is not an issue if you are heating your house anyway.

            LED is the only technology with any real promise [designrecycleinc.com], but the cost has to come down to 1/10th what it is today before they
            will be accepted by people on a budget.

            • by hb253 (764272) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:42PM (#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.

            • Payback period on LEDs is a bit over 2 years (if used 3 hours/day), even assuming that the incandescent bulbs are free. The Cree LEDs have 10 year warranties.
            • by Harlequin80 (1671040) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:07PM (#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 - http://www.northernlighting.com.au/products/5451-candle-3w-led-energy-saving-lamp-lca35-sunny-lighting.aspx [northernlighting.com.au]
              Down lights - http://www.northernlighting.com.au/products/4337-ecogem-10w-daylight-dimmable-led-downlight-s9041dl-sunny-lighting.aspx [northernlighting.com.au]

            • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:19PM (#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 [ebay.com]. 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.

            • LED pricing (Score:4, Interesting)

              by fyngyrz (762201) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:32PM (#45699561) Homepage Journal

              Reasonable alternatives would not be priced at $27 a pop

              whoa. Home depot has Cree (excellent brand) LEDs [homedepot.com], 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 Guppy (12314) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:42PM (#45699651)

              Reasonable alternatives would not be priced at $27 a pop or pose a serious mercury contamination risk for disposed of bulbs, or evacuation [epa.gov] 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 femtobyte (710429) on Monday December 16, 2013 @08:47AM (#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.

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

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:41PM (#45698239)

          Really, and when was the incadescent ban put to a vote of the people?

          At the same time we voted for an energy price system that incorporates all externalities. Since you don't want to pay more for your energy it failed and this is what you chose instead.

          What conservatives really want is to live in a fantasy world where the rest of the country and planet don't exist. Somebody magically provides cheap resources and they can build a Randian society where everybody is free to chose their brand of gas guzzler. The rest of the world begs to differ.

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

          by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:50PM (#45698315)
          You voted for Bush. Bush Signed it. What is the problem?
      • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:01PM (#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.

    • by slart42 (694765) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:01PM (#45697825)

      Ha, You could buy heatballs instead - They are little radiators which conveniently fit into your lightbulb sockets, and are 90% energy efficient (the remaining 10% of the energy is wasted as light) : http://heatball.de/en/ [heatball.de]

    • Halogen (Score:4, Informative)

      by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:01PM (#45697829) Homepage Journal
      The summary states that gas-filled incandescents [wikipedia.org] will still be available.
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Informative)

      by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:10PM (#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:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:12PM (#45697935)

      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!

      I suspect that Poe's Law [wikipedia.org] is at work here. But I'll play it straight and point out that a heat-pump is a lot more efficient than simple resistive heating like the waste heat from a light-bulb. Modern heat-pumps work even in sub-freezing temperatures like a Wisconsin winter.

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

        by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:25PM (#45698057) Homepage

        Modern heat pumps are expensive and cranky of maintenance. But you don't heat your entire house with incandescents - the idea is that the 90% waste isn't 'waste' it's being utilized effeciently. And to pay another $10 for an effecient solution makes little sense.

        I like the new LEDs, I have them all over the house now. But those were installed with a bit of care - I only expended the money on the larger areas that are lit frequently. Closets, hallways, bathrooms - the analysis just isn't in favor of LEDs or CFLs. The feds should just let the market figure it out. That would also minimize the problem of tens of thousands of shit quality 'effecient' bulbs pushed on the market. With the time constraints the feds created and the associated hoopla, you had every Chinese fifth tier electronics manufacturer trying to get into the game. With predictable results. Lots of people are turned off to the 'effecient' solution since they lasted six months and then died.

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

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:34PM (#45698169)

          Modern heat pumps are expensive and cranky of maintenance.

          Bullshit. They are no more problematic than a regular A/C unit.

          But you don't heat your entire house with incandescents - the idea is that the 90% waste isn't 'waste' it's being utilized effeciently

          No. The choice is between running the efficient heat-pump a little bit more or running the light-bulb and paying 10x more for the marginal increase in heat.

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

            by sjames (1099) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:29PM (#45698609) Homepage

            It's actually a much more complex calculation. Nobody argues that the poor efficiency of an incandescent is good. However, it does have a cost associated with it that must be balanced against the cost of a more efficient bulb. That cost is effectively lower if the excess heat isn't waste. In that case the real cost of the heat is just the differential vs the cost of adding that heat to the room more efficiently.

            Likewise, in the case where the house is being cooled, the real cost of the (actually) waste heat is the cot of the wasted electricity PLUS the cost of moving the heat out with an A/C.

            Naturally, all of that will balance quite differently in Wisconsin than it does in Miami.

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

          by taxman_10m (41083) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:19PM (#45698523)

          It seems to me that in a free market light bulb manufacturers have a disincentive to produce a product that doesn't need to be replaced for 7 years versus a product that needs to be replaced far more regularly. Am I missing something?

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

      by fluffy99 (870997) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:14PM (#45697943)

      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!

      I doubt you need heat year round. The only way you don't waste energy in that scenario is if you're already using electric resistance heating which is horribly inefficient. Heat pumps are less efficient in the cold, but still outperform resistance heat down to 15*F. If you're routinely colder than that, you have gas/propane/oil backup heat or worst case electric resistance heat.

      That said, there are cases where incandescent bulbs are used to provide heat, such as terrariums. For those I guess we're stuck with $4 halogens that don't last any longer instead of the 25-cent walmart specials.

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

        by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:28PM (#45698115)

        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!

        I doubt you need heat year round. The only way you don't waste energy in that scenario is if you're already using electric resistance heating which is horribly inefficient. Heat pumps are less efficient in the cold, but still outperform resistance heat down to 15*F. If you're routinely colder than that, you have gas/propane/oil backup heat or worst case electric resistance heat.

        That said, there are cases where incandescent bulbs are used to provide heat, such as terrariums. For those I guess we're stuck with $4 halogens that don't last any longer instead of the 25-cent walmart specials.

        If that were true then why do all air based heat pumps include heating coils that kick on well above 15F? Might it be that there is the theoretical efficiency and the practical result? As for terrariums, the various reptile heat lamps are still deemed specialty lamps and exempt from the incadescent ban (as are many decorative incadescents that high end houses have).

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

          by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:57PM (#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.

    • Yes Seriously (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sjbe (173966)

      I live in Wisconsin, seriously, that "waste" heat is NOT wasted!

      Blah blah, I live up north too. Let's see, should I heat my house with a 95% efficient furnace or a 10% efficient light bulb? Boy that's a tough one...

      • If you're talking heat output, the lightbulb would be 90%, not 10%, and a lot of people have older furnaces that are fairly inefficient. Obviously, almost every house is different in terms of how high people turn up the heat, whether they heat the whole house or certain zones (and how well the heating system matches how they try to use it), how insulated the house is, how efficient the ductwork is, whether is forced air, etc for conveying the heat to rooms, whether the windows are insulated, if the owner ad

        • by sjbe (173966) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:46PM (#45698275)

          If you're talking heat output, the lightbulb would be 90%, not 10%

          Not for 3/4 of the year (i.e. spring, summer or fall) it would not be. A lightbulb just generates waste heat most of the time. They also are pretty useless for heating when you want it to be dark at the same time as you are generating heat, like oh, when you want to sleep. There is a reason we decouple our heat sources from our light sources.

          and a lot of people have older furnaces that are fairly inefficient.

          Even a clunky old inefficient furnace is still more efficient than any incandescent light bulb. If you have a badly insulated house or a shitty furnace, a light bulb isn't going to fix that problem for you.

        • by tftp (111690)

          If you're talking heat output, the lightbulb would be 90%, not 10%

          The lightbulb would be nearly 100% effective as a heat source, except the light that escapes through the windows. All other light, regardless of the wavelength, is absorbed by the walls and the furniture and is converted into heat.

          The only catch with using lightbulbs for heating is their location. They are convectively and conductively heating the ceiling, not the floor. In many houses this is not efficient at all.

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

      by hawguy (1600213) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:24PM (#45698035)

      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!

      It's still wasting money unless you heat your house with electrical resistance heating.

      And many lamps aren't located where they are the most effective radiators - much of the heat from a ceiling fixture is conducted into the ceiling.

  • by jonbryce (703250) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:01PM (#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.

  • Not 10% (Score:5, Informative)

    by second class skygod (242575) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:02PM (#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:Not 10% (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:32PM (#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.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:07PM (#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 polar red (215081) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:18PM (#45697979)

      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.

      the price of leds is made up by the extreme long life they have.

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:24PM (#45698041)

      As of 2013 there is still no way to get a light bulb that combines the low cost and high quality of an incandescent

      Correction. Low up front cost.

      At the national average of 12c/kwh a typical LED bulb will pay for itself in 2.5 years and last well over 5 years. In other words, they are already cheaper than incandescents if you aren't as short-sighted as the typical wall-street broker.

      Also, Philips makes a good $10 bulb [homedepot.com] too. Cree isn't the only one in the game.

      • by tftp (111690)

        At the national average of 12c/kwh a typical LED bulb will pay for itself in 2.5 years and last well over 5 years.

        You cannot claim that without knowing the duty cycle of the bulb. What if it is installed in a closet, and is powered for 5 minutes per month?

        And here is the problem of the LED. It is a good source of light if you need that light 24/7 or somewhat close to that. But, if my experience is in any way common, the majority of light bulbs in the house are only used on demand - and that demand is n

    • LEDs are ready (Score:4, Informative)

      by Idou (572394) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:45PM (#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.
    • by King_TJ (85913) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:32PM (#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 scotts13 (1371443) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:10PM (#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 0123456 (636235)

      I love the way politicians think they know better than I do.

      Why would you become a politician, if you didn't want to tell other people what to do? That's the whole point of politics.

      • Why would you become a politician, if you didn't want to tell other people what to do? That's the whole point of politics.

        I thought the whole point of becoming a politician was it doesn't carry the social stigma of being on welfare?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:11PM (#45697917)

    Let's face it: people don't want to think about every bit they do. That's why phones and clothes are nowadays mostly produced by people working in Asia under inhuman conditions, people buy prepackaged meat but would not want to see a slaughterhouse, people can't be bothered to switch off the lights or TV or heating when they don't need it.

    If consumers acted intelligibly, absurdities like elevators in gym buildings would not see much use. Neither would do remote controls for entertainment devices and the sometimes associated "standby" mode.

    Also realizations like "I don't have the money to afford cheap stuff" occur only to few people.

    People won't change their patterns unless forced to. The whole point of a pattern is to save the effort of thinking, a strategic and rare resource.

  • the best wins (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:16PM (#45697951) 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.

    Which is why Betamax won the video format war. Oh, wait...

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

    by craigminah (1885846) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:27PM (#45698093)
    I'm all for being environmentally friendly but CFLs are nasty...look what you gotta do if you break one: http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl [epa.gov]

    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 jratcliffe (208809) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:54PM (#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. http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/reviews/news/4217864 [popularmechanics.com]
  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:28PM (#45698103)

    ...not because they are superior, but because at least half of the USA is living paycheck-to-paycheck, and they are cheaper. When you need a lightbulb right now, and your kids get to eat with whatever is left, you're most likely going to pick the cheapest one, not the one that should give you the cheapest electricity bill over the next 20 years (particularly if you're liable to move in 1-5 years, leaving your lightbulb "investment" behind before it has paid off).

    Hell, I'm better off than most folks, but in my own house I've instituted a rule that we buy no more than 1 expensive LED bulb a month (at last check we had 8 burned out awaiting replacement). I wanna hug trees and all that, but there's a lot better way to spend hundreds of dollars this week than on light bulbs.

    So expecting "the market" to fix this in a healthy way all by itself any time soon is unreasonable. This is the exact kind of thing we have government for. Otherwise the streets would be full of trash and sewage (cheapest way to dispose of it, after all! Who's the government to tell me how to dispose of my Snickers wrappers?)

    • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:18PM (#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.

  • by masonc (125950) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:44PM (#45698257) Homepage

    Next thing the Government will want us to stop smoking, wear seatbelts and vaccinate our children against deadly diseases. Why do they think they know what is good for us?

  • The Argument (Score:5, Insightful)

    by webdog314 (960286) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:54PM (#45698349)

    Seriously? That's their argument? That if they are just "good enough" people will buy them on their own? You could give them away for *free* and people would still find some reason to prefer incandescents. Human beings are notorious idiots when it comes to choosing things that do or don't benefit us. Just ask the tobacco industry. Even faced with a long, painful death, we insist that 'we know what's best' for us. I'm not saying that CFL's are wondrous mana from heaven that will save the world, but sometimes mankind needs a serious kick in the ass in order to 'make the right choice'.

  • by Dereck1701 (1922824) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:54PM (#45698357)

    Maybe its something wacky about our power or something but CFLs don't work with crap where I live. They last less than half as long as other bulbs and don't seem to provide enough light unless they have been on for 5 minutes or more. I swear that we changed out all of the bulbs in a ceiling fan/4 port light and within a couple weeks half of them were dead and within a month so were the remaining two. I've had good luck with halogens and I'd like to try these new incandescent and maybe LED's in a few places but I won't touch CFLs. Also there are some applications where you WANT a light that generates heat, I know well houses that need just a little heat to keep from freezing in winter use a standard incandescent bulb as a heat source.

  • by jratcliffe (208809) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:39PM (#45698677)
    The math is pretty straightforward. A Cree 60W equivalent bulb costs $13, and uses 9.5 watts. With an average electric price of $0.10/kWh in the US at the moment, the breakeven point is about 2600 hours of usage, or about 2.4 years, used three hours a day, EVEN IF THE INCANDESCENT BULBS ARE FREE. This doesn't even take into account that you'll need to replace that incandescent 2-3x over that time period. The Cree bulbs have a 10 year warranty, although they should last more like 20. Even if it's only 10, you'll be looking at a total cost (bulb and power) of about $23 over 10 years with the LED ($13 for the bulb, $10 for power), vs. about $66 for the incandescent, even if the incandescents are free.
  • Think Printers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jratcliffe (208809) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:09PM (#45698907)
    It amazes me that people who would never fall for the "really cheap" printer with really expensive ink will, at the same time, fall for the "really cheap" incandescent bulbs with the really expensive power.
  • No! (Score:4, Funny)

    by dxkelly (11295) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @10:18PM (#45700543) Homepage

    I haven't gotten over being mad about them phasing out buggy whips yet!!

When I left you, I was but the pupil. Now, I am the master. - Darth Vader

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