Another Year of Incandescence

by Brian McGraw on December 20, 2011

in Blog

Post image for Another Year of Incandescence

Buried deep in 2012 budget legislation was a paragraph or two that prevents the federal government from spending any funds enforcing the 2007 light bulb efficiency standards/ traditional light bulb “ban” through the end of September 2012. While this isn’t a technical repeal of the ban/efficiency standards, it will allow traditional 100 watt incandescent bulbs to continue to be sold through most of 2012 by those companies who aren’t put off by the negative public relations (green groups may well go on the offensive if national retailers continue to sell them) or potential legal liabilities. It isn’t clear yet the extent to which 100 watt traditional incandescent bulbs will be available for consumer purchase in 2012.

The delay/temporary repeal of the ban has some on the left angry, as Tim Carney notes, though I suspect they’d be angrier if this budget rider had been swapped for delaying implementation of some of the more expensive 2011-2012 EPA regulations, which certainly seemed like a possibility.

An actual argument over the pros/cons of this legislation has been had numerous times and neither side has budged (nor have sides budged over whether or not its okay to label this legislation a ban), so any continuation of that seems sort of pointless. However, I’d like to look at the Politico article that attempted to ding Republicans because “big business” is really upset about this recent turn of events: [click to continue…]

Post image for Tech Writers Have High Hopes for New Lightbulbs

Farhad Manjoo of Slate is convinced that a new L.E.D light bulb being produced will look similar to incandescent lighting and still save consumers money over the life of the bulb, according to their predictions and his calculations:

[…] On average, an incandescent bulb lasts about 1,000 hours—that’s about a year, if you keep it on for about three hours a day. Electricity in America also costs about 11 cents per kilowatt hour (that’s the average; it varies widely by region). In other words, a 50-cent, 60-watt incandescent bulb will use about $6.60 in electricity every year. Switch’s 60-watt-equivalent LED, meanwhile, uses only 13 watts of power, so it will cost only $1.43 per year. The Switch bulb also has an average lifespan of 20,000 hours—20 years. If you count the price of replacing the incandescent bulb every year, the Switch bulb will have saved you money by its fourth year. Over 20 years, you’ll have spent a total of about $142 for the incandescent bulbs (for electricity and replacement bulbs) and less than $50 for Switch’s 60-watt bulb. (I made a spreadsheet showing my calculations.) [click to continue…]

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:

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Post image for Fifty Dollar Light Bulbs

This week Philips Co. showcases its newest success at capturing rents produced by government mandates: it has produced a 17-watt LED bulb that functions as equivalent to a 75-watt incandescent bulb. The catch: they will initially cost around $50.

The announcement contains the usual boilerplate about how in just a few more years these light bulbs will be the cat’s pajamas, and everyone will be buying them. Go get in line. Lynne Kiesling comments:

This week Philips is releasing a mass-market LED light bulb with a physical and lumens-delivering profile to mimic incandescents at a fraction of the energy use. But they’ll still be priced at $40-45, which is a bit steep for customers who are accustomed to cheap, short-lived bulbs, so their market success will require some education and adaptation of expectations. They will also have to overcome the hurdles of the failed expectations of compact fluorescent bulbs, which have not demonstrated the required longevity/price tradeoff to make them economical (in addition to their other shortcomings). I may buy one to test, but I don’t plan on fitting out my whole house in these LEDs any time soon, based on my CFL experience.

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