Send Your Light Bulbs To Washington
All light bulbs have usage advantages. People should feel perfectly free to use and enjoy CFLs and LEDs along with incandescents.
But pushing the use of any bulb is wrong: And CFLs are being pushed on consumers, in energy saving campaigns, in CFL replacement programs, and lately also via regulations, as the only practical replacement alternative, which also happens to be more profitable for the light bulb manufacturers.
"Hey, you can still use energy efficient incandescents like Halogens, and LEDs that show such promise!!" Certainly - as said - all light bulbs have their advantages. But that does not make them worthy replacements.
Replacement Halogen and similar incandescents are still different from simple incandescents in light quality and other respects, apart from costing much more for marginal savings, which is why neither consumers or politicians like them much. No "Halogen replacement program" in any American state!
Besides: All known general service incandescents including touted Halogens will progressively be banned on the enacted EISA 45 lumen per W end regulation standard. That's right. The politicians don't tell you that. USA regulations including updates on repeal bills in local states (legislated Texas June 2011)
LEDs meanwhile have still greater differences, cost much more, and have particular development issues around brightness, omnidirectionality, and broad spectrum light quality.
That is why the replacement push is to use CFLs - as also seen in post-ban Europe. Unfortunately, whatever the CFL energy saving advantages, politicians also choose to hide, obfuscate, or ignore the disadvantages relating to this type of lighting.Therefore this blog seeks to highlight some of these issues, with appropriate references. Not least of which is the issue of CFL disposal:
Improper disposal of compact fluorescent light bulbs is dangerous to your family and to the environment. In some states, it is illegal to put these light bulbs in your trash. It's easy to dispose of compact fluorescent light bulbs properly. Just send them to your Senator or Congressman in Washington. Or send them to the EPA.
The comprehensive website Light Bulb Choice has a new testimonial section. The debate is often political in nature, but one should not forget the impact these and other society regulations can have on people. That includes the choice of what lighting to use from comfort and enjoyment aspects, since the smooth broad spectrum light quality of incandescents is not found in CFL or LED lighting, with their more spiky emission spectra, a more “unnatural” light in that regard. But it also includes the deeper problem for some people, who suffer from light sensitivity conditions, such as some migraine or skin sensitivity disorders, or other electromagnetic radiation sensitivity. See http://ceolas.net/#li18x onwards. Politicians are of course sometimes aware of this in talking of how “Joe X” told them this-or-that in how “Washington rules are bothering them” – so such testimonials can be a further reference for them. in the UK, Savethebulb.org as seen also works with light sensitivity groups such as the Spectrum Alliance. They also have a page with people’s stories. The common retort is that “incandescents are not banned”, you can “still buy Halogen incandescent replacements”, and the like. Certainly, the lighting choice reduction is not as drastic as some critics would have it. However, although in the short term, also from stocking up, the lack of choice will not be so evident, it should be noted that not only will incandescent technology be effectively banned for ordinary lamps by the ever more stringent phase out standards that will come to apply in the USA (after 2014) or the EU (by 2016) in enacted legislation, but the light quality of replacement incandescents is somewhat different too, they run hotter etc, and of course cost much more for marginal savings. See for example the Freedom Light Bulb “Yes it is a ban” post.
Washington Times Editorial January 27 2012 Obama’s Twisty Light Bulb Logic
President Obama said in his State of the Union address, “I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution.” Of course, no one is asking him to back down. There is no movement in favor of exposing kids to mercury poisoning. It was like boldly proclaiming opposition to organized dog fights. Mr. Obama was obliquely referring to his support for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule issued late last year by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a December presidential memorandum, Mr. Obama claimed that “by substantially reducing emissions of pollutants that contribute to neurological damage, cancer, respiratory illnesses and other health risks, the MATS Rule will produce major health benefits for millions of Americans – including children, older Americans and other vulnerable populations.” MATS is the most expensive EPA rule revision in history, and compliance will cost power plants $10-18 billion a year. These costs will be passed directly to consumers. Some critics have charged that hyping mercury poisoning in MATS was just a cover for the EPA to ramp up its regulatory assault on the coal industry. Trace amounts of mercury from coal-fired power-plant emissions affect a small number of Americans, chiefly those who live near the emissions sources. At the same time, however, the Obama administration has been trying to force Americans to accept even greater mercury risks by insisting that traditional incandescent light bulbs be replaced with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). The mercury vapor in CFLs is at a much more dangerous concentration than anything coming out of power plants. The associated risks are magnified because the toxic vapors and dust from a broken bulb would be contained in a room or enclosed area. The same EPA that is sounding the alarm about mercury emissions from power plants has written a detailed guide explaining how to respond to a broken CFL. It involves, among other things, evacuating the room in which the breakage occurs, shutting down central heating and air conditioning, airing out the room, carefully collecting bulb fragments and dust with rolled up duct tape, and placing all cleanup materials in airtight bags in a protected area outdoors pending proper disposal. Who knew that dropping a light bulb would instantly turn a home into a HAZMAT zone? If Mr. Obama had his way, fluorescent lights would be in every home and school in America. The administration was set to enforce the ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs that passed in 2007 and was to begin this year, but a provision was included in the budget bill passed in December that would prohibit the Obama administration from spending any money to enforce the light-bulb ban. Energy Secretary David [Steven] Chu mocked this as “a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.” But it might also let them better protect their kids. Remember when you are handling a CFL that it contains potentially deadly poisons. You can recognize the bulbs because they are twisty, like Mr. Obama’s policy logic.
Thank you to Light Bulb Choice for this! Their news post, in turn links to the Edmund Contoski authored document (pdf, from the Science & Public Policy Institute, alternative source link here). Edited blog post copy:
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) Are Costly and Dangerous Can Cause Fires – Even Explosions! Table of Contents pg 03 Fires and Explosions from CFLs pg 04 The PROVEN Dangers of Mercury in CFLs pg 06 Other Hazardous Chemicals in CFLs pg 07 False Information on CFL Costs and Bulb Life pg 09 Recycling Costs, Health and Environmental Dangers pg 10 What About LEDs? pg 11 Other Problems pg 12 Is Government Really Smarter Than the Consumers? Mercury—The danger is far greater than admitted. CFLs Save Money? — The numbers are false! CFL Bulb Life — Wildly exaggerated CFLs = Environmental Hazard The latest recall: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on May 12, 2011 issued a recall order for sixteen models of Telstar and Electra brand CFLs in twelve different wattages: “Hazard: The light bulbs can overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers.” The recall order involved 317,000 light bulbs.More about Ed Contoski’s work can be seen on Ceolas.net, CFL life warranty and CFL fire risk sections.
January 12 Investor’s Business Daily article, with highlighting.
From the Freedom Light Bulb blog, commenting on CFL subsidies and replacement programs in relation to a recent cartoon that also takes up how manufacturers are profiting from the ban on cheap incandescents.
forums that also happen to have good coverage of light bulb issues. Also see his comprehensive CFL article, well linked with videos etc. And don’t miss his just completed (December 2011) Mr Stinkypants Cartoon on how manufacturers profit from the ban! [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta2ozf_uJJ8&w=580&h=350] The cooperation between light bulb manufacturers is no fairy tale, reflected in the Phoebus cartel: GE, Philips, Osram and others cooperating for several decades to keep lifespans down. That is why even today the standard incandescent lifespan is 1000 hrs. Recent German research shows how a special “1000 hr lifespan committee” punished those who manufactured any longer lasting bulb. Communist long lasting bulbs were blocked for Western markets…. Unsurprising then, to see renewed manufacturer cooperation in later years, regarding both subsidised CFL programs and indeed regulations that more forcibly ensures that more profitable “energy saving” bulbs are sold in place of the old cheap incandescents. This kind of manufacturer cooperation with public authorities has gone way beyond the USA or the EU: Note how the world’s 2 biggest light bulb manufacturers, Philips and Osram/Sylvania, are involved in the UN sponsored worldwide switchover program, en.lighten. As part of that, a recently announced “Efficient Lighting Toolkit” will be available in 2012, which will “provide comprehensive guidance to countries on how to transform their markets to energy efficient lighting”. More in a later blog post.
Given our emphasis on CFL safe disposal and recycling: How does one find out more about it? As they say themselves on their website, lighting manufacturers, through their trade association, National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) developed lamprecycle.org to provide a one-stop source of information about recycling lamps (the term used in the lighting industry to refer to all types of light bulbs). This follows their earlier extensive study (pdf) on the subject. Also see the extensive EPA information on recycling, linking to waste collection agencies, participating retailers, and much else of interest. This Earth911 search may (or may not!) automatically show the collection center nearest your computer IP address. Their CFL recycling page is here [ However, the useful information on these sites should also be taken with a pinch of salt as regards their defence of “ballpoint pen tip” mercury amounts, toxicity of course is not just connected to quantity but also proximity, as again when they compare CFL mercury to coal mercury emissions etc, the latter being under 90% EPA reduction mandates anyway. See Ceolas.net, the CFL mercury issue: Breakage — Recycling — Dumping — Mining — Manufacturing — Transport — Power Plants ] This post will probably be updated and in part copied to the information section, also with the related Facebook page.
From the Easy Opinions blog, “Opinions about the not so Obvious”
Fred: Thank you Jim for landing the CFL United ad account. Let’s work out the ad campaign. Mike: I didn’t get the memo. What does CFL United do? Techno: They make Compact Fluorescent Lights. They are like those four foot tubes you see in warehouses, but these are about 1 foot long, really thin, and twisted around so they can fit in a the space of a light bulb. They have a different coating so the light isn’t so blue, but more yellow. Sometimes they put a glass bulb around them so they look more regular. Jim: These CFL’s are great. Should be a lot easier to sell than bottled water. They actually save money, use less electricity, and are cooler. Let’s just sell them as a win win win. Fred: Here are the talking points: Costs less Uses 1/4 of the electricity for the same light as from a Regular 100 watt bulb Lasts 10,000 hours compared to 1,000 hours for a regular bulb. Techno: Uh, they don’t cost less. A CFL is $5.00, a Regular is $.50 . Mike: OK, there is big hit up front, but they save money on electricity, right? Techno: Over its lifetime of 10,000 hours, a 25 watt CFL uses 250 KWH (kilowatt hours), compared to the same light from 10 Regular 100 watt bulbs, each lasting 1000 hours, and using 1000 KWH total. Here is the summary for 10,000 hours of use, with electricity costing $.10 per KWH. 100 watt Reg 10 bulbs $5.00 1,000 KWH $100.00 25 watt CFL 1 bulb $5.00 250 KWH $25.00 Saves $75.00 Mike: OK, no problem. Buy 10 CFL’s and save $750. Get rich! Techno: Yeah, if you don’t turn them off. Fred: Is that supposed to be a joke? Techno: Not really a joke. CFL’s are complicated. First, they need a high voltage to operate, which they get from some miniaturized electronics in the base. Second, they have a coating on the inside metal contacts which helps the electricity start flowing. They are hard to get going. When you turn one on, the electronics take some stress and that metal coating evaporates a bit. Turning one on takes away some of the CFL’s life. Once on, no problem. Turn one on and it can last 10,000 hours. If you turn it off, you have to turn it on later, which costs some of its life. So, don’t turn it off!. Jim: Whoa! We can’t tell people to just leave them on. How long do they last if you turn them off? Techno: That’s hard to say. CFL United isn’t too clear about the matter. They don’t say, really. And the aftermarket studies don’t dwell on this either. But, reasoning backward from some statements here and there, I estimate that the consumer grade CFL loses 5 hours of life each time it is turned on. Mike: So you get 10,000 hours or 2,000 on/off cycles, whichever comes first. What if I put one in the bathroom? I bet my family turns that light on and off about 10 times a day, for about 5 minutes each time. Techno: That CFL is going to last about 6 months (200 days). A Regular bulb in that use would last about 39 months. Regular bulbs don’t care if they are turned on and off. In that use, the CFL costs $9.89/yr compared to the Regular at $3.04/yr, counting cost of bulbs and electricity. This is mostly the cost of bulbs for the CFL, and the cost of electricity for the Regular. Mike: (shaking his head slowly) Not good. Not good. Is there anywhere these CFL’s can actually be used cost effectively? Jim: How about the kitchen or family room? Techno: Yes, if you need to leave them on for a while, CFL’s are cost effective. Fluorescent bulbs are always used in warehouses and offices, where they are on for 8-16 hours per day. Jim: Cut the suspense. How long for our CFL? Techno: I figure that the break-even is about 20 minutes. If you need the light on for at least 20 minutes, the CFL saves enough on electricity to offset the cost of turning it on, compared to a Regular 100 watt bulb. After that, you actually save money, about $.0075 per hour (3/4 cents). In the winter, the break-even is 38 minutes, because you benefit from the expensive heat that the Regular bulb puts out. In the summer, the break-even is 15 minutes, because the greater heat of the Regular bulb requires more air-conditioning. Mike: We’re saved. They are actually good for something after all. Fred: OK people, calm down. We’ve been through this sort of thing before. We have our campaign. Saves 75% of the electricity of a regular bulb. Lasts 10,000 hours* compared to 1,000 hours for regular bulbs. Saves $50 per bulb over its lifetime, compared to using regular 100 watt bulbs. Environmentally friendly * As measured in bulb-life studies. For maximum bulb life, leave the bulb on for 15 minutes or more for each use. Jim: I like the part about maximum bulb life. It slyly suggests that even if the bulb might be injured by short uses, you can heal it by leaving it on a bit longer. Mike: Why do we claim only $50 per bulb in savings? Fred: Clearly these bulbs aren’t going to last 10,000 hours, so we’ll claim more reasonable savings, but still big. Since they can use less energy, in the right situations, they are environmentally friendly. Right? Jim: You have a strange look on your face Techno. Techno: What about the other facts? Do you guys have my memo? Mike: I didn’t quite read that memo. What’s in it? Techno: There are a few other things. • Most CFL’s contain about 5 mg of mercury. They are supposed to be disposed of as hazardous waste, but there is no program to take them. They need a careful cleanup if you break one. • The twisty ones, with no outer glass bulb, can emit enough UV radiation at 1 foot away to produce a sunburn. • If you use them in an enclosed fixture, or base up in the ceiling, the electronics get hot, and its life is reduced. I couldn’t find out by how much. • There are many manufacturers, and you can’t tell how long a brand is going to last, or how it reacts to heat or on/off cycles. You need to trust, or you can always pay more for a higher quality CFL. They are somewhat longer and wider than a regular bulb, so they don’t fit everywhere. • Many CFL’s, especially the $5 ones, have a slow start-up. It takes them 30 seconds to 3 minutes to fully light up. • If you use them outdoors in the cold, some of them never fully light up, or they don’t start at all. • You can’t use the cheap CFL’s with a dimmer, but there are some that will work. • CFL’s are fluorescent. Some people get headaches from the light, or they see the 60 cycle flicker and can’t read by them, or they hate the color of the light, or they hear a faint buzz. • CFL’s get 20% dimmer as they age toward failure. • A house has many bulbs that are almost never used. It makes no sense to place $5 bulbs in those locations, rather than a $.50 bulb that will last for 5 years anyway. Jim: That is a lot to handle. How is CFL United going to sell these things? Fred: Need I remind you that CFL United has hired us? We are helping them sell these things. Also, we are informed that CFL United has done a good job in the US Congress pushing the idea of saving energy. So, everyone is going to buy CFL’s, because the Regular bulb is going to be prohibited. Green technology and all of that. Guys, we have our campaign. Techno, you are always unhappy. CFL’s have a few flaws, but there is no need to go into the small details. Let’s get the art work in production and sell, sell, sell.
As you may have heard, Canada has delayed their incandescent bulb ban or “phase out”. More about the decision can be read here. Meanwhile, the lack of recycling has emerged as a main reason for the delay… (From CBC Canada Dec 30 2011 slightly edited)
The light bulb ban is particularly wrong for Canada and several similar American states, as covered on http://ceolas.net/#li11x and relating to energy use, emissions, Canadian household size and lamp variety, cold switch-on conditions, heat replacement effect, existing CFL programs etc with references
From Freedom Light Bulb blog post
In a continued “save for posterity” effort of the German blog Otitis Media di Monaco (see earlier post), a look at his stamp collection in a GDR or for that matter EUSSR or a Soviet EUnion mode, bearing in mind the way the EU Commissariat sets all kinds of useless, unnecessary rules for European citizens, and noting in passing that the Commissioner behind the EU ban (dubbed “EU’s Mr Lightbulb” by the Daily Mail newspaper), Andris Piebalgs, was himself a former East European Communist director of a Government Department. Original post…
In this nearly 2 hour long December 2011 Podcast software engineer turned organic Montana farmer Paul Wheaton goes over most issues relating to compact fluorescent light bulbs, from radiation sensitivity and mercury issues to their questionably big energy savings. (Direct link to podcast here) Also see his article covering several of these issues.