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Incandescent lightbulbs banned
August 31, 2012 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Incandescent lightbulbs are now banned across the entire European Union as of September 1. "Concerns about poor performance of replacement bulbs have been proved wrong." It is predicted to save 39 terawatt-hours of electricity across the EU annually by 2020. "The phase-out has been very smooth." BanTheBulb said "..the vast majority of the public have adjusted to using the next generation of lighting technologies with the absolute minimum of fuss and drama."

World's Most Efficient Light Bulb - Philips L-Prize LED Bulb - a soothing review of the leading edge in light bulb technology, which are now being positioned as durable goods or appliances, like refrigerators or washing machines, rather than disposal items since they can last on average upwards of 30 years or more.
posted by stbalbach (204 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well sure, but they're socialist light bulbs. We can't use them in 'merica.
posted by Curious Artificer at 1:07 PM on August 31, 2012 [19 favorites]


Meanwhile, Republican crackpots tried to pass a "Better Use of Lightbulbs Act" to bring back the old bulbs. A majority (!!) voted for it on the House floor, but since they tried to fastrack it through a suspension vote it didn't reach the 2/3 needed to pass.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 1:08 PM on August 31, 2012 [13 favorites]


Good lighting is fundamental to quality of life where night falls at about 4:00 pm at the winter solstice. If the replacements are no good, you'll have to pry my incandescents from my cold, brightly lit fingers.
posted by No Robots at 1:10 PM on August 31, 2012 [21 favorites]


How many Europeans does it take to change a light bulb? Apparently about 740 million.
posted by ubiquity at 1:10 PM on August 31, 2012 [56 favorites]


That's what they get for trying to legislate nostalgia.
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:10 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Next up: low-flow toilets. Seriously, top-down regulation just works. (When your government does.)
posted by mek at 1:10 PM on August 31, 2012 [18 favorites]


Meanwhile, Republican crackpots tried to pass a "Better Use of Lightbulbs Act" to bring back the old bulbs. A majority (!!) voted for it on the House floor, but since they tried to fastrack it through a suspension vote it didn't reach the 2/3 needed to pass.

My anger and dumbfoundedness at such stupidity is going to cause me an early death.
posted by Malice at 1:11 PM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


Meanwhile CFLs might give you cancer.
posted by gyc at 1:13 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Any word from Phoebus?
posted by carsonb at 1:13 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I shattered a Philips bulb a couple of nights ago (swinging a towel at the smoke detector to try and get the bloody thing to shut up), and I discovered that there is some serious technology inside these things - a little circuit board with all sorts of transistory bits and blobs attached.
I don't mind them, although do wish they looked more like light bulbs.
posted by Flashman at 1:13 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


The LEDs I have tried out in our home put out a harsh and unpleasant color. And they are incredibly expensive, relative to incandescents. We own our home, so that's not as big a deal. But if you live in a rental, being on the hook for replacing a $1 light bulb with a $20 bulb kind of sucks. There's definitely improvements to be made to make them as pleasing and as inexpensive as incandescents.

That doesn't take away anything from the usual dog-whistle political obstructionist games that right-wing politicians play, but unless the LEDs that are being sold in the Pacific Northwest US are a very small and poorly featured subset of the LEDs available to Europeans, I still wonder when they will be ready for prime time. Maybe in another couple years.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:14 PM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Good lighting is fundamental to quality of life where night falls at about 4:00 pm at the winter solstice. If the replacements are no good, you'll have to pry my incandescents from my cold, brightly lit fingers.
Millions upon millions of folk in Europe live as far north--if not further north--than the northernmost big city in North America. Indeed, we have whole states further north.
posted by Jehan at 1:15 PM on August 31, 2012 [26 favorites]


It is predicted to save 39 terawatt-hours of electricity across the EU annually by 2020.

As good as it is that they're saving that much energy (and it is good, obviously), I'd kinda like to know how good that actually is in the grand scheme of things. 39 terrawatt-hours out of how many?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:16 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Minimum of fuss from sensible people, yes. But if you were wondering if the Daily Mail had something to say about a good old EU-led change to the status quo: of course it fucking well did.

(And, yes, no surprise that energy-saving bulbs do cause cancer - twice - poison pregant women, and give you skin cancer.)
posted by sleepcrime at 1:16 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Those Europeans may be on to something as far as bunk replacements...but I'll stick with my human-color-preserving incandescent bulbs, thanks.
posted by obscurator at 1:17 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


After replacing all the bulbs in our house with CFLs, I bought a four pack of CFLs when I found one incandescent bulb I'd missed because it finally burnt out.

That leads me to my only complaint with CFL bulbs: It's been a pain in the ass to store the remaining three unused bulbs for so long. I haven't had to replace a single bulb in 3+ years. First world problems and all that I suppose...
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:18 PM on August 31, 2012 [13 favorites]


When compact fluorescents first became a thing, we were told you shouldn't turn them on and off quickly lest you drastically shorten their lifespan.
Is this still the case? I have a bunch of lights in the house that I turn on for maybe 30 seconds at a time (hallways, etc). Are CFLs ok for this type of use now?
posted by madajb at 1:20 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


RolandOfEld, I used to have to replace the bulbs in the fixtures on the front of our garage about once every three weeks (I am assuming it was from the vibrations caused by the door going up and down). Since I put CFLs in them over a year ago, I have only had to change one. I think they're fantastic.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:21 PM on August 31, 2012


Another question...I'd heard (and maybe this is just FUD spread around by Big Tungsten) that a broken CFL was a really big deal - mercury vapour, air out the room, panic, etc. Is this legit?
posted by jquinby at 1:22 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh crap. We have CFLs throughout the house but use nothing but bog standard tungstens for reading lights. I've been meaning to restock for the biannual-change-of-season-blowout but now it looks like I might be fuckered.

I have nothing against CFLs apart from they're shit, require a bank loan to purchase in bulk, and make everything look like custard. Which way to the back market please?
posted by run"monty at 1:23 PM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


Sys Rq, approximately 3,000.

So this is a 1-2% saving. Nothing special, but in my head a 1% reduction counts as substantial.

posted by Lemurrhea at 1:23 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


madajb: ...we were told you shouldn't turn them on and off quickly lest you drastically shorten their lifespan ... Are CFLs ok for this type of use now?
That's a good question, and I don't know the answer for certain, but I suspect it's "no." It's my understanding the new LED bulbs are fine with fast, short cycles.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:24 PM on August 31, 2012


That leads me to my only complaint with CFL bulbs: It's been a pain in the ass to store the remaining three unused bulbs for so long. I haven't had to replace a single bulb in 3+ years. First world problems and all that I suppose...
A few months ago, one of our bulbs went, and for a moment I was thrown. What do I do? Where are the bulbs? We used to replace some incandescent bulbs a few times a year, they went so often. We've replaced one CFL in about three or four years.

There are lots of folk who don't like change. But they can moan away their old age for all I care.
posted by Jehan at 1:25 PM on August 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


We haven't had a CFL burn out in a while, but someday, when one does, I look forward to replacing it with whatever leads WireCutter's LED reviews.

And a 1-2% savings is quite substantial. There is no magic bullet that will reduce CO2 intensity by the necessary huge gobs all at once, unless you count "going back to the stoneage." Instead, we have to steal every 1-2% improvement we can get. Sadly, it's not a full wedge in the "wedge game" but it's a start.
posted by louie at 1:26 PM on August 31, 2012 [17 favorites]


madajb, Yep, go for it. I even think mythbusters did a segment on various types of bulbs being turned on and off and their startup energy usage, I'm not sure how much they discussed the impact on lifespan but I think they did mention it to a certain degree.

jquinby, It's very much overstated as a risk factor, much akin to people freaking out about the radiation from the xray scanner in the airport when they get much more exposure from the actual flight.* I only have this link at hand but I used it when a friend of a friend asked me about the whole mercury in CFL thing (and it's on treehugger.com for whatever that's worth)

*Please note that I'm not commenting on the privacy concerns of said scanner, just the exposure numbers.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:28 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Incandescent lightbulbs are now banned across the entire European Union as of September 1.

Sooooooo... by "now" you mean "tomorrow" as of right "now", right?

I have confused myself, "now".
posted by item at 1:29 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used CFLs, but they took a while to warm up, and then disposing of them means bringing them to a special location to handle the mercury. LEDs are nicer, in that respect, that their disposal won't involve as much environmental impact.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:29 PM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Deal Extreme has a lot of bad colour rendition LED bulbs and fixtures for reasonably cheap. For non-critical use such as basements, I'm finding them hard to beat price and energy wise. The luminaire shapes are much more versatile than one gets with fluorescents or incandescent. Little pot lights, or flat fixtures that just pop into the ceiling. Very handy.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:32 PM on August 31, 2012


Well sure, but they're socialist light bulbs. We can't use them in 'merica.

If you're talking about the Philips L-Prize bulbs, three guesses where they are manufactured.

Consumer Reports just did a report on CFLs and LEDs, and say that if you're already using CFLs, the high purchase price of LEDs means they won't save you any money.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:32 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Looking around, all the lights in my apartment have neded up being CFLs through now particular effort of my own except for successive decisions at the store that spending $4 for a bulb that I have to change 10 times less often was better than a $1 bulb that I'd have to replace relatively soon.

The ones I've gotten have a pretty good color, too, and don't have a noticeable warm-up time. It's not the same as an incandescent, but it doesn't bother me either like the old blue-white ones did.

The technology has definitely improved to the point to where they are just outright better than conventional incandescent bulbs.
posted by Zalzidrax at 1:33 PM on August 31, 2012


Sys Rq, approximately 3,000.

Thanks, but that's just one year's worth. You gotta times it by seven for the number I was looking for.

So that's a savings by 2020 of 39 out of 21,000 terawatt-hours, which actually isn't all that much.

Still: Good on ya, Europe.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:36 PM on August 31, 2012


We no longer have any incandescent bulbs in our house, and I'm very pleased with the Philips LED bulbs I picked up. The light looks good, they work with our dimmers, they get to full brightness in less than a second, and while initially expensive, after a year of use I've already broken even on the cost of the bulb with some pretty radical savings on our power bill.

Our experiments with CFLs, on the other hand, were an absolute nightmare. I currently only have two in the house where we absolutely need 100W-equivalent bulbs. Every single bulb I auditioned had a fatal issue: a strange, harsh color temperature, incompatibility with our dimmers, or, in the case of the bulbs we bought several of, all failed nearly simultaneously 18 months after they were installed. Not to mention the mercury-poison panic when they break, which is virtually inevitable. We actually had to *go back to* incandescents before moving to LED since the CFLs we tried - and we really tried - were so bad.

The governments are right: now is the time to move to alternative lighting, especially with Philip's rousing success with LEDs. But the people who protest have a point: many of us have been burned by how bad CFLs were in the aughts. I think the governments have done a poor job with the messaging on the bans on incandescents, as the bans makes them seem like they're pushing us towards CFL misery rather than guiding us towards a pleasant LED future.
posted by eschatfische at 1:36 PM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


Meanwhile CFLs might give you cancer.

Even reading that article I am more scared of getting cancer from the moon.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:37 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


(Ahem -- Not all that much percentage-wise. It's still a fuckton of energy.)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:37 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


My house is and from the beginning was lit by CFLs and I'm replacing them from time to time, definitely more often than the claimed 2 years, especially the stronger ones. I heard that it's the electronic circuitry in them that's failing and if they had it in an external module like the old tubes they'd last much longer. Recently, a 23 W CFL lighting our kitchen failed and having no replacement on hand, I dug out an old 100 W incandescent bulb that I retained while moving.
Our kitchen never was lit so brightly.
I'm all for reducing our energy consumption and I'm not turning back to incandescents, but I'm so happy that the LED bulbs are arriving in force.
posted by hat_eater at 1:38 PM on August 31, 2012


I despise the light CFLs give- it actually gives me panic attacks which sounds nuts but it's true. (It might be the humming, but I think it's the light), and I also don't like having mercury in my house. So I hope that by the time the canadian ban is implemented (next year I think), I'll be all stocked up on incandescents.
posted by windykites at 1:44 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am very sensitive to quality of light and absolutely abhor CFL bulbs but I grudgingly support this for the good of the world. Since CFLs don't get very hot you can kind of wrap them in warm fabric that makes the light less disgusting.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:45 PM on August 31, 2012


Yea, the lifecycle cost, environmental impact, longevity (and thus less time changing them), flicker, and (to me) color qualities have improved to the point where the only complaint I take as valid from the people who are against CFLs are

A) the color still makes things look funny or ugly or
B) the upfront cost is prohibitively high and this makes things unfair for them or poor people or
C) "the 'guvment' needs to get outta my life!"

So, to people that use argument A I ask them if they've tried on in the last 2 or 3 years because they're much, much better than I remember the first generation or two being with regards to color and comfort. That said, having a reading light or certain rooms with incandescent bulbs might be nice if you're really that sensitive to color quality, lord knows I'm not.

The argument B people have a bit of a claim but the lifetime savings are quite tangible and that 1% savings for the grid is very much not a small thing. That said, the lighting usages are probably off-peak for people in hot climates so it's only saving on energy not necessarily infrastructure, sorry I'm rambling...

The people that cite complaint C get disdainfully walked away from out of hand.

I'm a bit out of the loop but as soon as I go through the 3 spare CFLs I've had in the closet for the last 3 years or so I'll look into the LED stuff that I fully expect to be mature and awesome. I don't know whether to hope the CFLs I have last longer so as to be even more awesome or that they would just hurry up and burn out so I can get these fragile bulbs out of my, already plenty messy, tool closet!
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:45 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not to mention the mercury-poison panic when they break, which is virtually inevitable.

What? I've been using CFLs for many years, and I think I've had one physically break. In my experience, they are much less prone to breaking than incandescents.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:45 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks, but that's just one year's worth. You gotta times it by seven for the number I was looking for.

So that's a savings by 2020 of 39 out of 21,000 terawatt-hours, which actually isn't all that much.
I think the 39 terawatt-hours is a yearly figure reached by 2020, not total from now til 2020. So it should be 39 out of 3000, or over 1%. Which is good for lighting alone.
posted by Jehan at 1:46 PM on August 31, 2012


> I have nothing against CFLs apart from they're shit, require a bank loan to purchase in bulk, and make everything look like custard.

I spend a bit more and buy CFLs at my favorite color temperatures. They bring out color much better than the incandescents they replace.
posted by circular at 1:46 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


As good as it is that they're saving that much energy (and it is good, obviously), I'd kinda like to know how good that actually is in the grand scheme of things.

And if the energy saving bulbs are more costly, in terms of money or energy, to produce.
posted by 3FLryan at 1:46 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Millions upon millions of folk in Europe live as far north--if not further north--than the northernmost big city in North America. Indeed, we have whole states further north.

When I lived in Sweden it seemed that people used mainly candles for winter cheer. As an American coming the candle-phobic world of the University Dorms, I found the amount of candles used by my roommates to be excessive, but I did have to admit they were cheery. Especially with a cup of mulled wine in hand.
posted by melissam at 1:47 PM on August 31, 2012


I think the 39 terawatt-hours is a yearly figure reached by 2020

D'oh. I totally missed that "annually" in there. Never mind!
posted by Sys Rq at 1:47 PM on August 31, 2012


We bit the bullet last year and put a CFL in the light fixture outside our front door. It was the best one we could reasonably justify the cost of. It's a horrible thing. The packaging swore it was a daylight spectrum, but it gives-off such an eerie, unnatural pallor that the front door looks like a scene from some B-grade ghost movie. I can't wait for it to expire.

I get that we have to move on to something better, and I'm not in the die-hard tungsten camp by any means. But it really is hard to swallow the cost of these things, especially when things like color-rendition and brightness are important to you. Yes, I get the whole "over time, you'll make-back the cost in energy savings!" argument. But that argument always assumes the best possible lifespan of the item, and ignores the fact that the cost of the initial buy-in can be pretty steep for a lot of budgets.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:47 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good lighting is fundamental to quality of life where night falls at about 4:00 pm at the winter solstice.

Given they have two member states where the majority of the population would probably pee their pants with glee at the prospect of the extra hour and a half of daylight that a 4:00 pm sunset represents, I'm thinking they've probably had some input on this.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:48 PM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


But the CFLs so brightly illuminate your special snowflake qualities!
posted by blue t-shirt at 1:49 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I feel awkward around people who won't give up very inefficient technology for whatever reason. In my head it maps to not wanting to give up your Hummer H2 for a Toyota Yaris when all you ever do is kick around town. Yeah there may be some advantages to the Hummer, but fuck, do you know what you are doing with that thing? And yeah, your gas/power bill isn't my gas/power bill, but still when you use resources inefficiently that means there are less resources for everyone else, meaning others have to ultimately pay more for your choice. Yes, it's a "principle of the thing" issue. But that's where we get civilization: principles.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:51 PM on August 31, 2012 [22 favorites]


I've been replacing all my bulbs with bulbs people leave in the garbage areas when they switch to CFLs for years now. CFLs are great!
posted by Ad hominem at 1:51 PM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


I did have to admit they were cheery. Especially with a cup of mulled wine in hand.

Everything's cheery with a cup of mulled wine in hand. And if that doesn't make things cheery enough for your liking, you just add a second cup for your other hand.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:52 PM on August 31, 2012 [15 favorites]


This is really going to mess up the visual shorthand for having ideas.
posted by Artw at 1:53 PM on August 31, 2012 [17 favorites]


My problem with the CFLs has been that they often don't last in the US due to shitty antiquated wiring. I'm of an age that my peers are becoming homeowners which has taught me half the circuits n this country are f'ing ungrounded. I had my whole house rewired with three wire when I upgraded the box (and fixed about 5 illegal things the home inspector had grossed over) and the electrician actually argued with me, saying it wasnt necessary.
posted by fshgrl at 1:54 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


In terms of color and brightness on CFLs, I think the natural spectrum CFLs are generally pretty solid. The investment is a bit higher that standard CFLs and it's harder to get them at places like Lowe's and Home Depot because that higher cost means less people are willing to spring for them.

Low Cost CFLs are fine for most locations in a home but the natural spectrum CFLs are worth the investment in many places.

I'll probably start looking more at LED based lightbulbs as my current stock diminishes but I haven't really felt the need to do a ton of research yet.
posted by vuron at 1:55 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm of an age that my peers are becoming homeowners which has taught me half the circuits n this country are f'ing ungrounded.

Oh. I thought it was ghosts.

(seriously, I've been considering an AskMe about our haunted electricity)
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I buy incandescent bulbs off the internet now. I used to be able to get them for 20p from the supermarket. I was forced to buy an energy saving bulb recently. £3.90.

Is anyone really trying to say that despite having to construct whole new factories to make them, then fill them full of electronics and mercury, and then charge 20x as much, that this law makes any sense?

See here for instructions on how to deal with a CFL breakage. Seriously, it sounds like you need a hazmat team on hand.

How to deal with an incandescent bulbs breakage:
1. dustpan
2. dustbin
posted by derbs at 1:56 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I feel awkward around people who won't give up very inefficient technology for whatever reason.

What I don't understand is how all these people complaining about CFLs are able to access the web from their typewriters.
posted by oulipian at 1:57 PM on August 31, 2012 [17 favorites]


I have a vague notion you're meant to dispose of CFLs in some specific way. However, in the four years I've been living in this apartment, I've not had one go out, so I've not had to investigate my vague notion.
posted by hoyland at 1:58 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


The great promise in LED bulbs lies in their long life, high price and complex circuitry. It's not much of a relative cost increase to add cool features like adjustable color temperature, smooth dimming, remote control via bluetooth or powerline network, programmable internal on/off/dim timer, and built-in power factor correction. These are all being developed today, and only need consumer demand to make them more affordable.
posted by rocket88 at 2:00 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


We bit the bullet last year and put a CFL in the light fixture outside our front door. It was the best one we could reasonably justify the cost of. It's a horrible thing. The packaging swore it was a daylight spectrum, but it gives-off such an eerie, unnatural pallor that the front door looks like a scene from some B-grade ghost movie.

My limited experience says "Daylight spectrum" type cfls look like crap. The "warm" cfls are more like incanescents. Local power company has been subsidizing good, warm color cfls in the local .99 Cent Stores for about a decade now that work great. Most of the lights in my house have been these, and they don't seem to fail very often, either. Like never, except for one that I think was outright defective.

I do have a few other kinds of cfl and led bulbs, that work in odd ways. One specialized cfl seems to take two minutes to get to full brightness. Some of the LEDs work with dimmers ok, some react in a more "on-off" fashion to the dimmer. And just recently, I have had a LED develop an oscillation upon startup until it seems to warm up enough. I'm curious about that behavior, as it's common with LED traffic signals around here. What's up with the engineering that they will oscillate under certain conditions?
posted by 2N2222 at 2:02 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and when you do recycle your CFL bulbs, are they really getting recycled? Or just ending up in a Chinese landfill site, contaminating the whole place and exposing peasants to nasty chemicals who are just trying to scratch a living by dismantling them for their minute value.
posted by derbs at 2:04 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think most people are taken by surprise by what "Daylight spectrum" means. We tend to believe that the sun looks 'yellowy' but the colour temperature of the sun is actually quite blue compared to old-fashioned incandescent lighting.
posted by whittaker at 2:06 PM on August 31, 2012 [25 favorites]


derbs: "See here for instructions on how to deal with a CFL breakage. Seriously, it sounds like you need a hazmat team on hand.

How to deal with an incandescent bulbs breakage:
1. dustpan
2. dustbin
"

Reading that article, it sounds more like:

1. Dustpan
2. Ziploc bag
3. Dusbin
And try not to breathe the dust while you do any of those three.

Also, remember that Britain was on a bit of a Health & Safety kick when that was written. I had to write a similar document, and we ended up writing about three pages detailing the proper precautions that need to be taken before resetting a blown circuit-breaker.

OH, and most Halogens are still permitted under this regulation. Halogens are still incandescents, and provide very similar light to traditional bulbs. Any hysteria on behalf of this article is completely unwarranted.
posted by schmod at 2:08 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah personally I actually kinda like the light that a 5000k-5500k CFL generates but if you are used to more orange light then you should go with a cooler spectrum bulb.

5500k in the bathroom when you first wake up might be a bit much though
posted by vuron at 2:10 PM on August 31, 2012


Oh, and when you do recycle your CFL bulbs, are they really getting recycled? Or just ending up in a Chinese landfill site, contaminating the whole place and exposing peasants to nasty chemicals who are just trying to scratch a living by dismantling them for their minute value.
You could make the same complaint against just about most electronics sent for recycling. Many of them can pollute the soil and water in some way. Heck, making them pollutes places.
posted by Jehan at 2:10 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a vague notion you're meant to dispose of CFLs in some specific way.

We all know that most people are going to just toss them in the trash, regardless. It's inevitable.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:10 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've broken dozens of CFLs over the years and to date the madness doesn't seem to be settling in yet (or at least anything worse than normal). Yeah telling the kids and pets to leave the area is probably worthwhile but honestly they should probably do that with incandescent bulbs anyway because it's hard to get all the glass fragments without mopping anyway and unprotected feet seem to magnetically attract glass shards.
posted by vuron at 2:13 PM on August 31, 2012


Lemurrhea: "Sys Rq, approximately 3,000.

So this is a 1-2% saving. Nothing special, but in my head a 1% reduction counts as substantial.
"

I'd be curious to know what the current energy spent on lighting is. I think that would be a more useful comparison.
posted by boo_radley at 2:13 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


They're installing LEDs all over the place at my work (the US Capitol). From the looks of it, they're installing entirely new fixtures instead of "LED Bulbs."

It's a bit unfortunate that nobody in the mainstream seems to be doing anything adventurous or innovative with architectural lighting, since LEDs pretty much last forever, and can be made into just about any shape, size, or color temperature.

Of course, that seems to be completely in line with the ethos of the western world at the moment -- desperately try to cling to and recreate the past, rather than build something new...


I've been installing LED strips on top of any hidden ledges in my apartment to provide indirect lighting. Even though direct LED light isn't quite as pleasant as what you'd get from incandescent bulbs, the benefits of good indirect lighting (read: nothing mounted to the ceiling) trump that by a good margin. I get lots of compliments from friends about how much I've spruced up the place, despite having done nothing other than installing the LEDs and unscrewing the high-hats.
posted by schmod at 2:14 PM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


I am cursing the fact that we did some remodeling 5 years ago, and have a large number of reflectors in ceiling cans, that are dimmable. I guess its time to read reviews again, but every time I've checked up, those particular bulb styles are horrible in CFL or LED. Luckily the incandescents I have in there right now are still going strong, haven't been forced to buy replacements yet. Now I've typed that out, two will blow this evening. I despise the CFLs we do have, so I'm trying to hold on for better and better LEDs. I love the warmth of incandescent, but I would also love the energy saving of more efficient bulbs.
posted by Joh at 2:14 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, you can get daylight-spectrum CFLs. Much nicer than the yellower ones. I have one in my living room, it's great. Been waiting for the ones in my bedroom, entry, WC, and bathroom to die for the last 4 years so that I can replace them. Got LEDs in the kitchen, OMG love.
posted by fraula at 2:15 PM on August 31, 2012


You could make the same complaint against just about most electronics sent for recycling
Jehan

Yeah, I understand that, but CFLs and incandescents both have no intrinsic recycling value. Difference is, CFLs contain mercury, amongst other things. Which is going to cause mortality to poor people in the third world.
posted by derbs at 2:15 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I use CFLs in the summer and incandescents in the winter. I started doing it in an apartment with iffy climate control. It's like cheap, activity based zone heating during the winter. Sometimes waste heat is useful.

Now, I shall go to Amazon to buy more 100W bulbs.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 2:18 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I must have some ghost wiring because I can't get a CFL (I've tried a bunch of varieties) to last more than a year anywhere in my house and any incandescent over 25W lasts a few months at most. I actually use more incandescent bulbs now because I can't afford even the slightly more expensive CFLs for how often I replace them. I keep waiting for the price of LED to drop to the point where they make economic sense, but I'm afraid they wouldn't last either and I really can't afford to replace $20+ light bulbs often. I'll have to dig more into the data on unclean power and LED longevity...
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 2:19 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I understand that, but CFLs and incandescents both have no intrinsic recycling value. Difference is, CFLs contain mercury, amongst other things. Which is going to cause mortality to poor people in the third world.
Well, in the grand scheme of things, climate change will most likely kill more than mercury poisoning, if you're truly concerned.
posted by Jehan at 2:19 PM on August 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


Kirth Gerson: Consumer Reports just did a report on CFLs and LEDs, and say that if you're already using CFLs, the high purchase price of LEDs means they won't save you any money.

This annoys me, as does the current US election noise: there's more to life than money. Money comes and goes, but trash is forever. Land fills are not endless pits, and then there's the materials to make, package, and transfer bulbs.


fshgrl: My problem with the CFLs has been that they often don't last in the US due to shitty antiquated wiring.

I have no idea, but is the wiring throughout Europe any better?
posted by filthy light thief at 2:19 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


My house has about 40 light bulbs in fixtures. When they were all incandescent I was having to change about one a week. We kept doing that for a long time because we were getting free light bulb coupons from Walgreens fast enough that, well, they were free.

In order to switch to CFL I had to take out my X-10 control system because the wall light switches are all dimmers and don't like CFL's. It never worked all that well anyway though, and now that I only have four incandescents left (in one ceiling fan on a manual dimmer) I replace a bulb every six months or so.

I don't have a problem with the light. Incandescent light isn't natural either, you just get used to it, and you can get used to CFL's.

Of course here in Merka I imagine we will switch to CFL's shortly after switching to the Metric System.
posted by localroger at 2:19 PM on August 31, 2012


Efficient lighting equals higher heat bills: study "To some extent, the case [in favour of CFL bulbs] has been oversold because of the offset in higher heating costs.
In fact, a recent report by BC Hydro estimates new lighting regulations will increase annual greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia by 45,000 tonnes annually as consumers use more energy to heat their homes after switching to more energy efficient — but cooler — lighting."


Obviously if its warm (and dark) then CFLs will save on air conditioning costs, but its hard to escape the feeling this eco-boom in CFL light bulbs has been driven by manufacturers keen to upsell $1 light bulbs into sales of $30 bulbs.
posted by Lanark at 2:23 PM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sometimes waste heat is useful.

That's the fourth argument I'll accept as 'Valid, with reservations'!

So for that, sure it helps those people who live in zones where a heat-pump isn't an option because a heat pump is actually more efficient than a electric heat/resistor type device with regards to output heat and input electricity where it is a smart choice, and who also don't utilize gas for their heating needs because that's generally a better fiscal choice for unit heat output and also have a home layout that supports huddling near light fixtures to enjoy heat convection, radiation might be valid but I'm not exactly sure, anyway meaning mostly lamps because ceiling and/or wall mount fixtures are generally further away.

All that said, I suppose I can grant that for people in low-daylight hour realms who are susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder, sure incandescent s might make a bit of sense.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:27 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


schmod: It's a bit unfortunate that nobody in the mainstream seems to be doing anything adventurous or innovative with architectural lighting, since LEDs pretty much last forever, and can be made into just about any shape, size, or color temperature.

I agree. The possibilities are rather exciting. The article mentions some high-profile examples such as the London Eye and Buckingham Palace in London. I like the idea of less light pollution, since the bulbs can direct light where you need it, rather than the traditional way of having gigantic floodlights. The idea of transparent OLED lighting in the future looks awesome.
posted by milkb0at at 2:27 PM on August 31, 2012


...as consumers use more energy to heat their homes after switching to more energy efficient — but cooler — lighting.

Good lord...How many damned light bulbs do those people have packed into a room to produce enough heat to where it affects their furnace setting?
posted by Thorzdad at 2:28 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I understand that some bulbs particularly 100w or bigger generate a lot of waste heat but is that really the most efficient heating source for a space larger than an easy bake oven?

I mean yeah your heater might have to work a big harder to generate the same sort of warmth as you had previously but as long as you resist nudging the thermostat up a degree it seems like you will avoid the increased heating costs.
posted by vuron at 2:28 PM on August 31, 2012


I got my first LED bulb this year. The color it put off should have been billed as "that lamp glow that reminds you of your childhood." It was awesome.
posted by drezdn at 2:29 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you break a cfl, you're sposed to leave the room for 10 minutes and ventilate the room, i.e., open the window on your way out.
The mercury in a cfl is far less than the mercury emitted by the coal-fired plant thta makes the extra electricity for the incandescent.
A few companies, incl. Ikea, make cfls with a plastic dome that look more like a light bulb. i like them because they are less likely to break, and in a few locations, the looking nicer bit is nicer.
Hardly any stores have a good selection of wattages; what's up with that?
Cfls would be more fun in nifty shapes, but affordable.
Cfls are an easy way to save money and be less polluting. At some event, somebody had 2 identical lamps w/ frosted shades; 1 with an incandescent, 1 with a cfl. I could not discern any difference.

LEDs will get better, probably pretty fast.
I do wish LED hockey puck lights had been easily available 2 years ago, as my under cabinet lights are halogen, and the bulbs go bad really fast.

I'll bet those socialist, commie EUers have a lovely selection of cfl bulbs illuminating their dual flush toilets and bike paths. Must be awful. The poor dears.
posted by theora55 at 2:30 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


as long as you resist nudging the thermostat up a degree it seems like you will avoid the increased heating costs.

I think you are misunderstanding how a thermostat works, when the ambient temperature drops (because your lighting has now changed) the thermostat will automatically turn on the heating, maybe only a few seconds earlier than normal, but thats all it takes to wipe out the efficiency gains of switching the light bulb.
posted by Lanark at 2:34 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


While we're on-topic, can anybody recommend specific LED/CFL brands that they've had good luck with? Seems to be very hit-or-miss...

Also, if you're using more energy because of the offset in heating costs due to energy-efficient lighting, you're probably heating your home with an Easy-Bake oven, or some other obscenely-inefficient or expensive form of heating. Simply put, the thermodynamics don't add up.
posted by schmod at 2:35 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


My house is and from the beginning was lit by CFLs and I'm replacing them from time to time, definitely more often than the claimed 2 years, especially the stronger ones. I heard that it's the electronic circuitry in them that's failing and if they had it in an external module like the old tubes they'd last much longer.

Yep. Ballast life is determined by how hot it runs. If you're running CFLs in base fixtures up then your ballast is going to have a significantly shorter life. Make sure you run CFLs designed to be run base up or run lower wattage CFLs to keep the heat down.

Obviously if its warm (and dark) then CFLs will save on air conditioning costs, but its hard to escape the feeling this eco-boom in CFL light bulbs has been driven by manufacturers keen to upsell $1 light bulbs into sales of $30 bulbs.

You're right. Here in Santa Clara where it's due to hit a balmy 79 degrees tomorrow it's entirely a conspiracy to make us buy extra expensive light bulbs.

BC is a special place where their electricity is mostly (90ish% from memory?) hydro and the temperature is too cold for an air heat pump to work effectively. Ground based heat pumps are expensive and even at 7c/kWh it's probably still too expensive for strip heating so natural gas has proliferated. The number of places like that in the world you would see that combination you could count on one hand and everything but your thumb would probably be in Canada.

If it's a conspiracy it's a really shitty one.
posted by Talez at 2:35 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've come to the conclusion reading this thread that everyone has way more lights than I do and uses them far more often.
I just can't decide if you're all profligate energy users or if I live in a cave...
posted by madajb at 2:36 PM on August 31, 2012


this eco-boom in CFL light bulbs has been driven by manufacturers keen to upsell $1 light bulbs into sales of $30 bulbs.

CFL's don't cost $30, the top of line cutting edge LED's do, but you can get LED's much cheaper and CFL's for not much more than normal bulbs. And the $30 LED's last 30 years, hard to see the upsell economics, except for you not having to replace 30 bulbs in 30 years (shipping, taxes, etc).

"Eco-boom"? The entire modern economic enterprise is built on more efficient use of natural resources. *Everything* humans do is environmental based. There is no such thing as non-environmental vs environmental.
posted by stbalbach at 2:37 PM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yup, I hate having bright lights. We hardly ever use our main lights in the kitchen because they're so bright. When they break (and since they're halogen, that's not very often) they'll be replaced with 20W bulbs or less. Considering there's loads of them, that's still bright.
posted by milkb0at at 2:38 PM on August 31, 2012


recommend specific LED

The Philips linked in the OP has been my best new-tech bulb by far. It's not cheap but I marked the buy-date on it with a sharpie and hope I live to see it die (probably not).
posted by stbalbach at 2:39 PM on August 31, 2012


It is still possible to (legally) buy incandescent bulbs. They are called, in UK at least, 'rough service bulbs' and intended for use in inspection lights. Although more expensive than traditional bulbs they do last a long time and can be happily knocked.
posted by kingzog at 2:39 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread got me thinking, we're actually nearing a future where our kids will look at us funny when we try to relate to them that we actually had to change light bulbs.

Seriously, think about it...

"No Jimmy, back in my day you had to actually open up that casing and replace what was inside it. We called them bulbs and had to go to the store to get more whenever we ran out!"

The kid is going to look up, tilt his head, walk off the porch, and zoom off on his hoverboard.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:41 PM on August 31, 2012 [14 favorites]


Lanark: "but thats all it takes to wipe out the efficiency gains of switching the light bulb"

I guess I'd need to do the math, but I really don't think that's true. My heat is provided by an electric heat-pump, and our usage went down pretty considerably when we switched to CFLs.

Also, if your CFLs are burning out, they're likely not ventilated properly (which coincidentally will shorten the life of regular bulbs as well). The quality of the wiring doesn't really come into play (and, FWIW, residential European wiring is generally a bit dodgier than what you find in the States; the National Electric Code – mandated by most building codes – is very stringent, and has been in use for quite some time).

Attaching a non-dimmable bulb to a dimmer switch (even set at 100%), however, is a really quick way to kill the ballast.
posted by schmod at 2:42 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I believe oven lights must still remain incandescent as CFLs and LEDs can't take the heat.
posted by ShooBoo at 2:50 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Artw: "This is really going to mess up the visual shorthand for having ideas."

nah, iconographically incandescents will be immortal, like floppies
posted by idiopath at 2:52 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


We switched to fluorescent bulbs a couple years ago. Reading the comments complaining about the quality of light as a rationale for sticking with incandescent seems a little precious. You're not a group of Flemish painters. Unless I'm just not that perceptive, the change in light tone is not significant and, to the degree that it is, it's not really an issue of "quality". I suspect that is often trotted out as a justification for keeping the old bulbs, since there is has to be something, beyond resentment, to recommend them.
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 2:53 PM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


You've be surprised how much money you can save by just lighting your room by wrapping gas-soaked muslin on a metal rod and igniting it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:57 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have no idea, but is the wiring throughout Europe any better?

I wouldn't have thought so but I've never had problems in the UK with CFLs. And since I rewired and grounded my US house three years ago I haven't replaced a single bulb.

Except the halogen fixture which caught on fire (!) because a bug crawled on I but that's another story.
posted by fshgrl at 2:59 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have can lights in my kitchen and it took me a while to figure out that I do not have liver damage, but it was the light bulb above my sink. When one of the CFL's burned out in another can, I put that one there and bought an LED for over the sink. Happy times!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:01 PM on August 31, 2012


I will miss the word "incandescent" when it's gone.
posted by cilantro at 3:05 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


This thread got me thinking, we're actually nearing a future where our kids will look at us funny when we try to relate to them that we actually had to change light bulbs.

Seriously, think about it...

"No Jimmy, back in my day you had to actually open up that casing and replace what was inside it. We called them bulbs and had to go to the store to get more whenever we ran out!"
I know. I love to ask my dad about putting on new gas mantles, keeping a fire burning overnight with coal slack, going to an outdoor toilet in winter, and wiping your bottom with yesterday's newspaper. It's a whole other world, and one I'm glad not to live in. It does seem so archaic to have to change bulbs so often when I think about it.
posted by Jehan at 3:05 PM on August 31, 2012


"It's a bit unfortunate that nobody in the mainstream seems to be doing anything adventurous or innovative with architectural lighting, since LEDs pretty much last forever, and can be made into just about any shape, size, or color temperature."

Oooh! Oooh! One of the schools in my district became the first fully-LED-lit building in the U.S. Most of the classroom lighting is pretty standard, but they did some cool specialized stuff in the fairly medicalized "severe and profound" unit (for children with major mental and physical disabilities who require medical care all day), make them unbreakable and non-protruding, casting light in particular ways so a room can be brightly-lit and medical or warmly-lit and homey, etc. But the coolest part is in the hallways, all the architectural pillars have square wrap-around LED lights at the top that change all different colors. The two janitors cheer for rival NFL teams and they're always sneaking into the LED control room during football season to change the pillar-LEDs to their team's colors to tweak the other guy. The kids love it. They make it red-and-pink for Valentine's, orange for Hallowe'en, set them to change colors and flash for school parties, all kinds of things. Classrooms that win reading-minutes contests get to pick the colors for a week, whatever. They're very cool.

And anyone who doesn't like the color of their CFL, if I go to the home improvement store, they have literally an entire wall of CFLs in different shapes, brightnesses, color temperatures, spectra, etc., and all kinds of labels to help you locate the one you want. You have "sunshine" or "incandescent-like" or whatever quality of light you want. I mean, sure, my supermarket just has the most popular bulbs, but it's not like going to the home improvement store once every 3 years to get your preferred CFLs is a super-hardship.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:07 PM on August 31, 2012 [15 favorites]


I think some of the people in this thread are still laboring under the impression that CFLs today are identical to CFLs from 10 years ago. The tech has improved greatly. In any case, everybody should switch. You don't want to? Yeah, well, your neighbor doesn't want to switch to a more efficient car from their giant fucking Hummer and how do you feel about them?

As for the breakage issue, when I moved in to my new place I knocked over a CFL and smashed it all over a room I was painting. I went and read the disposal instructions, freaked out for a few minutes, then realized the rubber cement and spackle and stuff like that I was using also has warning labels telling me I'm going to DIE HORRIBLY if I get a tiny amount on my skin, so I chilled out. Then I got on metafilter and posted a bit and finished painting. Finally, I took a broom, and dustpan and put the broken crap in a bag and disposed of it.

So far I haven't grown a second head or started drooling uncontrollably or anything.
posted by Justinian at 3:10 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


A few months ago I had to replace my bedroom lamp with an FLC that was lying around. I fully intended to get an incandescent bulb first thing next day, as I do a lot of reading, but it was so nice there was no need to replace it.
posted by ersatz at 3:12 PM on August 31, 2012


Hooray for common sense in Europe. I wish there was a way they could send some of it here.
posted by freakazoid at 3:13 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It does like quite a lot ... but unpacking 39 terawatt-hours at Wolfram-Alpha:

• is nearly equal to the energy of the Sun hitting Earth in one second (the obvious source of rational solutions)

• is 4 days of the energy produced by all the world's nuclear plants

It's enough to supply 1.625 million homes with 2000kWh/month for a whole year.
posted by Twang at 3:21 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


cilantro: "I will miss the word "incandescent" when it's gone."

It will be on my mind whenever I see you smile.


oh my gosh i need to write that down and incite a conversation about light bulbs with my wife
posted by boo_radley at 3:30 PM on August 31, 2012 [17 favorites]


It does like quite a lot ... but unpacking 39 terawatt-hours at Wolfram-Alpha:
By rough reckoning, it is about the same as the whole electricity use of Iowa.
posted by Jehan at 3:36 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


wait for the death bulb panels, people. just you wait. it's a short hop. BAIN CAPITAL FOR PRESIDENT!
posted by davemee at 3:37 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


CFLs are so much better than the first few iterations. THey're affordable, the quality of the light is good, and I have NEVER had to replace a bulb installed in the last 3 years! And that's probably 20 or 25 bulbs altogether. I still have a couple ugly first-gen ones in the basement; they're ugly but good enough to show me where the poo is as I scoop the cat box.

Make sure you buy good bulbs, avoid any bulb with 'cool' describing its light quality, and you'll be ok.
posted by Mister_A at 3:37 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mrs. Radley is a lucky woman!
posted by Mister_A at 3:38 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


As for the added cost of home heating canard:

A 100-watt light bulb consumes about 2.5 kWh in 24 hours. A 2.5kWh space-heater (adequate for a small room in a moderate climate) consumes the same energy in one hour.

So the heat the bulb creates in that room replaces 1/24 of the heating cost. Obviously not a major factor (considering that most light-bulbs are not on all day long).
posted by Twang at 3:43 PM on August 31, 2012


I fucking hate compact flourescents, and will go to any lengths to not use them. Sadly, my commitment to the environment (and I'm not convinced that incandescents are really that much worse) ends where that horrible, horrible light begins.
posted by jokeefe at 3:43 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've cleaned out the shelves of incandescent bulbs in the local drugstores and have a stash saved for the terrible day that they are banned.
posted by jokeefe at 3:44 PM on August 31, 2012


I despise the light CFLs give- it actually gives me panic attacks which sounds nuts but it's true.

Oh thank god I'm not alone. Seriously. The quality of the light makes it impossible for me to stay in rooms lit by CFLs.
posted by jokeefe at 3:49 PM on August 31, 2012


..it actually gives me panic attacks which sounds nuts but it's true.

Oh thank god I'm not alone. Seriously. The quality of the light makes it impossible for me to stay in rooms lit by CFLs.


jokeefe: Forgive me for singling you out and I'm not trying to be unkind but I can't help but wonder, do you have the same, or similar, problems in rooms that have normal florescent lights in them?

I ask because it seems like if you did then life in any normal capacity would be intolerable and a Amish retreat or something would be the only option to avoid schools, libraries, hospitals, etc, etc, etc. I honestly can't remember any public, commercial, or municipal building, excluding preserved, historical-type buildings, that didn't use florescent lighting extensively.

I honestly hope it's a different reaction/output and that you're immune or not bothered by the more common bulbs and/or normal bulbs on dimmer switches (because they operate by flicker as well, at least some do). Some place are making the switch to LED, but slowly, so there's small hope I suppose if the above is true of your situation.

Anyone have scientific data on this subject? I've heard of people being able to see a flicker LED Christmas lights that appear perfectly solid to me but I've got poor vision already, always have.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:59 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't get the hate for LED and CFL bulbs. There are color temperatures to suit all desires. My only complaint is that all of my recent CFL purchases went bad rather quickly. The CFL I picked up 12 years ago just died last week. It's in a hallway, so I bought whatever cheapie 600 lumen job they had at Home Depot for under twenty bucks to replace it. I suspect that will last at least another 12 years.

I actually have incandescents in quite a few fixtures because they're the only thing that will survive a reasonable amount of time in some of them. I get the 130V kind so I don't have to replace them so damned often.

Seriously, there are crappy CFL bulbs. The 12 year old one was one of them. It had a horrible color temperature. That's why it was in the hallway. The Philips 12W I have in this room looks almost indistinguishable from incandescent, however. Point being that if you spend a dollar on a CFL, of course it's going to be crappy, you got the cheap one. Just like those crappy $99 Android tablets they were selling at Walgreen's last year.

Also, the canard about heating being a canard is silly. It's a very real effect, just like when I turn on the TV in my living room (it draws about 3 incandescents worth) and it gets hot, or in the middle of winter when I'm in a room with an incandescent bulb and it's the warmest room in the house after it's been burning a while.
posted by wierdo at 4:01 PM on August 31, 2012


Next up: low-flow toilets. Seriously, top-down regulation just works.

Unlike low-flow toilets.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:04 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


wierdo: “I don't get the hate for LED and CFL bulbs. There are color temperatures to suit all desires.”

Weird-ass flicker rates that give me insane headaches - every single CFL bulb I've met is the same in this respect. Don't know about LED bulbs because I am not Mitt Romney's accountant and cannot afford that crap.
posted by koeselitz at 4:07 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, can anyone remind me if I'm missing something but isn't light measurement/perception measured by wavelength (distance [meter]), brightness (lumens/luminous flux [Joule maybe?]), and frequency (cycles/sec [Hz])?

Could you completely describe any light source's output via those 3 measurements? Forgive me, it's been a while since I took that course where we did the labs and measured various light fixture / types efficiencies...

posted by RolandOfEld at 4:07 PM on August 31, 2012


Here in Chicago they're replacing stoplights with LEDs, but they're not hot enough in the winter to melt the snow that gathers on them.
posted by Evilspork at 4:07 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have converted almost all my fixtures to cfl's - I like the soft light they produce for living room lamps and the like. I'm pretty sure that's what they are made for, since they burn warm white in color. As the person upthread mentioned they are sensitive to heat, being electronically ballasted. They need ventilation, and for best results should be burned base down or sideways rather than up. The only place I have seen them burn out prematurely is in cases of overheating, in enclosed or base up fixtures. I live in a building with very old wiring; built in 1906. I have no grounded wiring anywhere. I have cfl's that are 4 years old. All of them burn base down or sideways. In the halls are cfl's burning base up. They tend to last about 6 months or so. Bulbs have only 2 conductors anyway, so grounding the fixture is for safety; the bulbs are not grounded in any way. Wiring that delivers sufficient voltage is enough.

I do have one set of ceiling fixtures - in my kitchen. I have seasonal affective disorder, and need really good bright white light, especially first thing in the morning. I put in 2 twin tube f32t8 shop lights (4') with electronic ballast and daylight color tubes installed. The room is about 8x5 feet, and turning them on in the morning is exactly what the doctor ordered.
posted by cybrcamper at 4:08 PM on August 31, 2012


Just yesterday in my Theatre Lighting Technology class we were learning about all the different types of lamps (bulbs) and the pros and cons of each. The Theatre world still uses incandescent as the main lamp since LEDs have not become good enough yet (they work, but there are drawbacks until they get better).

Any idea if the ban on incandescents applies to Theatre (I'm American, but just curious) too or if it's just residential use?
posted by Deflagro at 4:09 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, can anyone remind me if I'm missing something but isn't light measurement/perception measured by wavelength (distance [meter]), brightness (lumens/luminous flux [Joule maybe?]), and frequency (cycles/sec [Hz])?

You forgot Kelvin.

[Insert Home Alone joke here.]
posted by Sys Rq at 4:13 PM on August 31, 2012


Deflagro: “Any idea if the ban on incandescents applies to Theatre (I'm American, but just curious) too or if it's just residential use?”

According to Wikipedia, this ban is only on general household incandescents – but not even all household incandescents, only the non-directional ones:

“The initial Europe wide ban only applies to general-purpose, non-directional incandescent bulbs, so does not affect any bulbs with reflective surfaces (e.g. spotlights and halogen down lighters) or special purpose bulbs including those used in devices such as household appliances, traffic lights, and infrared lamps.”
posted by koeselitz at 4:17 PM on August 31, 2012


I'm a little bewildered by the number of people complaining about cost/quality of light/intrinsic dangers of CFLs.

I bought a bunch from my local homeware store nearly a year ago. The cost about £2 each, they radiate a lovely warm light, and so far I haven't had any of them fail/explode/kill me in my sleep.

Did I get lucky or something?
posted by ambivalentic at 4:19 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


ambivalentic: “I bought a bunch from my local homeware store nearly a year ago. The cost about £2 each, they radiate a lovely warm light, and so far I haven't had any of them fail/explode/kill me in my sleep. Did I get lucky or something?”

Similarly, I am bewildered by the number of people who like CFLs. We have several in our home, and in each room they're in I can't stay too long or else I'll get a horrible headache; and they seem to take forever to warm up and actually emit light. Also, the light is cold and grating and washes out everything. Am I buying the wrong kind? I guess I am. Maybe I'll have to try buying the more expensive ones to see whether they're better.
posted by koeselitz at 4:23 PM on August 31, 2012


It's a very real effect, just like when I turn on the TV in my living room (it draws about 3 incandescents worth) and it gets hot, or in the middle of winter when I'm in a room with an incandescent bulb and it's the warmest room in the house after it's been burning a while.

You realize your body is responsible for about 1/2 that heat just from metabolic conversion right?* And, like CFLs, TVs have went through iterations and different types put out different heat outputs. I swear buddy's flat panel from 5+ years ago puts out as much heat as a freaking space heater, while mine that's recent make and utilizes an LED back light is cool to the touch on the front and only very slightly warm on the back.

It's nitpicky to even bring up I know, but so is pointing at the fact that people in a very distinct subset of the population could, possibly end up in a situation where they'll need to generate a small replacement portion of their heat via another method, when their current theoretical side-method [incandescent bulbs] is already the least effective and most costly method possible, open campfire or wood fireplaces exempted.

*Based on the numbers I could find around it seems like the human body puts out somewhere around 70-100+ watts and you said one light bulb... so that's where I got 1/2 from.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:24 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Good lord...How many damned light bulbs do those people have packed into a room to produce enough heat to where it affects their furnace setting?"

I think we had about 1800W of incandescents in our kitchen and living room. I've switched to halogen bulbs, which are much more efficient, but the bluer light (and increased luminous flux) bothers my spouse. Our house has 6" recessed lights throughout (can lights) and I've swapped a few of them out with Cree LED downlights, which are awesome. Our electricity rates are cheap (8.5 cents/kwH) so breakeven is a few years away.

But less waste heat means less A/C usage in summer. In the winter, we heat with gas, which is dirt cheap.
posted by etherist at 4:39 PM on August 31, 2012


A friend of mine gets migraines from the flicker in fluorescents, most CFLs included. They have LEDs in their house.
posted by Foosnark at 4:40 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a vegetarian bike-riding tree-hugger and I'm ambivalent at best about outright banning incandescents and implicitly making CFLs the norm. It's ultimately going to make for a lot of mercury in the waste stream. (That said, my house is nearly all CFL -- they're a good solution if they're disposed of properly.)

I hope LED bulbs get even brighter and cheaper quickly.
posted by Zed at 4:40 PM on August 31, 2012


My problem with the CFLs has been that they often don't last in the US due to shitty antiquated wiring. I'm of an age that my peers are becoming homeowners which has taught me half the circuits n this country are f'ing ungrounded. I had my whole house rewired with three wire when I upgraded the box (and fixed about 5 illegal things the home inspector had grossed over) and the electrician actually argued with me, saying it wasnt necessary.

I'll be the first to admit that electricity is a kind of magic, but I'm fairly sure a third-wire ground isn't useful to simple lighting fixtures, nor would a lack of it be involved in early CFL failure.
posted by odinsdream at 4:44 PM on August 31, 2012


Something about the light from CFLs makes me feel like I'm blind even though I can see. I've tried a couple of kinds, but not being Mitt Romney's accountant, either, I can't try ALL of them.

Also my bedroom is small enough in winter that when I turn the heat in the house down to 60 and have my stand lamp on in that room it is about 15 degrees warmer, so I save all kinds of money on heat.
posted by winna at 4:46 PM on August 31, 2012


Also, can anyone remind me if I'm missing something but isn't light measurement/perception measured by wavelength (distance [meter]), brightness (lumens/luminous flux [Joule maybe?]), and frequency (cycles/sec [Hz])?

Wavelength and frequency are just inverses of one another. For light, people usually talk in terms of wavelength (hundreds of nanometers) and not frequency (hundreds of THz).

But most natural light is not just at a single wavelength - there is no wavelength for "white" light. It's a mix of a bunch of different frequencies.

And it's sometimes subtle. Two light sources that look the same when you look directly at them or look at a white object illuminated by them may not actually be the same.
Note that the for light coming into your eyes, you don't have to have anything like an exact match - the eye cannot distinguish between e.g., pure 510nm light (yellow) and a mix of 450nm (red) and 560nm (green) light. But the differences can become noticeable when you bounce the light off of stuff. Everything under the 510nm light will just be yellow. But under the blended light some things will look greener or redder depending on the color of the object. So you need a full graph of the visible spectrum to really represent the color.

Also, to people more sensitive to 60Hz flicker, color is not the complete story. Oh, maybe that's what you meant by frequency instead of what I thought you meant. Anyway flicker is also a little more subtle than frequency - a square wave will be more flickery than a sine, and the duty cycle (ratio of off to on) matters too.
posted by aubilenon at 4:49 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yea, I was talking about frequency as flicker, so not quite the inverse of wavelength. In this case your squarewave tidbit completes the puzzle. I didn't think about flicker as a square wave, that's the crucial part.

People can really see this stuff this well? Any data, I mean I believe it, I just wonder about prevalence.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:53 PM on August 31, 2012


Also, the light is cold and grating and washes out everything. Am I buying the wrong kind? I guess I am. Maybe I'll have to try buying the more expensive ones to see whether they're better.

I can only relate my experience, but the store had a number of different kinds on display and switched on, so I could see the type of light they gave off. The daylight ones were too blue and harsh, but there were some that gave off a very yellow "incandescent" type of light.

The price did vary quite widely. The ones I bought were on special, but so far they haven't given me any problems and it's coming up on a year since I bought them.
posted by ambivalentic at 4:53 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


We have several in our home, and in each room they're in I can't stay too long or else I'll get a horrible headache

Modern ballasted CFLs do not flicker. I think a lot of this is that people got headaches from old magnetically ballasted lights and now some weird placebo effect gives them headaches when they know they are in a room with CFLs. I'd love to do a blind test with 10 different bulbs, half of which are incandescent.

(Ok before pedants arrive: Modern CFLs actually do still flicker but at what, something like 20,000 hz? Your brain can't detect it... and even if it could, incandescent bulbs flicker at a slower rate than that so would also cause headaches if that was the issue.)
posted by Justinian at 4:54 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'll be the first to admit that electricity is a kind of magic, but I'm fairly sure a third-wire ground isn't useful to simple lighting fixtures, nor would a lack of it be involved in early CFL failure.

Yeah my point about the grounding was just to illustrate how old the wiring is in many houses still and how ad hoc in rural areas. Around here they will grandfather anything in. I have two friends who's main breaker boxes are behind or above their stoves, for example. And many who still have fuse boxes. In houses purchased, financed and insured in the past few years, some a few times over. My own house was a fire trap, not to mention constantly frying bulbs and electronics, but I had to practically twist the electricians arm to get him to fix it right. Maybe because 110 is so much less likely to kill you? I dunno.
posted by fshgrl at 5:08 PM on August 31, 2012


"Good lord...How many damned light bulbs do those people have packed into a room to produce enough heat to where it affects their furnace setting?"

Probably this many
posted by seawallrunner at 5:09 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


The DOE and EPA know that everybody has a "bad CFL" story they like to share, and have learned alot in the past two decades before setting standards for Solid State Lighting (SSL). With all the advances in semiconductors, electronics, and many competitive companies domestic and abroad, there will be many great options and they are getting cheaper all the time as the production scales up. The Philips L-Prize winner is great, but there are also many great bulbs (CREE, GE, and quite a few more. Energy Star labels are meant to show genuinely good product.

DOE CALiPER Program for independent testing of lights

Most CFL's do die after a number of ignitions. It is due to the initial heating that occurs at the cathodes to start the arc inside the tube. When this occurs, tungsten from the cathode wires vaporizes off in minute amounts. Enough cycles, and the wire breaks. Most of the industry knows that SSL is the future, and most CFL plants are just being run out to make their long tail profit.

If you want a good SSL to replace an incandescent for reading or a place where good color rendering is needed (Kitchen, Bathroom, etc), look for a warm light (CCT ~ 2700K), with a high Color Rendering Index at or above 90.

Incandescents produce mostly Infrared and need an evacuated tube. Fluorescents are an exotic atmosphere and high voltage. LED's work at room temperature, work for a long time, and can be rapidly cycled. It's really no contest, LED's will be everywhere in the next decade.

Disclaimer: I'm an engineer for a testing laboratory in the lighting industry.
posted by nickggully at 5:14 PM on August 31, 2012 [16 favorites]


Well, try doing this with your blown incandescent.
posted by Devonian at 5:17 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


At the core of most LED's is a "blue pump" solid state blue diode, with a coating of phosphors to down convert the light into warmer frequencies (similar to the phosphors coating the inside of a fluorescent tube). The downside to phosphors is that they have an inherent conversion efficiency of their own, so warmer, richer colors equals less light overall. Many products are in the cooler ranges (3500K and above) to get that super high efficiency, but it sacrifices producing good color on the red end of the spectrum, so the Color Rendering Index is lower, so human skin, produce, etc, don't look as good.
posted by nickggully at 5:19 PM on August 31, 2012


> a 23 W CFL lighting our kitchen failed and having no replacement on hand, I dug out an old 100 W incandescent bulb that I retained while moving. ... Our kitchen never was lit so brightly.

Yeah, those "equivalencies" are shit. I don't mind CFLs, but I tend to use about 2-3x instead of 4-5x, so for 60W incandescent , I use a 23-26 CFL which is supposedly 100W equiv.

> CFL in the light fixture outside our front door.... It's a horrible thing. The packaging swore it was a daylight spectrum

Someone mentioned that "daylight" is pretty blue (4100-6500 Kelvin) even though the sun looks "yellow." The other thing is that as the sun rises & sets, the sky's light gets oranger (2700-3500K "warm white" fluorescents). Therefore, lower illumination levels should be oranger. Low levels that are bluish might just remind your brain of moonlight.

Oh- another CFL spec that is shit? CRI or Color Rendering Index. It's fine if you're building a light box for evaluating color samples, but otherwise buy what looks good to you. One way that it's useful is that if a cool white or daylight bulb has a 90+ CRI, the (same make & model except for color temp.) warm white bulb with a CRI in the 80s is also likely to use tri-stimulus phosphors. It makes good light, but the way CRI works, it gets a lower score. Old (old!) fluorescents could get away with only two phosphors (fluorescent isn't a continuous spectrum, but 2 or 3 peaks) and look kind of white, but some colors looked weird.

> incandescent bulbs flicker at a slower rate

Do they? They aren't producing light directly from the electricity, but from incandescence. Do they cool off enough between the peaks of 60Hz AC to stop emitting light?

One thing I was surprised to find when looking at LEDs is that some driver circuits smooth the ripple so they don't flicker, even at the power supply switching frequency (10-20 kHz).

It's actually possible to run fluorescents off DC. You'd want to switch the polarity once in a while to even the wear on the electrodes and the starting circuit would be a lot more complicated, but that's totally doable for not much per-unit cost.

On preview- I disagree with nickgully about CRI for cool bulbs. Back in a minute with a citation....
posted by morganw at 5:30 PM on August 31, 2012


OK

PL-L plug-in compact fluorescents (where you don't replace the ballast when the bulb fails) because I've reviewed them before:

Phillips 55W
91 CRI, 5000K
82 CRI, 3500K

Sylvania 55W
90 CRI, 5400K
82 CRI, 3500K

I stand by my claim that CRI is bullshit & you should use what's comfortable to your eyes unless your'e doing color matching.
posted by morganw at 5:37 PM on August 31, 2012


Do they cool off enough between the peaks of 60Hz AC to stop emitting light

They don't have to stop emitting light, only change temperature, I think.
posted by Justinian at 5:57 PM on August 31, 2012


I put off getting CFLs for a while because of the cost, and then a couple of years ago the Australian government (not sure if federal or local) was going around giving them away for free. You could get eight free bulbs per house (or per person? I don't remember). Or a free water-saving shower-head. They had stalls in all sorts of public places where you could pick them up. I changed all of ours and never looked back. Now it wouldn't occur to me to buy an incandescent bulb, even in a different house.

I thought that was a neat alternative solution to legislating. I don't know how many people took advantage of it, though.
posted by lollusc at 6:10 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually the first CFL in an indoor lamp that we got (we started with our outdoor fixtures so we wouldn't have to change them often) was in the lamp I like to embroider under; a bright enough bulb for me to be able to see what I was doing made it too damn hot to sew under during the summer; my fingers would sweat too much and the needle would slip and I'd worry about staining the fabric with sweat. A CFL could be far brighter with basically no heat! The light quality of that first one wasn't great, but the bulb we have in there now is excellent and shows the colors of my threads very truly.

"they seem to take forever to warm up and actually emit light. Also, the light is cold and grating and washes out everything. Am I buying the wrong kind? "

Yes -- Modern CFLs turn on at 90% brightness and go up to 100% within a minute. High quality ones are "instant on" and the brightening is unnoticeable. I have a few older CFLs in my house that turn on dim and warm up slowly, and it's a huge difference.

(Of course in terms of light quality in lamps, the shade also makes a difference. We've gone in for slightly beiger shades with our CFLs; our shades for incandescent lamps were a little more off-white.)

"Disclaimer: I'm an engineer for a testing laboratory in the lighting industry."

I think in this case it's a PROclaimer!

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:20 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Daylight cfl are much bluer than incandescents. It gives a whiter, harsher light which reminds me of midday light. Which is great in some applications, like a crafting table lamp (you used to get blue coated incandescent bulbs for the same effect), but is a big difference when coming from older bulbs. A warmer softer light is much more suitable, especially in a bathroom or living room. We've replaced pretty much all our bulbs with medium price 'warm' cfls over the last 3 years and without checking I can't tell which light fittings have which. And I can easily spot 60hz flicker on a crt monitor.

Still have to find a decent replacement for our 50w halogen spot lights we use in the living room ceiling when we need the extra light, but we don't use em that often. Cfls are still too large to fit in the housing, and the couple of led ones I've tried so far had a much narrower beam as well as being nowhere near as bright. More like turning on a small torch than a proper light. Tempted to try one of the newer super bright ones, but still a bit too pricy to be worth the gamble.
posted by ArkhanJG at 6:28 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


i've not felt like dropping the huge bucks to try an LED bulb yet, but i've found CFL to be quite disappointing. takes a good while to reach full brightness, and even then it's quite dim. color is more dreary.
posted by RTQP at 7:10 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've had nothing but bad experiences with CFLs and I hate this law. In both the places I've lived since the initial, partial ban, the lights have failed way, way sooner than advertised. Maybe it's the wiring? I don't think the European Commission is going to give me the funds to get that fixed.

I've used 40W bulbs up until now, and I don't know what the hell I'm going to do from here on, other than shell out piles of cash to the CFL manufacturers while their lights keep failing and failing.
posted by Anything at 7:13 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Efficient lighting equals higher heat bills: study "To some extent, the case [in favour of CFL bulbs] has been oversold because of the offset in higher heating costs. In fact, a recent report by BC Hydro estimates new lighting regulations will increase annual greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia by 45,000 tonnes annually as consumers use more energy to heat their homes after switching to more energy efficient — but cooler — lighting."

Jesus, that is just a truly brilliant piece of FUD. Dontcha think maybe that producing X degrees of heat via the house furnace is going to be slightly more efficient, and less greenhouse-gas-emitting, than the electricity generation required to produce those same X degrees of heat via incandescent lightbulb? Even if the house is on electric heat I'd still expect a device designed to convert electricity into heat is going to be more efficient at it than a device designed to produce light with heat as a byproduct.

CFL in the light fixture outside our front door.... It's a horrible thing. The packaging swore it was a daylight spectrum, but it gives-off such an eerie, unnatural pallor

You got it backwards. The "daylight" bulbs are the bluest bulbs (and, yeah, they do look weird.) You want the "warm" bulbs, they look more like what you're used to. 2700K bulbs are not quite as yellow as incandescent, but close enough; 3000K is still fine and usually a lot less expensive; anything cooler than that starts to look "wrong" to me. (Though that's only because we all grew up under yellow incandescent light -- which probably also looked "wrong" to people who grew up under I dunno gaslamps or candles or whatever the hell people used to set fire to before they invented Science.)

Aaanyway. We've been gradually converting our house over to LED, and I love 'em. Best ones we've found so far are the EcoSmart dimmables; I avoided the Philips L-Prize because the yellow color of the shielding looks weird to me when the bulbs are off.

They don't give off that awful high-pitched buzzing noise when dimmed that you get from halogen or incandescent -- that alone is almost worth the price of admission to me. No noticeable flicker, no noticeable warmup time. The only disadvantage compared to the (mostly halogens) I'm replacing is that they don't dim quite as far -- the dimmest setting on the LED is substantially brighter than the dimmest setting on the old bulbs. But still pretty dim. Which is, you know, I can live with that.

I do kind of miss the days when you could just go out and buy a lightbulb -- now you have to pay attention to color temperature and beam spread and research the different models and worry about whether the bulb shape will fit in the fixture and blah blah blah blah. And there is always the fear that you'll drop a substantial amount of money on a bulb that turns out to be badly designed or poorly manufactured or whatever.

Light bulbs are no longer a commodity; you get what you pay for now. So many people seem to try out the cheapest CFL or LED they can find, discover it's not very good, and then base their opinion of the whole technology on that. It's not because the technology sucks, it's because that cheap bulb you bought sucks.
posted by ook at 7:24 PM on August 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


I use CFLs because it's The Right Thing To Do, but incandescent bulbs provide a far nicer light. I remember spending a week in Montreal a couple years ago, eating in great restaurants, and I couldn't quite figure out what it was that gave them their lovely warmth. Then I realized a whole bunch of them were using those old fashionedy filament bulbs. The light was almost like firelight. I'm not saying that pretty lights are worth wasting all that energy, but the idea that the difference is negligible is unfair. I think some people are sensitive to light the way others are to sound. I couldn't care less about sound quality and listen to music through the crappy speakers on my computer with no problem. On the other hand, I am still sad about how poor the colour is on the LCD TV I bought to replace 90s era CRT earlier this year.

I'm curious about how these 30 year bulbs are going to work out in the long run. People have pointed out how much better CFLs are now than they were a few years ago. But certainly replacing old, still working CFLs for newer, warmer ones, negates some of the good. Similarly, what are the chances that people are actually going to keep today's LEDs for 30 years? Isn't it more likely that there will be newer, better bulbs in a few years time that make this first wave LEDs seem worthless.
posted by looli at 7:34 PM on August 31, 2012


JFC, no wonder the US resolutely refuses to do anything binding about climate change is the pissy, psychosomatic complaints from people about CFLs in this thread are anything to go by.

Lollusc, the au govt is actually phasing out all incandescents, so going back will soon not be an option, anyway..

Reality check for the mercuphobes in this thread: "In short, the exposure from breaking a compact fluorescent bulb is in about the same range as the exposure from eating a can or two of tuna fish."

and

"...for any incandescent lamp of 40 watts or greater, there will be more mercury added to the environment by using an incandescent lamp than by using a CFL, assuming that the electricity used to operate both is generated by burning coal. "

***

For the dimmophiliacs: PureSpectrum 20W Fully Dimmable Spiral CFL(2 Pack) 2700K - $5.99. Not so expensive, really is it?

***

For the flickerphobes: "There is no scientific evidence that the bulbs cause headaches and that a kind of hysteria has grown out of a small number of anecdotal reports....However, modern, electronically ballasted CFLs refresh themselves at between 10,000 and 40,000 cycles per second, rates too fast for the human eye or brain to detect."

***

For those unhappy with the colour, there's about 8 different colours available.

***

Honestly, as a non-American, witnessing some of the carry-on here is depressingly similar to the rhetoric I saw around US healthcare reform. Guess what guys? Millions of people over the world do it different and they turned out okay.
posted by smoke at 7:43 PM on August 31, 2012 [15 favorites]


Evilspork: "Here in Chicago they're replacing stoplights with LEDs, but they're not hot enough in the winter to melt the snow that gathers on them."

Actually, LED stoplights are being installed in approximately 100% of new installations and replacements.

Cities with competent transportation departments (presumably not the ones who sold their parking meters for a pittance, ahem) know to order the LED lamps that include heating coils that kick in when the lights get blocked by snow/ice. It's not like the engineers who make the lamps didn't anticipate the fact that sometimes it snows....

Sure, LEDs might have some pitfalls, and require planners to tick the "it sometimes gets cold here" box on the order form, but the technology has some very obvious advantages -- the bulbs never burn out (safer), and don't require yearly visits from a work-crew when one does burn out (which is many times more expensive than the cost of the bulb). Even if a LED stoplight costs 50 times more than the equivalent PAR46, it's still a slam-dunk from the DOT's perspective.
posted by schmod at 7:51 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have six 13-watt CFLs in my kitchen. The initial bulbs lasted 6-8 years, so I'm on the second set since I went CFL there. The color temperature is warm, and they come on instantly. None have broken or flickered. Verdict: satisfied.

I have three 13-watt CFLs in my living room, along with seven 75-watt incandescents. They've all been there for about 9 years now, and I have yet to replace a CFL...but I've also only replaced one of the incandescents, because they're on a dimmer and almost never up full. When they're all on full, the color temperature and brightness is indistinguishable. Verdict: satisfied.

I have five 13-watt CFLs in my hallways and my three bedrooms, one each, and I've never replaced any of them, except one I broke while refastening the light fixture after painting the room. 4-6 years old each, and the color temperature is nice and warm. Verdict: satisfied.

There's a place nearby that recycles CFLs, and the one time I had to drop some off, it was a couple minutes in and out, no problem.

Now I'm basically waiting for the incandescents on dimmers to wear out, because I'll have to replace the dimmer as well, so I'll be full CFL in a few years, I figure...and it is completely no big deal, because I buy decent quality bulbs and pick the warm color temperatures. I really don't get the hate.

Oh, and the one that broke, the credible sources that I found online showed me how to clean it up safely, and I wasn't at all concerned about my kids' safety.
posted by davejay at 8:21 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had a CFL explode on me a few years ago. Shattered the ceiling fixture it was in. I had just left the room when it happened, but a minute earlier I was directly underneath it, looking up.

I still have CFLs in some rooms, but man, that was scary. If someone invents a lamp or fixture strong enough to contain an exploding bulb, I'll buy a dozen.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:25 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just bought a 4-pack of name brand, RoHs-compliant CFL's - they are miniature ceiling-fan size to fit special light fixtures in our house, and they are brand-name, zero-warmup bulbs. I paid $7. They're replacing the last of the incandescents.

If I wanted, I could buy brand new "last generation" generic CFL's for .50 a pop at the Job Lot. The new ones are smaller, more efficient, brighter per-watt, have better color, and don't dim before they warm up, so I got those instead. They also now make ruggedized CFL's designed for outdoor use, and modern "dimable" CFL bulbs have "pre-heat" circuits that protect them from rapid on/off cycles, like in motion-triggered exterior lights. Most of the CFL complaints - potential toxicity, delicacy, bulk, color, warm-up period - are pretty much gone.

I also bought a pair of LED bulbs for the table lamps in our bedroom and the living room, both of which get a lot of use. They're now $12 each, are twice as efficient as the CFL's (EIGHT times more efficient than incandescents), and can run for five years straight- incandescents blow out after 50 days of continuous use.

While the fridge and the washer/dryer and the TV take up most of the electricity usage around the house, switching to CFL's after we moved in basically paid for itself in the first couple months of operation, and they will last years. LEDs will take longer to pay off, but they'll keep paying off much longer. Non-incandescents are expensive, yes - but they will be cheaper on any timeline that lasts longer than the stroll to the check-out line.

Also, if you also have an air conditioner, you need to buy a 2x4, write "U R DUM" on it with a sharpie, and hit yourself over the head with it. Incandescents turn electricity to heat - light is only a side product. So you're paying money to the electric company to generate heat, on the order of 80 BTU's per bulb, that you're paying money to the electric company to remove from your house. They got you coming and going.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:45 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


My viewpoint seems under-represented here. I like CFLs and LEDs, but the people who want them forced on people are the incandescents of this world, if you know what I mean.
posted by michaelh at 8:46 PM on August 31, 2012


Next up: low-flow toilets. Seriously, top-down regulation just works.

Yes. When you decide that you know best, and you don't care whether people like it or not, regulation works at getting them to do what you want them to do. If you care about things like, say, free choice, or the idea that there are areas of life in which people should be able to make decisions without government interference - like say, the decision to have warm light in the their homes without spending $100 to light a room - then regulation has its downsides.
posted by Dasein at 8:48 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I use CFLs in all my lights except for the bedroom lamp. It is incredibly ugly light and it makes me feel blind. Just because some of us dislike it doesn't mean we're out burning down the rainforest in protest.
posted by winna at 8:49 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Disgusted by my electric bill, (which was really high and totally the fault of my wife and kids who leave every appliance in the house turned on and unattended no matter how much I lecture them) I went on an energy efficiency kick this summer, part of which meant replacing the 55 light bulbs (41 canister lights!) with CFLs at a cost of some $350. As cool as LEDs are, the light is just radically different and obviously would have cost thousands. Everyone complained about the light at first, but now we don't even notice. I swear, it's not that the light's harsh, it's just *different*. Get over it.

Anyway, if anyone needs 55 incandescent light bulbs in Seattle, you're welcome to 'em. The only thing I ask in return is to tell my wife to put more than 2 shirts in the washing machine before running it.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:54 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


like say, the decision to have warm light in the their homes without spending $100 to light a room

Someone doesn't pay attention to their electricity bill. An average home with 10 60W incandescent bulbs will blow more than $100/year giving them juice. A house with an equal number of CFL's will cost $25/yr to light. At a buck seventy five each, that's a $17.50 investment to realize $75 in savings. Each year. They'll last five years with normal use.

Incandescents are a scam, as far as I'm concerned. Good riddance.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:02 PM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, government regulation sucks! I demand the freedom to waste money on my electricity and water bills, dammit! If I choose to pollute the world then why should anyone else stop me?

Seriously i've had CFLs for 8 years now and the new ones are way better than incandescents. And in Australia dual-flush toilets have been a regulated standard since I was a kid and they're great. It's the 21st century, time to embrace change. Minimum-efficiency standards are one of the best roles a government can fulfill for individuals, because they have the collective power to enact changes that save money and the environment for everyone in one move, instead of waiting decades for consumer pressure to take effect and for the Luddites to get off the fainting couch.
posted by harriet vane at 9:11 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


"like say, the decision to have warm light in the their homes without spending $100 to light a room"

Look, Louis XIV, you knew when you built Versailles that lighting the ballrooms was going to cost you a lot. It's no good bitching now.

"When you decide that you know best, and you don't care whether people like it or not, regulation works at getting them to do what you want them to do. If you care about things like, say, free choice, or the idea that there are areas of life in which people should be able to make decisions without government interference"

Since you called out toilets, a couple years ago, there was a homeowner who felt that the government rules about hooking toilets up to sewer systems (like, they had to be hooked up to the sewer to start with, and they had to do so according to building code, such that the pipes connected to one another according to approved standards of pipe-connecting, not just any old way) were far too much of an imposition. So he started -- I'm not kidding about this -- just shitting in the backyard. He started in the middle of a snowy winter so it wasn't until it started getting warm in the late spring, about six months of accumulated poop later, that the horrible truth started dawning on the neighbors.

This is why we need "top-down" government regulation: Because there are people out there, who have apparently never heard of cholera, who are too damn stupid to poop in a toilet if it costs $100 to hook the toilet up to the sewer.

Energy efficiency is a public good, and it's going to be an increasingly important one. Like sewers.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:17 PM on August 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


> there will be more mercury added to the environment by using an incandescent lamp than by using a CFL, assuming that the electricity used to operate both is generated by burning coal. "

Right, but the concern I've seen here is not mercury spread among all creatures great and small, but mercury in the room where one just broke a bulb. If the tuna comparison is accurate, sounds not horribly unsafe, but the coal argument doesn't convince me on the hazards of breaking.

> If someone invents a lamp or fixture strong enough to contain an exploding bulb, I'll buy a dozen.

There are polycarbonate tubes to protect 4' and 8' T12 and T8 tubes. Seems like something like that could be wrapped around an Edison base CFL. I think they pass more light than plastic translucent shield-covered CFLs. Fluorescent Tube Covers also make good water rocket fuselages.
posted by morganw at 9:20 PM on August 31, 2012


without spending $100 to light a room

It is amazing to me how many people look only at the immediate sticker price and just completely ignore the longterm costs. Carrier-subsidized cellphones, no-money-down offers, credit card debt, lightbulbs.

CFLs are cheaper than incandescents. LEDs are cheaper than CFLs. You just don't notice the cost with incandescents because it's spread out over time.
posted by ook at 9:36 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


ook: "Dontcha think maybe that producing X degrees of heat via the house furnace is going to be slightly more efficient, and less greenhouse-gas-emitting, than the electricity generation required to produce those same X degrees of heat via incandescent lightbulb? Even if the house is on electric heat I'd still expect a device designed to convert electricity into heat is going to be more efficient at it than a device designed to produce light with heat as a byproduct."

Actually, no. A device doesn't need to be "efficient" at generating heat. In fact, generating heat is the easiest thing in the world, it's doing other stuff while not generating heat that's hard. All energy used ends up as heat in the end, so a light bulb is just as efficient as a space heater, given the same energy used.

What makes an incandescent bulb heat up more is simply that it uses more energy, which is also why a space heater warms the room more than an incandescent bulb. But 100% of the energy used turns into heat, no matter what.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:38 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


So he started just shitting in the backyard.

This is why we need "top-down" government regulation.


Rather poor story considering this all started because of a regulation and it was nothing the angry neighbors couldn't solve -- or at least get him a library book on building a proper sanitary outhouse.
posted by michaelh at 9:55 PM on August 31, 2012


Outhouses haven't been allowed in city limits here in nearly 100 years. The population density is too high to forgo sanitary sewers and a large percentage of our drinking water comes from groundwater (less than in the past, but enough). I remain firmly anti-cholera. Also anti e. coli in drinking water, a periodic problem when sewage escapes.

I mean, the whole reason our century-ago city fathers imposed a sewer on everybody was the repeated cholera epidemics as a frontier farm town became a dense urban area.

Sewers, and adequately attaching toilets to them, strike me as a pretty reasonable government mandate. (Also I can't imagine even a little how you solve your neighbor shitting in his yard other than by calling the authorities.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:15 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Joakim Ziegler: "A device doesn't need to be "efficient" at generating heat. In fact, generating heat is the easiest thing in the world"

Yes, it is quite easy to generate heat. The problem is that if your goal is to, for example, heat a house, there more efficient ways to do it than burning a light bulb. A heat pump, for example, is much more efficient than a resistive heater. That's because it solves the problem not by generating heat, although it does of course generate some since it is doing work, but by moving already extant heat into a more pleasant configuration.
posted by wierdo at 10:22 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


So it sounds a little like the governments and think tanks and the people selling us CFLs were wrong about the technology.

Who profited the most from this during the last 12 years?

LEDs - political backing for this technology at the level that CFL got should yield far far far better results.

Will it happen?
posted by porpoise at 10:24 PM on August 31, 2012


So it sounds a little like the governments and think tanks and the people selling us CFLs were wrong about the technology.

Sorry, which think tanks and governments were selling CFLs?

I dunno what to tell you homie, govts were anti-incandescent, not pro-CFL. The market's come up with a better equivalent it's now growing in popularity. Seems a little more straight forward than some kind of "Big CFL", cross-govt conspiracy...
posted by smoke at 10:30 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


What makes an incandescent bulb heat up more is simply that it uses more energy, which is also why a space heater warms the room more than an incandescent bulb. But 100% of the energy used turns into heat, no matter what.

Ok, fair enough, you're right on that point: houses using electric heat will use the same amount of total energy whether they use lightbulbs to heat their rooms or the electric heater, and therefore will generate exactly the same amount of greenhouse gases. Houses using other forms of heating than electric will on balance generate less greenhouse gases (because burning a gallon of oil to run a generator at less than 100% efficiency to make electricity which is transmitted over miles of cable at less than 100% efficiency is going to put less useful heat in your house than burning that same gallon of oil in your basement furnace.)

So... yeah. Still FUD.

Amusingly enough, though, I did come across this german company selling incandescent bulbs as heaters. So there's a loophole.
posted by ook at 10:31 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


CFLs have made big strides in the last few years --- but I still find even the lowest color-temperature CFLs to have a very unpleasant feel.

As much as people protest that "it's just the same" it's not. It's really, really not.

When I hear people say that CFLs "look as good as incandescent" I hear the people who tell me that diet soda tastes just like regular.

A simple look at the spectra of the lights (CFLs having very distinct peaks vs a smooth curve for incandescents) will make the story clear.

I haven't seen enough LEDs to have an opinion on those, though.
posted by chimaera at 11:22 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


ook: "Light bulbs are no longer a commodity; you get what you pay for now. So many people seem to try out the cheapest CFL or LED they can find, discover it's not very good, and then base their opinion of the whole technology on that. It's not because the technology sucks, it's because that cheap bulb you bought sucks."

That's a great explanation - thank you. I'm going to give CFLs another try. I feel kind of silly now for just treating them as though they were just the same as incandescents; it makes sense that they're not. And of course it will feel good to be part of the solution rather than the problem.
posted by koeselitz at 11:27 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have some switches that ramp as they come on. CFLs and LEDs both don't work correctly with these switches...even the bulbs that say that they are dimmable. They don't ramp up, they just go from off to on, and flicker as they do it. I've also got a motion sensitive switch in the garage. This causes CFLs to burn out very rapidly.

I'm carefully hording my collection of incandescent bulbs to keep from having to change my switches.

I think they should heavily tax incandescent bulbs, not outlaw them. In my case, there is no good replacement with current technology. I think LEDs are the way of the future, but the technology and price just isn't quite there yet.
posted by Xoc at 12:11 AM on September 1, 2012


One of my CFLs developed a nasty high-pitched whine after about three years. Kept that up for a while - a few days? - and then one day I turned it on, it went *bang*, and all the power to my apartment went out. The next time one started whining, I replaced it immediately.

Having read Metroid Baby's exploding bulb anecdote, I'm now very glad that mine just made a loud noise, seeing as I was standing directly under it at the time.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:15 AM on September 1, 2012


THANKS OBAMA.
posted by clarknova at 1:48 AM on September 1, 2012


The European Union directive calling for compact fluorescent bulbs to be made mandatory by 2012 has encouraged China to re-open deadly cinnabar mines to obtain the mercury required for CFL bulb manufacture. As a result, environmental dangers have been a concern, particularly in the southern cities of Foshan and Guangzhou, and in the Guizhou province in the south west.
Source
posted by derbs at 1:56 AM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


In 2010, two German brothers attempted to get around the ban by rebranding incandescent lightbulbs as “heatballs”, compact heating devices which just happen to emit light as a side-effect.
posted by acb at 2:04 AM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ha that's great! Not heard about that
posted by derbs at 2:10 AM on September 1, 2012


...it wasn't until it started getting warm in the late spring, about six months of accumulated poop later, that the horrible truth started dawning ...

This brings back memories of crossing Boston Common on the first warm day of the year, in the days before dog owners were forced to clean up after their loved ones.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:26 AM on September 1, 2012


Did they actually ban incandescent bulbs, or just mandate that bulbs be over a specific lumen/watt efficiency rating? For some reason the former would really, really bug me.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:12 AM on September 1, 2012


Sewers, and adequately attaching toilets to them, strike me as a pretty reasonable government mandate. (Also I can't imagine even a little how you solve your neighbor shitting in his yard other than by calling the authorities.)

Agreed with the first part, and as for the second, I guess I'm glad you're in someone else's neighborhood.
posted by michaelh at 6:24 AM on September 1, 2012


CFLs are cheaper than incandescents. LEDs are cheaper than CFLs. You just don't notice the cost with incandescents because it's spread out over time.

For every apartment I've had that included hydro electricity in the rent, the landlord has paid to replace every bulb with CFLs. We had to pay for any replacements (there were none needed), but our bottom-of-the-market, extremely price-conscious landlords paid for all of the original CFL bulbs.
posted by jb at 7:29 AM on September 1, 2012


Yes. When you decide that you know best, and you don't care whether people like it or not, regulation works at getting them to do what you want them to do. If you care about things like, say, free choice, or the idea that there are areas of life in which people should be able to make decisions without government interference - like say, the decision to have warm light in the their homes without spending $100 to light a room - then regulation has its downsides.
By now, the choice between CFL and incandescents in Europe is "how much energy do you want to use?" and nothing more. There are far more burdensome regulations the state puts on ordinary folk. You wouldn't want to live in a world where there was none.
posted by Jehan at 7:41 AM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I lived in New Zealand they talked about making the same change and I was horrified. The CFL bulbs over there were so so horrible. I actually took a light bulb with me when I travelled because I couldn't stand being in a motel room with that awful light for more than a few minutes. Quality and brightness of my lights is really important to me and our whole house was lit with 150 or 200 watt incandescent bulbs (100s are too yellow, CFLs were too blue).

Then last year I moved to Europe and couldn't get a 150W bulb so bought the strongest Philips CFL I could find and it's totally fine (it's a Philips Turbo Energy Saver 20 Watt thingy). When my husband arrived a few weeks later he agreed so we removed all the incandescent bulbs and put these suckers up everywhere. They warm up in less than a second, make absolutely zero noise, give a bright, clean light, are readily available at the supermarket, and are just generally able to be ignored (as any good light bulb should be).

People who complain about the awfulness of CFLs clearly just haven't had access to the good ones. Since the default bulbs widely available in at least this part of Europe are totally fine and comparable to even the best of the old fashioned incandescent ones this whole thing seems like such a non-issue to me.
posted by shelleycat at 7:44 AM on September 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile CFLs might give you cancer.--gyc

Even reading that article I am more scared of getting cancer from the moon.--cjorgensen

Wikipedia mentions a study that says: ultraviolet exposure from sitting under fluorescent lights for eight hours is equivalent to only one minute of sun exposure.

This might be a problem if you are a vampire. For the rest of us, it is probably good for you if you otherwise never get outside.
posted by eye of newt at 7:57 AM on September 1, 2012


While ultraviolet light increases the risk of skin cancer, it also increases the production of vitamin D in the body, which reduces the risk of (much scarier) colon cancer. Therefore, by Daily Mail standards, CFLs both cause and prevent cancer.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:19 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would take skin cancer over colon cancer anyday. We don't even bother screening for skin cancer in the health study I work for.
posted by jb at 9:23 AM on September 1, 2012


jokeefe: Forgive me for singling you out and I'm not trying to be unkind but I can't help but wonder, do you have the same, or similar, problems in rooms that have normal florescent lights in them?

I ask because it seems like if you did then life in any normal capacity would be intolerable and a Amish retreat or something would be the only option to avoid schools, libraries, hospitals, etc, etc, etc. I honestly can't remember any public, commercial, or municipal building, excluding preserved, historical-type buildings, that didn't use florescent lighting extensively.


Yes, I have the same irritations in rooms lit exclusively by flourescent lights. At work for the last number of years I've had a windowed office, and so I just turn them off and bring in a table lamp for my desk. In institutional settings-- hospitals, etc.-- the lighting is just another stressor that I can bear because I know that I'll only be there for a short time. When I'm at home, I want to feel warm and safe, not like I'm in a prison cell. However, there are people here who swear that LEDs and more expensive CFLs are better these days, so I'll try to keep an open mind. But at the moment the lobby and hallways of my building are lit by CFLs and it feels like coming home to Soviet Housing Block Number 378 subsection 2.
posted by jokeefe at 11:37 AM on September 1, 2012


I still use all incandescents in my apartment.



[Ducks]
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 11:43 AM on September 1, 2012


computech_apolloniajames: "[Ducks]"
posted by idiopath at 11:58 AM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some history on the early days of the light bulb: The light bulb conspiracy a 50 minute documentary film by Cosima Dannoritzer (Trailer)
posted by Lanark at 12:02 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to remember the last time I replaced a light bulb, maybe last fall? I know the kitchen light hasn't been replaced in five years and neither has the hallway light or the bathroom light. They are all incandescents oddly enough.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:25 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, as a non-American, witnessing some of the carry-on here is depressingly similar to the rhetoric I saw around US healthcare reform. Guess what guys? Millions of people over the world do it different and they turned out okay.

You only say that because you are using metric system measures.
posted by srboisvert at 5:42 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


CFLs have made big strides in the last few years --- but I still find even the lowest color-temperature CFLs to have a very unpleasant feel.

As much as people protest that "it's just the same" it's not. It's really, really not.


I'm guessing you wouldn't really notice if you just held your nose, switched over, and stopped paying attention to it for a couple weeks. My new toothpaste never tastes right compared to my old toothpaste, except for when I go to buy my next tube, which never tastes right compared to the previous tube, which...
posted by Evilspork at 7:05 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The cruel, bitter irony is that I've always found incandescents to be too damn warm, a hellish yellow glow completely unlike the homesome oranges of candle-light or the clear blue of daylit skies. I bought me a whole hell of a lot of daylight-corrected bulbs when they came on the market in the late '90s at "mere mortal" price-points. (Lots more than $1.75/bulb) Remember the "soft white" bulbs? Why'd you all buy them at mega-markup if plain-jane frosted filament bulbs were all that and a bag of chips? Because the quality of light was and is terrible.

Also, as a formally trained photographer, it's orange-yellow bullshit wall-to-wall with the old-fashioned bulbs. Licorice-flavored acid reflux. I may no longer have my Minolta colorimeter that can distinguish lighting flaws in half-CC increments, but man, the new CFL's are nothing like the old overhead fluorescents, and better yet, nothing like the old incandescents. Blue is no longer black!
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:46 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, if you also have an air conditioner, you need to buy a 2x4, write "U R DUM" on it with a sharpie, and hit yourself over the head with it.
posted by Slap*Happy


epony!
posted by futz at 3:52 AM on September 2, 2012


> I am cursing the fact that we did some remodeling 5 years ago, and have a large number of reflectors in ceiling cans, that are dimmable. I guess its time to read reviews again, but every time I've checked up, those particular bulb styles are horrible in CFL or LED

Our electric company sent lightbulb experts around to people's houses, offering to change -- for free! -- all the old lightbulbs to new CFLs. We had some dimmable lights and the guy told me not to change them. He had an entire truck full of different kinds of CFLs for all sorts of situations, so I trust that they just don't make them for enclosed, dimmable lights (or at least they didn't have them in the US as of a year ago).
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:41 AM on September 2, 2012


I think some of the people in this thread are still laboring under the impression that CFLs today are identical to CFLs from 10 years ago. The tech has improved greatly.

Not greatly enough to matter. CFLs are a dead end, and a generation from now people will scarcely remember them. Nerds of that generation will still talk about "LEDs", but everyone else will simply call them "lights".
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:52 PM on September 2, 2012


BC is a special place where their electricity is mostly (90ish% from memory?) hydro and the temperature is too cold for an air heat pump to work effectively. Ground based heat pumps are expensive and even at 7c/kWh it's probably still too expensive for strip heating so natural gas has proliferated. The number of places like that in the world you would see that combination you could count on one hand and everything but your thumb would probably be in Canada.

Actually, the newer air-source heat pumps work just fine at southern BC winter temperatures, or so I am told. I'm in a colder part of Canada, and they'd supposedly work often enough here that I'm wanting to get one soon as I have that much money to spend on home improvements. I gather they're much better than they used to be.

But anyway, people in general often tend to underestimate the case for incandescent lights in those handful of places that are cold and hydro-powered. Perhaps not as much as among those of us who haven't yet switched to the fluorescents, but there is also some amount of stubborn irrationality to be found among those who insist that everyone should. As seen elsewhere in the thread, some like to pretend that they're somehow much less efficient than any other electric heater because that's not what they're designed for. Thermodynamics, people. Unless they're pointed at the ceiling below your uninsulated attic or something, it's not much less efficient an electric heater than is my computer here which is quite a good one. And then someone helpfully points out that burning coal to power an incandescent light bulb produces more mercury than is found in a fluorescent tube. Coal! As if anyone who thinks of such things thought that burning coal was a good idea. The CFLs are slightly worse in every way except energy efficiency, so when you're not getting any significant benefit from that, they're clearly not worth it. Maybe some people even further south than me are not aware that places which get a bit dark in winter also stay lit by the sun until 10pm at the height of summer. I'm south of the 49th, and yet it's a large majority of the time my lights are on that the heat is on too.

Personally, having not yet found the money or time to switch from an oil furnace to something better, and having low-priced electricity in Quebec, and with all this talk going around about the waste heat from light bulbs, I hereby renew for one more year my resolution to try and remember this winter that every time I switch on a light, I'm saving a bit on oil. Less CO2, less mercury, less cost. Hydro Quebec told me they have plenty of power to spare if everyone wants to switch to electric cars, so I can only assume they'd approve of this too. With a bit of luck, by the time I switch to LEDs some years from now, I'll have convenient DC from photovoltaics which would make it seem a lot more sensible.
posted by sfenders at 6:32 PM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


windykites writes "I despise the light CFLs give- it actually gives me panic attacks which sounds nuts but it's true. (It might be the humming, but I think it's the light), and I also don't like having mercury in my house. So I hope that by the time the canadian ban is implemented (next year I think), I'll be all stocked up on incandescents."

Canadian ban is already in the roll out phase. You can't buy 100W or, I think, 60W incandescents anymore except for special purpose bulbs.

schmod writes "They're installing LEDs all over the place at my work (the US Capitol). From the looks of it, they're installing entirely new fixtures instead of 'LED Bulbs.'

"It's a bit unfortunate that nobody in the mainstream seems to be doing anything adventurous or innovative with architectural lighting, since LEDs pretty much last forever, and can be made into just about any shape, size, or color temperature. "


Most commercial lighting being replaced by LEDs are some form of gas discharge bulb. The bulb isn't a stand alone like you get with an edison base. It works in conjunction with a ballast in the fixture. So you can't just change out the bulb and rewiring the fixture runs from mildly expensive to basically impossible. The flip side is that most LED wall packs are so much smaller than the wall packs they are replacing that it a net win on the obtrusiveness of the fixture. I ordered some LED pole mounted wall packs for the perimeter lighting on a sub-station we're installing and the fixtures are the size of a trade paper back. The metal halide discharge fixtures we used previously were the size of a microwave oven.

RolandOfEld writes "Anyone have scientific data on this subject? I've heard of people being able to see a flicker LED Christmas lights that appear perfectly solid to me but I've got poor vision already, always have."

99.9% of Xmas light flicker like a MoFo to my eye. Staring at them can actually give me a head ache. Not really surprising since they seem to use no conditioning and depend on the diode action of the bulbs themselves to rectify the AC wall power. This has no relation to even the cheapest LED light bulbs.

Xoc writes "I have some switches that ramp as they come on. CFLs and LEDs both don't work correctly with these switches...even the bulbs that say that they are dimmable. They don't ramp up, they just go from off to on, and flicker as they do it. I've also got a motion sensitive switch in the garage. This causes CFLs to burn out very rapidly." "I'm carefully hording my collection of incandescent bulbs to keep from having to change my switches.

"I think they should heavily tax incandescent bulbs, not outlaw them. In my case, there is no good replacement with current technology. I think LEDs are the way of the future, but the technology and price just isn't quite there yet."


25 cents a watt sounds like a good starting tax rate. Halogens would probably work fine in these fixtures and would consume around half the energy of your current bulbs for the same lumens.
posted by Mitheral at 10:16 PM on September 4, 2012


On the basis of this discussion, I went out and bought one of the new Philips LED bulbs. I declare myself fully satisfied. Thanks, Mefi!
posted by No Robots at 8:19 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


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