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

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Update on Rik Gheysens CFL study

Update on the Update, June 7.... see Kevan comments below

As covered on Send Your Light Bulbs to Washington, following up on the previously mentioned mercury in fluorescent bulbs study

Relating to the post May 17 Research Report: Mercury in Fluorescent Lighting, the author has let us know some recent news on his website
(slight editing of the translation used):

May 2012

Website Test-Aankoop, May 24 2012:
CFLs (in the lab and in the waste collect centers): not always energy saving or environmentally friendly

In the June issue of the periodical "Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats", 13 double shell compact fluorescent lamps with a brightness between 500 and 700 lumen and with an E-27 fitting were investigated.

Some conclusions are:
A certain model should, according to the packaging, have a lifetime of 8000 hours (= 8 years).
Four of the five test samples were already broken down before they burned 5000 hours.
The only still burning lamp reached at that moment only 70% of its brightness.

A sample of another model failed already after burning 1800 hours.
" The samples which reached 5000 hours, had lost at that moment more 35% to even 80% of their brightness. Moreover, this lamp could hardly be switched on and off 5000 times."
This lamp can actually no longer be named a 'low-energy light bulb'.

The Belgian newspaper "De Morgen", May 25, 2012:
"CFLs are not always environmentally friendly"

In the June issue of the periodical "Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats", 13 [double shell] CFLs were investigated.

The results are:
No lamp reached half the full intensity of light within 30 seconds.
"These teething troubles can no longer be justified ", said spokesman Ivo Mechels.

The lifetime of the lamps does not appear to correspond to the promised lifetime on the packaging. "Six of the thirteen species scored very poorly", said Mechels.

The collection of broken bulbs is not always as it should.
"They usually end up in an ordinary plastic bin. In places lay broken lamps. That mercury is released in this way, is hardly realized."

Another Belgian newspaper "De Standaard", May 25, 2012, writes: "The CFL is almost dead"
" CFLs are less efficient and ecological than their manufacturers try to make you believe.
And they seem to have lost faith in them themselves."
Ivo Mechels of Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats:
"CFLs are more sparing and last longer than conventional incandescent bulbs.
But they still have teething problems that (no longer) should be allowed.
This is no new technology anymore, so manufacturers can no longer hide (behind that idea)."

According to Stefaan Forment, researcher of the Laboratory of Lighting Technology of Ghent's Catholic College St Lieven, manufacturers seem to believe much more in LED lamps...

Kevan at Savethebulb.org adds, taken from a June 6 post:

CFL fail again!

The Belgian consumer organisation Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats published their report on CFLi [Google translated version] on May 24th. This organisation buy products from retail sources and have undertaken long term tests with rather disappointing but not unexpected results. This is exactly what individual governments in the EU are supposed to be doing to ensure that the products on the market meet the requirements of the Eco Design legislation however seem to be failing at.

The major problem identified was the time to full light output. Of the lamps tested none achieved 20% of full output within 10 second and none achieved 50% of full output within 30 seconds, the test sample included one lamp claiming to be “Quick Start” however its performance was no better than the others.

Life testing proved equally disappointing, one model of lamp with a claimed 8,000 hour life. 4 out of 5 tested lamps failed within 5,000 hours the remaining lamps only producing 70% of its claimed light output at that time. One example of another type tested failed after 1,800 hours others in that batch that were still operating at 5,000 hours only produced between 20% and 65% of initial light output.

Start up speed, life and light output at end of life are included in the requirements of the Ecodesign legislation. We have to ask why are these not being enforced with the same stringency as the ban on sale of incandescent lamps? The lamp industry is clearly losing interest in CFLi with a major push towards LED based lamp replacements that seem likely to deliver much higher profits than CFLi or incandescent judging by the current excessive retail prices for them.

Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats also tested the recycling process by taking dead CFLi lamps to various container recycling sites. In the 34 recycling sites in Belgium that accept hazardous waste they found that the lamps were deposited in general hazardous waste with the staff at the centre left with the problem of separating lamps for processing by Recupel, the company responsible for lamps an Waste electrical and electronic goods. They also found that many fluorescent lamps were being broken and therefore discharging mercury vapour at the container sites with no real precautions being taken to protect workers or visitors to the sites. They reported their findings to Recupel and the Ministry responsible.

Good points by Kevan.
The profit motive for banning simple cheap patent expired bulbs should not be forgotten, and LEDs, as mentioned below, may be even "better" in that regard...

Comment (as in original post)

As seen on Rik Gheysens news page,
it has more information going back in time - as with the EU (Swedish) scandal of unrecycled dumped fluorescent light bulbs end 2011, also covered in a report on the Ceolas.net website.

As for LED lighting being so much better, that is not necessarily so:
RGB types are effectively combinations of pure red green and blue sources, without the smooth light output spectrum of incandescents.
Meanwhile the now popular and generally simpler/cheaper "white LEDs" have additional issues from effectively mimicking the light quality of fluorescents, that is, from bluey (relatively bright) type LED source light hitting phosphorescent wall coating.

More on LED issues here.
And that is of course without going into the not always warranted "great upfront expense for long term savings", for many less often used bulbs.


James W said...

About "The lifetime of the lamps does not appear to correspond to the promised lifetime on the packaging..."
There are many more studies with the same result. Just search online
"CFL lifespan test "
James W

Anonymous said...

Are their Eu neighbour people in Brussels reading this?!!

Anonymous said...

So they are dim short lived and bad for the environment Any surprise they are hard to sell so a ban on the others is necessary to sell them?