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Light Globes. Saving the Planet or Making Profits?

By Hatter64 - 13 July 2013 70

I recently installed a number of the new Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL). These were brought in some time ago as a mandatory replacement for those energy wasting and cheap incandescent bulbs. Now I’m not armed with the necessary information to know whether the overall impact on the planet is good or bad, so I’ll stick with what I do know. Price.

A US newspaper recently advertised CFL globes at $0.79 for a pack of 4 13W. The last price our family paid here in Canberra was $7.00 for a single non-dimmable globe.

Before I hear the old cliche “economies of scale” etc it’s worth noting that the globes we buy come out of mainland china. Presumably the same or similar factories that supply the US.

Other ponderings wrt incandescent globes: Cost and energy to manufacture; slow to come to full brightness; Safe disposal? that white powder inside the globes can’t be good even if being cut by the glass were considered “safe”.

I’m sure the powers that be did all the appropriate research and are only looking out for our best interests; the riches that flow from the decision are simply a side-effect.

Are we perhaps being ripped-off? Not just in price but in other ways.

If I get up the ‘energy’ I’ll do some more research. It’ll just have to wait a few minutes until this globe starts up.  🙂

What’s Your opinion?


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70 Responses to
Light Globes. Saving the Planet or Making Profits?
Masquara 12:26 pm 14 Jul 13

Bloody Peter Garrett!

dungfungus 11:06 am 14 Jul 13

IrishPete said :

The ban on incandescent light globes/bulbs was introduced by that well-regarded environmentalist John Howard. Why would you be suspicious?

I have also had lifespan problems with CFLs, CFL spotlight bulbs are complete crap, and lots of the LED bulbs I buy fail (but are replaced with new ones, in one case twice!). Even the 10w LED spotlights in my kitchen are pretty weak. I have lots of spare CFL spotlight bulbs that wouldn’t fit in my fittings too – the non-standard shapes is a problem.

IP

Even John Howard fell for the “green” spin.
He also banned responsible people from owning firearms which wasn’t very smart.

JC 10:48 am 14 Jul 13

Wow, I didn’t know that CFL where brought in as the OP put it as “mandatory replacement for those energy wasting and cheap incandescent bulbs”.

Last time I looked said bulbs where still available, well in the ACT at least, though I do know overseas some countries have indeed outlawed them.

The problem I have with CFL is dimming. I have a C-bus lighting system (which use electronic switching rather than mechanical) and if you connect a CFL to any light on a dimmer it will flicker even when ‘off’, due to the way the dimmer works and when on cannot be dimmed anyway. Houses with the traditional dimmers won’t be able to dim them either.

LED’s are getting there, but still need another year or two to fully develop as a genuine replacement of incandescent. I have trialled LED’s in some of my low voltage downlights and whilst it produces a nice light and can be dimmed I find they are not suitable in area’s where you want to read due to a slight flicker that is noticeable only when reading (but like a fast strobe) and the colour of them is still a little cold compared to normal downlights.

Mickeyau 10:11 am 14 Jul 13

Hatter64, this is a great observation, its something that I have though of since having problems with my the halogen lights in my house.

It always struck me that manufactures use automated machines, so why is there such a disparity between claimed usage hours to actual hours and failure rates of a light bulbs.

I had recently seen an article on the Discovery Channel that Osram have a light bulb that is filled with a mixture of gases that prolong the life of the tungsten filament and they use these bulbs for airport landing lights. These lights last for thousands of hours and the technology could easily be adapted for commercial and home use.

So it really does beg the question is profit being put over the environment. I think so

scentednightgardens 9:55 am 14 Jul 13

I would say that CFL lights are priced the way they because the wholesalers and the retailers can get away with it. I read somewhere that when they first appeared in the Australian market (early 1990s?) they were imported under an arrangement with the govt of the day that supported higher pricing. Some kind of deal to get them here fast or something given the move to incandescent phase out. Maybe another rioter will have better recall than Scentednightgardens. But I would suggest that 20 years forward, on a scale with “rip-off” at one end and “fair return to the producer given high R&D investment” at the other, the pointer is at the former..

IrishPete 8:41 am 14 Jul 13

The ban on incandescent light globes/bulbs was introduced by that well-regarded environmentalist John Howard. Why would you be suspicious?

I have also had lifespan problems with CFLs, CFL spotlight bulbs are complete crap, and lots of the LED bulbs I buy fail (but are replaced with new ones, in one case twice!). Even the 10w LED spotlights in my kitchen are pretty weak. I have lots of spare CFL spotlight bulbs that wouldn’t fit in my fittings too – the non-standard shapes is a problem.

IP

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 8:04 am 14 Jul 13

c_c™ said :

Aeek said :

CFLs a) aren’t bright enough – I need 100W equivalent

You can get CFLs up to 150w equiv very commonly.

However I concur that CFLs have a lot of draw backs, the major one being that what you buy isn’t what they’ll be in even a short while. The brightness of CFLs fade continually from the moment they’re turned on, and in addition, the tints added to CFLs to make different colour temps, also fade, meaning you will get a stronger greenish hue over time. Add to that a mercury and they’re not all the greenies have them cracked up to be.

LED globes are without a doubt fantastic, but the dimmer issue will hold them back for a long time even though the prices are now good. Dimmer manufacturers should be releasing new LED compatible models more widely in coming years, but it’s still a lot of investment to replace existing dimmers. Also LED globe makers need to improve on the field of light, which remains narrower than CFLs and halogens.

No need for dimmer with smart lights.

c_c™ 11:55 pm 13 Jul 13

Aeek said :

CFLs a) aren’t bright enough – I need 100W equivalent

You can get CFLs up to 150w equiv very commonly.

However I concur that CFLs have a lot of draw backs, the major one being that what you buy isn’t what they’ll be in even a short while. The brightness of CFLs fade continually from the moment they’re turned on, and in addition, the tints added to CFLs to make different colour temps, also fade, meaning you will get a stronger greenish hue over time. Add to that a mercury and they’re not all the greenies have them cracked up to be.

LED globes are without a doubt fantastic, but the dimmer issue will hold them back for a long time even though the prices are now good. Dimmer manufacturers should be releasing new LED compatible models more widely in coming years, but it’s still a lot of investment to replace existing dimmers. Also LED globe makers need to improve on the field of light, which remains narrower than CFLs and halogens.

Nightshade 11:04 pm 13 Jul 13

Deref said :

I’ve long nursed a suspicion that they’re a scam.

The propaganda says that they’re cheaper in the long run than incandescents since they use so much less electricity and last so much longer. On the latter I call shenanigans. In my experience they rarely, if ever, last as long as incandescents and, as you say, they cost around 20 times more (say around $0.30 for a 100W incandescent against $7 for an equivalent CFL).

I agree about the short lifespan of currently available bulbs. I’ve being using halogen bulbs in the traditional shape because they are easier to put into my light fittings than the coil-shaped CFLs (the lifespan is certainly short when you break them trying to get them into the light socket!). I wondered if the short life was my imagination so I started recording the date when I changed one. The one in my bedlamp, used for perhaps 30 min per day, lasted from 18.8.12 – 3.4.13. Less than 8 months. The box claims it should last 2 years with usage of 3 hours per day. In contrast, I still have incandescent ones in use that were installed before the ban.

Aeek 10:47 pm 13 Jul 13

CFLs a) aren’t bright enough – I need 100W equivalent b) burn out ridiculously fast in my light fittings.
I switched to halogen bulbs, much happier.

OLydia 10:14 pm 13 Jul 13

While CFLs out perform the 100 year technology, LEDs are far superior.

CFLs have a number of disadvantages compared to LEDs including disposal (they contain mercury) and that the light takes several minutes to reach full brightness. LEDs also use less watts per lumen and CFLs can’t beused in dimmer light fittings or touch lamps.

For more info see here: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/guide_to_energy_efficient_lighting.pdf

damien haas 7:09 pm 13 Jul 13

i prefer the light from an incandescent globe for reading. CFL’s are too harsh.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 7:01 pm 13 Jul 13

All you chuds need to invest in Phillips hue like I have.

Makes you feel like a real 1 percenter. It’s rad.

Deref 5:24 pm 13 Jul 13

I’ve long nursed a suspicion that they’re a scam.

The propaganda says that they’re cheaper in the long run than incandescents since they use so much less electricity and last so much longer. On the latter I call shenanigans. In my experience they rarely, if ever, last as long as incandescents and, as you say, they cost around 20 times more (say around $0.30 for a 100W incandescent against $7 for an equivalent CFL). To calculate the financial as well as the carbon economics you’d have to take into account the short lifespans as well as the savings in electricity, so CFLs could work out 40 times more expensive to buy if they last half as long (which they often seem to).

Of course that’s only the financial cost factor – you have to take the carbon savings into account, but to do that honestly you also need to add in the manufacturing and disposal costs. I’d love to see someone do it – I have a sneaking suspicion that, from a green POV, the manufacturing costs as well as the costs of safe disposal of the mercury-containing phosphors may well outweigh the undoubted benefits in the operating carbon savings.

I could be totally wrong. Has anyone done the maths?

GardeningGirl 4:38 pm 13 Jul 13

“I’m sure the powers that be did all the appropriate research and are only looking out for our best interests”
No, they just wanted to be able to say we were the first country in the world to make them compulsory, aren’t we clever and caring.
Ironic that while our government forced us to adopt them, in order to get any proper info on clean-up of broken ones I had to go to overseas websites, where I also learned that other countries already had collection/recycling schemes for used ones while our environmental leaders were still saying ‘er, we’re still working on that question’ and trying to catch up. And the “slow to come to full brightness” is annoying too.

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