Lighting Specialists Stockpiling Incandescent Bulbs

by Brian McGraw on May 26, 2011

in Blog, Features

Post image for Lighting Specialists Stockpiling Incandescent Bulbs

Via The New York Times

Unsurprisingly, the article takes a holier-than-thou tone towards those Americans who (*GASP*) won’t just roll over and let Washington bureaucrats tell us what’s best, and those who don’t feel that it is the government’s business to tell them what kind of lighting they can use in their home.

However, this attack on us mere commoners who actually appreciate consumer freedom runs into a problem: many hotshot interior decorators and lighting specialists also like the incandescent bulbs, thus the stockpiling. It’s an interesting contrast — it is okay for experts who appreciate light to stockpile incandescent bulbs but everyone else is overreacting, possibly succumbing to the right-wing media machine:

It should be noted that, like most decorators, Ms. Williams is extremely precise about light. The other day, she reported, she spent six hours fine-tuning the lighting plan of a project, tweaking the mix of ambient, directional and overhead light she had designed, and returning to the house after dusk to add wattage and switch out lamps like a chef adjusting the flavors in a complicated bouillabaisse.

She is aware that there is legislation that is going to affect the manufacture of incandescent bulbs, but she’s not clear on the details, and she wants to make sure she has what she needs when she needs it.

So does John Warner, a restaurateur in Washington whose new bistro, Le  Zinc, will open next month on Wisconsin Avenue. He has signed a 15-year lease on the place, which is layered in warm woods, with lots of art and photographs and 50 light fixtures, 16 of them designed to hold a 40-watt soft-white G.E. incandescent bulb. By estimating that his lights will be on for 15 hours a day, and factoring in the package’s promise of a 2,000-hour life span per bulb, Mr. Warner has calculated that he will need 600 of these bulbs to last through his lease.

“I have a light-enough carbon footprint in the other aspects of the design,” he said, “so I can allow myself a lighting splurge.”

Compare that to this:

Nonetheless, as the deadline for the first phase of the legislation looms, light bulb confusion — even profound light bulb anxiety — is roiling the minds of many. The other day, Ken Henderlong, a sales associate at Oriental Lamp Shade Company on Lexington Avenue, said that his customers “say they want to stockpile incandescent bulbs, but they are not sure when to start. No one knows when the rules go into effect or what the rules are.”

Probably this is because articles about light bulb legislation are incredibly boring, and articles about the end of the light bulb as we know it are less so. Certainly they stick in the mind longer.

For years, Glenn Beck, among other conservative pundits and personalities, has proclaimed the death of the incandescent light bulb as a casualty of the “nanny state” (never mind that the light bulb legislation is a Bush-era act), and he has been exhorting his listeners to hoard 100-watt light bulbs (along with gold and canned food). This year, conservative politicians took a leaf from his playbook, introducing bills like the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, courtesy of Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman, that would repeal the 2007 legislation.

Dear New York Times: Conservatives are capable of passing legislation that angers other conservatives. Similar phenomena occurs on the left. Please note for future articles.

The article also pushes the misleading claim that incandescent bulbs aren’t being banned. They are being forced to meet efficiency requirements which traditional bulbs cannot meet: thus, the bulb that American’s know will be banned. Halogen incandescents (which are still extremely costly) will be able to be purchased. Thus, people understandably get anxious when they see that they might need to purchase $50 LED bulbs:

Last week, for example, in the middle of Lightfair, an annual trade show for the lighting industry, Philips unveiled a winged LED bulb with a promised life span of 25,000 hours and a price tag of $40 to $50. The Associated Press reported its cost as $50, and Fox News ran the story with the headline “As Government Bans Regular Light Bulbs, LED Replacements Will Cost $50 Each.” Mr. Beck, Rush Limbaugh and conservative bloggers around the country gleefully pounced on the story, once again urging the stockpiling of light bulbs.

I previously wrote about the $50 light bulb here (a gleeful pounce indeed, though I haven’t urged anyone to stockpile the light bulbs). Fear not America, the New York Times has spoken, and they’ve asked you to sit down, shut up, and enjoy the ride.


lighthouse May 27, 2011 at 7:10 am

What is banned and when – and where are the counter-proposals?

Lynell Huisman June 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm

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