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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Canada and Nordic Countries:
Incandescent Light Bulb Usage Advantages

... it's about a lot more than the heat of incandescent bulbs!

Update info: Campaign against the ban by Ontario MP Cheryl Gallant:
stop the ban page (with petition), facebook page

See the last post.
It focuses on policy aspects of the Canada Government proposal to switch to USA standards.
A main claim is that Halogens "similar to traditional bulbs" will still be allowed, but they will be banned under US law as referenced, and the Government proposal itself speaks of further standard restrictions being facilitated.
While section 3 will remain there, having already linked to it in correspondence etc, it and some other sections have a general informative aspect so may be further highlighted separately.

To recap:
This is part of a reply to the Canadian Natural Resources Government Ministry, Office of Energy Efficiency, concerning the Canada Gazette Vol. 147, No. 40 — October 5, 2013 published proposal on Light Bulb Regulations to be effective as from Jan 1 2014,
and the invitation to comment by December 19th.

Below is seen section 3 of the following:

1. Why Alignment to USA will also ban Halogens
2. What is good for Canadian Industry, Jobs and Consumers?
3. How Incandescents have particular Advantages for Canadians
4. Simple Incandescent Advantages versus Halogens
5. On Energy saving for the Nation
6. On Emission saving for the Planet
7. On Money saving for the People
8. Worldwide Policy and Major Manufacturers
9. Alternative Policies targeting Light Bulbs
10.Incandescents - the Real Green Bulbs?

Full version:  As Doc    As PDF

3. How Incandescents have particular advantages for Canadians

First, a summary of general advantages of Incandescents, then particular advantages to Canadians.

General incandescent advantages

A high quality 100% CRI (color rendering index) light with a warm characteristic: Incandescent lights have a smooth broad light spectrum, which in ordinary light bulbs rises more towards the red end, giving the characteristic warm glow, increased on dimming (fluorescent and LED lights give out different types of light...LEDs also in car headlamps, bicycle lights, flashlights/torches, sees an often bluey omnidirectionally weaker but point source glare type of lighting taking over in society).

The light bulbs have for many a pleasing simple appearance, and the transparency sparkle effect makes their use in some lamps, lanterns, and chandeliers attractive.
They are versatile with dimmers and sensors, advantageous where vibration or rough use is expected, and in very hot or cold conditions when they are also quick to come on. Moreover, the heat of the light bulbs (of itself often useful) finds direct applications in space heating applications, greenhouses, hatcheries, pet keeping etc.
Converse arguments note the situational disadvantages in particular of CFLs, for example in recessed and enclosed fixtures or humid (bathroom) situations

The brightness issue

Small and standard size incandescent lights are particularly useful, since CFL or LED equivalents usually can't be made as bright, and when they can they are even more expensive than usual.

The early ban on small/standard 100 Watt bulbs is therefore particularly ironic, added to by any future absence of halogens.
Such bulbs have especially good and cheap brightness as well as heat benefit, with 100W bulbs being at the same low price as other bulbs (and yes, that is also a reason they "must" be banned quickly based on what people might otherwise want to buy, such that big "savings" can be announced instead).

Fluorescent and LED lights, often dim to start with, also dim more with age, shortening lab quoted lifespans.
Fluorescent encapsulation (with pear shaped outer envelope, recommended for close use) further reduces brightness, similarly the phosphorescent covering of LEDs to spread the point-source lighting reduces brightness in any direction.
Cheap Chinese imports, directly or for assembly and rebranding, also mean that brightness retention, lifespan and other issues remain with these lights.
Any older reader might like (or not like) to note that not only do older eyes need brighter light, but ageing also means yellowing eye lenses so that they absorb the greater blue light component of fluorescents and LEDs, making them appear still dimmer.
Je vous souhaite la retraite agréable.

Safety issues

Normally products are banned for being unsafe to use.
The irony here is that old and thereby well known bulbs in their safety are forcibly, albeit gradually, replaced by CFL and LED bulbs with several health, safety, and environmental concerns.
There is little point in going through the concerns here which can easily be found in online discussion and documentation -
especially regarding fluorescent lighting mercury and radiation concerns, which after all also influenced the 2 year regulatory delay in Canada. Those issues have of course not simply gone away, including accidental breakage of CFLs and their recycling as alternative to being dumped (and with some calls for LED recycling too, see below).
A point of irony is the light bulb heat issue.
Irony, because politicians and journalists and indeed the info sheets from the OEE (Canada Gov office of energy efficiency) love to say how incandescents "waste 90-95% of their energy as heat", never a word that CFLs also waste 70-80% and current LEDs 50-70% of their energy this way.
Irony, because while much incandescent heat is radiated externally to potential use, CFL and LED is internalized, with unpredictable fire risk, especially of CFLs (incandescent heat being more noticeable in burning lampshades and the like, to warn users).

Not only do incandescents often usefully release around 95% of their energy as heat:
Proponents conveniently "forget" to add that CFLs and LEDs really waste energy as heat, CFLs 80% and LEDs 70%.
That is because the CFL/LED heat is internalized, to give a greater, unseen, unpredictable fire risk, particularly with CFLs (incandescent heat being more noticeable, to warn users).

A brief further word on LEDs, as the touted catch-all replacement product.
Just to mention 2 aspects and 2 institutional references.
The official French health agency ANSES in a 2010 multi-disciplinary study highlighted point source glare and blue light radiation issues and various side-effects, echoed by several other studies, and unusually in a repeat call 2013 complained to the Commission that nothing was being done.
Similarly the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of California, USA has been involved in several multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional and international (Korea) studies concerning the toxicity and environmental effects of LEDs, including depletetion of rare earth minerals, and calling for recycling as with CFLs.

Certainly, new technology should be welcomed for its advantages.
But it does not necessitate banning the old - it seems remarkably hard for politicians to understand that manufacturers themselves can and do move on the new products, without the necessity of bans, and that there are many other ways both of reducing energy consumption in general and of enhancing energy saving product purchase in particular.

Progress is welcomed - not feared.
True progressive politics brings more choice and more advantages, a progress helped - not hindered - by allowing competition against that which already exists.

Politicians love to keep saying how "energy saving products are getting better and cheaper all the time".
Then presumably people might actually buy them - voluntarily - while still allowing niche special use of "old" varieties.
We've witnessed an incandescent to solid state switchover before - and with the same GE, Philips etc companies.
The audio version. Incandescent audio tubes to solid state (LED-like) transistors.
Now then: If that had been today, then worldwide the call would have been to ban the "energy guzzling" audio tubes.
Which in turn would have prevented rock era tube amps and other niche audio processing developments.
Politicians set energy cut-off standards thinking they just ban existing products. But they also ban what might have existed, and never will.

New lighting is better - why ban old lighting, no point
New lighting is not better - why ban old lighting, no point

Incandescent advantages for Canadians

(i) Canadian homes tend to be big in international comparison, with more light bulbs:

Canadian around 35 light points per home, EU average 20-25 (less in Southern Europe), USA 40-45

• Increased variety of conditions where different lights are useful, so a ban on any lighting type is felt more.
• More individual rooms and lamps with lights that are not often used - reducing supposed running cost savings after buying expensive "energy saving" lighting

(ii) Canadians have a higher need and usage of lighting itself:

• Increased time indoors, including at home, because the homes are bigger, better and more comfortable, related both to the cooler climate and to a greater household wealth, compared with most other countries.
• Increased time indoors, including at home or other situations where the lighting can be chosen, because of colder climate and also because the dark winter season is only partially offset by summer brightness for working Canadians outside vacation times, when some rooms will likely still need to be lit up fairly early

(iii) Canadians more often have cold conditions that can affect the lighting used:

• Incandescent lights come on quickly in the cold. While nowadays CFLs have little delay in ordinary conditions, that does not apply in cold conditions.
LEDs also are more sensitive to ambient temperatures (both hot and cold performance deterioration).
• Cool or cold conditions can combine with other usage factors unsuitable to other lighting, like incompatibility with sensor systems and/or frequent on-off switching, as with hallway and passage areas, bathrooms, outdoor porch and garage lights.
On a more curious note, replacing incandescents with other lighting has reportedly seen Canadian traffic lights being obscured by snow in wintertime, whereas beforehand the incandescent heat would keep the lights clear.

(iv) Canadians particularly benefit from the light bulb heat effect:

• The heat effect, of which more later, gives an overall reduction of energy use to maintain room temperature.
That is not just from being used more than air-conditioning cooling through the year. Even in the summer, when it is dark, it may be cold enough to turn on room heating. Besides incandescents can be changed as desired if conflicting with air conditioning - and may of course be preferred anyway for their other advantages.
• The house insulation factor: Well built Canadian houses that are well insulated, giving a greater light bulb heat benefit compared to more poorly insulated ones elsewhere, as in the UK. The heat from bulbs stays in the room, not escaping through the ceiling.
A point of irony is therefore how governments are increasing home insulation schemes to save on heating, while banning bulbs which, proportionate to small energy use of course, would thereby contribute more to such heating.

(v) Canadians are more likely to enjoy the psychologically warm effect:

Incandescents tend towards the red end of the spectrum, while unmodified fluorescents and LED lighting have more blue light, cooler in effect.
Also, when dimmed, the warm effect of incandescents increases: and people in northern countries like Canada or Nordic Europe are more likely to entertain others in their homes for say dinner parties, possibly also for cultural reasons.
Compare with warmer regions where people go out more to socialize, have no control over such lighting used, and barely use their own home lighting that they can control.

(vi) Canadians are more likely to enjoy bright light:

Having longer darker winters, and generally with less bright conditions than more tropical locations.
100W+ bright equivalent lighting is less easy to make in fluorescent or LED bulb form, is not often available for general household use, and is particularly expensive when it is (and is still not widely possible omnidirectionally with LED bulbs).
The importance is also seen from the existence of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder in Northern countries generally, where the lack of light during winter months plays a role as seen from the bright light phototherapy treatment that is involved.

[ Sections 4 to 10 can be seen via doc or pdf download, see top of this page]

How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.


Emma said...

is there anything that can be done to stop the federal U.S. ban on incandescent bulbs?

Peter T said...

There have been amendments passed in Congress delaying federal oversight funding.
Otherwise as you know laws both difficult to pass or to get rid of, especcially if Congress and President's administration are divided!