Dec 282013

The 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent light bulb ban takes effect next week. There are two things here a lot of people are missing:

  • The light bulbs don’t become illegal to sell next week; only to manufacture. They will still be available in stores for some time into 2014.
  • Rough service bulbs will remain available.

Rough service bulbs look and burn like regular bulbs, but they are considerably more durable (and consequently more expensive, though not by much). When we moved into our new home in 2000, the builder had installed Teiber 130-volt rough service light bulbs throughout. It was literally almost six years before one burned out.

So, when it comes to incandescents, I haven’t bought anything but rough service bulbs in a long time anyway. I use (no connection except being a satisfied customer). That link includes 75-watt and 100-watt bulbs—you know, the ones that were banned at the start of this year?—in case you think I’m pulling your leg.

Therefore, it would appear we have ample incandescent options for the moment, anyway. So stay with them if you want to.

And now I’m going to ask you:  do you really want to?

It’s certainly debatable by reasonable people whether federal action was the way to handle this problem. Big government types hail the great advances made by the light bulb companies in order to comply with their wise laws, while others claim the free market would have driven innovation without them. However we got here, we’re here, and we have options.

lightsLongtime readers may recall my enthusiasm for compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). I still have many of them deployed and I do like them, but they’re a bit of a mixed bag. Some of them are a little slow to warm up. Few of them can be dimmed. All of them have special disposal instructions. On the positive side, they do consume far less electricity than comparable incandescents.

My only big complaint is that I’m not getting the advertised long life from them. I haven’t kept detailed records, so I have no hard data, but I know I replace them more often than rough service incandescents. I wonder if they’re really lasting that much longer than regular incandescents would, really.

I started stepping into current LED bulbs last year, with this bulb (again, no connection other than being a satisfied customer). The only compromise with this one is about a one-second delay between flipping the switch and the bulb lighting. These are 8.5 watts apiece, and I think the claimed 50-watt equivalent is a little low, frankly. I use these three across in bathroom vanities very satisfactorily. The light is bright, with an appealing color.

I have a few more powerful ones installed here and there. My table lamp and floor lamp in my living room both have LED bulbs, and if I didn’t tell you, you’d never know it. That’s how pleasant and bright they are.

I like using LED bulbs. I’ll just have to wait and see on longevity. If these start blowing a year or two in, then suddenly they’re overpriced at even $5 each, aren’t they?

Between pull-outs and the small purchases I’ve made over the years, I have probably 3 dozen each 60- and 75-watt incandescent light bulbs, almost all of them rough service. Given that I’m gradually replacing them anyway, I expect that to be a lifetime supply.

Put back a few incandescent bulbs if you need to, but I invite you to check out that LED bulb above as well. Just get two or three of them and see what you think. I bet you’ll be impressed.

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 Posted by at 5:27 pm

  15 Responses to “Navigating the light bulb ban effectively”

  1. I suffer from depression in the winter, not severely enough to be considered much more than winter blues. I find that the inadequate lighting in my new house is exacerbating my problem. This house has CFs all over the place and I hate them. I have yet to find a CF with what I consider “good” light value. Tonight, we installed a new ceiling fan with a light fixture in the bedroom so I could have some decent light. After chatting up a random electrical contractor at the big box store, we sprung for some Cree Brand LEDs. We chose the 60 watt equiv soft whites (the contractor said the daylight ones were really bright). OMG. These things are a stunning light color, and we could have probably gotten away with the 40 watt equivs.

    I’ll let you know how long they last.

    So much happy light! I’m never using a CF again.

  2. I have to say, the light bulb thing ^&)%es me off! YAY!!! Let’s poison our ground water with mercury!!! That sounds like SO MUCH FUN! You ask 100 people how to throw away a CFL and odds are maybe 2 of them will know that you CAN’T throw them away. Tell me, how much energy are we going to save, when I have to use two or three lights to make my room as bright as 1 light *used* to make it. People joke that our government is trying to put is back into the dark ages? Puns become reality. Before we moved to AL, I had a STOCK PILE of traditional 100 watt bulbs. I wish I could have packed them in our household goods!

    • Constance, the other funny “energy saving” angle here is that incandescent bulbs have been a non-trivial source of heat in the winter. If a household is suddenly dousing, say, 500 watts of incandescent light, then the house heating system has to compensate.

      (Mathematically, the house heating system probably runs on fossil fuel.) Yay, greenies!

  3. Oh, and by the way, these new CFLs are not very safe. The only ones I have ever used are ones that were in my home when we moved in, and you know what? I have had more than one bust in the socket….as in, the light was on, there was a POP and the glass was broken with smoke coming out of the cracks. A couple, the plastic base was even partially melted! Yeah, that’s safe! NOT.

  4. Here is the fan/bulbs:

    And here it is lit:

    I might have to back her down to the 40w version. ha ha.

  5. Moderate me, my ass.

  6. I’m sorry for all the jobs leaving this country. CFL’s are made in China because the EPA rules on that lovely mercury are so strict here, and all the incandescent factories here are closed. Booooo.

    • There are apparently still four in ten (or so) Americans who find the abject tyranny in the White House acceptable or even palatable, so I think the possibility of connecting these much subtler dots for the average American is remote at best. 🙂 🙁

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