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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Peter Stenzel Light Bulb Site Update

Austria based Peter Stenzel's now revised site at Gluehbirne.ist.org ("Argumente für die Glühbirne", "Arguments in support of incandescent light bulbs") is an excellent resource, whether you live in Europe or not, as already linked in the Resource Links section.
Note that it includes many more sections than may seem from below, including well illustrated lighting comparisons, special sections on CFL and LED issues, regulatory news, campaigns/petitions in different countries, and more, also from outside the EU.

Google translated English version (linked pages from that should also automatically be translated, to a reasonably understandable English).

Part-view of the front page in German embedded below


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lightbulb Conspiracy Documentary by Cosima Dannoritzer

Updates May 30, July 23, Aug 27, 2012 and Oct 9 2013

As a company summary puts it, "Pyramids of Waste (2010) also known as 'The lightbulb conspiracy' is a documentary about how our economic system based on consumerism and planned obsolescence is breaking our planet down."

While this documentary was aired on European TV channels a year or so ago as an ARTE production, it has also started doing the film festival circuit, and so in recent weeks has gained renewed attention, or indeed new attention, as in North America...

The documentary itself, standard 53 min version with English narration
English narration with options of different subtitles: here (alternative link)
Longer version (1 hour 15 min) in German
At 15 minutes interesting additional info about General Electric USA: Reduction also of flashlight lamp life.... "to not last longer than the batteries used"...
Long version (1 hr 15 min) in French
At 15 minutes interesting additional info about General Electric USA: Reduction also of flashlight lamp life.... "to not last longer than the batteries used"...
Long 1 hr 17 min version now also in Spanish, originally shown April and October 2012 on main Spanish public TV channel: Link to RTVE video
Spanish version also on Vimeo:
Synopsis written by the film's director Cosima Dannoritzer
Once upon a time..... products were made to last. Then, at the beginning of the 1920s, a group of businessmen were struck by the following insight: 'A product that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business' (1928). Thus Planned Obsolescence was born.
Shortly after, the first worldwide cartel was set up expressly to reduce the life span of the incandescent light bulb, a symbol for innovation and bright new ideas, and the first official victim of Planned Obsolescence. During the 1950s, with the birth of the consumer society, the concept took on a whole new meaning, as explained by flamboyant designer Brooks Stevens: 'Planned Obsolescence, the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary...'. The growth society flourished, everybody had everything, the waste was piling up (preferably far away in illegal dumps in the Third World) - until consumers started rebelling...
The current throwaway climate - where the latest technology is outdated after a year and electronics are cheaper to replace than to repair – is the basis for economic growth. But infinite consumption is unsustainable with finite resources: With the economy crumbling and consumers becoming increasingly resistant to the practice, has planned obsolescence reached the end of its own life? Combining investigative research and rare archive footage with analysis by those working on ways to save both the economy and the environment, this documentary charts the creation of ‘engineering to fail’, its rise to prominence and its recent fall from grace.
DOXA Festival (more below) review biography:
Cosima Dannoritzer is a filmmaker specializing in history and ecology who has worked for broadcasters in the UK, Germany and Spain.
Her previous films include: Re-Building Berlin (Channel 4, U.K., 1992, Journalism Prize of the Anglo-German Society 1993), Germany Inside Out (BBC, U.K. / YLE, Finland, 2001), If Rubbish Could Speak (TVE, Spain, 2003, awards from 'Ekotopfilm' and The'Green Vision Film Festival') Electronic Amnesia (TVE, Spain, 2006)
Interview with Cosima Dannoritzer about the documentary, in Spanish
Another online TV discussion about the documentary and planned obsolescence can be seen here, Arte TV, choice of French or German. (thank you to Peter at Gluehbirne.ist.org for this)
May 3 article by Matthew Hoekstra in the Richmond Review
Planned obsolescence subject of Light Bulb Conspiracy documentary
A documentary partly inspired by a Richmond author's book screens in Vancouver next week as part of the DOXA Documentary Film Festival.
The Light Bulb Conspiracy, written and directed by Cosima Dannoritzer of Spain, will make its Canadian premiere at the festival. Dannoritzer's 75-minute documentary explores why consumer products don't last, and the concept of planned obsolescence—the deliberate shortening of a product lifespan to boost consumer demand.
Richmond author Giles Slade served as one of the filmmaker's first points of reference. Slade wrote a book on the topic in 2006: Made To Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America.
In an e-mail, Dannoritzer said her idea of making the film dates to her childhood. She remembers her mother, in the 1970s, trying in vain to get spare parts for a broken appliance. "That's when I heard the word 'planned obsolescence' for the first time. Then, a few years ago, I filmed a huge stack of discarded computers in a recycling plant and started wondering how broken they really were, and read all these crazy conspiracy theories about eternal light bulbs and everlasting cars on the Internet."
In 2007, she began probing deeper and interviewed Slade in New York for a few scenes in the documentary. "Book and film have several things in common, but readers of the book can get new stories from the book which are not in the film, and get new stories from the film which are not in the book," said Dannoritzer. The 2010 film centres on a plan among light bulb manufacturers to create short-lasting products in order to increase profits. The film also uncovers the story of an American fire station with an old-fashioned light bulb that's been working for decades and the quest of one man to fix a printer that others suggest he throws out.
An earlier March 2011 review from Apfelkraut.org
The untold story of planned obsolescence
Did you know that the lifetime of light bulbs once used to last for more than 2500 hours and was reduced – on purpose – to just 1000 hours?
Did you know that nylon stockings once used to be that stable that you could even use them as tow rope for cars and its quality was reduced just to make sure that you will soon need a new one?
Did you know that you might have a tiny little chip inside your printer that was just placed there so that your device will “break” after a predefined number of printed pages thereby assuring that you buy a new one?
Did you know that Apple originally did not intend to offer any battery exchange service for their iPods/iPhones/iPads just to enable you to continuously contribute to the growth of this corporation?
This strategy was maybe first thought through already in the 19th century and later on for example motivated by Bernhard London in 1932 in his paper “Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence”. The intentional design and manufacturing of products with a limited lifespan to assure repeated purchases is denoted as “planned/programmed obsolescence” and we are all or at least most of us upright and thoroughly participating in this doubtful endeavor.
Or did you not recently think about buying a new mobile phone / computer / car / clothes / … because your old one unexpectedly died or just because of this very cool new feature that you oh so badly need?
A really well done documentary that provides a comprehensive overview about and a detailed insight into this topic recently aired on Arte and other European television networks. It is entitled “The Light Bulb Conspiracy – The untold story of planned obsolescence” (aka “Pyramids of Waste”, DE: “Kaufen für die Müllhalde”, FR: “Prêt à jeter”, ES: “Comprar, tirar, comprar”) and is a French/Spanish production directed by Cosima Dannoritzer.
Recordings of the movie have been uploaded to various video portals, for example currently available on YouTube in EN/International with Norwegian subtitles, DE, FR and ES. Just the official TV and Internet broadcasts were viewed by over 2,500,000 people. If you like to follow up on some of the documentary’s content, here are the links: The light bulb at the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department can be watched here via web cam. Wikipedia has some more information on the Phoebus cartel in English and German. The referenced clip about the tremendous waste of ink by inkjet printers can be found at Atomic Shrimp: “The Dirty Little Secret Of Inkjet Printers”. The software to reset the page counter of various Epson printers can be found here: SSC Service Utility for Epson Stylus Printers. The people that made “iPod’s Dirty Secret” are the Neistat Brothers. The tough guy from Ghana that collects evidences at the dumping grounds to identify the orignators of electric waste is Mike Anane and he also contributed to the report “Poisoning the poor – Electronic waste in Ghana” issued by Greenpeace.
That planned obsolescence may be needed or even is substantial to appease the ever-growing hunger to achieve continuous and distinct economic growth that is natural to nations with advanced economies aka developed (?) countries is one part. The past and present is comprised of numerous advocates and supporters with well-engineered argumentations in favor of this business strategy. But even the ultimate argument gets immediately and indisputably absurd and unreasonable when it comes to the thereby produced waste – the other part of planned obsolescence.
“The Light Bulb Conspiracy” quite clearly showed where this leads to and especially where all the resulting waste is dumped. Let’s keep that in mind while impatiently waiting for the release of the next generation of the iPhone …
Those on Facebook can catch up on news about the documentary and related events, in English, German and Spanish:
The Light Bulb Conspiracy
Kaufen für die Müllhalde
Comprar, Tirar, Comprar
Updated May 30, May 31 (I may expand on this comment over the next few days)
This is one of the planned posts here, in the ongoing "series" about Light bulb lifespan, as introduced the other day with the "Leading a Double Life" post, which also deals with some of the principles involved.
The documentary is well made and researched with interesting information and interviews. It opens the door to all kinds of "sustainability" support, and reviews typically link to sites like "The Venus Project" "Zeitgeist movement" etc.
The documentary also points out how long-lasting Communist bulbs were kept from Western markets, but also how times are changing, so that now Warner Philips, grandson of the Philips founder, is turning to making LED bulbs "that last 25 years".
The 2 main issues are therefore
# how one might make sure that longer lasting light bulbs and other products are made
# whether one should only make durable sustainable products "to stop consumerist waste"
To begin with, while the Phoebus cartel was certainly detrimental to consumers (http://ceolas.net/#phoebuspol), the point is not "how bad capitalism is" - it is how bad any lack of competition is.
Quality as well as lifespan arises from market competition.
One of the common misconceptions is that "Capitalism is about Free Markets". But both Capitalists and Socialists dislike Free Markets! Certainly the Competition that is, and should be, at the heart of Free Markets. That is why, yes, state intervention is good: To initially help new inventions to market - but not to continually support them. That means that long lasting as well as short lasting products would be available.
As covered in the previous post, short lasting products - have advantages too: Not everyone will live in one place, or use products a lot. Moreover - with say computers or cars - people want new products for their new features, new innovations and possibilities. With light bulbs there are, as said, even specific advantages to shorter lasting bulbs, in that they tend to be brighter.
Obviously though, whatever the product, the more parts that can be recycled, the better, alternatively, that some products are refurbished and kept going for poorer local or third world consumers.
To ensure lack of dumping is therefore the point - not just to make longer lasting products!
Quality long lasting products - appropriately guaranteed (warrantied) - will always be more expensive, as otherwise the maker makes no profit. Competition keeps the price, and profits, down, and of course also forces manufacturers into market research to satisfy consumer desires, with lifespan as other with other characteristics. Regarding often-replaced products, notice how long lasting batteries and washing up liquids are marketed and sold. People are not stupid: Relevant long-lasting products will always be bought.
As mentioned, the documentary brings in the grandson of the Philips founder, Warner Philips, and how he with his company Lemnis Lighting is making "more environmentally friendly 25 year lasting LED bulbs". Of course these much more profitable complex expensive patented bulbs, is what the Phoebus cartel companies Philips, GE, Osram etc are making too, having lobbied for and achieved a ban on simple incandescent bulbs, as covered and documented on Ceolas.net.
One should not be lost on the sustainability irony, in terms of what used to be very simple locally made bulbs that you can make in your garage (and some pretty literally do: check out carbon filament light bulb maker Bob Kyp in Florida), incandescent bulbs which also can be made long lasting as the documentary says, now being banned. Such long lasting bulbs (up to 20 000 hours lifespan at relatively low cost) which before were kept for mining and other industry, now reaching ordinary consumer markets in post-ban Europe, to the annoyance of the EU Commission, as covered in other posts! (How terrible if people can buy what light bulbs they want). Instead, the desired development by politicians and major companies crying about their new-found "environmental values", is for complex, less known, less safety proven and rare earth mineral exhausting CFL or LED bulbs to be shipped around the world on bunker oil fuelled ships and have unlikely-followed recycling mandates put on them.... and, even more ironically, to marginal if any overall energy savings as referenced.
As for the lifespan values that underlie the documentary, it is again hardly surprising that advertised "Long lasting CFLs and LEDs" are not that long lasting at all, from ever more reviews and criticism arising: Not just because of the dubious lab specifications used (unrelated to real life use, see Ceolas.net site regarding CFL and LED specifications used) - but also out of necessity of manufacturers to make a profit, and a lack of competition from banned cheap lighting alternatives leaves the way open for a double whammy of expensive and shorter-lasting-than-supposed replacement products.
Thank you, politicians and bureaucrats.
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.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

UK Parliament Debate on Light Bulbs

Post revised and updated May 24

Thank you to Dr. Robert Hanson for this information

Private Members Debate
Yesterday 22nd May in Westminster Hall,
a chamber of the UK parliament,
on future implications of the EU light bulb regulations:
video archive direct link

The issue, raised by Edinburgh MP Sheila Gilmore, covered the health issue arising out of banning incandescent bulbs, in particular problems with fluorescent bulb usage such as UV light and other electromagnetic radiation.

The All Party Committee on lighting referred to, embedded document (original source):

Regarding Edinburgh MP Gilmore, fellow Edinburghian... Edinburgher... (there is a whole debate online about what people from Edinburgh are called) Kevan has covered something similar before, on Savethebulb.org in June 2011

UK Parliament Early Day Motion on Incandescent Lamps

MP Sheila Gilmore has proposed Early Day Motion 1878 asking MPs to address the issue of continued availability of incandescent lamps for people suffering from diseases aggravated by the spectral and other properties of CFLi energy saving lamps.

During the consultation process the issue of medically significant sensitivity was discussed at length and assurance was given that there was no intention that people who would suffer as the result of using CFLi would be prevented from getting incandescent lamps. It was, however, left to the individual member states to arrange their legislation to allow for this. Needless to say most have not. As you can see from the post elsewhere about ‘Heatballs’ some countries, Germany in this case, are being quite draconian, preventing the import and sale of incandescent lamps.

This motion will hopefully address the issue of availability of incandescent lamps however does nothing to ensure the long term availability as there has to be a sufficient volume of sales to support the manufacture of them.

Readers from the UK are urged to write to or email their MP asking them to sign the early day motion to get some Parliamentary action on this issue. You can find out who your MP is on this website:



Kevan Shaw


While understanding those with medical difficulties,
it is a little unfortunate that it is the only objection raised, and that in the process (perhaps to help curry favor) spokespeople generally give in about how "great it otherwise is to have the legislation to save the planet", unnecessarily playing into the hands of the legislators given the lack of overall energy savings as referenced.

In a typical ensuing exchange of pleasantries, the government representatives (in this case Environment Minister Richard Benyon) predictably counter how some alternative incandescent halogens supposedly are allowed, or how appropriate LEDs are coming, and the like.

As it happens, future halogen-type incandescent availability for ordinary use is in doubt looking at both EU and US legislation, but even if the alternatives were there, there are extensive arguments as to why the regulations in themselves are unnecessary and wrong, as covered in the Deception rundown.

This includes the typical "19% of electricity is used for lighting"
raised by the Minister in the above video debate:
The 19% figure includes much lighting irrelevant to incandescent replacement (also remembering that replacement lights use electricity too) such that only around 1% of grid electricity is saved, without going into additional lifecycle (manufacture, transport, recycling) energy use, as referenced in the link.

Given all the other reasons against regulations listed and referenced,
the health side-effects of incandescent replacements should not be the only issue raised:
Arguably it would strengthen - not weaken - their case if the health campaigners did not give in so easily on the other aspects...

Update 24 May:
As pointed out in the comments (thank you Steven),
looking more overall at saving energy and emissions,
then even if a light bulb policy was held as necessary,
stimulated market competition as best option, or as a second option taxation that can help pay for price lowering subsidies on alternatives, are both better than regulations:
Not just to keep choice, and not just to lower energy use and emissions, but to do so at the lowest possible cost to government and consumers - and regardless of whether you are a right wing (market) or left wing (tax) politician.
A more comprehensive look at alternative light bulb taxation and market policies with examples, Ceolas.net#li23x.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A "Twisted" Bulb Idea...

From Send your lightbulbs to Washington blog

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.


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!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Research Report:
Mercury in Fluorescent Lighting

From Send Your Light Bulbs to Washington blog May 17

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 an eventual final 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:


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!


The whole document can be read in the frame below.
The author welcomes comments, as seen.


Update on James Bedell's Lighting Book

Lighting designer James Bedell is quite unusual among lighting designers, in supporting the ban (or phase out) of incandescent bulbs for ordinary use.

Whatever one's opinion on that particular issue, he has, as reviewed before, written an interesting e-book on lighting, "Losing Edison" encompassing all areas of home use, thankfully including halogens for those who like incandescents, and with an interesting project development section as described.

His enthusiasm also shines through in welcoming feedback and offering personal lighting advice to those who purchase his e-book.

An update video by James himself talking about the e-book, including promotion price of $4.99 for May 2012.
The regular, or initial, price last December was 11 dollars, as per the linked review, which has also been updated.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

More Dim Issues with Philips new LED Bulb

Continuing the Philips prize awarded LED bulb saga,
Kevan has confirmed some dimming and the issues of the bulb as also found by the US Government L Prize test review and designated lab reports in the main post earlier.

From Save the Bulb blog, 13 May 2012
(original post has some more images)

L Prize (Fail!)

I have spent the last couple of weeks in San Francisco and taken the opportunity to observe the impact of the Californian ban on incandescent lamps that was implemented in January 2011. Basically it has had zero effect. Standard incandescent lamps are freely available through all retail supply outlets. I have checked corner stores, supermarkets, neighborhood hardware stores and DIY sheds all have a full range of conventional incandescent lamps. The “Energy Saving” options vary considerably. Most stores have a reasonable complement of CFLs some have halogen incandescent replacements but only on hardware store and the DIY sheds carry any LED incandescent replacements and just the DIY shed had the L prize lamp that I was very keen to get my hands on. These LED options are all selling in the range $17 to $24.

There has been so much store set by the quality of the L prize lamp that I was very keen to get one as it seems unlikely we will get them in the UK anytime soon. The first thing that surprised me was the extent of packaging for what is supposed to be an environmentally friendly product.

When first switched on I have to concede that the appearance of the light was OK in comparison to the GE Reveal lamp that it was replacing. The reveal is an incandescent with a slight blue tint.

As expected when dimmed things changed dramatically:....

The L prize got cooler in appearance and the perceived colour rendering became much worse casting a gloomy grey in the space. the lamp also suddenly went out about half way through the travel of the dimmer’s slider, the GE lamp dimmed right down to the minimum setting. What was really alarming was that the L prize lamp would not switch on at dimmer settings below about 70%. This was a serious problem in this location where three way switching was installed.

Really I am somewhat disappointed in a product that cost me $19.75 and does not work reliably at less than full power even when it claims to be dimmable. Solutions such as this must be made fully compatible with existing wiring infrastructure.

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 and fail to meet reasonable performance expectations that at least they do not risk leaving people in darkness! I do feel that the general lamp buying public are being conned into overspending for overcomplicated and ineffective products.

This page from EarthLed shows a dissection of the L prize lamp. It really does question the holistic sustainability of replacing such an elegantly simple device as the traditional incandescent lamp with something that requires computing power that would shame the flight computers of the Mercury and Gemini space programmes and has more electronic components than a transistor radio! All in all the resources used to make this thing are truly excessive for the required functionality.


The mentioned Earthled dissection of the bulb is also on the post "(S)tripping the Light Fantastic", with extensive commenting.

On the Dimming issue,
unsurprisingly it mirrors CFL problems since LEDs also have spiky emission spectra and with these LED types also use similar (phosphorescent) coating to help spread the light.
And dimming after all is also an “energy saving” benefit, that ban proponents welcome!

Dimming and other problems were as said also highlighted in the official committee test review and designated test lab reports on
All about the new Philips LED Bulb, and how it won the L-Prize

Renowned lighting designer and Congress lighting consultant Howard Brandston concurs on the dimming and other issues..

"The testing of this LED lamp was very narrow in scope and did not include some of the most important aspects of residential lighting.
As a lighting designer my primary concerns is the quality of the color of light emitted throughout the complete cycle of being dimmed, a common situation in homes.
In this use the lamp leaves much to be desired so I would never specify it."

A further interesting observation today (May 16) by Kevan

Apparently what I have is not the L Prize lamps but a confusing look-alike also sold by Philips!
This one is a Chinese made version, The L prize version itself is ”Assembled in the USA”.
So Philips are knocking off their own products!
The L Prize version is obviously too expensive for normal retail and is going out through specialists such as EarthLed!

... So are Philips using L Prize specs highlighted in reviews (eg a comparatively high lumen per watt efficiency), and the “kudos” from winning the L Prize, to push sales of cheaper inferior Chinese versions in ordinary stores for Joe Public who is assumed not to question quality and specs?

No! Never! ;-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

US Government LED Prize:
Certain test reports not released...

As seen from the recent series of posts here about the new Philips LED bulb that won the American Government, L Prize (more), a particular source of interest was lighting engineer Philip Premysler's observations.

Following discrepancies he discovered in how the prize was awarded,
including deficiencies in the bulb itself, his further request for information has met with some resistance, as he allows me to make public... (his capitals, my added bold style highlights)

"The telltale sign of the Dept of Energy (DoE) having RIGGED the L-Prize contest is the DoE's refusal to release certain test reports on the L-Prize entry.
Several of test reports that are listed in the "Independent Data" column of the L Prize summary document were requested under the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA].

Based on the summary document we know these document would show failures of the L-Prize “winner” to meet the contest requirements.
The decision by the DoE to refuse to release the documents was appealed to the DoE’s Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) and the DoE was ordered to make a legal determination based on specific legal criteria as to whether the documents could be released
(see http://www.oha.doe.gov/cases/foia/FIA-11-0012.pdf)."

The mentioned test review summary document and appeal documents,
the test review report was as said previously discussed here.

"So far, the DoE has refused to carry out the OHA order. (Likely they see no way to avoid releasing the documents if they apply the OHA’s criteria)

Their tactic for stonewalling is absurd.
The DoE states that they expected the OHA to order a new search for documents and even though this did not happen and was not likely to happen they commenced a new search anyway, found some additional documents other than those requested and incurred some expenses. Then they took the position that unless payment for the new search was made by me, they would refuse to process the request. Thus far they have not responded to the OHA remand.
I should emphasize that there was no reason for the DoE to assume that the OHA would order a new search because the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request and appeal concerned specific documents that were identified by file name. In order for the DoE to make its initial negative response to the FOIA request they would have had to have already located the documents in question."


"Regarding the FOIA appeal, as may expected the DoE is stonewalling. They have yet to abide by the remand from the Office of Hearings and Appeals. I may appeal but I don't know how long that would take. Hopefully congress takes up an investigation and obtains all the relevant documents. In the meantime there is the published test report from Philips own website and there is the test report from the SCE, which you did a nice job on reviewing an selecting quotes.

The way in which the DoE is stonewalling is somewhat "creative". They claim they incorrectly assumed the OHA would order an expanded document search and therefore went ahead and conducted a document search and incurred some expense which they want me to pay. Apparently it is their position that they will disregard the remand order from the OHA until I pay for the expanded search which nobody requested (not me or the OHA)."

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bright Burgess Bulb Bill Block... part 2

From The Hill news site, 7th May article, by Andrew Restuccia - summary of main points

Republican to revive lightbulb war

A House Republican is planning in the coming weeks to revive the GOP offensive against federal lightbulb efficiency standards.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) will offer an amendment to Energy Department spending legislation that would block funding for implementation of standards, the lawmaker's office told The Hill.
The standards have come under fire from conservatives in recent years.

Republicans won the inclusion of a similar provision in an omnibus spending compromise that House and Senate lawmakers agreed to in December. The provision blocked funding for implementation of the law for fiscal year 2012. Burgess’ amendment would apply to fiscal year 2013.
The House Appropriations committee approved the Energy Department’s fiscal 2013 spending bill late last month. The legislation is expected to come up for a floor vote in the coming weeks.

The previous similar amendment was covered here in an earlier July 2011 post, extract:

On the 15th of July, the amendment AO75 (H.Amdt. 678) by Rep. Michael Burgess to Energy Bill H.R.2354 of July 14 2011, was successfully passed in a vote on the floor of the House.

The amendment cuts the funds needed next year to implement and monitor American federal light bulb regulation starting January 2012, which would have seen regular 100 Watt bulbs removed from sale. It is therefore temporary in nature, and does not permanently set back the lighting regulations.

Bill content and progress (Govtrack link)


There are a number of predictable online responses to this announcement,
as indeed towards any other politician opposing the light bulb regulations.

I'll take the first one pretty well as on the newly updated "Deception" page rundown

"Hey, the Economy is still in deep trouble, and Republicans worry about Light Bulbs?!"

Oddly, a lot of such critics supported the regulations in the first place - why, if the bulbs are irrelevant as an issue? ;-)

In any case, since people spend half their lives under artifical lights, one could say that such regulation affects them more than most other regulations, also given the psychological and well-being effects of lighting.

But there is also the deeper issue of regulating well known safe to use products, however good the motive. Light bulbs are in the vanguard of a new wave of worldwide product regulations, whether based on energy usage or otherwise.

It also throws up the bigger question, as covered on the Ceolas.net site, about relevant resource management and about questionable "feelgood" sacrifices to "save the planet", rather than to actually deal with any underlying problems.

Finally - and ironically - those (generally on the left) who make such criticism and keep saying the economy matters more, are the very ones ignoring that with bans they get nothing, whereas with a tax on around 2 Billion annual sold relevant bulbs (in the US, as in pre-ban EU), they get plenty for their public spending, which in price-lowering subsidies on alternative lighting would not "just hit people with taxes" either - albeit that market competition is a better policy.

"Typical of Un-Progressive Republicans to want to hang on to Horse and Buggy technology, rather than to support Innovation!"

....or strange of "liberal" politicians to uncritically support capitalists pushing more profitable expensive questionably safe bulbs on Joe Public for marginal if any society savings, light bulbs he would not voluntarily buy, or the ban, and/or the big bulb subsidies, would not be "necessary"...

As said before, unfortunately and unnecessarily this is a partisan issue in the USA,
since the regulations are irrelevant whatever the background ideology one chooses to apply.
Still, going with the typical comments that are around, like this "un-progressive" taunt...

The arguments are again covered on the "Deception" page, albeit split up into separate "obsolescence" and "innovation" sections.

None of "Horse and Buggy", or Model T cars, or Wright brother airplanes, or typewriters, or vacuum tubes, or candles or any other(!) examples that keep being offered online, had to be banned to serve progress.

Better, or more popular, alternatives came about through the presence - not the absence - of their competing presence (and in some cases, they still have useful niche roles).

Increased, not decreased, competition is what spurs innovation that people actually want to see: Rather than a bunch of bureaucrats deciding "what is best".

And there is No Free Lunch.
Not even for the Washington Bureaucrats!
Restricting energy usage on buildings, cars, washing machines, TV sets or light bulbs always alters their characteristics: in construction, appearance, usability and/or performance as well as price, http://ceolas.net/#cc21x

That is not all.
The standards must be set so that such products already exist.
Otherwise, with light bulbs, people might literally be left in the dark.
Halogens, CFLs, LEDs - all invented before any ban.

New inventions - energy saving or with other advantages - can always be helped to the market, though not continually supported.
On the contrary, the innovations are proven as desirable, in direct comparison and direct competition on the market place.

Stimulation of free market competition happens to be the best option also to lower energy consumption all the way along the energy usage chain, for reasons described.

"How many Times do we have to Keep Saying that this is not a Ban!"

... and how many times does one have to ask the naysayers to read the Act? ;-)
See the previous post: "Yes it is a ban"

It is not just a ban because obviously something "not allowed" or "phased out" is also "banned"... but it is also a ban on incandescents for ordinary use, that is, including the continually mentioned halogen type replacements (which incidentally also have differences to regular incandescents).

The 2007 EISA law phase 2 beginning after 2014 has 45 lumen per Watt end regulation which therefore also bans the touted 2012 72W halogen and other replacements (typically 20-22 lumen per Watt).

Relevant links, passages, and updates on Congress and local state repeal ban bills to date: http://ceolas.net/#li01inx

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Let there be (less) Light


click on image for big version     image: Nasa Earth Observatory     alternative downloaded image
(Update 2013 autumn: The above image not loading due to current Government/Congress funding shutdown dispute, if not reappear it was one of the usual space ones showing lit up earth continent city clusters, from lighting going skywards)

Publicly owned building and street light choices, locations, directionality, and on-off usage, might be better political policy priorities than worrying about what light bulb Johnny is using in his living room...

Not only are actual overall savings marginal, from targeting personal light bulb choices:
It is arguably ideologically wrong in the first place, based on the concept of what a "waste" of energy actually is:
Excessive lighting use, a waste of energy... personal choice, not a waste of energy.

As with water restriction, electricity restriction is justified if/when shortages occur.
But that still does not justify telling people how they use their electricity, within any such rationing policy.

Any general desire to cut down energy used for electricity,
should focus on electricity generation and grid distribution, in source choice and efficiency, rather than on the odd percent of lighting switchovers.

That does not mean that people can't make good fluorescent (eg kitchen) or LED (spotlight) choices since all lighting types have useful advantages, including simple cheap incandescents over temporarily allowed halogen incandescent alternatives, for general omnidirectional bright

But, of course, waving light bulbs around to show "you are doing something" to save the planet, is a grateful political ploy and a feel-good sacrifice indoctrination at society level, not least towards schoolchildren!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Dim World of Light Bulb Politics


image  Off Center Views

From the Huffington Post today May 7, article by David Jenkins

The Dim World of Light Bulb Politics

In 2007, major lighting manufacturers worked with Congress to craft new energy efficiency standards for light bulbs.
They were worried that states would adopt 50 separate standards and they knew that a 40-year old technology existed to make better incandescent light bulbs -- ones that were 28 percent more efficient and emitted less waste heat.

Why didn't these manufacturers use this technology before? In their minds, there was no financially compelling reason to switch. Consumers were buying bulbs with the old technology.

When widespread concern about energy waste caused states to start passing light bulb efficiency standards, the manufacturers sought a uniform national standard and got it. The provision was not controversial. It passed with an overwhelming bi-partisan majority and was promptly signed into law by President George W. Bush.

The manufacturers then spent millions of dollars retooling their operations to produce the new, improved incandescent bulbs, which produce exactly the same lighting qualities as the old bulbs, look the same, dim the same, last longer, save energy, and provide a better value for consumers.

Sounds pretty good, huh? Thomas Edison would have been pleased.

It was viewed in a different light by those living in the alternate universe of libertarian radicalism, however. Last year, in advance of the January 2012 start date for standards to take effect, they spread the false rumor that the 100-watt incandescent bulb was being banned and that people would be forced to switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. They even snookered some reputable media outlets.

Four months after the deadline has come and gone, and the new incandescent bulbs are on the shelves at their local Home Depot, these light bulb cranks continue to spread lies about a supposed bulb ban. Some in Congress do so, even after manufacturers have shown them that the new incandescent bulbs are identical in form and function to the old bulbs. No squiggly tubes, no weird color hues, no dim start-up, no dimming problems, no mercury, same amount and quality of light, but using just 72 watts of electricity instead of 100.

These radicals have latched onto light bulb and appliance efficiency standards as a symbol of government overreach. They claim such standards limit consumer choice.

Really, this is the best example they can come up with? The light bulb standards are the same type of common-sense efficiency benchmarks President Ronald Reagan signed into law for refrigerators, fluorescent lighting ballasts, and other appliances in the 1980s. How many people are wandering around their local appliance dealer pining for inefficient, Jimmy Carter-era refrigerators?

Still, even as you read this, we have lawmakers like Congressman Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) working to prohibit enforcing the law that established these lighting standards. They plan to offer amendments to upcoming appropriations bills that would do just that.

Apparently, Burgess, Enzi and others on this crusade are not concerned about the investments lighting manufacturers made in good faith over the past five years.

Does it matter to them that shady foreign manufacturers would exploit the loophole to flood the market with cheaply made, unreliable, energy-wasting bulbs?

Does it matter to them that doing favors for foreign fly-by-nights could result in fewer jobs for Americans who make components for the new bulbs?

Does it matter to them that shoddy foreign bulbs, which might cost 50 cents less than the high-quality American bulbs, would cost Americans more because of higher energy bills and shorter bulb life?

Perhaps their whacky Ayn Rand idolatry is more important to them than jobs, investments, and energy savings. In the name of libertarian dogma, they seek to chain Americans to inferior products and retard technological progress.

The real advance for freedom, prosperity, and consumer choice can be found in the innovative, solution-oriented actions of the major lighting manufacturers in 2007. By helping craft these new standards and getting better technology to the market, Americans can light their world for less money, improve our nation's energy position, and be better stewards of our precious natural resources.

We should dub the new, improved incandescent light bulbs "Freedom Bulbs" in honor of the entrepreneurial spirit and foresight that led to their development.

Yet the lighting manufacturers are not resting on their laurels. In a few years, the energy sipping, but costly, LED bulbs that are showing up on store shelves in increasing numbers will become much more affordable. These lights produce the same quality and amount of light as the old 100-watt bulbs but use less than 20 watts of electricity.

That is some serious, no-compromise, insurance against rising electricity costs.

It's practical conservatism at its best. As the great conservative author and theorist Russell Kirk once wrote: "There is nothing more conservative than conservation."

He was right. Conservation is smart, prudent and responsible. It safeguards the future of our children and grandchildren.

Kirk, whom Reagan referred to as "the prophet of American conservatism," also wisely pointed out that with freedom comes responsibility. Kirk said:

"Every right is married to a duty, every freedom owes a corresponding responsibility."

A radicalism that peddles freedom without responsibility and revels in the political promotion of carefree wastefulness is most certainly not conservative.

Of course, our government needs to be efficiently effective and we must prevent excessive bureaucracy and government overreach. Neither of those concerns is relevant, however, to common-sense energy efficiency standards, which drive necessary progress using the power of free markets.

Now that everyone can see that rumors of the incandescent bulb's demise were greatly exaggerated, it is time to let our elected officials know that dim-witted efforts to roll back or impede enforcement of the new lighting standards will carry a political price.

If our elected officials are willing to mislead the public and turn their backs on such easy energy savings, they are probably not capable of leading us to a brighter future.


Well he got the title right..
"The Dim World of Light Bulb Politics"!

This article is interesting in how it runs through the supposed advantages of regulations, and how manufacturers might "need them" compared to free market alternatives.
While the arguments are answered in the "Deception" rundown on this blog, an appropriate reply here:

1. About manufacturers:

Why did they welcome the regulations on simple incandescent bulbs?
Why would anyone welcome regulations on what they can or cannot make? ;-)
Of course, it's because of Big Profits from the ban of anyone else making the popular cheap patent-expired light bulbs, and the enforced replacement with their more profitable alternative offerings.

This is well documented by Michael Leahy and Howard Brandston in their 2011 e-book "I Light Bulb". Congress lighting consultant Brandston was there personally, in political meetings leading up to the 2007 legislation
(edited excerpts):

"The NEMA Lamp Subcommittee was composed of General Electric, Osram Sylvania, and Philips, the same industrial giants who formed the old Phoebus Cartel (limiting lightbulb lifespans) back in 1924....conducting its own research and internal hearings that culminated in a recommendation to ban the incandescent light bulb... When I asked NEMA for help in fighting the incandescent light ban, I was politely told that they could not be involved in any research program like that"

2. The supposition that manufacturers "won't make energy saving bulbs unless forced by regulation".

First of all, energy saving is only one aspect of what makes a "good" light bulb.
There are many others, and forcing energy saving mandates on a given product changes it's characteristics, whether Buildings, Cars, Washing Machines or Light Bulbs.

The touted 2012 Halogen type replacement incandescents are still different in running whiter and hotter, and are not popular either with politicians or consumers, in costing much more for marginal savings (no "Halogen" replacement programs, like with CFLs in California, Ohio, Washington etc).
Contrary to what the the article author says, those replacements, typicaly 20-22 lumen per Watt, will also be banned anyway in phase 2 of EISA after 2014, on the 45 lumen per Watt end regulation: http://ceolas.net/#li01inx
So yes it is a "ban", and effectively on incandescent technology for ordinary usage.
The major manufacturers who sought and welcomed the ban would be unlikely to improve incandescents anyway, given the more profitable alternatives.

CFLs, LEDs etc were invented in the presence - not the absence - of cheap incandescent competition.
Energy saving products that people want have always been made and sold - since energy saving is indeed a desirable quality.

"Expensive to buy but cheap in the long run?"
Long lasting expensive woollen coats, batteries (Energizer bunnies!), washing up liquids etc are all made, sold, and properly marketed, without the makers lobbying regulators for easier bans on cheap alternatives.

Besides, if bulbs really had to be targeted - they obviously don't - then helping new inventions to the market to increase competition (firstly),
or taxation-subsidies that taxed incandescents and helped lower the price on CFLs LEDs (secondly),
would equilibrate the market and keep choice - again without regulatory bans.

3. The overall issue is to Save Energy:

No-one welcomes the waste of energy.
However, the personal choice of a product to use is hardly a "waste" of energy (or electricity), compared to unncessarily leaving it on.

Light bulbs don't burn coal, and they don't realease any CO2 gas.
Power plants might - and might not.
Where there is a problem - Deal with the problem.
As for coal plants, they anyway effectively burn the same coal whether your bulb is on or off, given how slow base-loading coal plants that are calibrated for higher day use are hardly turned down at night.

As the referenced Dept of Energy's own stats and surveys show, only around 1% of grid electricity is saved from a switchover, and that is still not taking into account the higher lifecycle (manufacture, transport, recycling) energy use of CFLs and LEDs.

Yes, individual consumers can make savings in replacing some bulbs - and why not - that is a freedom of choice in terms of the different advantages that different bulbs have for different uses.

But society laws, even when seen necessary to save energy, should be based on society energy savings.
And for society, there are greater, more relevant, and more justifiable electricity savings from electricity generation, grid distribution, and alternative consumption based measures - than from worrying about what light bulb Johnny is using in his living room at home!