back to article Forget fluorescents, plastic lighting strips coming out next year

The blinking, buzzing fluorescent lighting tubes that have blighted office buildings for over 70 years could be on their way out, now that US scientists think they've cracked a system to replace them with glowing plastic. "People often complain that fluorescent lights bother their eyes, and the hum from the fluorescent tubes …

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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    WTF?

    State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

    > energy-saving proposition

    Whether it is an "energy saving proposition" or not is debatable. What is not debatable is that the state should not force people to abandon their lightbulbs by decree. Either new products win on their own merit or they don't.

    Personally, I'm currently running on halogens because fluos are out and I'm not going to pay the price of a hardback from MIT press for a single LED lamp.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

      You assume a knowledgeable public. Trouble is, in this day and age, the public is mostly clueless, running on inertia and word of mouth, heedless of the benefits because discomfort is considered too serious a drawback. IOW, if you shove the benefits in their face and they ignore you, then it comes time for more drastic measures.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

        I've yet to see any benefits.

        The compact fluorescents are crap. After a bit of use they take to long too light up and I have yet to see one that actually matches up to its equivalent incandescent wattage.

        The light from LEDs is appalling. I've tried numerous different ones with numerous different shades of white and none produce a decent shade of white. The cost is to high and the reliability hasn't been that good. Of the twenty I've bought so far 4 of them have failed within the first week which gives me reason to doubt I'll get the advertised 20,000 hours of use from the remaining ones.

        1. Matt 21

          Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

          Charles: Your argument seems to indicate that democracy is doomed to failure..... you may be right but who is this elite who should be making decisions for us? I hope you're not suggesting it should be the politicians!

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

          The compact fluorescents are crap

          I see a lot of comments like this coming from Stateside. It's almost as if they're two generations behind on CFL tech, because all but the cheapest, off-brand, CFL's here are quite decent, with lifetime, apparent colour (spectrum is inevitably, as with all fluorescents, spiky), and startup time all totally acceptable for everyday use. The screw-in bulb types don't flicker either; there are some types of CFL though that use a conventional ballast in the lighting fixture (mostly ceiling downlight stuff), and obviously those flicker at mains frequency (usually mitigated by using long-persistence phosphors)

          1. Pet Peeve
            WTF?

            CF bulbs are fine here too

            I don't know why we get it either - there is nothing wrong with modern CF bulbs, other than the dimmable ones really ARE crap.

            I do find that the incandescent equivalence is one off - I'll get a "75 watt" CF bulb to replace a 60 watt incandescent. But so what, they still use a quarter of the power, and don't get painfully hot.

            If you're defending incandescent bulbs, it's not because of any real superiority. Stop using 100 year old crap.

            1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

              Re: CF bulbs are fine here too

              All fluorescent lights give me a headache. Every single one I've tried, no matter how cheap or expensive, no matter the build quality, they all give me a headache without fail. I can always tell when there's a CFL in a room - even the high quality ones that emit an otherwise pleasing glow. Fortunately there are "energy efficient" halogens to keep me sane and headache free.

              Something being "old" doesn't mean it's inferior and being "new" doesn't make something better.

        3. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

          I started replacing my incandescents as they failed. I've still got a lot of incandescents in the house. Every last fluorescent has been replaced at least twice in the last 6 years.

          My electricity bill for lighting is a lot less than my lightbulb bill.

          Nice idea - but like most things they forget to take the greedy bastards in business into account.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

            Buy poor quality and you get poor results. There's nothing to go wrong on incandescent, it's just a piece of wire glowing. A CFL needs an electronic starter to get it going, it is these that fail. Buying a quality brand helps.

          2. Tom 13

            Re: I started replacing my incandescents as they failed.

            Based on the power savings argument, I was an earlier adopter of CFLs. I found I needed to purchase at least one level above the equivalent light level for an incandescent for them to be useable, the lifetime wasn't as long as promised, and the damn things frequently don't fit in my existing light fixtures. I shouldn't have had to replace any of them yet, but most have been replaced at least once.

            So when the ban was announced I started stocking up on incandescent bulbs. I figure I have a 2-3 year supply for our main light fixtures. But not for the candelabra type fixture over the dining room table. And while I can tolerate the noise from most fluorescents the racket from those bulbs is intolerable. Even the damn LEDs hum.

            I doubt it has much to do with "the greedy bastards in business" and everything to do with the clueless bastards in government. The manufacturing process for those things isn't cheap. And all of them necessarily include the ballast element that would otherwise be part of the light fixture instead of the bulb.

        4. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

          I have to agree that the light from LEDs is a bit on the blue-white side but they're probably fine for most applications, especially with a lamp-shade.

          Personally, I've had so many halogens blow in my house that I'm happy to replace them with LEDs. Add that to the fact that here on Oz, the sun is so bright you need to draw blinds to see a computer screen, but then its a bit dark, so the lights go on. When you have a strip of 5 halogens pumping out 50w each and its 35C+ in the shade, cool LEDs running at 3w are a blessing.

          1. Stacy
            Thumb Up

            Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

            I don't know what lighting you are using but our home is 90% low energy bulbs or LEDs - and the results are fine. The living room has a total of 9w (one three light standing light @ 6w and three 1w ceiling spots). The spots are not as bright as the halogens they replaced, but perfectly good enough for living room lighting. You can read by them, but they are not overpowering. The standing lamp is the next gen of LEDs from the spots and are just as good as the halogens they replaced. So much so that we got the same lights, only for the ceiling with 6 LED spots (still @ 6w), for our dining room.

            The energy savings were a bit poor about 10 years ago, but anything we have brought in the last 7 years has been instant on with no flicker or hum.

            1. sisk

              Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

              I went through my house and replaced all the incandescents with CFLs. It cost me about $40, which I made back through a lower electric bill in a matter of months. The one in my garage takes about a half second to come on when it's really cold out, but the rest of them come on instantly. I don't know what everyone's complaining about with them.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

                "What is not debatable is that the state should not force people to abandon their lightbulbs by decree."

                Well, given that you just started a debate about it, I'd say that your statement is objectively false.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

            You can get LEDs in warm or cold light. In the EU/UK we like warm, but elsewhere they tend to want cool white light.

          3. Psyx
            Pint

            Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

            "I have to agree that the light from LEDs is a bit on the blue-white side but they're probably fine for most applications, especially with a lamp-shade."

            Sooo... they're too close to daylight, rather than resembling the artificial yellow light which we've all come to think of as 'normal'?

            I'm slowly replacing with energy-saver bulbs as old ones blow, with two exceptions:

            Daylight hue (so: white blue) incandescent bulb in the dress room, so I can see what colour clothes really are.

            Incandescent bulb in the loo, because I hate staggering blearily into the room in the middle of the night and only getting a dimly-lit vista when I turn on the light.

            1. Pete the not so great
              Happy

              Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

              Shirley, when staggering to the loo at 3AM you'd want the bulb to start dimmer, nothing worse than being blinded

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

          Don't buy cheap junk LED bulbs then.

          The one I have in my outdoor light is very good, nice warm light. I've also just bought a Philips LED bulb that should be even better still.

          1. garden-snail
            Thumb Up

            Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

            I've had problems with LED lights in the past (flickering, inadequate brightness and unpleasant colour), but after hearing good things I recently bought a couple of Philips LED bulbs to see how things have changed. I'm impressed! The flickering is gone, the colour appears very similar to my old incandescent bulbs and while they are slightly more directional, their output is perfectly adequate.

            Admittedly, the bulbs were expensive (c. £10-12 each), but presumably this will change as the technology matures. I have a 4 W bulb in my desk lamp and a 11.5 W bulb in a lamp in my living room, and both have been fantastic.

            If the claimed lifetime of 20-odd years is accurate, they should be long-term money-savers. I can't vouch for that yet though, since I've only had mine for two months.

        6. Mips
          Childcatcher

          Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

          I have been using CFL for over 20 years and I prefer the light they produce to incandescent. It is just a question of taste. And clearly I think yours is poor. OK so some CFL are slow to run up to temperature, but others are not, so be selective with what you buy.

          If you have a problem with LED don't buy cheap ones. You should remember that in China the slogan is "me to" even if they know nothing about the product and related issues, the result is much is crap. I keep saying don't go over to LED just yet. Wait a few years and it will all be sorted out and prices will be lower.

          Philips lighting has the best handle on this market but even they have a dozen different product for one application. One example the replacement for the 50mm tungsten halogen spotlight, the 7W size replacing the 50W TH lamp has a cooling fan built in. Now you will not find that in a Chinese lamp. So be selective or wait.

          Natch!

        7. The Indomitable Gall

          @AC re: LEDs

          "The cost is to high and the reliability hasn't been that good. Of the twenty I've bought so far 4 of them have failed within the first week which gives me reason to doubt I'll get the advertised 20,000 hours of use from the remaining ones."

          Failures in solid-state semiconductors are generally rare. Early failure normally indicates a manufacturing fault. And manufacturing faults usually result in early failures.

          IE expect the duff ones to die very quickly, and expect the decent ones to last a long time.

        8. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

          I'm the AC @ 08:58 and here's some responses to the comments.

          Re: Stoneshop

          I'm in the UK, not stateside so it's UK CFL that I'm moaning about. The colour is rubbish, the startup times are to long and I've had one of them crack whilst in the light fitting, giving off mercury fumes. I will no longer consider using them in my home.

          Re: AC @11:40

          > Don't buy cheap junk LED bulbs then.

          I don't. I've bought 20 of them, at a cost of over £200, trying to find a decent one. Reliability and the colour haven't been good enough.

          For those interested in the economics of it, you can pick up a 50W halogen GU10 for £0.80 which lasts 2000 hours. With electricity at 12.5p/kWh this gives a cost of £6.75 per 1000 hours of use.

          An equivalent LED lasts 20,000 hours, uses 5W and costs £15 giving a cost of £1.37 per 1000 hours of use.

          Despite the economics of it showing I should use LEDs I'm going to stick with incandescents and halogens until the reliability and colour issues have been resolved.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Childcatcher

        Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

        The public may be clueless, but its ever increasing patronization by the big nanny that is government is hardly going to help.

      3. phil8192
        Black Helicopters

        Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

        "... if you shove the benefits in their face and they ignore you, then it comes time for more drastic measures."

        Nine out of ten totalitarian tyrants like Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, Kim Jong Il, Idi Amin, Muammar Qaddafi, Ayatollah Khomeini, Fidel Castro, and Hugo Chavez would agree with you wholeheartedly.

    2. PyLETS
      FAIL

      Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

      End subsidies to carbon burning and I might agree with you - then there would be a genuine free market and those wanting to stay incandescent can pay the bills. We all pay these subsidies e.g. through insurance costs against more extreme weather, but that's only a small part of it. Problem with putting up electricity bills by ending these subsidies is too many grannies freezing in the dark unable to afford their leccy bills. So that isn't going to happen, and the state is forced by all our politics to intervene to encourage reduced wastage, give a fair break to nuclear and renewables and keep bills affordable. You can't change that so you may as well get used to it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: State intervention may well result in de-civilizatory effects

        > End subsidies to carbon burning and I might agree with you

        Coal, gas and oil are not subsidised. The accounting trick the green lobby use to claim a subsidy is the 5% VAT rate on gas and electricity that the consumer pays. This is not a subsidy and if you want to consider a lower VAT rate as a subsidy then you must also consider fuel duty payments as negative subsidy. You should also consider that the 5% on electricity is the same no matter what generated it.

        > through insurance costs against more extreme weather, but that's only a small part of it.

        There is no evidence off more extreme weather. Costs of weather damage have increased but the increase is in line with property value increases and increased urbanisation.

        > Problem with putting up electricity bills by ending these subsidies

        You mean changing the VAT rate on gas and electricity from 5% to 20%.

        > give a fair break to nuclear and renewables and keep bills affordable.

        At the moment renewables are heavily subsidised and it is only these subsides that make it viable to operate a wind factory.

  2. Buzzword

    Colour temperature

    "The research team claims the resultant light is close to natural sunlight but can be filtered for specific colors."

    Good. Hopefully this means we can move away from having harsh blue-white lights in places where a warmer, yellow-ish light would be more suitable.

    1. R 11

      Re: Colour temperature

      Because it's totally impossible to put a CFL behind a lampshade and filter the color?

      Besides there are plenty of less harsh CFL bulbs available now, indeed the light color from the ones in my hallway is hard to distinguish from an incandescent.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Colour temperature

        The temperature might imitate incandescent, but the spectrum's usually a disaster.

    2. Haku

      Re: Colour temperature

      "harsh blue-white lights"

      If you mean the flood of 'cool white' LED lighting that has been dumped on the market I agree with you. The 'warm white' LEDs out there on the other hand seem to be just a bit too yellow, but if you combine the two types in equal amounts you get a really nice resulting colour.

      This room is lit with 5 meter 5050 type LED strips of each white colour, running at 50% brightness through PWM control to keep them cool and prolong their life as running at 100% brightness produces a lot of heat which kills them quicker over time.

      Also it's neat being able to easily control the brightness (right up to 100% when needed) with a remote :)

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Colour temperature @Haku

        Do you have a link to the bulbs/strips you are using - sounds interesting.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Colour temperature @Haku

          Try ebay - I've bought a few strips of these in different colors (and RGB too), they're very easy to work with. See http://captainunlikely.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/bambilight-cheap-bluetooth-ambilight.html for one possiblity

        2. bed

          LED strips

          I use a mixture of LED strips from http://www.ultraleds.co.uk/ The most fun are the RBG strips with a three knob dimmer so the colours can be varied. Somewhat expensive. Elsewhere are 5m runs of warm white LEDs on dimmers, best used as uplighters, and blue/white strips under the kitchen cupboards making excellent lighting for work surfaces.

        3. Haku

          @James Hughes 1

          I got them from a Chinese eBay seller for a little over £10 each strip, cheaper than sellers in your own country but takes a while to arrive, try this search term:

          5050 5m (cool,warm) -(150,60,"0.5m",3528)

          5050 is the type of LEDs used (3 diodes in a single chip), you probably don't want the smaller 3528 LED type, and you'll want to go for the 300 LEDs per 5m strip not 150, the 60 is in there because some sellers will sell you single 1m/60LED strips which work out more than buying a 5m and cutting it up to suit your needs (they can be cut every 3 LEDs). Cool & warm are there to specifically weed out just 'white' because if they don't say what type then it's usually cool white.

          I then used a beefy 5A 12v power supply fed into a custom circuity with a microcontroller and MOSFET to dim the LEDs, I intend to upgrade the circuit sometime to be able to individually control the two types of LEDs to change the overall output colour.

          LED lighting isn't the cheapest but if you want something different, something custom that traditional bulbs can't do then it can be a nice solution, especially in this case if you point the LEDs to the wall/ceiling and hang on some aluminium strip 1-2 feet away to diffuse the light and not get dazzled by the LEDs.

          1. Haku

            Re: @James Hughes 1

            Quick BTW: If the closeup picture of the 12v LED strip shows 1 resistor per LED that's a surefire indication they're 5050 type LEDs, 1 resistor per 3 LEDs usually means they're 3528 type.

  3. Schultz Silver badge
    Happy

    Free the light bulbs

    American politics is truly funny for us outsiders: The Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act of Mrs. Bachmann actually requires that light bulbs should only be phased out if this results in a 20% reduction of carbon emissions. But apparently lighting only accounts for some 13% of US electricity consumption and accounting for other forms of energy (engines, ...) would not really help the numbers.

    Is this supposed to be funny, or is the state of American politics such that no one even proof reads the bills before submission?

    1. Hud Dunlap
      Facepalm

      @Schultz

      "Is this supposed to be funny, or is the state of American politics such that no one even proof reads the bills before submission?"

      I guess you didn't follow the Obama-care debates. Nancy Pelosi's " We have to pass this to see what's in it" sums up the U.S. Congress on both sides of the isle.

      http://www.deseretnews.com/top/46/4/We-have-to-pass-the-health-care-bill-so-you-can-find-out-what-is-in-it-Top-10-quotes-of-the.html

    2. Old Handle

      Re: Free the light bulbs

      While that's a bit silly, obviously the intent is simply to repeal the light bulb law. The "unless xyz" part was just tacked on to make it sound more moderate.

    3. wx666z

      Re: Free the light bulbs

      In one word, yes, to both questions.

    4. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Free the light bulbs

      I don't think Congressmen generally read the bills in detail. I'm reminded of Michael Moore reading out the text of the PATRIOT act over a loudspeaker in front of the Houses of Congress after having established that nobody in there had actually read the thing before passing it.

    5. Pet Peeve
      Pint

      Re: Free the light bulbs

      Michelle Bachman is a paranoid nutjob. After her terrible (except for comedy value) presidential run, she just barely won her congressional seat, having to outspend her opponent 12 to 1 to do it. I don't think we'll have her around in the congress much longer. Here's to hoping.

    6. sisk

      Re: Free the light bulbs

      @Schultz

      Our politicians can't read. They've spent so much mental energy pushing the extreme ends of the political spectrum further apart that they've forgotten how.

      No, really. They vote on the bills based on who drafted them (first) and a brief summary that some underpaid aid gives them (sometimes). It's not at all funny. It's depressing.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't matter. What matters in the end is how much it cost to replace the existing systems. People have already been conned by the "in the end, it pays for itself and saves money" hustle by other products, including lighting.

    LED and Florescent bulbs, IMO, haven't held up to what they proposed.

    LED testing has shown that the LEDs used in mass production are prone to fail, and florescent bulbs have problems with variation in temperature.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      I don't know about that. I switched to fluorescent over a decade ago. Granted, they cost quite a bit back then, but they mostly lived up to the hype. You get used to the light they emit, and the only time you realize they're there is when they break: usually years later. Then you look up and realize, "It really DID last a long time."

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Problem is that you only need one "short life" one and the payback time in energy savings from fitting the things disappears off into lala land.

        I reckon about 1 in 10 or so don't make it through the first couple of weeks. They are like WW1 pilots though, if they make it through those two weeks they're likely to last many years.

        1. John Hughes
          WTF?

          Fit for purpose?

          "I reckon about 1 in 10 or so don't make it through the first couple of weeks"

          Then you take them back to the shop and get a refund.

          What's the problem? Don't have consumer protection legislation where you live?

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Fit for purpose?

            @John Hughes

            What's the problem? Like most people, I don't buy light bulbs one at a time as their predecessors fail: I buy a batch of them so I have a replacement ready when I need it. Call me feckless, but I put the spare bulbs in a cupboard and don't bother to cross-reference them with the proof of purchase, since it's usually a supermarket receipt with fifty other items on it. When a CFC fails early, I'm usually aware that it's only recently been installed, but I lack the documentation, and, to be honest, the time and motivation, to return it to the shop.

            I did once try invoking the manufacturer's guarantee printed on the box. Unsurprisingly, the process was so complicated and tedious that I gave up.

            1. Ilgaz

              Re: Fit for purpose?

              Osram insists they have "no questions asked return/replace" policy on CFL type. At least at this area of world.

            2. CADmonkey

              @ Kubla Cant

              If you can't be bothered then you really ask for everything you get. How tricky is it to keep a receipt? Also you're not doing yourself any favours buying armfuls at the supermarket. Boxes of bulbs are doubtless treated as gently as boxes of beans. The supermarket has no interest in the quality of the bulbs because it will happily refund/exchange almost anything and return it to the supplier. They must love people like you! Keep up the moaning, they would say.

    2. Ole Juul

      What matters in the end is how much it cost to replace the existing systems.

      One of the big problems is that government control has been making it hard to replace existing systems because replacements are not being offered. I run a mix of different kinds of lights to best suit the situation, and certainly CFLs are very successful for some places. I am however finding that there is a lack of low output low energy bulbs to replace what I used to use. I also do not have a local source of CFLs that work at the low outside temperatures we have in my area. I'm all for plastic strips, but so far I've already spent a fortune experimenting with CFLs only to learn that some work and some don't. I don't relish another several years of costly experimentation.

      1. Bob H

        In difficult situations I have been replacing with low energy halogen lights, not as good as good as CCFLs but 20% down.

    3. Test Man
      Stop

      Taylor 1 - I had an energy-saving bulb that lasted through two house moves (so was in three houses). A conventional bulb would be lucky to last a few months. Definitely did save money in my case.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      "LED and Florescent bulbs, IMO, haven't held up to what they proposed. LED testing has shown that the LEDs used in mass production are prone to fail, and florescent bulbs have problems with variation in temperature.

      Whilst I agree with your comments, I think the LED issues have been more about quality variation and teething problems. For example, buy a decent LED GU10 and it'll have a reasonable heat sink casing, buy the less well designed stuff and it won't, with inevitable consequences. Then you've got all manner of quality variation in the diode themselves with some makers producing very good devices, and other producing short lived, over driven tat. I also suspect that the commonest cause of failure in consumer LED lighting is poor quality driver electronics.

      In terms of reliability and quality, we've had no problems with entire office building replacement of lighting with LED's - staff much happier with light quality too, about eight thousand hours run time to date on circa 1000 luminaires, our car park is lit with LED's - a big improvement on the sodium vapour, now into year three of operation. The trains I travel on have LED lighting, and that's better quality than the preceeding fluourescent, and I've seen no failures, with the units now probably at 4,000 hours of operation.

      Considering the improvement in performance and quality in LED in a few years, and the still woeful performance of CFL's after two decades of being mainstream, I hope that CFL's will soon be consigned to the dusbin of history.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Erm, the sort of bright LEDs I've been using in mountain bikes for a few years now are all going strong. So I don't see why the LEDs would fail. It is more likely to be the AC/DC conversion circuit that will fail, LEDs don't run on AC power.

      1. Pet Peeve
        Boffin

        They will run directly on AC - on a 50% duty cycle and with a 50/60hz flicker that will make you slowly insane. Rectifying and smoothing out the power is one of the complications in LED lighting.

        I have to say I haven't been impressed with LED bulbs much. I love superbright LEDs for electronics projects, but I find the light engines in the bulb replacements just aren't bright enough, and the prices are kind of stupid for what you get. There's still work to do on them before they'll replace CF.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          FAIL

          @Pet Peeve

          They don't. LEDs need low voltage (about 3.5V for a single white LED) at a regulated current (300mA for a 1W LED). Just rectifying your AC mains with no additional electronics will require a voltage drop of mains-voltage*sqrt(2) (so 325V in Europe, 155V in the US) at whatever current the LED draws. This would require either a HEFTY resistor, OR a step-down converter, and those run at >100kHz, so that the coil or transformer they employ can be kept small.

  5. Neil Woolford
    Holmes

    Always nice to see an oscilloscope

    It must be *real* science if there is a scope with a couple of traces in shot.

    1. Mike 125

      Re: Always nice to see an oscilloscope

      No, for real science, it has to be Lissajous figures. Also, the guys have turned the scope towards the camera. Real engineers wouldn't do that - fail on 2 counts!

  6. ravenviz
    Coat

    Plastic lighting strips

    Now that's a bright idea!

    1. Ilgaz

      Re: Plastic lighting strips

      Light emitting plastic paint, almost read that way and got excited.

  7. Steve Knox
    FAIL

    Why one data point is not evidence.

    While recycling them could be an issue the design should last much longer than conventional lighting systems. The team says one of their units has been in operation for over a decade with no sign of dying as yet.

    http://www.centennialbulb.org/

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Why one data point is not evidence.

      Heard of that bulb. The reason it lasts so long is that it was designed for a much higher voltage. It's actually UNDERburning, so it's probably only barely wearing out. 130V incandescents (a fad trend before CFLs won center stage) had a similar idea, and while I got a few of them on the cheap, I don't think they lasted as long as they advertised. Still, they did last somewhat longer.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Why one data point is not evidence.

      "The team says one of their units has been in operation for over a decade with no sign of dying as yet."

      I'd like that statement qualified. How long does it stay on in a given day? If that strip had been operating CONTINUOUSLY, always on, for a decade, THEN I'll be impressed.

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Why one data point is not evidence.

        Actually, I'd be more impressed if they were switching it on and off frequently - it would demonstrate that the thermal stresses and electrical surges involved were having little or no effect.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Boffin

          Re: Why one data point is not evidence.

          "Actually, I'd be more impressed if they were switching it on and off frequently - it would demonstrate that the thermal stresses and electrical surges involved were having little or no effect."

          Good point. The other issue is at that lamps are switched on at random phase in the mains cycle and cold incandescents have have a start resistance 1/10 to 1/12 that of their on resistance (Allegro microsystems data sheet). IE inrush current 10x to 12x normal at full potential difference across the terminals.

          I've long suspected that bulb mfg took advantage of this fact to ensure their life tests showed bulbs could last their 1000s of hours while ensuring an acceptable (to them) number of failures to keep the cash coming in.

    3. phil8192

      Re: Why one data point is not evidence.

      Neither is the so-called "Centennial Light". One can achieve a similar effect with any contemporary incandescent light by running it at a small fraction of its rated voltage so that the filament barely glows.

      1. Steve Knox
        Facepalm

        Re: Why one data point is not evidence.

        Neither is the so-called "Centennial Light".

        Yes.

        That.

        Was.

        My.

        Point.

  8. Herby

    More "efficient" but...

    How long will they last and at what cost?

    Another truism is that while incandescent lights are not that efficient in the production of light, they have a side effect of this "inefficiency", that they DO produce heat. While some installations of lights do not need the heat, there are instances where is is necessary. One town in the northern climes here in the USA decided to replace its stoplights with "efficient" led versions. Then came winter and the blowing snow clogged up the shadow tubes used to make the lights more visible to the motorists. Without the heat that was produced from the lights being on, the snow didn't melt causing a blockage. OOOPs not so good.

    Another example of using different tools to achieve results: One city here in the SF bay area turned on its lawn sprinklers in the middle of the day for watering during a drought. The common wisdom at the time was that it was more efficient to water at an early morning hour (better absorption, less evaporation, etc.). Nobody noticed the side effect of watering around noon: It kept people from sleeping on the grass in the middle of the day.

    Me: I want my 100 watt lights back so my office doesn't need to be heated and I can see better!

    1. Eric Olson
      Stop

      Re: More "efficient" but...

      Considering that GE is easily getting around the "ban" of the 100W by using a slightly lower watt halogen bulb, I'm not sure you'll have a problem with either the heat or the lumen output. The "ban" is really just a requirement that a bulb put out a certain amount of light per watt. Since the bog-standard bulb, unchanged for the most part since tungsten was discovered to be a prime filament in 1910, can't keep up with that at the 100W level, it is being phased out. That's all there is to it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: More "efficient" but...

        "Considering that GE is easily getting around the "ban" of the 100W by using a slightly lower watt halogen bulb"

        Yeah, I wrote about that below. In short, it's not as bright as a 100 watt bulb, and the light is utterly unbearable. Normally halogens look great, so I'm not even sure how they managed it, but the things are absolute trash. I was excited as hell when I saw them, but saying those bulbs 'easily get around' the regulations is like saying that a kick to the crotch would easily get around a ban on massages, because both impart energy to your body.

      2. phil8192
        Happy

        Re: More "efficient" but...

        There's another "out" in the United States. It turns out the ban on 100W incandescent bulbs didn't include specialty bulbs, such as "rough service lamps". Larry Birnbaum, an American entrepreneur, bought up manufacturing equipment as GE and Sylvania were getting out of the incandescent business and is now shipping honest-to-goodness 100W incandescent bulbs for people who want them or need them. Rough service lamps differ from standard lamps in that they have a couple of extra filament supports, making them very slightly more expensive to manufacture. See newcandescent.com.

        As an aside, Larry Birnbaum's surname is apropos: "Lichtbirne", literally "light pear", is the German word for "light bulb". Birnbaum means "pear tree". This "pear" tree is bearing a rich crop of light bulbs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: More "efficient" but...

          "Rough service lamps differ from standard lamps in that they have a couple of extra filament supports, making them very slightly more expensive to manufacture."

          Yes, I noticed one of them recently - they may be very slightly more expensive to manufacture, but this one cost $6.00 instead of the 4-for-$1.50 of normal bulbs...

          It was also, of course, a sickly-yellow-light version - though at this point 'soft yellow' may end up a better compromise than 'every other color dimmer than before'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More "efficient" but...

      And in summer you'll turn up the air conditioning? Or will you swap bulbs with the season?

      Yes incandescent bulbs are inefficient at producing light, did you stop to consider they are also inefficient at producing heat? You're not saving on your overall energy bill by having an 100W bulb in the room, that's just a load of nonsense.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: More "efficient" but...

        "And in summer you'll turn up the air conditioning?"

        No, I'll open the windows - I don't use AC. So in my case, at least, hot bulbs don't cost much.

        Now, if you live in San Juan, incandescent would probably be a bad choice when it comes to your aircon bill...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        Re: More "efficient" but...

        > And in summer you'll turn up the air conditioning?

        Erm, in summer you're not likely to have the lights on at all.

  9. Andrew Jones 2
    Alert

    I agree with Herby this argument about saving money on your electricity is crap. Sure you save money on your electricity using CFLs but unless you learn to live with a colder house, you spend more money on your heating - so the net effect is that you still pollute the air just as much as you always did. The cafe we own rises 2'C over an hour when we switch the room lighting on.

    What I would like to know - if they are intending to sell lightning that will last at least 10 years then either -

    a) it will either cost far too much for the average person to be able to replace their existing lighting with this.

    or

    b) it will have to have a built in flaw that makes it fail well before it's rated lifetime.

    Note we have a Philips CFL in our bathroom that is now about 18 years old, every few months it goes through a period where it flickers a lot and we think it will fail, but then it recovers and continues working just fine. No sign of it dying just yet. It weighs about the same as balloon half filled with water (is that an official el-reg measurement yet?)

    Any new CFL (and by new I mean anytime in the last 6 years) - has not even managed to last a year. And don't get me started on the new Halogen based lightbulbs - they don't even manage to last the same length of time as a bog standard 60w lightbulb - and these lightbulbs are running through a dimmer with soft start at a max of 90% of 240v.

    So there - that's my thoughts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Halogens don't like dimmers

      If you are running a halogen at anything other than full tilt boogie, you are shortening its life.

      The whole idea of the halogen is that the envelope has to get HOT. The tungsten evaporates from the filament, and reacts with the halogen gas filling the bulb to form a tungsten halide. If the envelope is hot, the halide won't deposit on it, and the interior of the bulb will reach an equilibrium wherein just as fast as the tungsten evaporates from the filament, it will be redeposited by the tungsten halide decomposing from the heat of the filament.

      If the envelope is not hot enough, that tungsten halide will deposit out on the envelope, the interior won't reach equilibrium, and eventually enough tungsten will evaporate from part of the filament to make it break.

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: Halogens don't like dimmers

        Thanks for the info. I had wired up a halogen with a diode in one leg and was surprised that it burned out after a few months when I had expected it to basically last forever. It's a trick I've done with incandescents, but I see now why it didn't work in this case.

        I like using dimmers (or diodes) for prolonging the life of incandescents, but one trick that gives spectacular life expectancy is to use a bulb rated for 220v on a 120v system like we have here. I have one "always on" light like that and I don't expect to have to replace it in my lifetime. The draw is around 1/4 it's rating, and the light output is very low, but quite adequate for it's intended purpose.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Halogens don't like dimmers

          My halogens in my bathroom are on a dimmer and have lasted for years now, can't remember last time I changed a bulb, but it was close to when I installed them and a flaky transformer blew.

          One thing halogens DO like is soft-start, my kitchen halogens, that are on a normal switch, blow frequently.

          I'm slowly replacing them with LEDs as they go.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. cnapan

        Re: Halogens don't like dimmers

        Well that's odd. We have about 30 of the things in our house and they're all on dimmers, and they're mainly turned down to low light settings, and the only ones we've ever had to replace in 7 years are the ones in the one room which has its lights up to full more of the time.

        Are you sure halogen lights aren't hot when turned low on a dimmer? I mean it's still an incandescent lightbulb after all, so it must get hot if it's going to emit any light at all.

      3. Richard 12 Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Halogens don't like dimmers?

        Rubbish! Tungsten Halogens on dimmers are absolutely fine.

        They're only warm enough for the tungsten to evaporate once they're already hot enough for the halogen cycle to run. These are a pretty big part of my day job, we'd notice this!

        Domestic ones are even better as the actual halogen capsule is tiny, protected inside the outer envelope so stays clean and loses less heat to the environment.

        Also - run them at 90% and you increase the lifetime by around 30% with a small drop in brightness, equally, run them at 110% and the lifetime drops by about 30-50% (with a bit of a brightness boost).

        Overvolting is pretty common in the UK - many lamps sold in the UK and Europe are 230V (or even 220V). In the UK, your actual mains voltage is usually 240V, sometimes (eg most of Central London) as high as 250V.

        - This is also why a lot of CFLs and LED lamps are awful. They're just not designed for the mains voltage we actually have.

        Flashing may kill them, but that's thermal shock snapping the supports or filament, not evaporation.

        So dimmer switches can be better - soft start, can run them at the actual rated (RMS) voltage, and the option to run at 90%.

        That said - GU10s are fragile as heck. Choose MR16 if you can, they last considerably longer. Low voltage halogen is also more efficacious than mains voltage of the same wattage, which is nice!

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      unless you learn to live with a colder house, you spend more money on your heating

      Only if you have electric heat. If you have gas heat, gas costs less just about any place I know of, and only in the winter.

      If you have your windows open that heat just flies out the window. If you have Air Conditioning that you pay twice in the summer as you have to pay to pump that unwanted heat out of your house.

      1. Andrew Jones 2
        Stop

        Re: unless you learn to live with a colder house, you spend more money on your heating

        I suggest you pop onto the internet and do yourself some research and then come back to us.....

        MAINS gas has even less coverage than ultrafast broadband / cable.

        We for instance in the Scottish Borders not only cannot access MAINS gas, but we have been informed we will never be able to access MAINS gas. That's fine though the government isn't interested in stopping fuel poverty - they just want to make sure we can watch BBC iPlayer with less buffering while we freeze to death because we cannot afford the prices that Calor charge for LPG.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. GerryMC
      Angel

      I replaced most of the large number (25+, stupid downlights) of 40W incandescent bulbs in my house with CFLs when I moved in 7 years ago. Some of the original Philips bulbs are still going, but cheap supermarket bulbs can fail quickly.

      The best thing is that I don't have the hassle of constantly replacing bulbs, I would average only 4-6 a year, and will be less once the last of the crappy ones fail. If I used incandescents, it could be 15-20 a year. I also live in a climate where I don't want the waste heat from 6x40w bulbs in summer, and have more cost effective heating options in winter.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Also bear in mind that fluorescents don't like being switched off and on regularly, by doing so you are shortening their life.

        So they are best used where you switch on a leave on for a long time, eg. living room or outdoors.

        1. Ilgaz

          Even funnier fact

          If you will arrive at the same location 1 hour later, it is better that you don't turn fluorescents off since the startup takes considerable amount of power.

          Like laptop shutdown vs sleep.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Even funnier fact

            Debunked by Mythbusters.

            1. Ilgaz

              Re: Even funnier fact

              I talk about old school real thing not the compact type. I have also read it in a science magazine. You can even hear the startup struggle in not so quality types.

              Inverter air conditioners also exist and they save considerable amount of energy for same reason.

    4. Zog The Undeniable
      Boffin

      Sorry, but that theory has been comprehensively debunked EXCEPT for one town in Canada, I think, where their electricity all comes from cheap and clean hydropower but their home heating is all from oil or something equally carbon-heavy. In that case they are indeed better off burning the electricity.

      For the UK energy mix (and the relative cost per kWh of electricity and gas here) you'd want the CH to take the load rather than your light bulbs.

  10. Barry Rueger
    Holmes

    Do These Interface With Tin Foil Hats?

    Here on the Wet Coast of Canada we have a critical mass of Letters to the Editor types who are convinced that their health is being irreparably damaged by a) cel tower radiation b) flouridation c ) smart electricity meter radiation d) WIFI radiation e) something else, not sure just what, but we're POSITIVE it's giving us headaches.

    As Donald Sutherland put it. "You gotta quit with them negative waves!"

    Now they'll be going on and on about these new light bulbs.

    1. The last doughnut
      Unhappy

      Re: Do These Interface With Tin Foil Hats?

      Yes but he killed that cat

  11. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Boffin

    hum from the fluorescent tubes?

    So either the researcher hasn't noticed the electronic high-frequency ballasts (standard in T5 fluorescents) that have been available at retail for a decade or he's a bat. They're more efficient, and don't produce sound a human can hear.

    The choice of fluorescent colour-temperatures available has increased as well. Complaints about 'light X' bothering people's eyes is very subjective. I suspect that some of it is due to poor installation design. A bright light at the edge of my field of view bothers me. I was in a theatre recently which had LED lights high above the stage, angled slightly towards the audience - very annoying.

    Any research team announcing a radical new way of doing something will always compare it to the worst features of the old way, even when incremental improvements have eliminated them.

    Yes, I'll take the shades.

    1. Shades
      Happy

      Re: hum from the fluorescent tubes?

      Ooooh... Were we going??

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      electronic high-frequency ballasts

      Canadian offices have mostly moved to T8 with Electronic ballasts (that can drive 5 single bulb fixtures). They have low voltage control so they can be turned off remotely at night, and as Allan said no hum, and no flicker (except when the bulb is about to die).

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. david 12 Silver badge

    Another EL panel

    A new process, a new color temperature. In other words, just more of the same, and if you were not using EL panels or strings before, you won't be using EL now.

    Point source lights are easier to install, and are designed to connect to mains voltage. Call me when EL has solved those problems.

  13. Herbert Meyer
    FAIL

    Rand Paul

    Kentucky's junior Senator, Rand Paul is not only opposed to more efficient light bulbs, he does not like low flow toilets. Being from KY, he thinks we need to burn more coal, and pollute more water.

    He is busy this month with his newest stooge, Rep. Massie, legalizing "Industrial" Hemp.

    Yeah, we need some of that Industrial Strength Hemp, if we smoke enough of it, we will become wacky enough to agree with him.

    1. Killraven

      Re: Rand Paul

      Your comments about "industrial" hemp show that your level of education rivals the Senator's.

      The hemp plants used for such industrial purposes have no significant (i.e., too miniscule for "recreational" use) amount of THC. It's a rather incredible and useful plant, that grows well in soil that is too poor for anything else.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Rand Paul

      While I have no patience for Rand Paul (whereas Ron Paul is another matter entirely), I concur on the "low flow toilets". Pretty sure that invention resulted in higher water throughput overall. Guess why.

      There is nothing more disgusting than State-Mandated Progressivism resulting in a pork cannonade for well-placed industries.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rand Paul

        "I concur on the "low flow toilets". Pretty sure that invention resulted in higher water throughput overall. Guess why."

        Only if the pan or cistern mechanism is poorly designed. I replaced two old 11 litre flush toilets with modern 6 litre flush units, and the flush of the "low flow" units is far better, reflecting decent design. I also retrofitted an old 11 litre cistern with a flap valve instead of a syphon, and I've got that down to 7 litres and working just fine. If you do something daft like reduce the cistern water level on an older toilet, but then constrain its release through a syphon then you are certainly heading for a blockage.

        Put bluntly, even the most fearsome dreadnought is what, 400 grammes maximum? Why should it take almost thirty times that mass of water to achieve an effective flush?

        1. Peter Simpson 1
          Trollface

          Re: Sanitary Engineering

          A well designed toilet is a work of art.

          Some day, the British will have the opportunity to see one.

          //seriously -- British toilets could use a redesign

    3. phil8192

      Re: Rand Paul

      You used the wrong icon when you posted. It should have been the "Troll" — as in "Bolshevik troll".

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LED Bulb Prices

    Agreed that if you buy them in the UK LED bulbs just are not worth the money due to few suppliers the price is crazy, that said china is 220v and its easy to import, ive not had one fail on me yet touch wood. As for the other comment about harsh blue light, what are you talking about leds ? most of the FL's and CFL's are around 3000 - 4000K (warm white), yes you can find cool white (5000 - 6000k) blue adjusted, which are closer to daylight (depending on the time of the year). Personally i hate warm white bulbs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LED Bulb Prices

      I've bought 2 chinese LED builbs, one has blown (internal circuit gone) and the other has rows of LEDs that are intermittent. Stick to Philips or something reputable.

  15. jptech

    they will find a way to make it more expensive

    It should costs a fraction of fluorescents. Watch them turn it into a premium type of light despite costing less and requiring less energy to operate.

    1. Ilgaz

      Lets not think about production too

      I really wonder how no name "environmentally friendly" bulbs are produced, how do they deal with waste etc.

      It would be easier just to buy and think you saved the environment.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder how thin they can be made

    Might be a useful replacement for CFL and LED backlights backing LCD screens if they really are as efficient as LEDs. If they can't be made quite thin enough for phones and tablets, they could still be useful for monitors and TVs.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Mitt Romney's wild exaggeration is a joke, but the lack of 100 watt (and soon 75 watt) bulbs pisses me the hell off. CFLs are *not* a valid replacement - as was pointed out above, the color temperature may be OK but the spectrum is often terrible; you see every color but only half of each one; the worst bulbs (and it seems to be impossible to figure out which are OK and which aren't) cast a ghastly light that makes it nearly impossible to read or judge color, and makes everybody look like zombies.

    Combine that with the fact that 'instant on' with CFLs in my experience means 'instantly turns on at 20% brightness, achieves full brightness in three minutes'. We've got a CFL in our entry room that works about as well as a half-lit candle for the first 45 seconds it's on - which are the only 45 seconds you're in the room, as you traverse it with five bags of groceries and a randomly-oscillating probability field of a four-year-old boy.

    LEDs often seem no better; even if I could afford them, it's a crap shoot with color quality, again. I got several quite-expensive ($200+) photo LED panels for my work, and they're fantastic. The $30 consumer bulbs that are supposedly as bright as a 75-watt incandescent and 5000k? My ass. I put one over my dining room table as a test, and I could literally barely read. The light was maybe 70% as apparently *bright* as a 100 watt incandescent bulb, but it somehow managed to turn a copy of The Economist into a mimeographed version of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    The other problem with most LED lights is the light *distribution* - even the ones labeled specifically to have full distribution act like spotlights. This, of course, means that your bathroom sconces suddenly light up a 100-square-centimeter area of the ceiling and fill the rest of the room with the equivalent of a 20 watt incandescent, but over random shards of the frequency spectrum.

    High quality LED lighting can be done; the photo lights I have are proof. They're brighter than the 1500-watt halogen work lights we have, the light is great, and the damn things can run on *batteries*. But whatever they're putting in consumer bulbs is freaking awful - expensive as hell and nearly worthless for illumination.

    So now I'm stuck with a choice between cutting the brightness of my house by 25%, using CFLs that probably will make my eyes bleed but some of them are OK and who knows which ones, or spending $2500 on photo light panels and lag-bolting them to the ceiling...

    The only other option seems to be figuring out a way to use three-way bulbs in normal sockets. I'm not sure what happens if you do this (maybe you only get the lowest wattage, or the highest?) but the damn three-way bulbs are still widely available in 75/100/150. I've tried the normal-form-factor halogens, too. The package said that it was 72 watts, 100 watts equivalent. But it's a not CFL, I think yay, good light!

    Well, I get home and feverishly screw the thing in, and lo, dim, eyeball-burning light. They managed to combine the power consumption of an incandescent with the unbearable spectral response of a CFL - genius! And why so dim? I read the box further about the '100 watt equivalent' claim. Turns out the 72 watt halogen bulb is 1150 lumens is 'equivalent' to the 100 watt tungsten at 1300. I guess the 72 watt bulb's lumens are brighter than the 100 watt bulb's lumens, and I just can't tell. *rolls eyes*

    At any rate, I don't philosophically oppose government regulation in situations like this. It's often needed to provide a prime-mover impulse for something everyone knows they ought to do but the market won't support due to a kind of tragedy-of-the-commons effect; seat belts in cars are a good example. The small percentage of people who refused to spend more for a car with belts, combined with the larger percentage who'd just go 'meh' and default to no-belts, was enough to tip the balance so that belt-including manufacturer A would be at a slight disadvantage vs. old-skool manufacturer B; in an industry where every percent is crucial, a forward-thinking but slightly more costly option could be critically damaging business-wise. The problem is solved by the government saying, OK, kids, everybody do this at once and we're all even.

    But in this case, the problem is that there really *isn't* an alternative that does the job. There just isn't - or if there is, I can't find it or can't afford it. All this is is a regressive tax on the poor that lowers quality of life for everyone who can't afford a kitchen bulb that's good enough for Annie Leibovitz.

    If this plastic does the job, sign me up - recycling be damned. I just want to light up my fucking house.

    1. phil8192
      Thumb Up

      Incandescents aren't gone

      Check out newcandescent.com. All the incandescents you want, now, in your old favourite wattages, for U.S. residents. Buy domestic; don't send your money to China.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Unhappy

        Re: Incandescents aren't gone

        I checked it out. Seems like a marketing wrapper on industrial bulbs, which I've seen elsewhere - also for several times as much money as regular bulbs. At the minimum order the newcandescent bulbs including shipping end up around four bucks a pop, which is still kinda pricey - though they are presumably at least bright.

        The worst thing is their marketing wrapper, honestly - they're the same damn rough service bulbs you get at the walmart, and they bill their guy (alongside Edison, yet) as 'the man who saved the incandescent'. The bullshit-ometer is pegging the needle; I think I'd rather let my eyes burn than hand money to deceptive twits like that.

        "Saved the incandescent light bulb"...

  18. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Interesting, but I want to see the real thing first!

    It's just EL panels/strings.

    EL has always been pretty expensive and rather dim (although high efficacy).

    What's new here is the colour - previously it was mostly greenish, although some new colours have become available.

    My guess (not read the paper) is that they've simply mixed a few EL colours together into one sheet of plastic.

    As to lifetime, EL items don't "blow", they just get dimmer and less efficacious as they age, until you finally get annoyed with them.

    Without the degeneration curve the claim is meaningless.

    LED actually does the same, (except for the odd ruptured diode). The lifetime quoted is generally either to 70% or 50% of output when new.

    Finally, a lot of white LEDs look horrible because many of the bins allow green, which humans really cannot stand, instead of allowing magenta which we can.

    It remains to be seen what the actual spectrum of this is.

  19. John Robson Silver badge

    Dimmable?

    Preferably with existing dimmer switches...

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Dimmable?

      Depends what you mean by "existing" dimmer switches.

      If you mean existing modern electronic ones that will also dim low-voltage halogens and CCFLs, then almost certainly yes.

      If you mean the shonky old variable resistor type, the smart money's got to be on no.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge
        Unhappy

        No, not dimmable.

        Absolutely, 100% certain that no, they are not dimmable by 'existing' dimmer switches.

        Your existing ones are either SCR or rheostat, although if they were particularly expensive then they might be reverse-phase (IGBT).

        EL panels use a very high-frequency driver. Any dimming possible is done by giving the drive electronics hard power and a separate control signal to indicate desired level.

        Most EL drivers aren't dimmable at all, and those that can don't go very far - maybe 50% minimum?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    How many commentards does it take to change a plastic light strip?

  21. JaitcH
    WTF?

    Michele Bachmann felt so outraged ... that she introduced the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act

    And you wonder why the US is in such a mess with kooks like Bachmann in office?

    1. phil8192
      Thumb Down

      Re: Michele Bachmann felt so outraged ... that she introduced the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act

      Michele Bachmann isn't the problem. It's Bolshevik kooks like you who keep electing and re-electing Marxist-socialist apparatchiks to office that's the problem.

  22. Offnow

    T8 Fluorescent tubes are still hard to beat

    Modern 1.5m T8 fluorescent tubes are more efficient than ever and have good colour options. With modern inductive ballasts they neither buzz nor flicker except on starting, but there is a recent UK patent GB2436402 on a retro-fit fast starter that beats all the rest and could save electricity by encouraging people to switch off more often because switching on is as fast as an incandescent lamp. Many of the huge number of installed battens, have another twenty years of life left, and with few components are highly safe and reliable. Why should this proven technology be discarded for no substantial cost effective advantage? Or is it just to satisfy our green credentials?

  23. Zog The Undeniable
    Happy

    LEDs are fine

    But you have to pay proper money for them. The 2700K Philips ones we have are all excellent; brighter than the quoted incandescent equivalent would suggest, good colour and spectrum, instant-on, no failures. Sainsbury's usually have them for £10 each.

    The cheaper LEDs, like the MR16 ones we have in the bathroom, have bad spectrum (purples and greens are enhanced) and 2/10 failed in the first year.

    CFLs almost universally suck; the much-recommended Megaman ones actually have the worst warmup time of almost three whole minutes. The best CFLs we have are the 20W GE spirals, which are about as good as a 60W incandescent. Provided you don't have to look at them.

  24. James Hughes 1

    My experience

    Most of house is CFL, with some LED GU10, rest incandescent.

    CFL have lasted forever - can't remember the last time I changed one. One at least was in the house when I moved in 5 years ago, and is still going - sometimes takes a few goes to start up. Not really troubled by different light spectrum's or slow startup times on the older ones.. The incandescent GU10's pop about 1-2 a year, and I replace with LED's - LED's GU10 are a bit crap - not really bright enough for the kitchen, so really should buy more expensive ones with higher light output - open to recommendations. Preferably dimmable - two rooms with ceilings full of GU10 are on dimmers so normal LED's don't work.

    Haven't quantified the savings, but certainly using less leccy that a house full of incandescents, and replacements have been few and far between. Do have a both of 100W etc in the garage, won;t use them unless an emergency comes along!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My [email protected] Hughes 1

      "LED's GU10 are a bit crap - not really bright enough for the kitchen, so really should buy more expensive ones with higher light output - open to recommendations"

      Try the dimmable £10 Tesco LED GU10's - equivalent to 35W, and quite well made as far as I can see. I replaced the bathroom 50W halogen triples with these, and nobody else in the house has noticed, although I know the light output is a little bit down from doing "with and without" comparisons. You may want to avoid the Tesco non-dimmable, because the light output is 20% less, although so is the price.

      If you're using them as quasi-flood lighting rather than spot, you could follow my approach and use a pan scourer to gently frost the lens, that usefully widens the beam (how's that for shed-tech?).

  25. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Boffin

    Now if they could *print* the electronic ballast along with the lamp.

    That would be pretty impressive.

    Just saying.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Efficiency?

    Since when have LEDs been twice as efficient as ordinary fluorescent tubes? ISTR reading white LEDs were only just creeping past focussed halogen, and only then because the light comes out one side at source. Also, the phosphors in them do wear out, so they may last a long time but they roughly linearly decrease in brightness over that time.

    I actually like the modern halogens in a glass envelope, apart from their crap life. They look the most pleasing and have a very nice light.

  27. paulc
    WTF?

    I still find it amazing...

    that the replacements for incandescent lights contain all the circuitry in their bases to convert the AC into the required supply for the light... surely it would make far more sense to have a decently specced conversion unit that then runs the required supplies to the lights and thus removing all the excessive gubbins that currently gets sent to hazardous waste landfill because of the mercury in the tube... then the mass going to landfill will be far smaller and far fewer resources are required to manufacture the bulbs themselves...

    if people went onto LED lighting for their homes, then the lighting circuits could be plain 12V DC.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: I still find it amazing...

      As every bulb may have a different power draw, and as LEDs like their current regulated, distributing at 12V DC wouldn't really solve much as bulbs or (preferably) fixtures would still need a regulator circuit. CFLs can run on DC, but need a 'ballast/starter' circuit (a step-up converter actually) anyway too.

      With LEDs and CFLs, one could save a few components by distributing DC instead of AC, with a central rectifier unit (also makes battery backup and PV solar support much simpler), but it would need extensive rewiring of your house (more feasible with new installations). Also, the existing installed base still needs AC, and leaving out the two components one could save with DC distribution would require two distinctly marked sets of bulbs, running counter to the economy of scale we have now (and the number of DC units would probably be quite low for the forseeable future).

      1. handle

        Re: I still find it amazing...

        And the whole point of using a higher voltage is to reduce the copper losses: doubling the voltage results in the losses for a given power being transmitted through a given thickness of cable being quartered. Using 12V rather than 230VRMS would need cables of 300 times the cross-sectional area! They don't make 400kV transmission lines for fun.

        (Solar feed is even trickier than LED load. You have to have a maximum power point tracker to present the optimum load resistance to the cells, with the result that the input voltage goes all over the place. A DC system would remove the additional complication of having to synchronise the output to the mains waveform, but it would still require an inverter to match the voltage.)

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: I still find it amazing...

          Using 12V rather than 230VRMS would need cables of 300 times the cross-sectional area!

          Theoretically, yes. Although, given that LED lighting draws way less current than incandescent for a given illumination level, one could skimp a bit there.

  28. tempemeaty
    Pint

    Virtual skylights of plastic fantastic?

    I've always wanted something like this. I think it would be amazing to take out many of the suspended ceiling panels and replace them with light panels from this technology. It would have the feel of having skylights in the office. You could conceivably even create whole seamless lighted ceilings. It'll finally feel like we've moved into the 21st century.

  29. Mage Silver badge

    CFLs, LEDs

    It's meaningless to talk about the Colour Temperature or how nice the "White" looks, if the spectrum is spikey or has gaps. LEDs are all worse than CFLs and of course the WORSE is an RGB LED adjusted to give a perfect Colour Temperature. RGB is an optical illusion that works for displays where the original image capture was full continuous spectrum using three (or more) curves to simulate the eye's response,

    Also you need to compare the angle / dispersion of the light. The claims of CFL output vs Halogen are inflated. Taking into account ageing and temperature, x4 or less is more realistic over life than the x6 or x5 often quoted. While LED are now impressive the colour rendition is rubbish and the extra efficiency vs Florescent / CFL is exaggerated too. The lifetime is of course the AVERAGE life at ideal voltage and operating temperature, so the actual life of CFLs can be a problem.

    Also the capacitors can dry out in the CFL and LED SMPSU (=Electronic ballast) creating a huge amount of RFI. Some makers leave out filtering. This is a problem with "electronic ballast" on tubes too now. The "hum" is badly designed mounts / bad fitting etc from the ballast choke. Nothing to do with Florescent Tube. Any I've fitted with "hum" over last 40 years I have cured.

    I'm currently replacing LEDs and CFLs with more pleasing Halogens and in "work areas" with conventional Florescent tubes using passive choke (inductor) ballasts. You can even get more deluxe fittings for tubes with "filament" transformers for instant start, almost no flicker and dimmable.

    I first saw flat EL panel lamps in 1971. Problem was short life. Longer life "organic" ones have been on sale for years, so it's hard to know what is different with these new lights. Also OLEDs used in phones etc are not really LEDs in the normal sense but actually an array of organic EL devices which happen to have diode like properties. Perhaps these new panels are similar organic EL tech, in which case, yes you can have lovely "Colour Temperature" and a rubbish spectrum.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: CFLs, LEDs

      "The lifetime is of course the AVERAGE life at ideal voltage and operating temperature"

      1% of bulbs last for 800 years; the rest last for two months.

  30. Imsimil Berati-Lahn
    Pint

    There's a lot of emotion here regarding something so mundane.

    Really, government could have worked their way around this ludicrously emotive issue by a simple type approval specification. For example, an industry standard stating that devices for providing artificial illumination should have a visible light energy output to input energy ratio of greater than 0.7 if they are for individual sale on the open market. This should be in addition to something along the lines of... should have a rated MTBF of greater than 5 years continuous use, have a manufacture energy consumption of less than XXX Joules per unit. The toxic chemical specs are already covered by the likes of RoHS and other similar legislation.

    Hats off to the bio-lumo-panel johnnies! Well done. I look forward to tiling my ceiling in inexpensive and efficient illumination units.

  31. The Alpha Klutz

    This is promising

    If the claims are true then it pretty much makes all prior lighting systems look like crap. Sort of like upgrading from plastic bags to real shoes.

  32. An0n C0w4rd

    Get what you pay for

    I got some fairly expensive 5W GU10 LED bulbs in April this year and they have worked flawlessly, and give of significantly more light than the 50W halogens they replaced. I've since replaced most of the GU10s in my house with the LEDs.

    Will the energy savings ever justify the cost of the bulb? Impossible to say as that will depend on the lifetime of the bulb. However, given the extra light I'm getting, if you factor in the cost of the extra wiring and light fittings it more than adds up.

    IMHO there needs to be encouragement to use the more energy efficient bulbs, probably by creating a sliding tax scale based on number of lumens per watt, the more light per watt the lower the tax. That to me is more justifiable than banning entire categories of product, and we've seen that manufacturers find a way around them anyway. I think all that the EU incandescent bulb ban has done is force people to replace their lights with halogen style lights (such as the aforementioned GU10). I was not particularly impressed with the halogen GU10s, especially with how much electricity they used and how much heat they put out, but its what my house came with so unless I want to re-plaster the ceilings I'm stuck.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Get what you pay for

      "Will the energy savings ever justify the cost of the bulb? Impossible to say as that will depend on the lifetime of the bulb."

      I take the inference about the unknown lifetime, but if you've replaced a 50W halogen with a 5 or 6W LED, at a cost of a tenner, then you'll recover the capital cost in about 2200 hours of running, so that's well within the expected LED life, around 3 years at two hours a day (and about the same lifetime as a good quality halogen GU10).

      In high occupancy areas like kitchens and living rooms you could get payback in half that. And with the government making a mess of energy policy in it's Canute like plans on climate change, electricity costs will increase by about 7% a year over the next few years, thus bring forward the payback on energy efficiency measures.

  33. A J Stiles
    FAIL

    Grow Up

    The whole point of energy-saving lighting is that we cannot simply keep wasting irreplaceable fossil fuels on producing unwanted heat just for the sake of a bit of wanted light. You might find it inconvenient that you aren't allowed to buy certain kinds of light bulb anymore. Well, tough: the rules are there for other people's benefit. You might also find it inconvenient that you have to drive your car on the public roads and go the long way around, rather than taking a short cut through someone else's land. They probably like it that way.

    When (and it's coming within our lifetimes: generating capacity per person is steadily decreasing) electricity is rationed and you can choose between having a 100W filament bulb on for an hour or a 20W CFL on for five, I'm betting the energy-saving option won't seem so bad.

    1. phil8192

      Re: Grow Up

      "... we cannot simply keep wasting irreplaceable fossil fuels on producing unwanted heat just for the sake of a bit of wanted light."

      There are alternatives, such as clean, safe nuclear energy from thorium liquid salt reactors , but the environmentalist Luddites don't want that, either. It's been estimated that there's enough thorium in the Earth's crust to meet the needs of mankind for the next 10,000 years.

      Sometimes the heat from an incandescent light is wanted, such as providing light AND heat to plants on a frosty night to keep them from freezing or keeping a pump house warm so that one's well doesn't freeze on a cold night. Try doing that with your fluorescent, electroluminescent or LED lamp.

      "When ... electricity is rationed ..."

      The idea of rationing is part-and-parcel of socialist governments that stifle innovation. Move away from socialism and embrace capitalism and free enterprise if you want abundance.

      1. A J Stiles
        FAIL

        Re: Grow Up

        1: Non-renewable energy is a finite resource. (Even if there is 10 000 years' worth of it, we'll simply be repeating this in 10 000 years' time.)

        2: The population is growing exponentially.

        3: That finite amount of energy has to be shared among an increasing number of people.

        4: At some point in the future, the amount of energy available per person per day will be less than the maximum amount of energy that a person can use in a day.

        5: At that point, one of two things is inevitable: energy rationing (the civilised option), or the strong stealing energy from the weak (the barbaric option).

        Which of the above statements do you dispute, and how?

        1. phil8192

          Re: Grow Up

          I dispute ALL of it. Read "Merchants of Despair" by Robert Zubrin (New Atlantis Books, 2012) and you'll understand.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: Grow Up

          1: Non-renewable energy is a finite resource. (Even if there is 10 000 years' worth of it, we'll simply be repeating this in 10 000 years' time.)

          I'd like to think that in 10,000 years we might have figured out solar panels, or come up with some other method of energy generation. Given that it took us about 10,000 to go from the stone age to here, and that the vast majority of technical progress has occurred in the last 500 years of that span, I could rest easy putting off the problem for 100 centuries.

          It's one thing to oppose planning two quarters ahead; it's another entirely to refuse to enact a potentially planet-saving option because there might be a problem 500 generations from now.

          2: The population is growing exponentially.

          Incorrect. Birth rates in the rich world are right about at replacement-level - a fertility rate of 2.1. The developing world is still significantly higher than that, but birth rates in those areas are plummeting. Population will clearly stabilize at a higher level than now, but will almost certainly not be terminally-increasing - and surely will not continue exponentially; if that were really the assumption, power would be the least of our concerns.

          3: That finite amount of energy has to be shared among an increasing number of people.

          Again, the number of people will not be increasing for the next 10,000 years - probably not even for the next 150. There are myriad sources for this; mine include a couple of recent features in The Economist, which is hardly either a leftist mouthpiece or a paranoid right-wing rag.

          4: At some point in the future, the amount of energy available per person per day will be less than the maximum amount of energy that a person can use in a day.

          I'm not sure what this means, really. Give me 500 hairdryers and I could use an awful lot of energy in one day. I'm fairly sure my four-year-old uses as much energy as a traffic jam full of SUVs - though he is somewhat miraculously powered solely by yogurt-covered raisins, milk, and vegetable sticks. The maximum potential energy usage is neither here nor there; average energy usage is what matters. If energy becomes expensive enough, presumably people in Florida will cease cooling their homes to 55f and suburbanites will start doing their laundry on cold/cold. Hell, this kind of behavior modification alone might save more energy than all the CFL bulbs in the world...

          It's not as simple as Armageddon-when-we-cross-the-red-line.

          5: At that point, one of two things is inevitable: energy rationing (the civilised option), or the strong stealing energy from the weak (the barbaric option).

          Per my rebuttals to points one and two, this isn't terribly relevant, but: I disagree with the over-simplified hyperbole in Phil's last sentence, but your argument in response to it is that rationing is inevitable. However, even if we assume a catastrophic energy scenario, your assertion relies on humanity choosing the civilized option over the powerful-taking-from-the-weak option .

          When has -that- ever happened?

          One could argue that in any scenario where humanity is overall civilized enough to respond to an energy crisis with equitable rationing, a solution to the problem has already been found, and that if a solution is not found, a barbaric response is almost assured.

          Therefore, I dispute all of your above statements except for number four, because that one is already both true and not relevant to the discussion at hand.

          J'accuse!

  34. phil8192
    Meh

    Not so fast!

    The article makes it sound as if you'll be able to go to your local hardware store or home improvement centre next November and buy these things. Even though the article says they're going into production next year, I seriously doubt it. Five years from now is more likely. We've seen lots of pie-in-the-sky technologies touted in magazines in the last 40-50 years that NEVER made it to market, and many more that have taken a decade or more while mass production and reliability concerns were ironed out.

    Electroluminescent film technology isn't new. It's been used for night lights and instrument panel backlighting since the the 1960s at least, although those early versions haven't been bright enough to use for general room lighting. They've all suffered from degradation in humid environments. Where they're theoretically supposed to last for 25 years or more, I've had to throw a number of electroluminescent lights away after 5-8 years as they turned black along the edges and the overall output of the lights decreased to the point where they weren't even good enough to use as a night light. It remains to be seen if that problem has been solved in this new, brighter version.

    The hum and flicker problem with fluorescent tubes was solved long ago with electronic ballasts that switch at 10 kHz, far too fast for the eye to see and using components that inherently don't vibrate and emit sound. A wide variety of phosphors are available that emit everything from natural daylight to incandescent light color temperatures. Even the latest LED lights can't compete with fluorescents in energy efficiency. I expect fluorescent lighting to be with us for a long time yet.

    Finally, to replace fluorescents, these lights would have to put out 50 to 100 times more light per unit area. Fluorescent lighting, although uniform and shadow-free, is surprisingly DIM. I've suffered with eye problems for decades due to having worked in fluorescent-lit office environments, and by actual measurement found their light output to be about 1-2 percent that recommended in the Westinghouse Lighting Handbook for paperwork at a desk. That, more than their color or flicker, will cause eye fatigue and eventual eye damage.

    I'll believe it when I see it and after I've had a chance to measure actual light output in a realistic application.

  35. Jim 59

    "The government would have banned Thomas Edison's light bulb"

    That would be Joseph Swan's light bulb, Mr Romney.

    1. phil8192

      Re: "The government would have banned Thomas Edison's light bulb"

      No, Mr. Romney is correct. Swan's invention was and remained a laboratory curiosity. Edison's team invented the incandescent light independently, greatly improved on Swan's version, and made it mass-producible and affordable for the public. Moreover, Edison provided a complete system of electric power generation and distribution to power his new lights, which other light inventors did not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Alert

        Re: "The government would have banned Thomas Edison's light bulb"

        "Moreover, Edison provided a complete system of electric power generation and distribution to power his new lights, which other light inventors did not."

        Edison's popular glorification usually forgets the bit where he pushed DC generation in order to make more money from his patents, despite it having manifold disadvantages vs. AC - separate power lines for every desired voltage, massively thick wiring needed for long runs, and inefficiencies up the wazoo. Worse, Edison was so invested in promoting his method that he ran a smear campaign against AC, alleging that it was significantly more dangerous than DC (though you'd want to stick a fork in neither kind of outlet). Among other things, he publicly electrocuted stray cats, and hired a guy to design the electric chair and have it used. The people in charge miscalculated the necessary voltage, and the electric chair's first 'customer' was horribly injured with the first shock, and ended up dying only after several more, screaming in agony and burning. I'm not sure I'm willing to give extra plaudits to Mr. Edison for that particular brainchild.

        My understanding is that Edison's system of distribution, in the end, was shown to be utterly impractical and was, shall we say...

        ...phased out.

        I'll be here all week.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    somebody tell this "writer"

    that the election is over? Just because we have a President who campaigned almost all his adult life doesn't mean that all his cronies have to keep it up as well.

    tech talk, not partisan bullsh*t please. Save the "Blame everything on Bush/GOP/Romney for the next 4 years" for Huffpo or dailyKOS.

  37. Peter Simpson 1
    Stop

    CF aren't that bad

    When I had my house built, 20+ years ago, I opted for recessed, dual 13W CF fixtures in the kitchen and hallways. Over the strenuous objections of my wife, who claimed they were cold, harsh and flickered. I installed 2700K bulbs, which to my (color blind) eyes looked indistinguishable from incandescent. She admitted they did to her as well. And the only time they flicker is when they are failing.

    Granted, we did get a batch of Philips "green" (low mercury I assume) bulbs, which on average, lasted less than a year, but other than that we get many (10+ in some cases) years from them. The best part is the power use, 1/4 that of incandescent, and the rebate I got from the power company which pretty near paid for the whole install.

    Yes, I'd do it again. Fluorescent, because of the mercury and lack of aggressive recycling, is not my first choice, but I can certainly live with the quality of the light. I look forward to testing the "plastic lights"

  38. Oldfogey
    Childcatcher

    Poor recycling

    CFL's contain far more in the way of unpleasant chemicals than incandescents.

    incandescents always ended up in landfill, but this presented no particular problems.

    Almost all CFLs still end up in landfill. Most people have no idea that they should be recycled, and no readilly available method of doing so. I pass my local tip most days, so no big deal to drop in. My elderly mother in law cannot walk the 50 yards to the other end of the block of flats, where the recycling bins are - so everything has to go in the nearby landfill bin. To get to the tip she would have to take a taxi, cost around £15. Not going to happen.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Poor recycling

      Over here, every shop that sells bulbs (including supermarkets) has a bin for depositing spent ones, and one for batteries as well. Couldn't be easier, you just have to remember to bring them with you when you go there.

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