If energy needs to be saved, there are good ways to do it.
                                                               Government product regulation is not one of them

Friday, May 18, 2012

Leading a Double Life


A Double Life....
Just when you thought your bulb had blown, back on it comes :-)

No, wait!   A double life...you might think it's sitting there in the lamp, but it's actually moonlighting in the city of lights.

More seriously, this is the start of a couple of future posts on Lightbulb Lifespan.

There have been several film documentaries recently (Spanish, Austrian, Franco-German, covering the subject, relating to planned obsolescence, including the Phoebus light bulb cartel that fixed the incandescent lifespan standard at 1000 hours). Also, as covered before, the Leahy-Brandston e-book that looks at such manufacturer cooperation from an American angle, and other background information as per the Ceolas.net site.
Interesting historical "anomalies" include the long lasting Livermore Fire Station life bulb, and the mysterious Billinger "everlasting" life bulb invention.

The issue is not without relation to the current light bulb ban:
It has been forgotten by both politicians and journalists that the USA standard (for example)
specifies a 1000 hour minimum: Why such a minimum standard?

Brightness and lifespan tend to be trade offs, especially with incandescents - consumers are therefore unnecessarily denied short lasting but bright bulbs!

Certainly, it is the opposite of the "manufacturer cartel short lifespan" documentary coverages:
But the whole point is that all products have advantages, and regulations other than for usage safety are unnecessary in limiting choice. Market variety, driven by ensuring market competition, is the key to providing desirable products, with light bulbs as with anything else.
Clear information on packaging is sufficient - warranty backed as required for given lifespans.
Just like - in say Europe - different colors are used to easily show energy usage, or US Energy star ratings are used, similar could be done with lifespans, separately or combined,
so top rating might have same color or say "A" rating in each category, an "AA" bulb as it were.

Light bulb minimum lifespan standard:
As wrong and unnecessary as maximum energy usage standard, and the forgotten issue in all the talk about light bulb regulations.

Meanwhile, the much hailed supposed long CFL and LED lifespans,
have been found wanting in real life, hardly surprising given their unnatural lab specified origins.
Of course, coming back to the "planned obsolescence" arguments, also hardly surprising given that manufacturers are hardly going to drool over the lack of profit from selling you a light bulb you pretty well never have to change!

The only believable alternative is to sell truly long lasting bulbs very expensively to maintain profit, lots of taxpayer subsidies hiding the fact or not.
But as Kevan Shaw says in reviewing the latest Philips L Prize LED bulb:

Another point about the massive cost for these lamps is whether or not the claimed savings are realistic in domestic use. How many people will be using the same lighting after 22 years? How many will still be living in the same house or apartment? At 58 years old I have to question whether I will still be alive to realise these claimed savings! It really is not good enough that the best of these lamp replacement products should be priced so high....

Of course, as far as manufacturers are concerned, once the competing unprofitable cheap incandescents are banned, are they going to cry in their beer if CFLs and LEDs - which incidentally lack appropriate guarantees/warranties for claimed lifespans - happen to stop working a year or two later?

Of course not.
Ban achieved - Job Done!


Anonymous said...

This is sooo true!!!
SJ Saskatchewan

steven m said...

I agree with last comment. It is hardly surprising that the light bulb makers want short lifespans. But everyone in newspapers keep talking about >>great new long life bulbs<<