Light Globes. Saving the Planet or Making Profits?

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. 🙂


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70 Responses to Light Globes. Saving the Planet or Making Profits?
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davo101 davo101 9:24 am 17 Jul 13

CraigT said :

breda said :

let me refer you to the excellent post by Willis Eschenbach at WUWT about why this is a total crock:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/31/the-epas-mercurial-madness/

Lol.
I think that’s what you call an own-goal.

No, it’s what you call unconditional surrender.

CraigT CraigT 9:08 pm 16 Jul 13

breda said :

let me refer you to the excellent post by Willis Eschenbach at WUWT about why this is a total crock:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/31/the-epas-mercurial-madness/

Lol.
I think that’s what you call an own-goal.

Willis Eschenbach is a crank, and WUWT is a crank blog run by a uni drop-out who became a TV weathergirl and now thinks all the scientists in the world are wrong about almost anyting unless they are all actively particapating in some sort of conspiracy to falsify all the world’s thermometers. Or something. Watt’s opinions are so demented it’s pretty hard to figure out what he’s talking about half the time.

c_c™ c_c™ 6:10 pm 16 Jul 13

IrishPete said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

IrishPete said :

incidentally, I get a lot of radio interference from LED bulbs, and some CFLs too. Annoying.

IP

Every time we turn on a light in our house, the TV signal gets scrambled/pixelated for a few seconds. Nothing else electrical in our house does this. I’ve spoken to some sales reps about this but none have said they’ve heard of it before. Is this what you are experiencing? Never happened in our old house, which had halogen downlights, standard 36W fluoresent tubes and LED spots. Appears to be just the CFLs doing it.

No, the interference is continuous. Doesn’t bother my TV, although I am not actually watching the TV when I turn on the kitchen LED lights so probably wouldn’t notice a couple of seconds of interference. There is definitely no ongoing TV interference.

I do have very marginal radio reception where I live – the LEDs tip it over the edge into unlistenable.

IP

That’s interesting that the old 36w fluros didn’t do anything, they’re a bit notorious for EM interference (hence at radio sensitive buildings, they used incandescent traditionally)

EM interference is a thing with LED globes. They carry the usual sort of warning you see about keeping them away from medical devices, tvs and radios (as you do with induction cookers, mobile phones, microwaves). Can’t say I’ve ever had an issue with LEDs causing interference (which is a good thing since the speakers I use seem particularly sensitive to EM noise.)

IrishPete IrishPete 5:54 pm 16 Jul 13

wildturkeycanoe said :

IrishPete said :

incidentally, I get a lot of radio interference from LED bulbs, and some CFLs too. Annoying.

IP

Every time we turn on a light in our house, the TV signal gets scrambled/pixelated for a few seconds. Nothing else electrical in our house does this. I’ve spoken to some sales reps about this but none have said they’ve heard of it before. Is this what you are experiencing? Never happened in our old house, which had halogen downlights, standard 36W fluoresent tubes and LED spots. Appears to be just the CFLs doing it.

No, the interference is continuous. Doesn’t bother my TV, although I am not actually watching the TV when I turn on the kitchen LED lights so probably wouldn’t notice a couple of seconds of interference. There is definitely no ongoing TV interference.

I do have very marginal radio reception where I live – the LEDs tip it over the edge into unlistenable.

IP

WoodenAgent WoodenAgent 5:35 pm 16 Jul 13

OLydia said :

(…) LEDs are far superior.

(…) LEDs also use less watts per lumen (…)

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

Really glad to see such good advice.

Until LEDs, manufacturers could hoodwink us with terms like ‘watts-equivalent’, rather than actually measuring the amount of light that a bulb produced, and telling us.

Secondly, LEDs differ a lot. Cheap ones produce about 50 Lumens per watt, but good ones produce about 100 Lumens per watt. This means you really cannot use “watts-equivalent”.

Southside Lighting has a test bench for MR16 and GU10 globes, so you can compare light produced, rather than manufacturer’s propaganda.

Remember, Lumens for Light, Watts for Heat.

dungfungus dungfungus 5:20 pm 16 Jul 13

breda said :

pags – just like in your previous post where you conflated different kinds of bulbs, here you go again about “mercury”.

25kgs (over 50 pounds, in old money) of pure mercury emitted from crematoriums? Given the price of pure mercury, it would be worth putting in a filter to catch it. Unfortunately, the website you cited has no capacity to search under a keyword like “mercury” – so why are you so shy about linking directly to the page you are referring to?

And, your statement that there is no discernable mercury coming from landfills (with the same unfindable source) means nothing. Why should mercury, an inert substance, emit from landfills?

As for the nonsense about coal-fired plants and mercury, let me refer you to the excellent post by Willis Eschenbach at WUWT about why this is a total crock:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/31/the-epas-mercurial-madness/

A few highlights:

– mercury is an element which appears in varying degrees in the natural environment;

– the biggest emitter of mercury is the sea;

– there is zero evidence of mercury levels being affected by coal-fired power stations.

Of course, mercury compounds hanging above us every day in our homes is nowhere near as evil as crematoriums (Godwin’s law prevents me from going any further on analysing this bizarre train of thought) and the amalgam tooth fillings which coincided with significant increases in the life expectancy of recipients.

Junk science rools, OK?

“25kgs (over 50 pounds, in old money) of pure mercury………”

Gee, the averages must have spiked when Freddie was cremated.

gazket gazket 5:18 pm 16 Jul 13

according to wikki the longest running light bulb is 110 years old. I’d say that’s very efficient and kicks fluro and cfl butt.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 5:11 pm 16 Jul 13

c_c™ said :

IrishPete said :

incidentally, I get a lot of radio interference from LED bulbs, and some CFLs too. Annoying.

IP

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd said :

c_c™ said :

JC said :

I have some Philips MASTER MR16 (low voltage downlight replacments) that are dimmable using standard dimmers, in my case I have leading edge c-bus. Sure due to the current issues you mentioned I need two in the circuit for them to work, and their dim range is not linear like incandescents, in particular below about 20%, but they do work and work well for what they are. I have these in the hall because I don’t like the light they produce, I find that for reading there is a noticeable strobe effect and the colour is a tad cold.

Yeah, I guess I was over simplifying – point was there are no B22 LED globes on the market (that I’ve seen in Australia) that consumers just pick up and replace a dimmable CFL or energy saver halogen with easily.

All LEDs can be dimmable if they’re wired so that the load on the dimmer is above the minimum threshold the dimmer needs to operate, i.e putting more than one globe on the switch.

I am aware of a product called the Master LED D 12-60 which is from Phillips, a B22 globe that is dimmable by itself on a switch, but I’ve not seen it available anywhere and even Phillips themselves only market it to commercial customers and specifiers, it doesn’t even appear on their consumer materials. I’d buy a box of them tommorow if I could.

https://www.meethue.com/en-US

Those globes themselves dim internally, but they’re not compatible with an external dimmer (which I have on most switches and would need to have removed then).

YES SO GET RID OF THEM.

Ugly and old tech.

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 4:41 pm 16 Jul 13

IrishPete said :

incidentally, I get a lot of radio interference from LED bulbs, and some CFLs too. Annoying.

IP

Every time we turn on a light in our house, the TV signal gets scrambled/pixelated for a few seconds. Nothing else electrical in our house does this. I’ve spoken to some sales reps about this but none have said they’ve heard of it before. Is this what you are experiencing? Never happened in our old house, which had halogen downlights, standard 36W fluoresent tubes and LED spots. Appears to be just the CFLs doing it.

davo101 davo101 4:31 pm 16 Jul 13

breda said :

25kgs (over 50 pounds, in old money) of pure mercury emitted from crematoriums? Given the price of pure mercury, it would be worth putting in a filter to catch it..

It’s not emitted in a pure form and no it’s not worth collecting it to make money.

breda said :

Why should mercury, an inert substance, emit from landfills?

Mercury is an inert substance? It might not be very reactive but it certainly is not inert.

breda said :

As for the nonsense about coal-fired plants and mercury, let me refer you to the excellent post by Willis Eschenbach at WUWT

Arooga, arooga, bullshit dead ahead.

breda said :

– the biggest emitter of mercury is the sea;

Of which 60% is due to all of the mercury we’ve dumped into the environment.

breda said :

– there is zero evidence of mercury levels being affected by coal-fired power stations.

Apart from direct measurement of the stack gases that is.

breda said :

Junk science rools, OK?

Well, you’re clearly a fan.

c_c™ c_c™ 3:46 pm 16 Jul 13

IrishPete said :

incidentally, I get a lot of radio interference from LED bulbs, and some CFLs too. Annoying.

IP

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd said :

c_c™ said :

JC said :

I have some Philips MASTER MR16 (low voltage downlight replacments) that are dimmable using standard dimmers, in my case I have leading edge c-bus. Sure due to the current issues you mentioned I need two in the circuit for them to work, and their dim range is not linear like incandescents, in particular below about 20%, but they do work and work well for what they are. I have these in the hall because I don’t like the light they produce, I find that for reading there is a noticeable strobe effect and the colour is a tad cold.

Yeah, I guess I was over simplifying – point was there are no B22 LED globes on the market (that I’ve seen in Australia) that consumers just pick up and replace a dimmable CFL or energy saver halogen with easily.

All LEDs can be dimmable if they’re wired so that the load on the dimmer is above the minimum threshold the dimmer needs to operate, i.e putting more than one globe on the switch.

I am aware of a product called the Master LED D 12-60 which is from Phillips, a B22 globe that is dimmable by itself on a switch, but I’ve not seen it available anywhere and even Phillips themselves only market it to commercial customers and specifiers, it doesn’t even appear on their consumer materials. I’d buy a box of them tommorow if I could.

https://www.meethue.com/en-US

Those globes themselves dim internally, but they’re not compatible with an external dimmer (which I have on most switches and would need to have removed then).

pajs pajs 3:32 pm 16 Jul 13

breda said :

pags – just like in your previous post where you conflated different kinds of bulbs, here you go again about “mercury”.

25kgs (over 50 pounds, in old money) of pure mercury emitted from crematoriums? Given the price of pure mercury, it would be worth putting in a filter to catch it. Unfortunately, the website you cited has no capacity to search under a keyword like “mercury” – so why are you so shy about linking directly to the page you are referring to?

And, your statement that there is no discernable mercury coming from landfills (with the same unfindable source) means nothing. Why should mercury, an inert substance, emit from landfills?

As for the nonsense about coal-fired plants and mercury, let me refer you to the excellent post by Willis Eschenbach at WUWT about why this is a total crock:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/31/the-epas-mercurial-madness/

A few highlights:

– mercury is an element which appears in varying degrees in the natural environment;

– the biggest emitter of mercury is the sea;

– there is zero evidence of mercury levels being affected by coal-fired power stations.

Of course, mercury compounds hanging above us every day in our homes is nowhere near as evil as crematoriums (Godwin’s law prevents me from going any further on analysing this bizarre train of thought) and the amalgam tooth fillings which coincided with significant increases in the life expectancy of recipients.

Junk science rools, OK?

While somewhat in awe of your ability to find anything ‘excellent’ on WUWT, I’m a little disappointed you find the National Pollutant Inventory website too hard to navigate. But perhaps you are an economist, so I will be helpful.

The main mercury data page for 2011-12 is http://www.npi.gov.au/npidata/action/load/summary-result/criteria/year/2012/destination/ALL/substance/55/source-type/ALL/subthreshold-data/Yes/substance-name/Mercury%2B%2526%2Bcompounds If you then click on the ’emissions’ tab, you’ll get a ranked listing of the different source types. You’ll find electricity generation fourth in the list, crematoria at number 17, landfill down at 71. You can even export the data as a csv file for further enlightenment.

Landfill is the primary pathway for mercury in products at the end of their life to be at risk of causing harm to human health and the environment. So if the mercury in a whole heap of used CFLs is going to be a problem, it will be via landfill. There are ways mercury and different mercury compounds can be released from landfill (think about fires, solvent interactions and leachate leakage) but it really isn’t much of an issue to worry about with Australian landfills. As the data shows, other activities are much more significant as mercury sources in Australia.

As for your claim of ‘zero evidence of mercury levels being affected by coal fired power stations’, I’m sensing an affinity here with your climate change is bung, CO2 is plant food etc world view, but will point out that burning coal does release mercury. Much follows from basic chemistry and physics.

breda breda 2:55 pm 16 Jul 13

pags – just like in your previous post where you conflated different kinds of bulbs, here you go again about “mercury”.

25kgs (over 50 pounds, in old money) of pure mercury emitted from crematoriums? Given the price of pure mercury, it would be worth putting in a filter to catch it. Unfortunately, the website you cited has no capacity to search under a keyword like “mercury” – so why are you so shy about linking directly to the page you are referring to?

And, your statement that there is no discernable mercury coming from landfills (with the same unfindable source) means nothing. Why should mercury, an inert substance, emit from landfills?

As for the nonsense about coal-fired plants and mercury, let me refer you to the excellent post by Willis Eschenbach at WUWT about why this is a total crock:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/31/the-epas-mercurial-madness/

A few highlights:

– mercury is an element which appears in varying degrees in the natural environment;

– the biggest emitter of mercury is the sea;

– there is zero evidence of mercury levels being affected by coal-fired power stations.

Of course, mercury compounds hanging above us every day in our homes is nowhere near as evil as crematoriums (Godwin’s law prevents me from going any further on analysing this bizarre train of thought) and the amalgam tooth fillings which coincided with significant increases in the life expectancy of recipients.

Junk science rools, OK?

pajs pajs 9:46 am 16 Jul 13

Deref said :

pajs said :

The key benefit of CFLs is reduced energy consumption, compared to incandescents. A reason for introducing lighting efficiency standards and phase outs of inefficient incandescents was that while CFLs were cheaper over the life of the light, the upfront purchase cost was greater. Even where CFLs have significantly longer lifespans than incandescents (which is a lot of, but not all, uses) purchasers were poor at factoring these benefits in to initial purchasing decisions.

Evidence, please, ensuring that the energy consumption involved in manufacturing and disposal is included.

I’m prepared to believe, but not until I see the evidence.

pajs said :

You can get good, fit-for-purpose lighting quality from CFLs for the most common lighting tasks at home. The widespread availability of electronic ballasted CFLs means you can get CFLs to work with a lot of dimmers.

Not in my experience, though that’s limited. Evidence, please.

pajs said :

As for the mercury, there is only a tiny amount in a CFL, mostly bonded in the phosphor powder/layers and not at risk of jumping out and killing your children. Large quantities of flouros from commercial buildings where big lighting changes happen all at once are about the only way you’d get a volume in the one place worth worrying about, and for that there is the Fluorocycle scheme for commercial properties run with the Lighting Council.

Yes, the amount of mercury is tiny. But let’s assume, say, an average of 10 per household times the number of households (no idea, but let’s say 100,000 in Canberra alone) – that’s a lot of mercury to safely dispose of.

pajs said :

Given the mercury emissions from coal-fired power & bushfires (not to mention any dental amalgam in crematoria), if you want to worry about mercury I’d be starting places other than CFLs.

This is a straw man. The valid comparison is between the amount of mercury in CFLs as opposed to that in incandescents, i.e. none.

I’m not focussing on mercury – you’re right – coal-fired power stations emit it too, and CFLs reduce that – but what’s the total load from CFLs against the savings from reduced coal burning? Evidence.

pajs said :

CFLs also have a lower heat-loading benefit, compared to older incandescents and some halogens. The heat loading from some compact halogen downlights (and direct contact heat risk) is significant. If you look at some of the installation safety requirements for halogen downlights, you are pretty much forced to cut holes through ceiling insulation to keep materials back from them. While they are not on, those cut-throughs can cause significant winter heat loss into your ceiling space, compromising your insulation. You then end up running more heating, using more energy.

Yep – CFLs are efficient to run but, again, you have to look at the total cost including manufacturing and disposal before you make comparisons like these.

pajs said :

While CFLs are not perfect, there is not really a perfect lighting technology. With a bit of research, thought & shopping effort, you can get decent CFL lighting for domestic uses (and not having to pay $7 a pop either).

Same for incandescents. I used to get 100W non-halogen incandescents for $0.30, so let’s compare apples with apples, eh.

Rhetoric is no substitute for proper analysis. Show us the honest and complete figures and none of us will be able to argue.

I’m a bit busy at the moment, but this might help you out.

For an example of some life-cycle analysis applied to the CFLs vs incandescents comparison, see http://www.thewatt.com/?q=node/175 Key points: if you get 50 hours operation out of your CFL, you break even in life cycle energy terms; over a full lifetime the CFL consumes 3.9 times less energy than the incandescent.

Maybe I shop at different places, but I’ve not had trouble finding dimmable CFLs. OzLighting has a couple of different dimmable CFLs, the Phillips ones are widely available, places like Bunnings and Officeworks stock the Nelson ones, etc. It does depend a bit on what type of dimmer you have, but there are options. I only use LEDs in portable lights, so can’t comment on them in fixed uses & dimming LEDs there.

I’m not sure how you get ‘straw man’ from the mercury comparison, while also asking for life cycle energy data. Put simply: mercury is emitted from coal-fired power stations. Old style incandescents use more electricty than CFLs. Therefore more coal is consumed to fire them up, producing more mercury emissions from the stack, than is the case with the lower energy use situation. Pretty straightforward, I think.

If you want to know more about point sources and diffuse sources for mercury emissions in Australia, we have the very useful National Pollutant Inventory. You can go there and have a look. http://www.npi.gov.au/ is the website.

2011/12 mercury emissions data from the NPI has 2,200 kg of mercury emitted to Australian airsheds from electricity generation. There are 25 kg emitted to air from crematoria, by the way. And more than 0.000001 g/L is enough to contaminate drinking water (according to the 1996 drinking water quality guidelines for Australia). Landfill, which is where the bulk of domestic CFLs end up, barely makes the list as a mercury source in Australia (NPI).

davo101 davo101 9:37 am 16 Jul 13

Deref said :

Same for incandescents. I used to get 100W non-halogen incandescents for $0.30, so let’s compare apples with apples, eh.

Let’s say we replace a 100W incandescent with a 25W CFL (being generous with the CFL as Philips says a 20W is equivalent in light output). Every hour the light is on the CFL uses 75W.h less electricity which means, in the ACT where electricity is 20c/KW.h, you save 1.5c/h. Over the first thousand hours of the life of the bulb you’ll save $15 and if the CFL cost you $7 everything after the first ~500 hours is pure profit.

Deref said :

Rhetoric is no substitute for proper analysis. Show us the honest and complete figures and none of us will be able to argue.

You must be new here.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 7:15 am 16 Jul 13

c_c™ said :

JC said :

I have some Philips MASTER MR16 (low voltage downlight replacments) that are dimmable using standard dimmers, in my case I have leading edge c-bus. Sure due to the current issues you mentioned I need two in the circuit for them to work, and their dim range is not linear like incandescents, in particular below about 20%, but they do work and work well for what they are. I have these in the hall because I don’t like the light they produce, I find that for reading there is a noticeable strobe effect and the colour is a tad cold.

Yeah, I guess I was over simplifying – point was there are no B22 LED globes on the market (that I’ve seen in Australia) that consumers just pick up and replace a dimmable CFL or energy saver halogen with easily.

All LEDs can be dimmable if they’re wired so that the load on the dimmer is above the minimum threshold the dimmer needs to operate, i.e putting more than one globe on the switch.

I am aware of a product called the Master LED D 12-60 which is from Phillips, a B22 globe that is dimmable by itself on a switch, but I’ve not seen it available anywhere and even Phillips themselves only market it to commercial customers and specifiers, it doesn’t even appear on their consumer materials. I’d buy a box of them tommorow if I could.

https://www.meethue.com/en-US

Nightshade Nightshade 7:54 pm 15 Jul 13

davo101 said :

Roundhead89 said :

It is worthy to note that the outer bulb on the halogens serves no purpose

Other than protecting the user from the extremely hot inner glass bulb.

And providing something to hold while inserting the ‘push and twist’ style of globe. They are much sturdier than the CFLs, which was the main reason I started using them.

c_c™ c_c™ 7:23 pm 15 Jul 13

…which is to say B22 LED globes that are mains voltage too I should clarify.

c_c™ c_c™ 7:22 pm 15 Jul 13

JC said :

I have some Philips MASTER MR16 (low voltage downlight replacments) that are dimmable using standard dimmers, in my case I have leading edge c-bus. Sure due to the current issues you mentioned I need two in the circuit for them to work, and their dim range is not linear like incandescents, in particular below about 20%, but they do work and work well for what they are. I have these in the hall because I don’t like the light they produce, I find that for reading there is a noticeable strobe effect and the colour is a tad cold.

Yeah, I guess I was over simplifying – point was there are no B22 LED globes on the market (that I’ve seen in Australia) that consumers just pick up and replace a dimmable CFL or energy saver halogen with easily.

All LEDs can be dimmable if they’re wired so that the load on the dimmer is above the minimum threshold the dimmer needs to operate, i.e putting more than one globe on the switch.

I am aware of a product called the Master LED D 12-60 which is from Phillips, a B22 globe that is dimmable by itself on a switch, but I’ve not seen it available anywhere and even Phillips themselves only market it to commercial customers and specifiers, it doesn’t even appear on their consumer materials. I’d buy a box of them tommorow if I could.

JC JC 5:59 pm 15 Jul 13

c_c™ said :

What a dishonest post. Funny thing is it makes things up that even the lighting manufacturers don’t try to BS about.

CFLs take minutes to warm up, and they continually grow more dim throughout their life, along with losing their tint and adopting a colder colour. After a year or so, they will be emitting a lot less light, and that gradual decrease could potentially make eye strain worse, not to mention the colour shift will affect paint colours.

There are not a wide selection of dimmable CFLs on the market. Philips makes just one for example (and they’re one of the major brands in Australia), the 75w equiv Tornado. That’s because dimmers require a certain minimum current to work. That’s why there are currently no LED globes that are dimmable on the market. Even the dimmable ones have draw backs, they buzz horribly even when the dimmer is at maximum output and only work with certain types of dimmers.

LED globes are the future, and are near perfect, and the ones I’m running are wonderful. The shelf price may look steep, but given their life rating and tiny power usage, the overall cost is very attractive. Dimmers need to catch up and beam width needs improvement, but that shouldn’t take long.

Whilst I do agree with the jist of your post it is not true that there are NO dimmable LED ‘globes’ out there.

I have some Philips MASTER MR16 (low voltage downlight replacments) that are dimmable using standard dimmers, in my case I have leading edge c-bus. Sure due to the current issues you mentioned I need two in the circuit for them to work, and their dim range is not linear like incandescents, in particular below about 20%, but they do work and work well for what they are. I have these in the hall because I don’t like the light they produce, I find that for reading there is a noticeable strobe effect and the colour is a tad cold.

That said I have had them now for over two years and in that time there is a lot more product on the market, especially dimmable LED’s, including those with standard bayonet fittings. I cannot recall the brand by TLE at Belconnen has a display of LED fittings all of which are dimmable.

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