back to article US switches off the incandescent lightbulb

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


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  1. Daniel Voyce

    Worse than DTV switchover

    Its a lightbulb - NOT digital TV.

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

  2. Andy Barber

    Incandescent bulbs

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

  3. DavCrav
    Dead Vulture

    Not Edison...

    Edison didn't invent the light bulb...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

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

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

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

  5. Ferry Boat

    call 0898 007 007 now

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

  6. David

    On the heels of...

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

  7. Jusme

    Yet another...

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

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

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

    They take forever to get going.

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

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

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

  8. Senor Beavis

    The real story

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

  9. Anigel
    Thumb Down

    Woohoo more fools

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

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

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

  10. Jason Togneri


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

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


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

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

  12. Adam White

    RE: Not Edison...


  13. Edwin


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

  14. censored

    Not that bad...

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

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

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

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LED Bulbs

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

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Light bulbs

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

  17. Nick Askew
    Gates Halo

    Replacement Traffic Light Bulbs??

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

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

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

  18. james marley

    I feel cheated...

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

  19. Pete mcQuail
    Paris Hilton

    Obvious question now

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

  20. Chris
    Thumb Up

    Dimmer and dimmer (switch)

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

    And down lights.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't ignore the heating effect

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

  22. Michael Compton

    Its amazing that...

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

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

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

  23. Robert Long

    Edison who?

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

  24. Dogbyte
    Thumb Down

    @Yet another...

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

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

  25. Cathryn
    Thumb Down

    How about...

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

  26. James Pickett
    Thumb Down

    Have they thought this through?

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

  27. Alan Gregson

    Tried CFL...

    and they all went back to the shop.

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

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

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

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

  28. David Tonhofer Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Oh my..

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

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

  29. mark
    Thumb Up


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

  30. Anonymous Coward

    but what about the longest lasting bulbs...

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

  31. Tim Hughes
    Thumb Up

    What about LEDs?

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

  32. Mick Russom

    CF bulbs are full of Hg/Murcury/Murdercury

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

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

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

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

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

  33. DutchOven


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

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

    They take forever to get going."

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

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

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

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

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


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

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

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

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

    > They take forever to get going.

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

    > They use more toxic materials...

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

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

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

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

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

  35. JasonW


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

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

  36. Steve
    Thumb Down

    CFL dust to dust

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

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

  37. Rob Clive

    All your current are belong to me

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

  38. Anonymous Coward

    @"ES bulbs are crap" mob

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

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

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

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

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

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it's all rubbish

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

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

    More investigation into geothermals and fusion.

    More time spent on fossil fuel replacements.

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

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is drawn out to 5 years because ...

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

  41. John

    "wasted heat"

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

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

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

  42. Peter Simpson
    Thumb Up

    CFL life and power savings

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

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

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

  43. Sean Ellis

    Heat, mercury

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

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

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

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

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

  44. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Missing the point

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

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

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

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

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    What bulbs will be used in dimmers?

  46. Chris Miller

    What about

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

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

  47. Jeremy
    Thumb Down

    Stupid stupid stupid...

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


  48. Harry Murkin

    Bushie smart... he make law...

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

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

  49. Shane Bryan

    @ Entertainment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

  50. Tim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    There are plenty also that are warm colours now.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I've got the Power

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

    This seems unsound. An incandescent bulb gives off enough heat to burn your hand, but I doubt that it gives off enough heat to warm you up to any noticeable degree, unless you hover your toes over the bulb for a long period. Besides, the heat is being radiated from a point high up in the ceiling; it will either spread along the ceiling and dissipate, or vanish into the inter-floor space.

    I wonder if people made the same argument back when candles were being replaced with incandescent bulbs?

    I pick Paris Hilton as my avatar, because she is a dim bulb.

  52. Steve

    How the mighty have fallen...

    The US is reduced to stealing ideas from Cuba.

  53. The Prevaricator

    re: heating effect of incandescents

    What about those summer nights when we won't need to turn the air conditioning up as far?

    Anyway, a 100 W bulb heating a room is giving us negligible heat compared to a 3 kW heater. We might as well just use the fluorescent bulbs and agree to wear a 2% thicker sweatshirt...

    Of course, there's always the old trick of not putting excess water in your kettle every time you have a tea-break... oh the pain.

  54. Tom Hawkins

    So much misinformation, so little time...

    CFL's contain very small amounts of mercury. So does coal, the burning of which is still how the majority of electricity is produced. The difference is that when you burn coal the mercury goes up the chimney and gets dispersed into the atmosphere for us all to breathe in, whereas in a CFL it's safely contained within the bulb unless you happen to break one (which I don't make a habit of doing) and the exposure you're likely to get this way is not remotely hazardous. CFL's are covered by the WEEE regs so the seller is obliged to take them back for safe disposal - in practice they'll pay local authorities to take care of this so once they're obligatory I'd expect to see them being collected with the other recycling.

    Incandescent bulbs contribute a bit of heat to your house, but producing this from electricity generated in a power station and transmitted to your house through the grid is much less efficient than burning gas in your boiler and using the heat directly (see thermodynamics, second law of). Anyway this is only relevant when it's cold enough to have the heating on and turns into a benefit of CFL's if it's hot enough to have your air conditioning running (as most of the US seems to do most of the time).

    When considering the materials content and manufacturing impact of a CFL, you need to be comparing it with the eight to ten incandescent bulbs it replaces over its lifetime, not with one.

    LED's aren't yet as efficient (or cheap) as CFLs but will no doubt improve with time, especially with the massive increase in the market for lower-energy lighting once incandescents are phased out.

    I can't see any reason why CFL's couldn't be used in car headlights, at least for the dipped beam which doesn't need to be flashed on and off quickly. I expect they'll wait for LEDs to make the grade though.

  55. Hayden Clark Silver badge

    If you need a bright CFL...

    ... try India. There I bought a 95W CFL (only not very "C", it's about a foot long!) that was equivalent to about 450W!

    Unfortunately, the electronic ballast was a bit crap, and a quick off-on cycle killed it :-(.

    Also, it seems the UK is restricted to 'orrible fake-incandescent yellow lights. Elsewhere, CFLs are by default bright-white (6500K) which is handy for photography and whatnot.

  56. Anonymous Coward


    CFL have dimmable versions. Here is one place you can get them - with a discount if you buy 6 or more!


    It's funny how on these comments pages the same issues are covered over and over again: Moderators - group all the topics together please!!

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dimmer and Dimmer...

    I have dimmer switches all over my house and what seems to get forgotten is that most of these CFL blubs do not work with dimmer switches, so is the goverment going to pay me to change all my switches back again?

    The CFL's that do work with dimmer switches, at least the 'one' that I have found, cost twice at much as the others and then only dim in four stages. Not exactly ideal...

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Dimmer and dimmerer

    I have a house full of dimmer switches, and my local Tesco & B&Q have not yet stocked a low-energy light-bulb that can be used with them. Should I stock up with a 30-year supply of incandescents, ready for when the UK bans them?

  59. murray
    Thumb Up

    Re: Dimmers?

    I'd suggest anyone in doubt should hit google for the current range of products. I was mighty suprised at how they have advanced in the last few years. There are kinds for an amazing number of fittings now, and even B&Q/Homebase have a decent selection available.

    > What bulbs will be used in dimmers?

    There are dimmable energy efficient bulbs available now, although I've only seen them from one company so I do wonder if they have a patent (and thus, a massive cash cow)

    These ones will provide dimmable bulbs that don't require a dimmer switch, so can be put into an existing non-dimmable lamp (say, for instance to leave a bathroom light on a 5% overnight when you have guests or children)

    and there are dimmable versions that work with traditional dimmer switches too

    (Note: I'm not connected with the company, I've just used them and found them to work really well).

    There are also energy efficient bulbs to replace many (240V) halogen spots, commonly found in kitchens etc. They are wider at the plug end, so it depends more on whether the lamp fitting is big enough to take them.

    The only bulbs I've been unable to convert to energy efficient ones in our house are the 12V halogen "spot" bulbs and the 500W floodlight halogens outside the house. There are LED varients of the 12V type, but the brightness is not there yet (but it will be soon enough).

    I too was of the opinion that the energy efficient bulbs were slow to start, tended to flicker on, and took time to warm up. But I was wrong - the more recent versions are stunningly good.

  60. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    Edison and Swan

    Actually both men invented the light-bulb independently; not one nor the other, but both. Edison and Swan went into partnership in Great Britain and Europe because Swan held British patents.

    They both invented it. Great minds and all that.

  61. Michael
    Thumb Up

    CFs >reduce< mercury pollution

    The new US law is welcome. And the issue of mecury in the light bulbs is interesting. Surprisingly, the environmental mercury emissions caused by using incandescent light bulbs are typically greater than CFs even though CFs contain liquid mercury. How?

    Coal contains mercury, typically at the 0.1 ppm level. For a typical UK generating mix (30% coal) the excess emissions at the power station caused by the additional units of electricity used by incandescents cause typically 30 mg of mercury to be emitted over the lifetime of a single CF.

    Each CF bulb contains about 5 mg of mercury (a little under a cubic millimetre), and because of this they should be safely disposed of. However emissions from power stations enter the environment directly and offer no easy way to reduce environmental impact.

    If implemented in the UK this change will result in the reduction of UK generatibng requiriment by about 1 GW which means that one large power station will not need to be built.

    How do I know this stuff? I'm a physicist.

  62. Richard Boyce

    Daylight CFLs

    I've recently switched to using daylight-coloured (6500K) CFL bulbs which are a revelation. Once you're used to these, you would never wish to go back to yellow incandescents or the popular "warm" CFLs that imitate them.

    Hopefully, when incandescents are phased out by law, demand for CFLs will rise enough for supermarkets to stock the 6500K bulbs and more people will discover these.

  63. Dave Harris

    They're not as black as they've been painted

    LEDs will definitely be the way to go - there are a lot of products in the pipeline which haven't reached the shelves yet. But in the meantime, the CFL's aren't as black as they have been painted here. You can now get dimmable ones - at a price:

    The mercury in the bulbs can be recycled - just don't dump them in the bin. In the UK at least, given that over the next 20 or 30 years unthinking chucking of stuff into a bin to go to landfill will stop (there is little more "away" left to throw things) then people will get used to sorting waste before collection & it'll become the norm.

    I found a paper by the US EPA that said the amount of mercury (about 4mg) in an average CFL is less than that emitted into the atmosphere by a power station generating the extra power needed by an equivalent incandescent bulb. I suspect this may be true - coal-fired power stations certainly emit a lot of mercury and the US has a lot of those. But, as usual, without checking the facts in detail you either take such things on trust or not. Given the EPA's recent anti-global-warming stance, I'm more inclined to believe this one.

    The better modern CFLs start up at about 75% of full brilliance & reach 100% within 1 minute. YMMV/Get used to it. They need to be on for at least 15 minutes to be efficient. Obviously for some applications this is not going to happen. For others, a culture change is needed - unless LED light sources get there first.

    Measuring the relative brilliance: I used my old Weston Master V exposure meter and, yes, the CFL ratings on the boxes are optimistic (very variable - 1/4 to 1 stop). So you buy the next size up of CFL: it still saves energy. Perception is of course another thing - the different spectrum emitted by a CFL fools the eye/brain into thinking it's not as bright.

    Mind you, if something rather more meaningful in terms of keeping global warming in check doesn't happen soon, this little discussion will become irrelevant...

  64. JeffyPooh


    36 cans of tuna (170g, 1ppm Hg) has roughly as much Hg as one CFL bulb (1mg - 5 mg). Please note - you may actually EAT the tuna - in your mouth - sliding down your throat - digesting in your gut - etc. But CFL bulbs should be diverted from the landfills.

    The total energy used to manufacture a CFL bulb is obviously (at least somewhat) reflected in the retail price. Given that run-of-the-mill CFL bulbs are now well under $2, that sort of sets an upper limit on the total amount of energy consumed in the entire manufacturing process (considering all the other elements that make up the retail price). It seems very unlikely that they consume $10 worth of energy to make a $2 bulb. Probably more like $0.01 including S&H. So the net energy savings probably stand.

    The worst thing that ever happened in the CFL industry was the initial generations of poor quality bulbs (bulky, humming, slow, awful, etc.). There are now many people whose impression of CFL bulbs is from 3 or 5 or 1o years ago. Please note - the latest bulbs are better in almost every respect. It's called ELECTRONICS. It tends to get better faster cheaper year after year. Try again. Buy an 8-pack at Costco for $12 and give them a try. If you still don't like them, then repeat the trial again in another two years.

    I am happy to learn that they've made the obvious exemptions (appliance bulbs). It's always surprising when evidence of moderate intelligence is seen in Washington.

    With this schedule (2014, etc,) , LED bulbs will be the norm, not CFL.

  65. Quirkafleeg

    Re: Don't ignore the heating effect

    In winter, wear thicker clothing…

  66. Peter Mc Aulay

    All this tiring CFL FUD

    I've never had to replace a CFL yet and I've had them for over 10 years. My oldest bulb has lost maybe 20% of its brightness and takes about 20 seconds to "warm up", but of course it's an early model (and as it's just a bedside lamp it matters little). As others have mentioned the latest generation of CFL bulbs light up nearly instantaneously and there are even dimmer-capable bulbs now (the last big hurdle for universal acceptance, IMHO). Regular bulbs cost 5 times more power to run, fail every couple of years, and so while CFLs are more expensive to make (both money- and resource-wise), CFLs are still more economical in the long run.

    If heating from incandescent bulbs is a significant factor in the heating of your house, maybe you should install some insulation. (Electrical heating is stupendously inefficient in any case, replacing the lost heat with e.g. gas-fired heating is *always* more efficient.)

    The only complaints I have of them is that they're too large to fit in some lamps, and that the dimmer-capable ones are stil rather expensive.

    Frankly I don't know where all these political arguments come from, I could not possibly care less about the politics, I care about my electricity bill! Anyone who doesn't see the simple fact that a 12W bulb which lasts 10 years is better than an equally bright 60W bulb which lasts 3 should take a close look at why this is, your own political prejudices perhaps?

    Spotlight-format CFLs would be nice, though.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not worth the hype?

    Echoing many of the comments already posted, here are my personal, unscientific and fully not-backed-by-research views and experiences:

    - over some 5 years, I've seen more brand new CFL's break within the first 2 months than traditional bulbs. If they've survived the beginning, they've lasted well

    - yes, they are a lot dimmer than the packaging claims. Most often this is OK but I have had to leave traditional bulbs in place in some places because of this

    - they're expensive

    - yes, they're slow, but most of the time that's OK by me

    - if your house is well insulated (sorry all of UK housing and nost of USA's) and you mainly heat with electricity, the saving is not very big since traditional light bulbs contribute to the heating

    - the mercury does worry me, since people don't treat them as toxic waste

    Having said all that, its a step in the right direction and a welcome attempt at something intended to be non-destructive by the Bush administration.

  68. Sam


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't LEDs less efficient than CFLs?

    I also seem to recall that high pressure mercury lighting won the efficiency battle hands down.

    As to saving the Earth..that's where the mercury came from in the first place, or do hippies think we import it from off-planet??

  69. archie lukas

    CFL bulbs, mercury vapour?


    just a thought, I love CFL bulbs, had them since 1992, way before the trendies got on the bandwagon.

    But a thought -these things use mercury vapour

    how green is that then?

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the same false claims about startup power drain just keep repeating

    "The CFL only lasts longer if left on long power cycles ie, left on for long periods of time and actually costs more to run if only used in short cycle duty like toilets where it is on and off a lot for short periods of time."

    The idiot environmental campaigner that used startup power figures for old style melting wax chokes in strip lighting, instead of the low power electronic ones in CFLs withdrew the false claims damn quickly. A decade on other idiots keep pretending it didn't happen. Sad.

    After 10+ years I see no sign that CFL life is tied to anything but overall running time. That slow warmup people complain about stops them getting stressed every time they switch on or off. Unlike incandescent we replace when they get too dim, not when they blow up.

  71. This post has been deleted by its author

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LEDs? Not yet.

    I've seen some LED bulbs for GU10 fittings (Philips and Sylvania), supposedly to replace 50W 240V bulbs. They are utterly useless, giving a tiny fraction of the light. The brightest ones will drop to about half-brightness after a mere 500 hours. I don't doubt that LEDs will get there eventually, but at the moment they're not even close.

    If your house contains a thermostat, you will not really gain anything in CO2 emissions by switching to CCFL as your heating system will have to make up for the lost heat output one way or another. I recall seeing a super-efficient Danish house - triple glazing, heat-exchangers, huge wall insulation and... incandescent bulbs. Mind you, they were the only heat source in the house...

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A solution the Greens & Politicians don't want to know about

    The fact that prominent Greens and politicians appear to be uninterested in the solution developed by Lutec Technologies tells me how important saving the planet is to them. For those not familiar with their invention go to and watch the latest videos.

  74. TeeCee Gold badge

    Legislation wrong (again).

    First and most obvious is size (it is important, so there). Quite a lot of fittings that will take a 100W incandescent won't take a 20W CFL which is the nearest equivalent. You have to go to the 75W equivalent (14??) to get 'em to fit and install additional lights to keep things bright.

    Startup time is important for certain situations and it's a hell of a sight longer than 20 seconds to full brightness, whatever it says on the packet (anyone out there got a lux meter and a few minutes to spare??). I've gone back to incandescents in my garage 'cos by the time the CFLs get to full brightness, I've already tripped over something and my garage is full of things that really bloody hurt when you land on them.

    Horses for courses is the *right* attitude, not heavy-handed legislation just so you can be seen to be Doing Something to shut the eco-nazis up. An incandescent is still the best solution for an existing installation that 99 times out of 100 you only turn on for less than a minute.

    Now, if they'd just make LEDs for fittings other than Halogen GU10.......

    The service life thing is interesting. CFLs have a very high MTBF, it's true. Trouble here is that I've found that the damned things either last forever or blow in the first couple of weeks. A tad annoying considering that gold-plated incandescents with diamond envelopes would be cheaper. On a bulk purchase, you only need to have a couple of short-lifers for the payback time to move into geological timescales. "Osram" seem to have the best reliability rate IMHO. The cheaper, unbranded ones sold in supermarkets are complete shite.

    Last but not least, Philips do some really funky ones with a built-in ambient light sensor. The mutt's nuts for outside lighting.

  75. Rik

    @Not too bad ...

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

    I have. Several.

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

    Apparently The Netherlands has left the EU then, as I can get dimmable CFL's at an electrician's supply store a few blocks away. I haven't bothered to look further.

    @Don't ignore the heating effect

    I've heard rumours that in significant areas of the country Shrub Jr. is presiding over, housing requires cooling rather than heating.

  76. JeffyPooh

    CFLs too big?

    Too big?

    You haven't seen the latest little 9-watt jobbies (supposedly 40-watt equivalent) that are significantly smaller than any normal (normal form factor) incandescent bulb.

    Also, there even exists those flame-shaped chandalier CFLs. I can't vouch for their quality, but they do exist.

    Although my house is 100% electric (electric heat, well insulated) and the heating season is about 8 months, I've still switched over the CFLs almost everywhere. I believe that even a factional (four months per year) payback is still financially very worth while.

  77. b
    Thumb Up

    get with the progam america!

    "The bill takes effect for the 100-watt bulb in 2012, followed by the 75-watt bulb in 2013 and 40 and 60-watt varieties in 2014."

    wow, americans are SO AMBITIOUS?!

    anyway, i thought flourescent bulbs were made with dead babies or something?

    (sorry i mean mecury is it?)

    why not bypass flourescent completely and go LED crazy?!

    (that's what i think!)

    i gave it a thumbs up because at least america is waking up to what most people seemed to know 10 or 20 years ago...

  78. Quirkafleeg

    LED bulbs

    Not quite there yet, though - these are equivalent to 40W incandescent (according to that page) and somewhat expensive (ditto). I plan to wait for the 60W- and 75W-equivalent versions before I consider not using CF lighting.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Solving problems by making worse ones, as usual.

    Great. As has been noted, some of us are rather sensitive to the nasty light given off by fluorescent bulbs, even the purportedly full-spectrum ones. (Unlike incandescent bulbs, even the best fluorescents just emit light at a number of discrete wavelengths that, apparently, most people perceive as "white.") I have some CFL bulbs in my house, but I can't see well unless they're supplemented by a few incandescents. LED bulbs are even worse, and as far as I can tell, they all flicker at mains frequency (or maybe double mains frequency, I'm not sure, but either way I can see the flicker).

    Besides, this is just a bandaid on a bullet wound anyway. Yeah, cutting back on energy consumption in little ways is good, but it doesn't address the real problem that our entire civilization is built on massive energy consumption. Providing solar panels to all homeowners would probably be much more useful.

    Finally, this worked so incredibly well for low-flush toilets, didn't it? I understand a lot of people go to Canada to buy real toilets that actually, y'know, work. I anticipate an increase in purchases of real light bulbs online from other countries.

  80. Cohiba

    What Bulbs are you using?

    Ok if you think your producing a lot of heat from your incadescents and your heating system is going to cost you more to pick up the slack, WTF are you using 150+watt bulbs and have 20 on at once? Even my reptile lights 150 watt bulbs do not produce a over abundance of heat and I still suplement extra heat. I live in a cold climate heck I had t0 shovel 8 inches of snow yesterday. I have replaced several of the lights in my house that get left on for longer periods of time to offset the cost of my expesive incandescent reptile lights and computers that jack up my electric bill. But with the CFL's i've replaced i was able to brighten my kitchen. The light fixture said not to use more than 2 60w bulbs with 2 CFL's I can use 30W and get the effect of over 100W per bulb, with less heat which is why light fixtures have that limit so you don't start a fire. They also are 60-70% bright at turn on and brighten up quickly even when its 0 outside. So at start up they are as bright as the old two 60w bulbs but quickly blind every one in the kitchen once they hit full brightness.

    Also don't be totaly misled everyone gets there piece of the pie. Those nice halogena lights by Phillips would exempt as they are not clasified as incadescent. They also last a really long time. Remember american politicians write laws with loopholes large enough for an aircraft carrier to steam through. Just like the loopholes for the MPG ratings on auto's.

  81. Anonymous Coward

    @Graham Dawson

    If by "at the same time" you mean "copied it" then yes, Edison and Swan invented the practical lightbulb at the same time. After a chat with Swan's legal team, however, Edison paid to be able to sell his bulbs in America as well as going into partnership in the UK. Edison was not known for his respect for intellectual property rights (unless they were his own), so Swan must have had a pretty clear-cut case to make the old thug pay up cash.

  82. Anonymous Coward

    Muahaha... Carbon emissions

    Fresh off

    EPA BLOCKS 18 STATES FROM REGULATING EMISSIONS: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Stephen L. Johnson made an announcement late yesterday denying "California's petition to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, overruling the unanimous recommendation of the agency's legal and technical staffs." Under the Clean Air Act, states -- with permission from the EPA -- can set emissions standards that are stricter than the ones set by the federal government. California has been waiting for an EPA waiver since 2005, "and at least 16 other states had been hoping to follow California's lead." Johnson claimed that the energy bill that President Bush signed into law yesterday rendered California's effort to cut gas emissions by 30 percent by 2016 moot. David Bookbinder, the Sierra Club's chief climate counsel, vowed to fight the decision. "These guys are 0 and 4 in court, and they're about to go 0-5," he said of the Bush administration, which has lost a series of environmental court cases. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) said he would sue to overturn the decision. "It is disappointing that the federal government is standing in our way and ignoring the will of tens of millions of people across the nation," he said.

  83. A J Stiles

    Probably a good thing

    I began the conversion to compact fluorescents in 1996, and completed it -- apart from my under-stairs cupboard light which is on for short periods occasionally, a bedside lamp which has a home-made, rotary-switch-off dimmer switch and so naturally is kinder to filaments, and assorted appliance lights -- in 1998. Changing a light bulb is now a major event.

    As others have pointed out, the exposure to mercury from CFLs (nil, if they are handled with care and recycled properly; recycling is bound to improve as usage increases) will be offset by the reduced exposure to mercury from power station exhaust -- and the ichthyophages among you probably are already getting more mercury than that, out of cans of tuna fish.

    Really, you have to wonder why anyone is still using filament bulbs. The light they give out is more of an incidental by-product .....

  84. Jeff Wojciechowski
    Paris Hilton

    OMG what about the Christmas lights?!?!

    The Christmas lights also banned? Last I checked they are still mostly incandescent. Way to ruin Christmas guys!

    On another note, I guess I better start stocking up on good ole GE 100 Watt bulbs too because my eyes are VERY sensitive to shitty fluorescent lighting, ESPECIALLY the low power variant.

    What a shame. So many comments but only one mention of Paris. Surely we can do better!

  85. GrahamT


    Swan demonstrated a working bulb in 1860. Edison started experimenting in 1878, so hardly a parallel development. Swan sued Edison and won the right to merge the companies, though he later sold the company to Edison.

    btw, a halogen lamp *is* an incandescent lamp, it just runs at a higher temperature (to give a bluer brighter light) with a quartz envelope and a halogen gas inside to reduce filament erosion at high power. The physics is identical, though the chemistry is different.

    A CFL uses different physics and has more in common with a neon tube.

    I think LEDs have most promise. They are much earlier in their development life than any other current lighting technology, so have more headroom for improvement. In the last 25 years they have gone from red-only to full bluish-white. I'm sure different dopings will improve white colour temperature and brightness... and they are dimmable, not easily breakable, and cool running. They have already taken over the christmas tree light market!

  86. Paul

    Misinformed people

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

    My mother has a couple of the older ones which she installed some 10 years ago now, and they're *all* still working. One is in a light fitting which, for no good reason, tended to consume about one incandescent per month.

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

    I might be able to notice a difference if I used some sort of light meter to measure output, but there's no visible difference we can see.

    "They take forever to get going."

    if you're talking about the nasty 1st generation CFLs, yes. However, our year-old ones are usefully bright right away, and at full brightness in perhaps 30 seconds. It didn't take much getting used to.

    Now granted, they start dimmer and take longer to get up to brightness in cold surroundings (our outside lights during the winter take a couple of minutes). We generally know in advance that we'll be heading outside, so it isn't actually a problem.

    This might be the real reason why traffic lights are exempt, as they cycle off and on, winter warm-up time could be a problem in colder states. All the new signals going in around here are LED ones anyway. Whoever drafted this bill was actually *thinking*.

    "green-tinged fluorescent hell"

    Get hold of a digital camera or camcorder where you can manually set the white balance. Set it for tungsten lighting. Take a photo or some video lit by a tungsten lamp. If you have a white card or a white wall in shot, even better. Now swap out the lamp for a *modern* CFL of the same equivalent brightness (careful, don't burn yourself!) and take another shot of the same scene, still on tungsten white balance. I think you'll find they're practically identical.

    This is all well and good, but we'd save a lot more energy if the average 'merkin could get over the idea that they "need" a full-size pickup or 8-passenger SUV when they only ever drive alone, never haul anything except the weekly groceries, and only go off road when they mistakenly think that 4-wheel-drive allows them to do 60mph on ice. There's something wrong with the picture when cars that get "over 30mpg" are considered fuel-efficient, when most of Europe would smirk and point out that 30mpg is actually pretty crap.

  87. system


    I'm pretty sure they teach that heat rises in science lessons.

    If your lightbulbs are all attached to your ceiling, no heat produced by them is going to reach you sat on your armchair. If you happen to have a couple of hundred plugged in, or a ceiling made of tinfoil, it might be a different matter.

    As inneficient as traditional bulbs are at producing light, they are even more inneficient as a source of heat.

  88. Mick Russom

    Edison = piece of crap.

    We all know that Edison was an intellectual property thief and was responsible for the suppression of ideas.

    He should be dug up and his bones and remains fed to a pig pen.

    Nikola Tesla and Westinghouse had to suffer early defeats and progress in America was greatly slowed down by idiot Edison. While Edison got all the recognition, Nikola Tesla was being driven insane probably because he had all the answers and only a select few would listen to him while everyone licked Edison's boots.

    Edison's grave should be defecated upon.

  89. Joe K


    "The CFL only lasts longer if left on long power cycles ie, left on for long periods of time and actually costs more to run if only used in short cycle duty"

    Utter nonsense.

    The Mythbusters utterly blew away this old wives tale years ago.

    By short cycle it would have to be turning it off and on every 23 seconds to break even.

  90. Brett Brennan


    Back in 1978 I wrote to the US EPA suggesting that a phased conversion of incandescent lighting to fluorescent would provide significant energy savings over time. I included the maths and a rough outline plan for encouraging conversion. Remember, this was at the peak of the "Energy Crisis" and the US Govt. was madly promoting schemes like ethanol, solar power and personal windmills.

    For my efforts I received a nice note from someone at the EPA thanking me for my suggestion, and while it would be taken under consideration, the EPA did not feel that it merited "serious consideration at this time".

    Wish I'd kept that damn letter: I could surely sue someone, couldn't I?

    (BTW, I've been somewhat successful replacing 12VDC halogen lamps with Luxeon emitters, using the aluminum reflector in the halogen fixture as the heat sink. 1 watt LED provides the same illumination as a 20W halogen. I did this to reduce the DC "hotel load" in my caravan, as I also use the limited 12VDC to power our computers, LCD video screens, appliances, etc. Works quite well...)

  91. Spam

    Another CFL fan

    I too have made the CFL switch, converting my last two apartments to nearly 100% CFL. Why? Because I can go from 60W to 100W equivalent lamps/bulbs (much brighter) and still save a bundle on my electricity bill (drawing somewhere around 20W).

    We did the conversion whole-hog and noticed an instant drop in our electricity bill that was about 1/3 the cost of the CFLs. That means that the lamps paid for themselves in 3 months! Admittedly, I got a really good deal on the CFLs (they seem to pop up on sale here for around $1ea.), and I didn't "upgrade" all my lamps (some stayed at 60 W equivalents), but the result still sold me.

    The light quality has also been remarkable - my background is in theatrical light design, and I tend to pay close attention to both intensity and color, and I have had nothing but good things to say about the CFLs in our home. The warm-up times seem to be a lot shorter than 20s, with 80-90% intensity instantly and 100% within 1-5s, which is about as good as I could ask for. Most of my friends are suprised to find out that we have nearly 100% CFLs, and comment on how they never noticed the warm-up.

    I have had one problem that I can't seem to solve, but it is a minor one. One floor lamp in our living room has a switch with an integrated fuse. The lamp absolutely refuses to light when I put in a CFL, but works just fine with an incandescent. We love the lamp, so we're dealing with an incandescent there, but I'm seriously tempted to just rewire the darn thing so it will take a CFL.

    So, to add to the chorus of other CFL fans, if you tried these a while ago and weren't satisfied, try them again. If you're still not satisfied, keep shopping - maybe you're just not finding quality CFLs?

  92. Andrew Steer

    green-tinged fluorescent hell

    Although you may be able to make [i]white[/i] objects white by white-balencing, because of the strange spectral output of fluorescents they still distort object colours, this measured by the metric of 'colour rendering'. Typically FL rendering causes colour-desaturation (a room looks 'greyer'), accentuation of certain orangey-reds to gaudy proportions, and dimming of deep reds. I particularly miss the lack of long wavelength red components in the light. No amount of white-balence can correct for this.

    To me, food looks most unappetising under fluorescent light -this is where the green tinge really comes to play. I challenge anyone to look at butter (or margarine) under CFL and not notice the iccy greenishness.

    CFL drive-electronics, like all electronics, doesn't like to run hot. Apparently about 50% of existing light fittings are unsuitable as they are essentially sealed and allow heat buildup around the CFL.

    The end-of-life failure-mode is also interesting, with the Canadian Safety Authority for one trying to reassure consumers that the emission of evil-smelling smoke and charred/molten plastic is to be considered 'normal'(!)

    I cycle to work and go easy on the heating. Let the government keep their fingers off my incandescent bulbs.

    Incandescent = light

    Fluorescent = 'lite'

  93. Mike Perry


    I'm glad someone finally pointed out that halogen lamps are incandescents.

    And I do wish that everyone here who has said that CFLs are slow/dim/funny coloured etc would take note of all the people who point out that they aren't like that now, and ask themselves when it was that they actually tried them out.

    And a quick comment to Paul - I'm no fan at all of the USA's profligacy, but bear in mind their gallon is smaller but their miles are not shorter, so what they see as a 30mpg car we would see as a 37.5mpg one. Still not brilliant I admit, but not as dire as you make out.

  94. DJ

    Another effective form of wealth distribution...

    You didn't assume you would be saving *money* by switching to CFLs, did you? Of course, they'll save energy. And your friendly power company will thank you by raising your rates to make up the difference.

    Checking the scoreboard... Lobbyists 173 Consumers 0.

    I knew I should have taken that lobbyist class... <sigh>

    (W.C. Fields proved right again.)

  95. John Savard

    The Obvious Solution

    Ban all use of fossil fuels for electrical power generation. After all, if you can't build a hydroelectric dam, if there's no geothermal or wind or tidal power handy, you can _always_ replace a coal-fired or natural gas powered generating plant by a nuclear power plant. Which we already know how to build. Then it wouldn't matter if some people used extra electricity with incandescent bulbs, as electricity usage would not cause any greenhouse gas emissions.

  96. Michael Hoenig
    Thumb Up

    My $0.02 worth (of savings?)


    The new law is phased in due to the massive number of bulbs which will be replaced during the phase-in. If every American were required, by Law (capitalization intended) overnight, the country would be in the dark (aside from the current [mis]Administration's obvious such location) for several months.

    While I don't necessarily agree with the details of the phase-in (why not phase all wattages simultaneously?) I do agree with the basic policy.

    It's almost a given that Dubya signed the bill as a form of political expediency, when in reality it's our Congress who wrote, modified, amended, and finally passed the Bill(s) (one from the House of Representatives and/or one from the Senate) for our President-Select to sign. Had he not, those Republicans trying to salvage their political careers would have one more item to overcome; as a Progressive voter, I can hardly wait for Novembers elections...we should see a HUGE loss of Congressional seats by the right-wing-ultra-conservative-religious-fanatics...ummm....I mean Republicans.

    Now...where'd I park my flower-decaled VW Beetle? Ah...there it is; next to the tree I hugged when I arrived...

    Ciao, y'all!

  97. CeeTee

    So dark... So cold...

    I found out a couple of weeks ago that when it's below about -25C, the bloody things stop working altogether. It's all well and good for those living in temperate climates, but what about us poor buggers living in places we have "proper" winters? It's incandescents for my outside lights!

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "And I do wish that everyone here who has said that CFLs are slow/dim/funny coloured etc would take note of all the people who point out that they aren't like that now"


    However, I changed my bulbs between '00 and '02. They are slow and funny coloured. None has broken, but I can't really change a bulb, because that would rather invalidate the efficiency point.

    I'm getting used to them...

  99. Ole Juul

    CFLs could be an econonic disaster.

    As someone who beleives in conservation, this could look like a plot to destroy our heritage. Perhaps for the purpose of selling cheap modern replacements. Maby even to discourage art and culture in general. We are being lied to. Think I'm crazy? You're probably right, but not for the reasons you might think.

    There are some serious issues being completely ignored. Just do a search on these comments for ultraviolet and you'll see what I mean. Do the same with CFL and ultraviolet on Google and you'll get the same result. EVERYONE is ignoring the damage caused by these bulbs! You will find that your woodwork, paintings, works on paper, fabrics (antique or otherwise) and other valuable household items will quickly be compromised. No one is supplying filters for these lights. What are we supposed to do. Live in empty houses? I personally can't survive without a lot of art and antiques in my home and I hope to pass these things on to future generations. I'm not the only one who refuses to live in a jail like setting of empty walls and no books, just so I can use politically correct lighting.

    I use all kinds of lighting and have found there are, in fact, some advantages to CFLs in some situations. They are actually pretty interesting, and yes, they have solved many of the original problems with them, but the fact still remains, they will destroy much of your household belongings if you are not really careful.

  100. Jarno Niemela


    You probably don't notice this being so far down the comment list.

    But, get proper high frequency CFLs or Fluorecent lights and you will not have problem with the flicker.

    Or if you can spot flicker around 80KHz, I am really impressed.

  101. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "I'm pretty sure they teach that heat rises in science lessons"

    system says "I'm pretty sure they teach that heat rises in science lessons."

    Ah, this must be one of those 'new science' lessons then. Heat doesn't rise, but hot air does. Might sound pedantic but it's a pretty major distinction.

    As for CFLs: love 'em. Been using them for 10+ years, still have some of the originals running, though most have been retired because the new ones are better/brighter. Most start near instantly and if they don't die in the first few days, they don't die! Dim yes, but never lost one once broken in.

  102. Richard Brown

    Independant Tests

    Which? (The Consumer Association) published the outcome of their tests on CFL lamps in Oct 2007.

    They tested lamps for over 8000 hours, switching them on and off for both long and short cycles, testing light output after 750 and 1500 hours.

    Their estimated savings by replacing a 100W incandescent lamp was £30 over 5 years.

    Their "Best Buy" exceeded the manufacturers claimed lifetime by 33%, had no problems being repeatedly switched on and off and didn't dim much over time.

    I purchased a whole bunch of these at a variety of wattages and they seem subjectively better than the incandescents they replaced. They do take a few seconds to reach full output, but so what - there is ample light to see what you are doing immediately and enough to read fine print within 30 seconds.

  103. Chris Romero

    Is anyone out there That gullible

    18BN less in the coming years? I think not! Beside the increasing cost of energy production, the energy companies have inflation and greed on their side.

  104. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Incandescent in their place

    My house is mostly full of compact fluorescents anyway - old ones (because they've not worn out) with ridiculously low colour temperature, but nonetheless...

    I'll object if I have trouble getting hold of decent incandescent bulbs for photo proofing, though. I'll want to be very convinced of the spectrum of any phosphor-based light source (including most white LEDs) before I trust it not to have metamerism problems with my printing.

    There *are* compact fluorescent spot lights (in my local Homebase). They were hopelessly dim, so they went back - so my kitchen and bathroom are still incandescent until LEDs get better and cheaper. I've got a stick-on tri-LED torch above the sink so I can see the washing up better, though. A bigger problem are all the mini-incandescent bulbs in my ceiling lamps, which are 10V AC. I don't see why an LED replacement shouldn't be possible, but I've never seen one; mostly I try not to use them, and rely on standard lamps.

    Maybe the prototype high-efficiency LEDs will appear on the market soon. Meanwhile, if we want low power, how about someone making low pressure sodium bulbs in a residential fitting? (Or switching some of the high pressure sodium street lights back to low pressure sodium ones and making the astronomers happy.)

  105. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Not that much Mercury

    I did a study last year about how brilliant LED light will be and I found out some amazing stuff.

    If you take into account the cost of making the bulbs in the first place, and the amount of bulbs you'd need to buy in order to last say 10 year then they go in this order of efficiencies:

    1. LED

    2. Halogen

    3. Florescent

    4. Incandescent

    Also if you consider the amount of energy used to power an Incandescent bulb, and that most power still comes out of Coal burning power stations worldwide, then florescent bulbs put much less mercury into the atmosphere.

    And strangely those huge halogen bulbs used for movie making are actually very efficient.

    So if you don't like florescent use halogen, they are dim-able, instant on and last for times longer then incandescent and use 40% less power for the same amount of light.

  106. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, whatever

    Those of you who are saying "hey, CFLs have better color now than they used to" are correct, in a sense. But it's still not a complete spectrum, and better doesn't necessarily mean good enough.

    I currently have CFLs in my house. Modern ones. High-end ones. The best one can get - and believe me, I researched this to get the best color rendering I could. And I still need some incandescents to supplement them or I can't see right. Look at the bloody things with a diffraction grating, for crying out loud! Any old CD will work. You'll not see a complete rainbow, but discrete colours. This is because fluorescent lighting is based on phosphors that emit photons in fairly narrow spectral bands - the "good" CFLs simply have more phosphors so they can emit in more bands. That still isn't a complete spectrum, and as such it still isn't good color. "White" LEDs are the same way.

    Maybe what you do and how your eyes work aren't affected. That's nice for you. And to be fair, if it's the middle of the day and a window is open, or if I'm staring at a computer screen, I don't notice, either. If I'm cooking, painting, or even just reading a book, even the good CFLs are simply not acceptable.

    I guess eventually I'll have to rig up something with a whole lot of candelabra bulbs. I'm killing the Earth! Although if this was the most environment-saving aspect of Bush's energy bill, we're pretty much doomed anyway.

  107. Andrew Steer

    @So much misinformation

    "I can't see any reason why CFL's couldn't be used in car headlights, at least for the dipped beam which doesn't need to be flashed on and off quickly. I expect they'll wait for LEDs to make the grade though."

    For a focussed/collimated/well-controlled beam, basic optics requires that you have as small a source of light as possible. Fluorescent technologies are inherently extended sources. LED headlamps are in development and will probably be with us in a couple of years. But we've already got there with xenon-discharge headlamps. These must be significantly more efficient and durable than tungsten for automotive use. Unfortunately the extra brightness (or more powerful blue wavelengths?) cause more dazzlement for other drivers and especially for cyclists...

    LEDs make perfect sense for coloured lights for brake lights and indicators (and traffic lights) and their use here is becoming widespread. Unfortunately they tend to drive them with a pulsed waveform which causes me to see a sea of flickering lights as I flit my eyes around while driving at night - which is also very distracting :-(

  108. Anonymous from Mars


    "How many "insignificant" 0.1%s does it take to reduce something by 50%? 500, yes?"

    By my somewhat inaccurate calculations, it should take about 1,193 reductions of 0.1% to reduce consumption by 50%.

  109. Steve Roper

    What the LED advocates forget...

    ...when they revile CFLs for containing mercury, is that LEDs aren't environmentally friendly either. They contain Gallium Arsenide Phosphate, a really nice safe environmental poison to be polluting our landfills with. So if we switch over to LEDs in a few years' time, how many tons of arsenic (which is way more toxic than mercury) is going to find its way into the environment?

    The fact is, whatever technology we use is going to be polluting in one way or another. Pollution is simply the introduction of man-made substances into the natural world, and since technology is man-made by definition it's all pollution. So just deal with the fact that if we want our little mechanical luxuries, the Earth has to pay. Otherwise we can always go back to living in caves and using carved stone and bone tools.

    Jolly Roger icon used to symbolise toxicity not piracy.

  110. Tim Hogard

    Follow the money

    If we follow the money we find that the plants where these get made pay somewhere about $.004 a kWh if they pay for electricity at all. These plants are subsidised by the Chinese government to grab the long term market share.

    What is the power company going to do to homes with bad power factors? Small businesses get hit with more expensive electricity so its just a matter of time before we all do.

    Do you have any yellowed CFL? If so they are producing ozone which is far worse as a green house gas than CO2.

  111. Joe Gurman

    Wait a sec

    All these complaints about faint CFL's don't jibe with my experience. We replaced 5 x 40W bulbs (in a dining room fixture with 5 x 7W CFL's.... and while they usually do take 30 seconds or so to get to full brightness, they're considerably brighter than the incandescents they replaced. Likewise the 12W CFL in our outdoor fixture by the front door, which replaced a 60W incandescent.

    The mercury content is certainly a major issue, but if the bulbs are recycled unbroken, can't the mercury be recovered nearly completely?

  112. Acme Fixer

    Re: "Don't ignore the heating effect"

    Anon Coward has it backwards. Removing a watt of power from the lamp socket gives a benefit of more than a watt removed from the building. That's because the air conditioning system has to remove that socket watt from the building interior. removing the socket watt correspondingly cuts down on the air conditioning, saving more electric power and money overall.

    Anyone who has worked up in the ceiling of a modern building knows that it is warm up there, from all of the fluorescent lights that are recessed into the ceiling. If the fluorescents were switched back to incandescent, the heat would be intolerable. Most of the organizations have taken advantage of the power companies' incentives and switched their fluorsecent lights to lower power consumption lights. This has reduced power consumption a lot. We need more motion sensors in buildings, so the lights will go off when unoccupied. But they should be smarter and in more places, like task lighting.

  113. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Mmmm... Inverter smoke

    Does anyone make a CFL with a half-life better than a month? CFLs are expensive, contain a lot of hazardous material, and are often illegal to throw in the trash. Any store that sells them should be required to proxy warranty replacements for the full warranty duration. Replacing DOAs isn't good enough. Consumers contacting the manufacturer for replacement of bulbs one-at-a-time is a joke and manufacturers know it. That's why they make ridiculous "7 Year Warranty" claims on a bulb built to last just barely longer than a store's return policy.

  114. Anonymous Coward

    Lutec == Perpetual Motion Maniacs

    Australian Skeptics report on the Lutec device

    What offended and saddened me deeply was seeing this displayed at the Perth Royal Show on the WA Inventors stand, overshadowing some real inventions.

  115. Daniel

    Maximum (electric) space heater size

    Just a little side note...

    "Anyway, a 100 W bulb heating a room is giving us negligible heat compared to a 3 kW heater. We might as well just use the fluorescent bulbs and agree to wear a 2% thicker sweatshirt..."

    Remember, we're talking about the poor benighted USA here - over on this side of the pond, we run on 120v mains. Combined with a 15 amp limit on most portable consumer electrical equipment, our space heaters don't come anywhere near 3 kw - closer to half that. Same for our tea kettles. Disgusting, really.

    Anyway, in a well insulated environment, lighting really can make a big difference in room temperature. At my old house there was a smallish workroom where we occasionally used up to 600 watts of light. When we did, the thermostat regulated space heater generally stopped turning on after about an hour.


  116. Steve Roper

    Re: Follow the money and Don't ignore the heating

    @Tim Hogard: Hey, about a decade ago the environmentalists were talking about ozone depletion more than CO2 emissions, and that hasn't gone away - we feel that ozone hole here in Australia every summer. Ozone stops deadly UV radiation from the Sun from scorching the Earth's surface to a glowing crisp. So I would think more ozone would be a GOOD thing! ;)

    @Acme Fixer: You don't need motion sensors, which are infuriating - the lights go off when you're sitting at a computer, for example - so you have to keep waving your arms around every few minutes to keep the blasted things on. Now, way, way back in 1981 I saw a DIY circuit in Electronics Today International magazine (remember them?). This circuit used two IR sensors across a doorway clocking a 16-way up/down counter. When the first beam was broken before the second, the counter incremented; when the second beam was broken first, it decremented. Thus, it counted how many people were in a room (up to 15), turning the lights on when the first person walked in, and only turning them off when the last person walked out. Simple, cheap, and perfectly effective - no periodic gymnastics required. I'm amazed that this little circuit wasn't commercially exploited!

    Granted, the use of a 16-way counter meant the lights would go off unexpectedly if a 16th person walked into the room, since the counter was reset after 15, but since most houses' rooms don't accomodate 15 people that's a non-issue. For larger spaces, it wouldn't be hard to cascade counters to whatever number is required.

  117. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    @Steve Roper

    Ozone is a good thing in the right place - up there. Down *here* it's a very potent poisonous gas which is why people make such a fuss about it.

  118. Scott Evil

    History of the light bulb

    In addressing the question "Who invented the incandescent lamp?" historians Robert Friedel and Paul Israel [1] list 22 inventors of incandescent lamps prior to Swan and Edison. They conclude that Edison's version was able to outstrip the others because of a combination of factors.................

  119. GrahamT

    "Poisonous" CFLs

    Everyone seems to be ignoring the fact that the halogen in halogen lamps is Flourine or Chlorine (used to be iodine) both of which are extremely poisonous -, and destroy the ozone layer.

    Leds are solid, so nothing leaks - so pretty safe, and traditional incandescents contain an inert gas (Argon normally) - very safe, though there is Lead in the solder - so not so safe after all.

  120. TeeCee Gold badge

    Still slow.

    Actually, I was one of those here who said that the startup time was still slow and I stand by it. I've just moved house and done my usual trick of putting CFLs everywhere I could (including spots, since someone asked - they're readily available, both MegaMan and Philips do a wide range). As I said, I've reverted the garage, purely due to startup lag. This using new CFLs from big-name brands.

    To those pooh-poohing this, your evangelism is laudable, but actually standing there and watching the damned things graaaddddduuuuaaaalllllllyyyyyy brighten proves you're talking bollocks.

  121. Carl Pearson

    Dim Idea

    Will be interesting to see the full list of exempted bulbs. Right off the bat, having traffic signal bulbs on the exempt list is a very, very dumb idea, as those are better suited to LED technology.

    What I'm really curious about, though, is how they plan to handle anything with a dimmer switch, as the compact fluorescent bulbs are incompatible.

    Perhaps what they mean by "Candelabra" bulbs?

    Except for the recessed lighting in the kitchen, which is on a dimmer, and a couple old halogen lamps we hardly ever use anyway, the entire house has been converted to fluorescent.

  122. Herby

    Remember other government mandates

    I'm reminded about the ill fated (thank god!) 55mph speed limit we had here for a few years. Everybody ignored it and we went on with life. As for light bulbs, you don't want 100 watt ones, I'll sell you 95 watt ones. It won't take long to be repealed. We also have a silly toilet bill that mandates a 6 liter flush. The problem is that our piping system for waste is predicated upon a larger flush. Now we have plugged sewer lines in houses (ugh!). The government needs to be out of the "goody feel good" business, and get something better done.

    They have legislated a 35mpg AVERAGE for vehicles. The government should START with their own cars, and make sure their own offices have CFLs. There should be a change of heart REAL SOON if this were the case.

    Stop the madness!

  123. tony trolle

    LED better

    Some SoCal counties have got laws in place already about lightbulbs.

    BTW you can buy a cheap CFL at the 99 cent store.

  124. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong way to do it.

    If they want to reduce use of incandescents they're going about it the wrong way. Instead, keep the exemption uses and just add a large tax for other uses. Let people have their incandescents if they want them - at a price that results in income to pay all the goverment employees who've spend our tax dollars pushing this limitation onto the people.

    Don't get me wrong, we need to be more conservative with power, but being told what lightbulb we can or can't use goes pretty far into the twilight zone. Let's also outlaw gas powered lawn mowers, cars, and TVs over 13" diagonal while we're at it.

    They didn't even mention old people. Can you imagine how much power we'd save if we just outlawed the use of power by anyone born before '50? It makes perfect sense, they were used to using less power then we went and spoiled them will all these modern electrical gadgets we have now.

    I agree with the other posters about the problem with CCFL creating less heat in winter. I've two 14W CCFL lighting the room I'm in, and find I need to leave at least two ~ 150W computers running to maintain an acceptible temp in the winter. I could turn up the thermostat on the heater for gas heat, but due to the house design there were too many short duct runs above the furnace and the furthest rooms need supplimental heat. We could adjust duct dampers, but the result varies too much with changes in outdoor temps.

  125. Anonymous Coward

    Still waiting for a decent solution

    You have to wonder how much money was paid by those with the CFL manufacturing facilities & associated patents to get this kind of thing passed in the various countries it's got though so far?

    Personally while I've used CFLs for years, and am well aware of all the specialist versions that exist for replacement in all sorts of areas, I've just removed some of them and put in 1300W worth of conventional bulbs for the areas where I finally got fed up of the downsides of CFLs. OK, they use more power when they're on but I've got a higher degree of control and don't need to leave them running to maintain their brightness. So overall is doesn't work out to be worse.

    The only places I've retained CFLs is where the lamps tend to be on for hours at a time.

    As and when it becomes necessary I'll buy a large stock of bulbs to keep me going.

    I suspect CFLs will be a dead-end technology in many areas, certainly for residential lighting. Hopefully LEDs will start to catch up, though I suspect the environmental impacts of manufacture, the cooling problems and poor half-life of the white ones may keep them from being a serious contender for a few years yet.

    Ultimately this sort of thing shouldn't have been sorted through legislation, but through market forces - if the solution is equivalent or better, and costs less to run, then people would buy it - the fact it's being forced shows there are still problems and reality isn't matching the hype.

  126. Anonymous Coward


    When talking about CFLs there are 2 things I hear mentioned more than anything else:

    1. They don't lasts long and need constant replacing

    2. They last ages and never need replacing

    it's always one of the first things someone says when the subject is brought up, but of course they can't both be true!

    It just happens that we have CFLs in most of the sockets in the house (and yes, it is very hard to tell the difference with modern ones), the very first one we put in for the upstairs hallway, (10 years or so ago, free from school as some environmentally friendly thing) is still working. However the downstairs hallway has been through about 5 or 6 (and it would have gone through more, but we sort of gave up changing it and just left it blown for a few months between bulbs)

    I can only assume it's something with the electricity supply that causes the life to be shorter, one thing that does come to mind is that socket, along with one other (which only just last month got a CFL, last one to do so) when turned off a CFL flashes every 20 seconds or so when first turned off then every 2-3 minutes after a while. I assume this is a small current leak from somewhere, however this wasn't noticed with incandescent lights (which simply don't light up for small amounts of power) so i wonder if this is a common problem causing the reports of bulbs not lasting very long?

    Either way i think it's all rather irrelevant to el reg readers though, how many of you use more power for lighting than you do to run your computers? now a law against those stupid display cards that draw over 100w...

  127. Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought

    I think these low energy lamps are a great idea.They use in construction more energy,exotic gases,toxic metals and in UK more tax on disposal and reclamation ultimatley passed on to the consumer who like there roads filled with lorries, filled to the brim with volumetric loads with no mass because HSE do not allow failed lamps to be deconstructed (crushed at disposal ) pay tax on fuel for said lorries making more money out of green taxes pumping more carbon into our atmosphere so drug companies can suply inhalers to our kids because they cannot breathe.Why not just use candles or go to bed when its dark.

  128. Anonymous Coward

    will we wait 200 years fr the laser diode?

    so the first incandescent lightbulbs were invented almost 200 years ago, and we have already invented laser diodes which are more efficient than LED's... are we going to wait another 200 years until we switch to the next level of efficiency?

  129. Ned Ludd

    @ OMG what about the Christmas lights?!?!

    At least where I live (Alberta Canada), LED Xmas lights are rapidly becoming standard issue. They don't look as nice though...

  130. Diogenies

    Domestic lights used at night aren't they ?

    Energy conservation lobbyists conveniently overlook the obvious fact that household lightbulbs are primarily used at night-exactly opposite the time of day in which utilities experience peak load demands for daytime heating, air conditioning and commercial lighting. Peak load shedding is what is most necessary for taking coal fired power plants out of commission.

    Reducing nighttime lightbulb consumption of kwhs will do almost nothing to shave peak demand. Moreover, with non-peak kwhs reduced at night, utilities will now have fewer revenues on which to earn a return on their invested capital. Utilities must build up their physical plant to meet the peaks, and the capital to finance that equipment has to be paid for 24 hours a day. Thus, utilities will have to raise rates on the remainder of the kwhs we use for everything else, from washing machines to hair dryers to computers.

    Household power used by lightbulbs is actually dwarfed these days by major appliances and high tech consumer electronics- such as wide screen TVs, computers and video games along with internet servers, the biggest energy hogs besides cars and trucks.

    And guess where the extra purchase prices for these CFLs will wind up? In the pockets of Chinese manufacturers, because not a single CFL is produced in the US.

    And it gets worse. As Chinese manufacturers add enough manufacturing capacity to produce ten times as many CFLs , they will need several new coal-fired power plants to run the new factories. This comes on top of the already breathtaking pace today of construction in coal fired electric power plants in China - at a clip of one new plant every week. Don't even think about asking about what kind of pollution control will be operating on those Chinese plants.

    The great land of Oz has now banned incandescent bulbs, but has now decided to switch of analogue TV - so many people are now buying a Set Top Box so they can watch TV , which means another device to be left on stand by, or they go out and buy a stonking great plasma set with buit in digital tuner (which chews as much power as a fridge) - thus more than negating the savings in lighting

  131. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    They do last

    They last for years. I actually take mine with me when I move house. And the barely noticeable gradual brightening is a nice side effect for the eyes imo.

  132. Ishkandar

    Bulbs in a crapper

    If you are flicking the light on and off at short intervals in a crapper, then you are either (1) bored out of your skull while doing a massive dump or (2) you need more fibre in your diet or (3) you have a switch fixation that needs psychiatric help as soon as possible !!

    The only es bulb I have any quibble about is the very first one I bought about 10 years ago. And yes, it's the slow starting that gets me sometimes. The others work fine. Please don't tell the manufacturers but ALL my bulbs are the es type now and I haven't bought a new one in the last 5 years.

    BTW the Aussies passed a law on this issue just a few months ago so the Septics are really following them !!

  133. Anonymous Coward


    Yep - LED's are the next big thing, cheap, easy to make (I was a bit worried that they appear to use arsnic for one of the colours of LED's though).

    Hell and hand cart will be hard to avoid it appears.

  134. Ole Juul

    No savings here

    Does anybody have a calculator and know how to use it? Where's the monetary saving to the consumer?

    I run a lot of lights because I've got three floors and outbuildings where I move around and don't always turn the lights on and off every time I move. I also like the look of nice lighting, which is the main reason I run a lot of lights in the first place. There's around 300 to 400 watts running for 12 hours a day. I beleive many people use less. The cost here is 6 cents a KWH so, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that mean that even if I don't turn my lights on at all, that all I would save is 25 cents a day?

    Either I need to get myself a new calculator or people are confused about the savings.

  135. James Spragg

    Outside & work lights( 500w replacement )

    Flood lamp (118mm ) 24w low energy replacements 230v & 110v are now in the wholesalers, I fitted two the other day and they are good.

  136. Peter W

    @no savings here

    electricity is obviously extremely cheap there or you have an incorrect cost for your electricity. Here (UK) domestic electricity costs around 9-10p/kwh (20c/kwh). That's ~3 times the figure you quote.

    At your figure the toal cost is $90 a year: at mine closer to $300. Not a great saving but still, $300 a year for nothing (over $20,000 over an average lifetime) is a nice little bonus....

  137. Kaleberg

    CFL Experiences

    We've been trying to use CFLs since 2000, but they have a number of problems:

    1) They do not last. Typical life span is two years which is worse than incandescent bulbs around our house. Part of the problem is ganged lights, where several bulbs are on one circuit. The bulbs basically burn out each other's ballasts. We've spoken with the local PUD (power company), and they've swapped dead bulbs with us fairly often as part of their energy saving program. They are pushing CFLs, but admit that life span is a problem.

    2) They are relatively dim, even after they have had minutes to warm up. This is not a problem with ganged bulbs, where there are more lights than we need, but for one shots, you need a much larger CFL than incandescent. My camera light meter confirms this. The difference can be two or three f-stops, depending on the local decor.

    3) You cannot dim CFLs, at least not yet. This problem may or may not get resolved, but our local power guys don't know of any dimmable CFLs, and they should.

    4) We haven't noticed a lower power bill since we've been using CFLs. My guess is that lighting is perhaps 10% of our power usage, well less than our refrigerator, stove and heat pump. Of course, we have cheap hydro-electric power here in the Pacific NW of the US so return on investment numbers are weirdly skewed. In 1935, power went for 6 cents US per kilowatt-hour. The recent rate hike pushed it up to 7 cents US, so who says you can't buy anything with a US dollar anymore.

    As for LEDs, they are available in various temperature/colors, so they can work, but we still haven't found a unit we can screw into a socket that produces even 1/3 the light of the bulb it replaces. I don't see this as a permanent problem, but I'll probably get down to CostCo and get one or two of their "small" boxes of bulbs. A gross or two of incandescents will probably get us through the awkward transition region.

  138. Ole Juul

    Dimming, Brightness, Cost, and The Elephant In The Room

    @Kaleberg: You can get dimmable ones now. I just tried a flood light on a dimmer. It is supposed to be dimmable to 10% (and it looks like it is) but it's too finiky because it only works on the first half turn of the pot so a special dimer would have to be made to make it practical. Perhaps such things are avilable, but adding a resistor in series with the pot would give an acceptable control range. Since most people don't do technical stuff, they would probably not be able to use these bulbs as advertised.

    Regarding brightness: I've had dim CFLs, but recent ones are plenty bright. However, if you want bright, why would you use bulbs? It seems to me that if you really want to see, you should be using tubes, preferably in a bank to reduce shadows. I've got one room with 16 4 foot tubes across the ceiling. I don't use them for long periods of time, but when I really want to see something I can. The rest of the time I run a number of 15 and 25 watt incandescents in carefully placed decorative fixtures.

    @Peter W: I just checked my last bill and the cost has gone up to $.06879 /KWh here on the west side of Canada. I thought that was high enough since we're all hydro over here, I didn't realize that the cost was so high in the UK. I do agree that $300 a year is getting to be up there where some of it could be better spent on something else.

    @everybody: still noboby has mentioned ultraviolet radiation and the damage it does to many objects. Almost all CFLs produce destructive amounts. I still think this is the silent killer when it comes to the long term economics of CFLs.

  139. Anthony Green
    IT Angle

    The trouble with CFL's......

    ... Is in the amount of *unwanted* Radio-Frequency interference that they generate.

    All this high frequency switching that is built in apparently sends the broad band of radio interference into neighboring AM radios, and the radio has to be swamped with a legitimate Broadcast signal to mask the interference.

    I have got the same problem with our Microwave - and its solid state switching; it just ruins AM reception - even after snapping on Ferrite chokes over the power cable.

    Thanks to the "British Bucket Company" - as Kenny Everett called the BBC in a fit of pique - and their engineering consultancy - Hong Kong has mostly AM coverage for English language programs, whilst the Cantonese almost completely smothers the FM band with multiple channels of the same stuff.

    CFL interference has driven me to listen to Internet music station 4BH - & I only listen to RTHK news for a few minutes on any day.

  140. NoOnions

    Super bright LEDs

    First off, I've replaced my old 100W equivalent energy saving bulbs with the new 'Mr Whippy' swirly types. The new bulbs are much brighter and get to full brightness within a second or two. I've only had one, older style, energy saving bulb fail on me. The replaced bulbs are in my cupboard, as spares.

    However - super bright LEDs?

    So therefore the future does indeed look bright.

    The only old style bulbs I still need are for my lava lamp, my cooker, my fridge, my Christmas tree and my G-Plan cabinets. As soon as energy saving versions are available I'll swap to them.

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