A Twisted Bulb Idea

Replacements for your regular bulbs?   As seen on the Solovyov design page mentioned in the below article, more specifically on lighting   From "Helablog, a taste of chaos":  
  Try wrapping you head around this light bulb. The very cleverly done project by a Belarusian design duo Solovyov Design, is a fluorescent bulb measuring not much bigger than a standard bulb, however, the open form provides a dissipation light that is normally not found in single point light sources. Aptly called “Insight” the energy efficient bulb is a parody of the classic “light bulb going off above your head” when you get an idea….except this one is a brain bulb.
Posted in CFLs | Leave a comment

Research Report: Mercury in Fluorescent Lighting

Continuing on with the recent excellent additions to Howard Brandston’s website, http://www.concerninglight.com/commentary.html, it links to an extensive study (alt link) by Rik Gheysens about mercury on fluorescent lighting, the preliminary report now being available, it will have a finalised version, meanwhile the author welcomes comments to it via the email in the document. The latest update is available here: http://users.skynet.be/fc298377/: Direct document link to the last version, at the time of writing. It is much the same as on Howard’s site, but the below extracts are from the that version:  
CONTENTS 1. Impact of mercury exposure on human health 2. Mercury: demand and supply 3. Mercury in fluorescent lighting 4. Does mercury in lighting result in less mercury in the environment compared to traditional light bulbs? 5. UNEP and EU intertwined with private interests 6. Health problems during production phase, use and disposal of fluorescent lighting 7. Ethical consuming and freedom of choice 8. Conclusion Summary (of each section) 1. Impact of mercury exposure on human health It is an accepted fact that mercury and methyl mercury in particular are very dangerous to human health. An overview is given of the characteristics of mercury, the health effects and the origin of methyl mercury in fish. 2. Mercury: demand and supply Some facts are summed up about the reduction of the global primary mercury production, the global consumption, the emission of mercury to the atmosphere, and the average emission in some countries. The chapter ends with a short discussion about actions which have been undertaken to reduce mercury emission in power plants. 3. Mercury in fluorescent lighting We bring into focus the demand of mercury by the lighting sector. The directive 2002/95/EC has exempted the fluorescent lamps from the requirement for the substitution of mercury. What is the amount of mercury in fluorescent lamps and in particularly in CFLs? At this moment, no alternatives for fluorescent tubes and HID lamps are available. But CFLs can be very easily substituted. We ascertain that the most suitable alternative for the CFL is the halogen lamp and the incandescent lamp but in some countries the incandescent lamp has been banned. 4. Does mercury in lighting result in less mercury in the environment compared to traditional light bulbs? We try to answer the question if the argumentation to justify CFLs in the U.S. and in EU-27 is valid. We find that today, an average of mercury between 0.006 and 0.009 mg/kWh is emitted during the generation of electricity in EU-27 (instead of 0.016 mg/kWh) and about 0.009 or 0.010 mg/kWh in the U.S. (instead of 0.012 mg/kWh). Comparing a clear incandescent bulb, a new halogen lamp and a CFL, we find that the new halogen lamp is the best choice and the CFL the worst choice. So, the CFL cannot be justified. Because of these findings, an immediate ban has to be ordered on CFLs. In regions with a low emission of mercury, the net result is that only CFLs are spreading mercury. In regions with a huge emission of mercury, other measures than the distribution of CFLs are needed to reduce the pollution. 5. UNEP and EU intertwined with private interests UNEP has given undue preference to Philips Lighting and OSRAM AG through the en.lighten iniative. The partnership with UNEP is not only intended to promote CFLs over the whole world but also to develop a road-map for the global phase-out of incandescent bulbs. Under the pressure of CFL manufacturers, the U.S. and the E.U. took measures to ban incandescent lamps. The world has to be freed from the undue obtrusiveness with which some lighting manufacturers are spreading their CFLs. The lobby of the private industry in the decision making in the E.U. must urgently be restrained. 6. Health problems during production phase, use and disposal of fluorescent lighting Serious health problems are recorded during the production phase of CFLs, in particularly in China, where most CFLs are produced. Research is going on to investigate if ultraviolet and electromagnetic radiation from CFLs is a risk factor for the aggravation of light-sensitive symptoms in some patients. Broken CFLs mean a danger to the health, especially for children. The measures issued by the governments or institutions of different countries are not univocal. Not recycled CFLs are a serious problem for the environment and for health. 7. Ethical consuming and freedom of choice The consumer has the right to acquire the most appropriate product to meet his well-considered demands. The ban on incandescent lamps means a violation of the free market principles. Certain preferences cannot be fulfilled by CFLs. The Cradle to Cradle principle suggests that every product should have a complete cycle mapped out for each component. This is not the case with CFLs, due to the fact that most of these lamps end up in a landfill and due to the losses during exploitation of mercury, production phase and breakage. Ethical minded consumers don’t want to buy fluorescent lamps because these lamps do not comply with an ethical production, i.e. with a minimal harm to the natural environment. This chapter ends with a small test of CFLs. The conclusion is that in the given circumstances, to buy a CFL is somehow to take part in a lottery. 8. Conclusion The production of CFLs should be banned immediately. We demand an immediate lift of the ban on incandescent lamps and clear notices on the package about the content of mercury and about the dangers intrinsic to fluorescent tubes. Each habitant should be able to receive data about the emission of fine particles, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury, etc. in his region. Especially in Europe, a lack of such information is ascertained. In a nutshell • Coal fired power plants are by far the largest source of mercury to air. • A range of widely available, technical and economically feasible practices, technologies, and compliance strategies are available to power plants to meet the emission limits. • A VITO-study concluded: “(…) even in the worst possible case that a CFL goes to the landfill, during its lifetime it will have saved more mercury emissions from electricity production in coal power plants (compared to the mercury emissions related to the conventional incandescent bulbs’ electricity need) than is contained in the CFL itself, so the overall mercury pollution balance will be positive.” (VITO-report 2009) This mantra, based on outdated figures, is still repeated without further research. Meanwhile, in any developed country or state, emission limits are valid. Nowadays in Europe and in the U.S., all base is lacking to justify the use of CFLs and to ban the incandescent light bulb. • In other countries with a higher power plant mercury emission, it would witness of malicious pleasure to distribute mercury containing CFLs to tackle the problem of mercury pollution. One has to deal with the problem of the power plant mercury emission, and one has not to add a new problem. If one would fully consider the ‘way of mercury’, – the exploitation of mercury mines, the manufacturing and recycling of CFLs inclusive – , then one should discover how noxious this whole process is. • U.S. EPA must stop to spread wrong information about the mercury pollution in landfills. Their assertion that CFLs reduce the amount of mercury released in the environment is not correct. The new halogen lamps and even the incandescent bulbs are better than CFLs, regarding the environmental impacts. • The E.U. must stop to use the outdated number of mercury pollution by power plants. With the correct number, they cannot prove that CFLs are better than the halogen and incandescent lamps. The ban on incandescent lamps has to be lifted! It was a great mistake to design the mercury containing CFLs.
A well researched review, with an interesting if rather extreme conclusion even for this SYLBTW blog taste (“the production of CFLs should be banned immediately”!). But a welcome counter to all the usual defence arguments about “other mercury sources” etc being worse, which is always a weak justification at the best of times – to the extent mercury is a problem, wherever found, then 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Not even in Washington!
Posted in CFLs & Health Issues, Mercury and Health, Scientific Research | 4 Comments

See FL: (S)tripping the Light Fantastic

From Freedom Light Bulb blog post   Having looked inside a LED bulb, there are naturally enough a lot more examples of CFL dissections out there, having been around longer as replacements for regular incandescent bulbs…     From the EE Times article “How compact fluorescent lamps work–and how to dim them” A good, very technical description of CFL function.  
      From Australian engineer Rod Elliott’s article “Should There be a Ban on Incandescent Lamps?” A good lengthy account also for the layman, which despite the title actually mainly deals with CFL issues in all aspects, in usage, safety issues and more.  
      From Save the Bulb "CFL Autopsy" article  
This is an Osram CFL from a few years ago that has stopped working. I cut the base in half with an angle grinder as a hacksaw would not cut the black insulating material in the bayonet connector. This rather brutal approach destroyed quite a few components on the board. This is basically a pretty crude electronic fluorescent gear that is not nearly as efficient as it could be as evidenced by the rather large choke, the thing that looks like a transformer with an iron core and copper windings at the back. This lamp (when it was working!) started with a brief flicker. One of the broken bits was a neon lamp as are found in old fashioned starters so I suspect this was part of a crude and inefficient capacitor start, these are also likely to fail before other parts of the lamp. The weight of this lamp was 82 grammes, 20 grammes was the circuit board that may well have been working and certainly is in many lamps that are thrown away. The glass tube is 40 grammes, the metal lamp cap 6 grammes therefore 16 grammes of plastics derived from fossil fuels makes the remainder. The mercury content will be anything between 2mg and 5mg depending on the age and manufacturer of the lamp. The construction of this lamp allows the electronics module to be easily separated from the tube however the plastic base is fixed to the tube with expanded foam so it would be difficult to separate the plastic and glass for recycling. A typical equivalent Incandescent lamp weighs 34 grammes approximately 27 grammes of this being the glass envelope, cap approximately 6 grammes and approximately 1 gramme of metals including the filament. Since writing this page some further information has come to my attention. As part of the EuP work done by VITO, spreadsheets were used to analyse the environmental impact of different lamp types. The spreadsheets were originally written for the assessment of the impact of general domestic electrical equipment so there may be errors due to the relative size of lamps. The outputs of the spreadsheet included the following numbers: • Energy used in manufacture: GLS 1 MJ = 0.28KwH CFLi 12MJ = 3.33 KwH [ed- as from similar Osram and Philips CFL manufacture data, such energy usage quoted is from the assembly of already made components. Including the energy needed to make the components themselves, raises CFL energy use to 40 times or more that of incandescents, as from Dr Stanjek's study (commissioned by Greenpeace, so hardly research biased): Referenced, with more on the issue: ceolas.net/#li16x] • Pollutants created in manufacture and winning the materials required: GLS 5 grammes, non hazardous CFLi 128 grammes, 78 grammes being hazardous waste So basically each CFLi manufactured causes one and a half times its weight in waste and a weight equal to itself in hazardous waste. As I said above these figures are subject to question but are alarming as they stand.
    On a lighter, nay, dimmer note... a reminder from a previous post     Imagine calling a fluorescent bulb Tru Dim 😉 (it's dimmable, apparently, and full of fun components)  
Posted in CFLs | Leave a comment

The Brandston Research Team’s Fluorescent Light Bulb Study

  imageHoward Brandston is a well known New York lighting designer, and is the Congress consultant of choice when they holding hearings into light bulb matters. The following information is from his website commentary. As mentioned in a previous post, he is shortly launching a campaign against the light bulb regulations on a Facebook page, details which will appear on the above website link. Given his status, it will hopefully get a good following.  
Research into the Effects and Implications of Increased CFL Use In September 2009, I assembled a first-class team of doctors and researchers to study the implications of the wide-spread use of CFLs. Supported in part with a grant from the IES, the primary intention was to determine if further investigation and research is warranted to re-examine the direction of current and proposed lighting related legislation. Our study included: • A literature search of the health hazards post by Electro-magnetic Fields • Measurements of the fields generated by CFLs • Measurements of EMF’s at installations • Creation of a detailed list of potential problems stemming from installed CFL usage • An analysis of actual installation system efficiencies – CFL vs. Incandescent • An illustration of dimmer induced SPD shifts with CFLs. Illustrated with SPDs. Our findings fully support that further research must be done. The full research report [originally published March 2010] is available here. The document is large — 3MB (.pdf). http://www.concerninglight.com/2010-03_Final-Report_comprehensive.pdf
  RE ” further research must be done”, it may be noted that Canada has indeed delayed a ban for (at least) 2 years, in part because of CFL concerns, more: http://freedomlightbulb.blogspot.com/2011/11/canada-delay-to-2014-its-official.html   Introduction and Conclusion excerpts from the Brandston team study:  
The main purpose of the study is to determine if more research is required before the ban on ordinary incandescent lamps takes effect. If it is determined that it would be in the best interest of the country to conduct further studies, then the ban and the restrictions placed on the incandescent lamp should be withdrawn and held in abeyance, until a solid basis can be determined as to what the best course of action be taken to meet the spirit of the act. All funding by the several government entities promoting the use of CFLs should also cease until there is careful evaluation of relevant CFLs characteristics and comparison with incandescent lamps.   We assembled an experienced interdisciplinary team, fully capable of delivering proposed investigation and research.   Report prepared by: Howard M. Brandston, FIES, Hon. FCIBSE, FIALD, PLDA, SLL, LC Philip Brickner, MD St. Vincent’s Hospital Sasa Djokic, PhD Univ. of Edinburgh Richard Vincent St. Vincent’s Hospital Scott Bucher St. Vincent’s Hospital Heather Auto St. Vincent’s Hospital Kate Sweater Hickcox Lighting Research Center, RPI   CFLs are not the superior replacement for incandescent lamps, neither in conservation or aesthetics. Nor is the CFL an equivalent light source technology. As an indicator of lamp efficiency, lumens-per-watt has been extensively used as a comparative metric to promote the energy advantages of light sources. However, this is flawed because no meaningful conclusions can come from measuring and quantifying an individual type of light source on its own. Lumens-per-watt does not capture any qualitative characteristics, nor does it express the actual performance level of any light source used in practical applications. Most importantly, it does not represent the actual illuminating and spectral properties of a given light source. Lumens-per-watt is simply an idealized quantifier obtained in laboratory measurement, which is often used isolated from other light source characteristics and out of context with the lighting applications under which people live and work. What is really needed is an incandescent lamp with today’s lumen output but with longer life. Generally, there are no bad light sources, only bad applications. There are some very laudable characteristics of the CFL, yet the selection of any light source remains inseparable from the luminaire that houses it, along with the space in which both are installed and lighting requirements that need to be satisfied. In the pursuit of more useful lumens-per-watt metric, one must match the luminaire to the space being illuminated. The lamp, the fixture and the room: all three must work in concert and for the true benefits of end-users. If the CFL should be used for lighting a particular space, or an object within that space, the fixture must be designed to work with that lamp, and that fixture with the room. It is a symbiotic relationship. A CFL cannot be simply installed in an incandescent fixture and then expected to produce a visual appearance that is more than washed out, foggy and dingy. The whole fixture must be replaced — light source and luminaire — and this is never an inexpensive proposition.   Conclusion “It is wrong to assume that banning the incandescent lamp is an energy- and ecologically conscious action. We have not solved all our lighting problems by finding a highly efficient source. There is presently no lighting technology that can replace certain types and uses of incandescent lamps.” [ref, IALD] This study challenges current political consensus and decision to phase out incandescent lamps and switch to CFLs on the assumption that significant energy savings will be achieved without seriously compromising any of the relevant functional and illuminating requirements in target applications. Moreover, and more importantly, the study points out that there is a need to carefully investigate and elucidate some of the important safety concerns that may arise from a prolonged exposure and widespread use of CFLs, of which levels of electromagnetic fields measured around these appliances are illustrated in more detail. (N.B. an initial measurement of approximately 50 DB from a 13W CFL)   We propose the following simple test that may actually provide an effective method for determining whether the legislation will actually serve people: – Initiate a field study aimed at satisfying the proposed power limits in all public buildings, from museums and hospitals to the White House, and the homes of all elected officials. – As this will include replacing all incandescent lamps with CFLs, it would be easy to directly ascertain the effects of the proposed legislation/ban. – Assure that all of these measures to comply with specified power limits in residential units are done and paid for solely by the occupants, i.e. that occupants may freely decide on the use of specific equipment and devices – At the end of sufficiently long period (e.g. 18 months) check whether the incandescent lighting had not been reinstalled, and perform a detailed survey with all users to determine their overall satisfaction with the initial, intermediate and resulting lighting. – This will help to identify specific target applications for different light sources, as they will be selected by end-users, based on their needs and requirements. – In parallel with this field study, initiate and perform detailed research related to determining quantitative and qualitative characteristics of CFLs and other alternative light sources (e.g. LED light sources), as well as the comparative analysis of their relevant aspects and most important effects of use. Based on the data collected from the above field/labs studies, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and current lighting related energy legislation still in Congress may be amended, if necessary, to conform to the results of the studies. We expect that the current and proposed legislation would be rewritten in favor of a new act, which will be based on the result of a thoughtful process that could yield a set of proven recommendations that will better serve our nation’s needs by maximizing both human health, environmental satisfaction and energy efficiency. In the end, the most energy effective solution for residences may be achieved using incandescent lamps with a combination of occupancy sensors and dimmers.
  Regarding the obvious retort of “incandescents are not banned, energy efficient halogen types allowed”, or “better LEDs are coming”, and other arguments used to justify bans, see the 13 point referenced rundown of why the arguments don’t hold up here: http://freedomlightbulb.blogspot.com/p/deception-behind-banning-light-bulbs.html  
Posted in CFLs | Leave a comment

US sales of CFLs have fallen since 2007

  From Freedom Light Bulb blog post  
  Thank you to Howard Brandston for this information, via his Facebook page (the “wall” page can be read by anybody logged in). Incidentally, keep a watch on Howard’s website commentary – he is shortly launching a campaign on a new Facebook page. Given his status as renowned lighting designer and congressional consultant on lighting matters, it will hopefully get a good following.   Last week NEMA, the electrical equipment association to which light bulb manufacturers belong and which (as not least seen from Howard’s e-book) was heavily involved in pushing for and welcoming the “phase out” of simple incandescent bulbs, published a US sales lighting report. It not only covers the last quarter of 2011, but also all previous years as useful chart data.  
Shipments of Incandescent Lamps Illuminate at the Close of 2011   NEMA’s indexes for incandescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) lamp shipments increased by 29.4 and 3.6 percent, respectively, during Q4 2011 compared to Q3 2011. Incandescent lamp shipments posted a year-over-year gain of 41 percent while CFLs declined by 6.6 percent. The calendar year comparison also showed divergent paths. Shipments of CFLs decreased by 6.6 percent compared to 2010. Conversely, incandescent lamp shipments rose 16.4 percent during 2011. A preponderance–62.1 percent–of the increase over last year occurred during Q4.   Incandescent lamps increased its share of the combined incandescent-CFL market registering a reading of 82.8 percent. Meanwhile, the share of CFLs decreased to 17.2 percent –a ratio of slightly less than one in six lamps sold. The increase in the foothold by incandescent lamps is likely to continue while the new efficiency regulations established by EISA 2007 are phased-in over the next few years. CFLs and other substitute lamp types such as halogen A-Line and LED lamps are then expected to carve out increasing shares of the traditional A-Line market.
    Comment   Since NEMA is for the ban, this is hardly biased in favor of incandescents (besides, either big or small incandescent sales speak against a ban, big sales = why ban what people prefer, small sales = why ban when people are voluntarily switching anyway, little savings from a ban).   The relative incandescent sales rise during 2011 is indeed probably related to the growing awareness of the light bulb ban, as NEMA say.   However, what is of greater interest is the stagnation and even relative fall of CFL sales since the 2007 boost, a boost from the extensive subsidy and rebate introduced at the time of the 2007 EISA regulations (the extensive USA CFL promotion campaigns are documented on http://ceolas.net/#li12ax onwards).   In other words, despite the continuation and increase of all the CFL promotion campaigns, subsidies, rebates, handouts etc they are still no more popular. The sales and market shares of both incandescents and CFLs have held remarkably steady, a slight fall in each perhaps being due to LED sales.   A reasonable reply is that CFLs might be liked, at least if subsidised and handed out, but are simply not suitable for all locations: Hot or cold ambience, vibration, dampness, enclosed spaces, recesses, existing dimming circuits, timers, movement sensor switching, use in chandeliers and small and unusual lamps, aesthetical use if clear bulbs are preferred, rare usage when cheaper bulbs are preferred – and so on – apart from light quality differences, particularly noticeable when dimming.   Yes, expensive halogen incandescent alternatives may be offered – but they still have differences to simple cheap incandescents (running hotter and whiter for example), and will as seen from the regulations (http://ceolas.net/#li01inx) also come to be banned for ordinary usage in the second phase of the 2007 EISA regulations following on after 2014, a phase out which as seen also applies to the European Union. While the above data does not differentiate simple incandescents from halogen type alternatives, previous data has shown the ongoing popularity of the simpler cheaper incandescents, and NEMA imply the same in their commentary here (the sales rise from 2012 regulations on simple incandescents, the expected increased future sales of halogen type replacements).   Another reply is that LEDs offer an alternative choice – certainly, but again, with light quality differences in their spiky emission spectra, and with even more light output problems than CFLs to achieve bright (over 60W) light equivalent omnidirectional lighting, and at reasonable cost.   The simple truth is that all lighting has advantages: and markets, whether you like them or not, always send a message. In this case the message is clear – people still like to buy simple incandescent light bulbs. “Great savings” from banning them is therefore to ban what people would have bought if they could, and as referenced on the Deception page, the overall all-things-considered savings whether of energy or emissions or money, are marginal and irrelevant. Banning chauffeur driven political limousines might bring “great savings”, but that again does not mean that those affected would necessarily be happy with such savings!
Posted in CFLs, United States | Leave a comment

Will CFLs and LEDs become Cheaper?

A lot of recent price criticism about the new $50 dollar Philips LED bulb, as in the Washington Post 7th March article – though in fairness the bulb no doubt has its useful qualities too.
source: Ledinside
But with this bulb, as with any other expensive lighting alternatives to cheap incandescents, the repeated assurance is that prices will come down. How likely is that? The proponents behind banning simple incandescents hold that "If everyone has to buy CFLs and LEDs, then they will become cheaper on economy of scale" (and the same presumably holds for the expensive halogen type replacement incandescents, while they are allowed - as they will be banned too for ordinary usage, on the 45 lumen per Watt end regulation) This might at first seem logical. However, there are many reasons that this is unlikely, to any great extent... See Freedom Light Bulb "The Deception behind Banning Light Bulbs" 13 point rundown,  point number 4
"The expensive CFL and LED bulbs will become cheaper after a ban, on economy of scale!" It may seem natural to expect that greater sales means cheaper bulbs. Firstly it does not necessarily hold on supply and demand. Having removed the other bulb choices, there may be insufficient supply for the new demand. That raises rather than lowers prices. Secondly, it is irrelevant how many bulbs are sold, in that manufacturers / distributors / retailers simply charge what they can. Since the cheap competition has been removed, and since there are fewer manufacturers of newer more complex bulbs, there is less pressure to reduce prices (besides which light bulb manufacturers have a history of cartels). Meanwhile, on the Government side, pre-ban price lowering subsidies (as in North America and Europe eg http://ceolas.net/#californiacfl onwards) are no longer seen as so necessary. That is not all. CFLs and LEDs contain rare earth elements, the price rise in recent years giving an increase in their prices, as covered in 2011 news reports. Also they are mostly made in China, where wages are rising, and shipping transport fuel cost has also risen in recent years. Finally, CFLs (and possibly LEDs) will be subject to increasing recycling mandates on manufacturers and retailers, which will again add to consumer purchase cost. In comparison, incandescents are of course more simply and often locally made, and have no recycling requirement. General energy efficiency regulation price issues are covered here: http://ceolas.net/#cc2130x Some further specific light bulb price issues are covered here: http://ceolas.net/#li14x
  Regarding the 2011 news reports about CFL price increases, see the November 2011 Light Bulb Choice blog post, (itself quoting renewableenergyworld.com and conexiones.com). Extracts:
Huge Price Increases Underway from Lamp Manufacturers: The impact of rare earth metals shortages There is a rapid, emerging shortage of rare earth metals, a primary component used in the manufacture of fluorescent lamps – principally phosphors. Phosphors are transition metal compounds or rare earth compounds of various types. The most common uses of phosphors are prevalent in green technologies such as batteries, magnets, computer hard drives, TV screens, smart phones, and energy-saving light sources – and fluorescent lamps. The problem with the supply of rare earth elements is that demand has skyrocketed over the last decade from 40,000 tons to 120,000 tons. Meanwhile, China, who owns the monopoly of rare earth minerals has been cutting its exports. Today, it only exports about 30,000 tons a year – only one-fourth of the world’s demand. In a U.S. Department of Energy report dated December 14, 2010, it was noted that ”it is likely to take 15 years for the U.S. to mine enough rare earth minerals to shake its dependence on China.” With China currently Global Rare Earth Oxide production trends controlling up to 97% of the world supply of rare earth metals, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ve been imposing tariffs and severe export restrictions. China first imposed trade limits in 1999, and its exports shrank by 20 percent from 2005 to 2009. Then a dramatic cutback in 2010, squeezing global supplies amid a dispute with Japan*, and they’ve fallen even further in 2011. China claims they’re just being frugal for environmental reasons, not economic leverage, but the cutbacks have nonetheless caused major price spikes – a condition our electrical and lighting industries are now having to deal with.
  However, lighting switchover is of course still justified by the proponents on the basis of the usage savings, regardless of the expensive-to-buy bulbs. So how likely are people to save energy and money? Again, the savings are limited for many reasons Besides which, of course, people may prefer incandescent broad spectrum light bulb quality regardless of paying a bit more in usage - and people voluntarily pay for their electricity, of which there is no future shortage also of environmentally friendly sources. No-one likes energy waste. But what is energy waste? A product unnecessarily left on is a waste of energy. The personal choice of what product to use is not a waste of energy.  
Posted in CFLs, Cost Saving, Energy Efficient Lighting, LED Light & Lighting | Leave a comment

Always Look on the Bright Side!

The following is from the Freedom Light Bulb blog (http://freedomlightbulb.blogspot.com/2012/02/always-look-on-bright-side.html)   As regards Howard Brandston, he is a well known lighting designer with numerous projects including lighting the statue of Liberty, also a guest lecturer, visiting professor, and the Congress choice of expert opinion on lighting issues – a lone voice against the light bulb ban in Senate hearings! His biography, online commentary, and business.  
  Imagine calling a fluorescent bulb Tru Dim 😉 (it’s dimmable, apparently, and full of fun components)  
#   #   #   #   #   #
  Following on from the post about renowned lighting designer Howard Brandston's Mondo article, he has also updated his website commentary, with a letter to Consumer Reports (that they did not publish)   Excerpts, my highlights:  
The design of lighting is the creation of a system to light a space. When you take the total energy used to light many typical spaces, including the lighting controls, the total connected load and energy consumed when using incandescent light sources the result is, in many cases, equal to or more efficient than the new sources you are touting. Then you make a serious technical error when you state that lumens measures brightness. Lumens are a measure of radiant energy in the visible spectrum – not brightness. More lumens do not mean more brightness or visibility – nor that you will prefer the light illuminating the scene or object it is falling upon. What is critical in this case is the Spectral Power Distribution of the light source. In this case, when evaluated by most viewers, the incandescent light bulb wins – most of the time. That does not mean there are not several applications where alternative light sources perform perfectly well and are preferred. But to ban the incandescent light bulb is a serious detriment to the design of good lighting for many applications. People will sort that out by themselves without the help of legislation....   Sincerely, Howard M. Brandston, FIES, Hon. FCIBSE & SLL, FIALD, LC.
  Comment As covered previously here, Lumens are replacing Watts as the new standard for buying light bulbs by (supposedly) brightness... CFLs and LEDs have spiky emission spectra, so strong brightness in single pure light colors might confuse the measurements, compares to the smoother, broader, light color emissions as with incandescents. There are a lot of reasons why CFLs and LEDs seem dimmer than their lab rated values... more on CFL brightness here (http://ceolas.net/#li15rbx), and some additional notes on LED brightness (http://ceolas.net/#li15ledax).
Posted in CFLs | 1 Comment

This is a Shoe Story, Believe it or Not

false               pants on fire          
  Update 20 February The mentioned Virginia politician Bob Marshall is challenging the Richmond Times/Politifact article, and indeed challenging other denials regarding CFL mercury issues and what CFL clean-up and disposal guidelines are, with many more references. See http://delegatebob.com/news/press-releases/marshall-challenges-article-distorting-his-remark-about-mercury   (original post below 16 February)   "Politifact" is one of those sites that under cloak of neutrality really has an agenda in whatever it takes on. Researchers in several states look at what politicians are saying. From the Virginia site:
The underlying principle is that fact-checking is a special form of journalism that demands solid research and transparency. The research begins by checking with the source of the statement to find out where they got their facts. We always give the politicians the chance to explain their numbers or their reasoning. We then use multiple sources to check those facts   How we work: Once a statement is chosen for scrutiny by PolitiFact editor Warren Fiske, either he or reporter Jacob Geiger researches the claim. The first call goes to the person who made the statement. From there, we check documents and transcripts and databases and then interview independent sources. Once the research has been done to support a ruling on the Truth-O-Meter, the story is written and the writer recommends a ruling on the Truth-O-Meter. Three editors then meet to make the final ruling on the Truth-O-Meter. The story then goes on PolitiFactVirginia.com and into the next day’s paper.
  And so the decision was made to nail local Virginia politician Bob Marshall for saying If the mercury contaminates your shoes, you are supposed to throw away your shoes. Talk about splitting hairs: Since the EPA clean up directives are obviously onerous enough (with more in the 2011 EPA document), then it seems a moot point. But the Politifact article headlines...
Del. Bob Marshall says you're supposed to throw away your shoes if a CFL light bulb breaks on them
Not a great start, since that is not what he said... continuing (extracts)
Some of the sites Marshall cited don’t specifically say they’re providing instruction on how to handle a broken CFL bulb. They are advising how to deal with a larger mercury release, such as the dispersal of the "quicksilver" liquid mercury when a glass thermometer breaks. For example, the fact sheet from the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection that Marshall cited urges homeowners get rid of contaminated shoes and clothing after cleaning up "visible mercury beads." Robert Francis, manager of the environmental response branch at the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, said his agency’s recommendation for getting rid of shoes tainted by mercury is a reference to what should be done in case of a larger spill than a light bulb break. He said his agency doesn’t have a recommendation on whether shoes should be thrown out if they’re contaminated by a bulb breakage. Marshall said that when shoes are contaminated with mercury from a broken CFL bulb, "you’re supposed to throw them out." The websites of environmental agencies in four states advise throwing out clothing -- and sometimes shoes -- contaminated by a significant mercury release, such as the amount that would come from an old thermometer. But CFL bulbs have a tiny fraction of a thermometer’s mercury. None of the agencies specifically advise throwing shoes hit by a broken CFL. Two of the states’ websites say to clean off the shoes. Our quick search found five additional state websites that recommended wiping off the shoes off and not a single state that advised to throw them out. The Environmental Protection Agency offers no shoe advice. Marshall hasn’t proved his claim. We rate his statement False.
Certainly, while often there is no specific advice one way or the other, several sites do say to clean rather than throw away the shoes - so that it seems Bob Marshall may have exaggerated in that regard...   Still, as I have seen Politifact's agenda before regarding the light bulb issue ("this is not really a ban,  stupid republicans" type of "pants on fire" labelled statements,  ignoring the effective ban as referenced), I was curious if the issue was that clear cut - after all, Bob Marshall presumably got his information from somewhere...   And indeed, the main Kentucky information, from the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, Mercury spills document (they may of course change this subsequently: here is a downloaded copy..!) “Cleaning up small spills (the amount from a thermometer or less)” A set of instructions, then: “When you are finished, place contaminated shoes and clothing into a garbage bag – double-bag it for good measure." They also talk about cutting out and removing contaminated parts of the carpet... mirroring most of the mercury clean-up instructions from other sources as linked on the Ceolas website CFL mercury section (http://ceolas.net/#li19x).   But of course, it is "no fun" to see that politicians might be justified to believe information from an official site,  no fun that criticism of the source rather than the politician might be more relevant...   😉  
Posted in CFLs | Leave a comment

Permaculture Paul Podcast

New podcast today by Paul Wheaton of Permaculture notoriety on light bulbs … (direct download of podcast, mp3 file). An environmentalist with an interesting take on light bulb issues as seen on the link list description here below on the right hand side.

Paul Wheaton talks with Jocelyn Campbell about a recent dinner they had with people who had a full energy audit on their house. They talk about CFL vs incandescent lightbulbs. They talk about the quality of fluorescent light. The audit didn’t mention anything about lifestyle habits or changes, like using a drying rack instead of a dryer, or less hot water usage. The toxicity of CFLs were new to them, such as mercury toxicity, and getting headaches. Jocelyn talks about her new move and the 640 watts of tube fluorescent lighting in the one main room. They also mention Paul’s article on using micro heaters to save on your electric heat usage.

The “micro-heating system”, also featuring incandescent lighting, was covered by USA Today in a recent video report.  
Posted in CFLs | Leave a comment

The Good, the Bad, and the Squiggly

    As on Freedom Light Bulb:   It is interesting to compare the light bulb debate in Europe and the United States. Some might say "What light bulb debate in Europe?", and indeed that is part of the problem. There was never any real debate in European Society (I looked at several countries), and people did not really know about the ban until it occurred. Then as now, European politicians and journalists just rehash what they themselves have been told, about the great energy savings and great benefit for the planet ("you do want to do something good for the earth, don't you?"), while allaying fears about lighting choice in that "lookalike incandescent halogens will still be allowed". The fact that readily available documentation - including official EU documentation - shows not only overall energy savings to be marginal, with much better alternative savings from electricity generation through to consumption, but also that all the most popular frosted halogen replacements would be banned immediately, with the others to follow, was somehow ignored by all mainstream political parties and media. Of course, that echoes much of what the American government and its supporters are saying. But at least there is some sort of critical opposition. Opposition both federally and from individual states. Since the opposition is mainly from Republicans, one could say that the EU is "one Big Democrat alliance" from an American perspective. However, my point is not just to praise Republican opposition as such, but also to go beyond light bulbs and see the more electric debating climate in the USA. Sure, there are downsides too - the partisan divide means that no "self-respecting" Democrat will support a light bulb ban repeal even with overall environmental advantages or obvious better alternatives - simply because that would mean having to side with Republicans (and in fairness no doubt the opposite, on other issues). But overall, better a heated debate, than no debate. So in the USA special organisations and websites spring up to hit at "misinformation" - but somehow always misinformation from one side, rather than both. On light bulbs it's often "Hey it's not a ban, just about making light bulbs more energy efficient".   I was made aware that Politifact were looking at another statement that's been doing the rounds, namely how "the mercury from one dumped CFL can contaminate 6,000 gallons of drinking water" (or similar). Seemingly without official reference, it can of course look suspicious. So I checked on it..... It comes from Stanford University research. The original research is said not to have "6,000 gallons" - but other figures that mean the same thing. I did not locate the specific research - there is a lot on Google search of the stanford.edu site even looking for cfl, mercury, water and contaminate, together. But it is backed by some large news organizations, and credible authors on them. As always, other things turned up too - even old articles are of interest, in showing what was known and what was promised... Take MSNBC (as quoted, MSNBC is owned by lamp manufacturer General Electric - so it is hardly biased against regulations) A 2008 article by Alex Johnson, has the usual exaggerations about CFL energy savings and lifespan, but interestingly also with a statement by GE (remember this was just after the regulations were announced)....    
General Electric Corp., the world’s largest maker of traditional bulbs, said that by 2010, it hoped to have on the market a new high-efficiency incandescent bulb that will be four times as efficient as today’s 125-year-old technology. It said that such bulbs would closely rival fluorescent bulbs for efficiency, with no mercury. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft Corp. and NBC Universal, which is a division of General Electric.)
.... which of course did not happen (ban achieved, job done, bigger profits from expensive CFLs or LEDs assured). However, the article had more to say, extracts:
One problem hasn’t gone away: All CFLs contain mercury, a neurotoxin that can cause kidney and brain damage. The amount is tiny — about 5 milligrams, or barely enough to cover the tip of a pen — but that is enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels, extrapolated from Stanford University research on mercury. Even the latest lamps promoted as “low-mercury” can contaminate more than 1,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels. As long as the mercury is contained in the bulb, CFLs are perfectly safe. But eventually, any bulbs — even CFLs — break or burn out, and most consumers simply throw them out in the trash, said Ellen Silbergeld, a professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins University and editor of the journal Environmental Research. This is an enormous amount of mercury that’s going to enter the waste stream at present with no preparation for it,” she said. “I think there’s going to be hundreds of millions of [CFLs] in landfills all over the country,” said Leonard Worth, head of Fluorecycle Inc. of Ingleside, Ill., a certified facility. Once in a landfill, bulbs are likely to shatter even if they’re packaged properly, said the Solid Waste Association of North America. From there, mercury can leach into soil and groundwater and its vapors can spread through the air, potentially exposing workers to toxic levels of the poison. If the disposal problem is to be solved, speed would appear to be called for. Consumers bought more than 300 million CFLs last year, according to industry figures, but they may be simply trading one problem (low energy-efficiency) for another (hazardous materials by the millions of pounds going right into the earth). “One lamp, so what? Ten lamps, so what? A million lamps, well that’s something,” said Worth of Fluorecycle. “A hundred million lamps? Now, that’s a whole different ballgame.”
.... and not only are there are around 5 billion lighting points in American households (average 45 lights per household on Energy Star and EIA information, census estimate US households in 2010: 114,825,428), but LED lights also apparently have some toxic content and disposal issues (http://ceolas.net/#li20ledax)   The "1 CFL contaminates 6,000 gallons of water" is also corroborated from other sources in 2011. For example Fox News - well known to usually favor Republican views, but an article by an outside contributor, Deirdre Imus, Founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center at Hackensack University Medical Center would not seem overly biased, and reiterates that and other issues with CFLs.   Again, a Minnesota Examiner article by Erin Haust also puts the issue in a more overall context, edited extracts:    
Manufacturing CFL bulbs requires exceptional manual labor versus the machine-based production of typical bulbs. The bulbs are made in large part by hand which can be extremely expensive, thus manufacturers are turning to the cheap labor market overseas, namely China. GE employees in Virginia learned this truth first-hand. More than 200 workers lost their jobs last fall when GE closed its doors... American made CFLs would have cost about 50% more than those made in China, which currently manufactures more CFLs than any other country. All 200 jobs once held in Virginia will be replaced by overseas workers. The amount of mercury in a regular CFL bulb is less than 5 milligrams, about what it would take to cover the tip of a ball point pen. Though minuscule in size, mercury is a highly dangerous substance and just 5 milligrams can contaminate 6,000 gallons of drinking water to unsafe levels. Newer, more expensive, low-level mercury CFL's still have enough mercury in them to contaminate 1,000 gallons of water. Record players, VCR's, cassette tapes, and countless other household items have come and gone, been invented and improved, without the "help" of regulation and laws mandating use...
Are fluorescent light bulbs so bad then?
  All lighting types have advantages. Fluorescent lighting, while having light quality issues, do have a whiter color temperature than regular incandescents, and fluorescent tubes are seen as advantageous in kitchens for example. They save energy in their usage, albeit not as much as supposed, as covered in the "deception behind banning bulbs" section. However - again, like all lighting - they have their disadvantages. CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) - and LEDs - have light quality issues due to their spiky emission spectra, which filters can smooth out but not entirely correct, while incandescents have smoother spectra. But CFL issues, then, go beyond light quality issues and into questions regarding their health and environmental safety: Not just related to mercury, but also to a fire risk (less predictable than from incandescent heat), radiation and light sensitivity issues, all as covered here. On the "mercury scare", there is a lot of counter-argumentation, mainly centered on 2 issues "Hey, incandescent related coal power mercury emissions are worse!" "Hey, tuna fish, thermometers, dental fillings (etc) are a lot more dangerous for their mercury content!" As mentioned before, 2 wrongs obviously don't make a right. If and where there is a problem - deal with the problem. CFL mercury is a problem - regardless of the other dangers, and the "coal emission" argument does not hold up given the extent of mercury emission reduction that is taking place under US EPA mandates, and similarly in the EU after recent worldwide reduction agreement under UN auspices (which excepted CFLs, one might note). The "incandescent related coal emissions are worse" argument never held anyway, for the many reasons linked below. A complete rundown of the CFL mercury issue on http://ceolas.net/#li19x [Breakage -- Recycling -- Dumping -- Mining -- Manufacturing -- Transport -- Power Plants] CFL breakage and disposal guidelines are often enough quoted in media, as with the articles above. EPA's guidelines regarding CFL breakage and disposal remain onerous, as can also be seen from their special document from last year.   "But we are not forcing anyone to use CFLs!" This is another usual retort. Certainly there are some exempted lamp categories (see regulation specifications). However, the whole point of the regulations is to save energy, and the exempted bulbs are all of course unusual bulbs - if certain categories have rising sales, the legislation ensures that they are banned too. The availability of LEDs, and of incandescent replacements (like halogens) is also highlighted by ban proponents. However, LEDs are not suitable for omnidirectional bright lighting, quite apart from their light quality and other differences to simple regular bulbs. Halogens also have light quality differences, and cost much more for marginal savings, so are not popular with either politicians or consumers. Besides, they will also effectively be banned on the ever more stringent standards that apply - and are not usually mentioned - in both the USA and the EU. One also has to be clear about the industrial politics behind the regulations. Manufacturers want to sell expensive profit-making bulbs (which never last as long as supposed, "planned obsolescence"). That is why they sought and welcomed the ban. This is no conspiratorial conjecture, it is well documented on the website. That is also why the idea of "incandescent development" does not wash, why pre-ban promised further incandescent development (as by Philips with eco-savers in Europe, and as seen above, by GE in USA) never materialised post-ban. That is also why, in post-ban Europe, even existing halogens are hard to get, the big main store push being for people "to buy energy saving bulbs" (note the name: energy saving bulb, not the less nice sounding fluorescent bulb - and as if one would ask for "an energy wasting bulb please" buying a regular simple incandescent).   Sometimes the call goes out that "CFLs should be banned instead", given all their health and environment issues. However, for all that is said here, the dangers are probably exaggerated, and EPA guidelines surely have an element of being overly cautious also for legal reasons. All lighting has advantages. The incandescent ban is not wrong just because there are issues with CFLs. The incandescent ban is wrong in itself - just like a ban on CFLs would be, unless proven unsafe. Light bulbs don't burn coal or release CO2 gas. Power plants might. Overall energy savings from a switchover are small, a fraction of 1% of overall energy use in the USA as in Europe, on official data, and with much more relevant energy efficiency savings in electricity generation, grid distribution, and alternative consumption, as described. If there is a problem - deal with the problem. [Freedom Light Bulb]  
Posted in CFLs | Leave a comment