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

Friday, September 28, 2012

Incandescent Light Bulb Group on Facebook

For those interested:
An international group just started with writers, lighting designers, researchers, film-makers, politicians and others interested in the incandescent light bulb issue.
For better communication across borders about what is happening.
Bilingual English and German at this time.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Green Police... Not Just in Germany!

As you may know, the police in germany wear green uniforms.
Unusual in an international context, it presumably has to do with historical reasons of wanting to avoid black, brown, or even red or blue...
In any case, given the particular attempts in Germany (and individual German states) to clamp down on incandescent sales as posted on before, the "green" uniform may come to carry a new significance.

See the Germans Dim View of Light Bulb Inspections from last month.

And not just green police in Germany...

While this video has been around a while, it seems to be becoming particularly relevant, with recent bans on incandescents, plastic bags etc in various countries and states.

So the video is about green police going around and arresting people for not living "green" enough lifestyles, including using incandescent light bulbs.
An Audi car commercial, as it happens...

The mentioned previous post had plenty more ironic images covering the theme, and the below video from the American Free Our Light campaign.

Bulb pushers likened to drug pushers
“Hey man wanna buy a light bulb?!”

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"The 100 Watt War"

Following on from the last blog post about the satirical newspaper article
"EU concerned - Iran is working on a light-bulb program"...

As it happens, there was a novel just out before that, July 2012, on a similar theme:
"The 100 Watt War" by American author and business coach Ron Wilder (business blog).

About the book, as descibed on the dedicated website...

Light bulbs against the law? Seriously?

Navy Captain Tom Jackson returns home from fighting Somali pirates on the high seas to discover that by act of Congress, he can’t buy incandescent light bulbs. Incensed, Tom decides to create a light bulb company as a high-risk bet that the bulb prohibition will be overturned.

Unbeknownst to Tom, Al Qaeda has launched a new wave of terrorism in the U.S., with Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) as their weapon of choice. As the Al Qaeda plot unfolds, Tom finds himself in an increasingly dangerous position, facing a corrupt congressman, a crony corporate executive, and a progressive media star bent on preserving their power at all cost.
After dramatic congressional hearings, Tom is on the run as a fugitive. The story culminates at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, site of the first battle of the Civil War, where once again, conflict threatens to tear the union apart.

As he says in the book itself, as can be read on the Amazon preview at the end, the website has an extensive 40 minute audio interview (listenable via signup).
The site is also going to be developed with an extended conversation with readers about the book and it's underlying free market, anti-ban message, via a specific blog (currently with a come back soon message).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Light Up an Embassy Near You!"

While beginning to look at light bulb campaigns and petitions in different countries, Iran has not yet been reached... seemingly no need!

"EU concerned - Iran is working on a light-bulb program"
article from the German Die Welt newspaper, as informed by Peter Stenzel (gluehbirne.ist.org):
[or see Google translated English version]

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rhapsody in Blue

The Greenwashing Lamps Blog is as said before always worth reading, and is well laid out too.

The "red" post was a fitting tribute to the incandescent bulb, given the 1.9.2012 "final" ban on regular incandescent type bulbs (at least until the 2014 review).
Complementing it, as it were, was the "blue" post, taking up the issues around the greater blue light component of replacement fluorescent and LED lighting, in particular the latter, with the much hyped "white LEDs" that are beginning to proliferate.

Worth looking at, complementing this, Peter Stenzel's light bulb comparison page (translation),
and section on blue light effects (translation), both those pages having plenty of illustrations.

Embedded blue light post below, Greenwashing Lamps source link

Friday, September 14, 2012

Surprising Support for Incandescents to Remain Available in the European Union

While looking through online reporting about the EU ban, I made a rather surprising discovery.
Surprising, because these two "Green" politician signatories were among the strongest supporters of the EU regulations as I also found in previous communications with both of them (the story of how the EU banned the bulb, http://ceolas.net/#euban).

From former Green MEP (now member of UK Parliament) Caroline Lucas site, original document, copy embedded below.

Note the request that incandescents might remain available in pharmacies for those with special medical needs (rather like California marijuana medical need laws)
"Hey I really do suffer with the light from fluorescents and LEDs... "

source  123rf.com

Given their reaction to the current industrial incandescent workaround (incandescents for industrial use being available to domestic users), the European Commission is probably going to give a rather muted welcome to possible medical workarounds.

That is of course not to say that light sensitivity sufferers are not worthy of consideration and respect, but when was "consideration" or "respect" ever words found in the Brussels Eurocrat Companion Dictionary of Employment.

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.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On How the Brussels Brigade don't follow their own Directives

Image via Peter Stenzel, from the Austrian Der Standard newspaper section "Der Lochgott" as a comment to the 1.9.2012 EU ban on regular incandescent light bulbs

"Just what I've been missing.. energy saving glow worms!"

Probably allowed on EU energy usage requirement... as long as they are not too bent.

The Greenwashing Lamps site has been running a series of very readable posts lately on the EU ban and surrounding issues.

Note for example how the UK DEFRA "FAQ" is taken apart:
While the essence of the replies there will be familiar to readers of this blog, there is plenty more statistical back-up, in particular relating to the European Union.

Given the recent "final" EU ban on regular incandescents for general household lighting, and the supposed review in 2014 on the effects of the ban (the importance of which was also covered in the last Save the Bulb blog post), it is worth remembering that the EU did actually lay down some criteria that were supposed to be fulfilled...

Quoting edited excerpts from Ceolas.net, mainly ceolas.net/#li21x, written at the time...

The ban on ordinary light bulbs is only the start of a flurry of promised bans on energy using products in general, organized by the aptly Orwellian sounding "Ecodesign Committee".
Committee employed researchers Bogdan Atanasiu and Paolo Bertoldi have hunted out ever more household products to ban on the basis of energy usage (the link is to their own pdf presentation, updated following the light bulb ban, admittedly with amusing drawings of "antiquated" products in a museum...)

Yet, the Committee is breaking the EU Parliament and Ministerial Council directives with such bans, given how the energy efficiency regulations affect product characteristics, product choice, cost to consumers, industry competitiveness and so on as dealt with earlier.

21 October 2009, Framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products (pdf document), Article 15, point 5:

Implementing measures shall meet all the following criteria:
(a) there shall be no significant negative impact on the functionality of the product, from the perspective of the user;
(b) health, safety and the environment shall not be adversely affected;
(c) there shall be no significant negative impact on consumers in particular as regards the affordability and the life cycle cost of the product;
(d) there shall be no significant negative impact on industry’s competitiveness;
(e) in principle, the setting of an ecodesign requirement shall not have the consequence of imposing proprietary technology on manufacturers; and
(f) no excessive administrative burden shall be imposed on manufacturers.

Taking each one

(a) there shall be no significant negative impact on the functionality of the product, from the perspective of the user
"Product" being lighting subject to energy usage standard in this case, clearly there is "negative impact on the functionality".
Bright omnidirectional broad spectrum incandescents don't have functional equivalents (halogens also being phased out).
The regulators are not unaware of this, hence the word significant: which can mean pretty well anything you want (again, as the regulators of course know).

(b) health, safety and the environment shall not be adversely affected
As CFLs are the main pushed replacement, one can put serious doubts there.
Interestingly, they did not put "significantly" affected. Must have spilled their coffee in their committee room at the time, the Brussel Boyos.

(c) there shall be no significant negative impact on consumers in particular as regards the affordability and the life cycle cost of the product
Order restored, back to "significant" again.
Also note the use of "the affordability and the life cycle cost", not just "affordability", and not "affordability or life cycle cost". So any complaint of say "high prices of LED replacements" can be met with "but you save money in the long run" - never mind how long that run!

(d) there shall be no significant negative impact on industry’s competitiveness
This is an interesting one.
You ban the cheap competition of simple generic patent expired products that any small local manufacturer can make, leaving the complex patented products by the major manufacturers who lobbied for the ban, outsourced and licenced as they desire.
But of course the word "significant" saves the day again.

(e) in principle, the setting of an ecodesign requirement shall not have the consequence of imposing proprietary technology on manufacturers
Again the "in principle" is a nice mean-anything-at-all arrangement.
Presumably this was in response to some high profile criticism of EU regulations at that time (one apparently involving a child safety seat by a European manufacturer who happened to lobby for and push through a safety standard exactly fitting their patented product).
It is rather the other way round therefore:
"manufacturers shall not impose their proprietary technology...." ;-)
With lighting standards, as seen from the regulation history in the USA, EU and elsewhere with the UN's en.lighten initiative, and as specifically covered in the Austrian film "Bulb Fiction" recently.

(f) no excessive administrative burden shall be imposed on manufacturers
Well, there is not too much risk of that, surely ;-)
Any "burden" has been entirely of their own making, from their extensive lobbying.
Susanne Hammarström of Sweden was head of a Brussels based PR agency Diplomat-PR engaged in the lobbying.
Translated from the largest Swedish business paper, Dagens Industri:
"The ban would never have happened, without the large and extensive lobby campaign, in all member countries, as well as towards The European Commission and the media", Susanne Hammarström says.
She believes that a voluntary switchover to energy saving lamps would have been the preferred policy, without the systematic lobbying work."
The mentioned film Bulb Fiction has more on the involvement of manufacturers, including how their representatives were allowed to sit in on EU decision-making meetings, to the surprise of participants...

A further look at the document reveals other points of interest
regarding article 15...and about the replacing products (fluorescent light bulbs being the main suggested replacement, both at the time of legislation, and since)

the [fluorescent light bulb] product shall, considering the quantities placed on the
market and/or put into service, have a significant environmental impact within the Community

Sure, a "significant impact" in the sense that dumping them increases local mercury contamination!
Conversely, any energy/emission savings impact is minimal as extensively and institutionally referenced even from their own EU data as covered in the "How Bans are Wrongly Justified" section.
A fraction of 1% EU energy and emission saving - even that questionable - is difficult to construe as "significant", even by the pickiest of picky bureaucrats.

the Commission shall consider the life cycle of the [fluorescent light bulb] product and all its significant environmental aspects
Again, in that case the whole mercury mining, manufacturing, transport, recycling (or dumping)
scenario should be examined, but won't, because we are dealing with Brussels Bureaucrats who like to tell people what to do, but don't like to follow their own advice...

Greenwashing Lamps has therefore also been looking at this, with a recent update (Aug 2012) of the Directive, and how the recommended fluorescent lighting (CFLs) do not meet the

Sermon from the Mount... the EU Governing Holy Cross Building, Brussels Berlaymont
"Arise, Light up your light bulb, and Stumble"

Friday, September 7, 2012

How Bans are Wrongly Justified:
New Safety Section

The "How Bans are Wrongly Justified" page has been revised and updated with a point 12 added.

12. "The safety scares of new technology are overblown!"
"CFL mercury? Look at tuna fish mercury, look at the greater coal plant mercury emissions caused by incandescents!"

I would agree with ban proponents that many "scare stories" in the press seem overblown.
That said,
CFLs have fire, mercury and radiation issues,
LEDs have lead and arsenic issues,
and even Halogen incandescent bulbs have potential Bromine and Iodine gas issues.
ceolas.net/#li18eax (CFLs)
ceolas.net/#li20ledax (LEDs, Halogens)

The fluorescent bulbs, CFLs, have been the main proposed replacement given the development issues surrounding LEDs to give omnidirectional bright light at a reasonable unsubsidised (or even subsidised) purchase price.

The most persistent complaints have surrounded CFL mercury content.
Those who want more on this can get plenty here:
The CFL Mercury Issue ceolas.net/#li19x
[Breakage -- Recycling -- Dumping -- Mining -- Manufacturing -- Transport -- Power Plants]

With respect to the common and somewhat odd type of mentioned jibes of "tuna fish" or "coal plants" being worse, clearly "2 wrongs don't make a right":
If there is a Problem - Deal with the Problem.
As it happens, the coal plant story is a bit of a folk tale by now, see end of the coal section, covering the new emission reduction regulations from using new technology. It never was true anyway, and had it been, then comparatively the release from a broken bulb in a room would tend to be a greater worry to those affected than the release from a distant chimney - also from the extensive EPA, DEFRA and other official CFL mercury clean up and disposal recommendations referenced.
The hidden environmental impact of billions of dumped fluorescent bulbs worldwide leeching mercury is only now beginning to concern legislators.

To keep the points here clear and reasonably compact, the radiation and other issues won't be referred to further.
However, the biological/psychological effects of lighting should also be emphasized - not just the direct safety issues.
Incandescent broad spectrum lighting, veering towards the "warm" red part of the spectrum, has been a "natural" evening replacement for the similar light from burning gas, candles, or open fires, for thousands of years.
Suddenly mankind is using more neon, fluorescent (CFL), phosphorescent (white LED)
lighting instead, with more blue light content, even in "warm" color temperature adjusted versions - and moreover, with more uneven spectra, so that unlike with incandescents, some colors are missing in the light given out. The issues have been particularly well researched in Germany, as also covered in the recent Austrian film Bulb Fiction, for example by Dr Alexander Wunsch (more, Google translated).
Also see the well illustrated Gluehbirne.ist.org articles on light spectrum from different lamps and effects, example (Google translated version).
Also see the extensive well referenced Greenwashing Lamps blog post on blue light issues.
While previously mainly related to CFLs, LEDs are also increasingly coming under scrutiny in these light quality aspects. See ceolas.net/#li22ledx. The American LEDs magazine has good coverage, for example this issue.

[ end of point 12 ]

Meanwhile, as seen on lighting designer Kevan Shaw's blog, post by Martin Granese:
Japanese fluorescent tube fighting.
Probably not covered by an Environmental Protection Agency recommendation...


Thursday, September 6, 2012

At least the Polar Bears are Safe Now!

With thanks to Peter of gluehbirne.ist.org ...and Der Tagesspiegel:

"My last Hope...1st September 2012, the end of the incandescents!

After all...as good children know from school
"Teacher says we have to change our light bulbs, or all the polar bears will die!"

Of course, as seen from the "How bans are wrongly justified" section, point 6:
Not only are the energy savings negligible from the start, a fraction of 1% of energy use or c.1% grid electricity, without all the other provisos listed:
But it applies in particular to the main CO2 "culprit", coal, even when unmodified coal is actually used in the first place. This is because of the off-peak post 7pm time of most incandescent lighting use, and the coal that may be burned anyway at such times for operational reasons, from the difficulty of turning down the plants from higher daytime use - an issue which incidentally also applies to newer day - night cycling coal plants (which tend to have lower CO2 emissions anyway).
This is also shown by studies like the extensive APTECH analysis on day-night coal plant cycle issues, as referenced.

Now, try telling that to your local politician or journalist...
much easier for them to wave funny bulbs around or print cute pictures of polar bears!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

German Light Bulb Ban Memorial:
"Das grösste Birnendenkmal Deutschlands"

"Coming to a place near you soon"

Well, whatever about a 2012 offering - last I heard it was as yet undecided whether it would still take place - there already was a 2010 version. It was mainly organized by Lutz Jahnke and Julia Diehl who were also behind "Europe's smallest" light bulb memorial as previously posted on, the canned bulb.
The website is Birnendenkmal.de, from which most of the information below comes.


The original idea was Projekt 24 of the 2010 Luminale light festival that took place 11-16 April in Lutz Jahnke's home town Offenbach near Frankfurt.
The festival returned in April 2012 (alt link) without the memorial project returning at that time.

As seen from the 2010 press clipping in German below, Frankfurt City Council was at the time involved in extensive campaigns with prizes and rebates that involved trying to get people to switch their lighting.
Similarly, it seems that the incandescent bulb memorial was not meant to honor the bulb, if anything the reverse, from the city council view of it...

... having perhaps focused on the project's own "politically correct" conclusion of its presentation, March 2010 (pdf in German with information and images).

Im besten Falle wird also nicht nur ein großes Gemeinschaftsprojekt zur Luminale entstehen,
sondern auch ein größeres Bewusstsein für einen nachhaltigeren Umgang mit Energie.

"At best, therefore, not only a great community project for the Luminale,
but also a greater awareness for a sustainable use of energy."

... if so, understandable since they needed a permit for it, as per the news article below.
In any case, as the presentation also said, it was meant to provoke thought, and took on a tributory meaning in development, also seen from the story of the "small memorial" project that succeded it and that it inspired.

Undated article from around the same time

Followed by a Frankfurter Rundschau article by Angelika Ohliger 7 April 2010, a week before the event start, with further information:
[or see Google translated English version]

It involved several collecting places for spent bulbs, also in Frankfurt and Aachen... they were as seen originally hoping for 15 000 bulbs.

The Project Aspects

People were invited to upload photos and stories, as seen on this wall.

There were also plans to have a floating bulb balloon of some sort, though that does not seem to have happened.

Also, a "trash video" was made involving a bulb character, and photos also taken of him running around...

The bulbs themselves were assembled as ice mountains or pyramids...

From the Metermorphosen website, below:
[or see Google translated English version]


As can be imagined, there were several participants helping to bring it all about,
the main ones being Lutz Jahnke and Julia Diehl pictured below 1st and 3rd from the right respectively.

The "credit roll" according to the organizers themselves... left here in the German original, seems more fitting, and it's self-explanatory in the main...

Lutz Jahnke – Initiator, Organisation, Konzept und Gestaltung
Julia Diehl – Initiator, Konzept und Text
Ulrike Bellmann – Organisation
Michael Schumann – Programmierung
Emilia Neumann – Birnensammelstellen
Eva Becker – Filme
Teresa Habild – Illustration, Birnenquiz
Leonie Langenstein – „fliegende Birne“
Frank Flaskämper – Denkmal-Konstruktion
Claudia Jahnke – Denkmal-Architektur
sternmorgenstern – Denkmal-Architektur
Oliver Schick – Modellbau
[and Ariane Mayer – Denkmal-Konstruktion]

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

California 95 Watt Bulb Update:
"The Shoe is on the other Foot"

"Update on the Update" made 4 September

Following on from recent posts and the EU (and US) circumvention manufacture and sale of rough service bulbs to the general public...

Bulbs.com sales page:

As covered in the previous post about it, Philips were making 95 Watt bulbs that seemed to circumvent the local sales ban on 100 Watt types, similarly Satco and others...

A PR Web press release end 2011 looked into the matter:
California has always been a pioneer in energy efficiency. California is actually one year ahead of the Federal regulations for lighting regulations geared toward reducing energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. The 100-watt bulbs will no longer be able to be manufactured for the U.S. beginning in January 2012, but they stopped being shipped to California in January 2011.

The lighting industry is reinventing the incandescent bulb to meet these requirements... a new 95 watt incandescent bulb from GE...

The press release, from a lighting sales company, had the standard run through of Halogen, CFL and LED alternatives as well.

My assumption was that in a similar way other 71, 57 and 38 Watt bulbs from different makers, as seen on 1000bulbs.com, bulbs.com etc sales sites were similarly a way to circumvent gradually increasing regulation stringency.

However, from the comment below, and as I checked, turns out the shoe is on the other foot:
California government made a law requiring all hitherto 100W, 75W, 60W, 40W bulbs to be reduced in wattage based on a complex lumen formula, so that they ended up having to be manufactured as 95, 71, 57, 38 Watts from 2008 onward.

The legislative proposals, from various sources:
California’s Title 20 standards effective 1/1/2008 remain in effect until the Federal standards become effective 40W became 38W; 60W -> 57W; 75W->71W; 100W->95W (5% energy savings)
Nevada proposes legislation that calls for all “general purpose lights” sold in the state to be 25 LPW (lumen per watt) by 1/1/2012.
California and Nevada may adopt the Federal standards no more than one year earlier than the Federal effective dates: Phase-in schedule must be maintained – starts in 2011 and ends in 2013 instead of starting in 2012 and ending in 2014
[The Nevada ban seemingly did not occur, and Californians were crossing the border to buy bulbs there, NY Times article Dec 2011]

A good overview was made by GE Lighting.

The relevant California Government regulation (pdf, page 235)
The lamp electrical power input of state-regulated general service incandescent lamps manufactured on or after the effective dates shown in Table K-3, shall be no greater than the applicable values shown in Table K-3...

The table showing that lumen rating 1520-1850 for clear/frosted bulbs had to be made as max 95 Watt bulbs, effectively reducing it from 100 watt - and so on, with more tables for soft white (opal) lamps, and reflector lamps.
All else equal, the wattage reduction reduces brightness too, hence the lumen range with relatively low minimum values.

Or, as colloquially put in a 2008 contemporary blog post
Have you bought a light bulb recently?
My local Walgreen's has a whole aisle full of bulbs. Little appliance bulbs, compact fluorescents that don't work with dimmers, floods, halogens.
What's hard to find is an ordinary, everyday, $0.50 light bulb.
I finally found them, down low by the floor.
Only they weren't normal 75 watt light bulbs.
They were "energy saving" 71 watt light bulbs. Rated at 1075 lumens, compared to 1190 lumens of a real "energy wasting" 75 watt light bulb.

What dumb ass thought this idea up?
Yes, let's save energy by making our lights dimmer! There's a whole range of anemic wattages from GE now: 95W, 71W, 57W, 38W.

So, the manufacturers were not trying to circumvent any bans, rather "following instructions".

But there is nonetheless a slyness in there, effectively cutting normal free trade in a given product and helping local manufacturers and importing distributors to sell 95 Watt bulbs without competition from the common 100 Watt alternatives, and similarly for the other bulbs.
Even as far as lighting standards go, this is a particularly pointless regulation, a petty limiting by a few watts here and there of what bulbs can be made, by a bunch of bureaucrats with seemingly nothing better to do!