The End of the Road for T12s

It’s only five months away. T12 fluorescent lamps used to be the standard for commercial lighting systems, but they will soon be totally off the market.

It started back in July 2010, when the U.S. Department of Energy introduced a fluorescent lighting mandate that stopped the production of the magnetic ballasts most commonly used for T12 lamps. And on July 14, 2012, the manufacture and import of most T12 lamps in the U.S. will be halted. After that date, suppliers may sell their remaining inventory, but there will be no more production once the existing stock is depleted.

Now, keep in mind that T12 fluorescent technology is 70 years old. John Philip Bachner of the National Lighting Bureau wrote a fantastic article recently about why they’re being phased out. He challenges facility managers to think of the change as an opportunity rather than a nuisance, and relates a T12 fluorescent lamp to a ’38 Chevy: Both were technological marvels of their eras. You’d think it were strange if someone used a ’38 Chevy for their daily commute, yet millions of T12 fluorescent lamps light U.S. buildings every day.

T12 fluorescent lamps are simply fluorescent tubular light fixtures that are 12/8ths of an inch in diameter. Since the technology of T12 lamps was developed so long ago, it’s leaps and bounds behind in terms of efficiency. T12 lamps can now be replaced by T5 lamps (5/8ths of an inch in diameter) and T8 lamps (8/8ths of an inch in diameter), and building owners will see energy savings as high as 45% per year. Also, there’s a simple payback of just one to three years. Finally, the lighting upgrade will ensure reduced maintenance costs and concerns. (more…)

Read More

Protesters of the Incandescent Light Bulb

There has been some public resistance to EISA 2007 (also known as the “incandescent phase out”) and what it means for light bulbs.

This is arguably the first monumental shift in the way people will light their homes since the early 1900’s, when Edison’s invention replaced gas lamps. It got me to thinking – what was it like when Edison’s incandescent light bulb first hit the market?

I came across an interesting article in Bloomberg and found out that 100 years ago the general public was very reluctant to start using those new fangled incandescent light bulbs in their homes.

In 1910, thirty years after the incandescent light bulb became available, 90 percent of American households were still using gas lamps – and it wasn’t because electrical contractors weren’t available.

The main protests from consumers in the early 20th century were safety, aesthetics, and cost.

The safety concerns in Edison’s time revolved around electricity. An Italian scientist named Luigi Galvani studying muscle contraction in the late 18th century had concluded that “animal electricity” stored in the muscles was the same as the electricity used to power a lamp. Therefore, he claimed adding artificial electricity to your home would have detrimental physical effects. Women wondered if the lights would bring on freckles. There was an idea that the spirit had electrical properties, so people thought that ghosts, hypnotism, and telepathy were all the result of electricity outside of the body. (more…)

Read More

In-The-Know About January 1, 2012

There has been a lot of coverage on this blog about the upcoming incandescent light bulb phaseout. Back in January, I wrote a post titled Are You One of the 36%?, pointing out that only 36% of Americans were aware of the upcoming phaseout. A whopping 64% had heard nothing about the legislation, and 80% did not know that traditional 100-watt light bulbs would no longer be available after January 1, 2012.

The Department of Energy has been hard at work spreading the word, and so have lighting manufacturers and retailers like us.

Well, a new poll from Osram Sylvania found that those efforts have paid off! A majority of Americans (55%) are now aware of the federal legislation.

However, according to the poll, most Americans are still hazy on the details.

Do you feel comfortable about the upcoming changes? Do you have questions? Ask away!

Read More

The Truth About CFLs and Mercury

There is more mercury in one bite of albacore tuna than there is in one CFL.

Yes, CFLs contain mercury. So do laptop computers, TVs, telephones, and tuna fish sandwiches.

On average, CFLs contain 4 milligrams of mercury each (that amount would almost cover the tip of a ballpoint pen). LCD projector TVs, by comparison, contain 500-100 milligrams of mercury. One bite of albacore tuna contains more mercury than a CFL.

Many people think about mercury emissions in a very simplistic manner. (Sure, the mercury in a CFL may be a trace amount, but incandescent light bulbs don’t contain any – which makes incandescent light bulbs better for the environment, right?) (more…)

Read More

My Search for a New Light Bulb

Incandescent Light BulbAs most of us now know, the traditional incandescent light bulb invented over 100 years ago is being phased out over the next couple of years. To learn more about the incandescent phase out, or if you are like “What?!”, make sure to check out our coverage on the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) – aka “the incandescent phase out”.

Whether or not you agree with the law, and there are plenty of opinions both for and against, it is coming. In fact, the first phase starts this January 2012 when the 100-watt incandescent light bulb will no longer be able to be manufactured or imported. In January 2013 it will be the 75-watt light bulb and in January 2014, the 60-watt and 40-watt light bulbs.

So, knowing this is coming, and knowing that I have a lot of light bulbs in my house that will need to be replaced, including 100-watt ones, I decided to start exploring my options and figured I would share them with you.

What did I learn?

  1. There are options available now.
  2. There is no one option for me. I will be using different technologies based upon my needs and wants.
  3. GE makes a very cool hybrid light bulb which is part halogen and compact fluorescent that I am now using.
  4. There are halogen replacements for incandescent light bulbs…did not know this.
  5. Philips has a very cool, very awesome, somewhat expensive, LED light bulb called AmbientLED. I wish I could afford many of these because they work very, very well.

Now on to the story…


Read More

Texas Fighting for Old-Fashioned Incandescent Light Bulbs

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

The Texas state legislature recently passed a bill that is decidedly challenging Washington on the upcoming energy regulations for incandescent light bulbs.

The bill, H.B. 2510, declares that incandescent light bulbs produced and sold in Texas are exempt from the federal law as they do not involve interstate commerce.

The measure was signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Perry.  However, supporters of the federal energy regulations say the Texas law would be unlikely to withstand a court challenge.

Texas’s deputy director of the Public Citizen office, David Power, reports that Texas would not be able to manufacture incandescent light bulbs in the near future, anyway:

We don’t mine tungsten in Texas.  So there is no place where they can get a Texas-made filament for bulbs.

Pennsylvania and South Carolina are reportedly seeking similar efforts to skirt the federal mandate.

Read More

Light Bulb Bill Put To the Test Today

Update (7/13): The BULB Act did not pass in the House of Representatives.  The vote was 233 in favor of the repeal and 193 opposed.  Since that didn’t constitute a two-thirds majority, it did not go on to the Senate.

As the incandescent phase out approaches, with today’s standard 100W light bulb set to face new efficiency standards beginning in January 2012, a Republican-sponsored bill is seeking to halt the changing standards before they even happen.

The repeal bill, called the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, H.R. 2417 (BULB Act), would eliminate the portion of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) that requires incandescent light bulbs to be 25 to 30 percent more efficient.

Supporters of the BULB Act say that mandating efficiency standards in light bulbs will limit consumer choice and result in unnecessary government intervention.

Perhaps supporters of the BULB Act have not heard about the many replacement options for inefficient incandescent light bulbs?   Or the fact that this legislation will save U.S. households a great deal of money in energy costs (about $15.8 billion per year)?

The U.S. House of Representatives was expected to vote yesterday on the repeal bill, but the vote has been delayed until at least today.

A two-thirds majority vote will be required for the repeal bill to continue on to the Senate.

Read More

How To Shop for Light Bulbs

Still shopping for light bulbs based on watts?  If you’re not confused by the packaging yet, you soon will be.

You see, purchasing a light bulb based on how many watts it uses (i.e., assuming a 60 watt light bulb is brighter than a 40 watt light bulb) is quickly becoming outdated.

With high-efficiency light bulbs like CFLs and LEDs, watts (which measure the amount of power consumed) are not necessarily equivalent to light ouput.  Some 11 watt LEDs can produce just as much light output as a 40 or 60 watt incandescent.

For an easy way to put lumens into perspective, use the chart on the right provided by the Federal Trade Commission.

As you can see, if you are replacing a 60 watt incandescent light bulb, you should look for a light bulb rated at 800 lumens.

Read More

A New Player in the Light Bulb Game

As the incandescent phase out rapidly approaches, light bulb manufacturers are focusing on developing quality alternatives for the familiar incandescent light bulb.  Last month, General Electric announced a new “hybrid” light bulb that will combine the efficiency of a compact fluorescent with the instant brightness of a halogen.

Now, a New York based company is joining the alternative light bulb battle.  Vu1 Corporation has developed a lamp based on the same technology used in picture tube TVs.  Inside the lamp, a stream of electrons is fired at phosphors coating the inside glass.  Those phosphors illuminate to create high-quality light that lasts about 10 times longer than a traditional incandescent light bulb.

According to the New York Times, Vu1 Corporation’s potential success lies in the fact that its light bulbs are less expensive than LEDs, yet comparably energy-efficient.  However, industry experts claim the price of LED lamps will continue to fall within the next couple of years.  Vu1 Corporation’s value proposition may be short-lived.

Currently, the company’s website only offers a 65-watt-equivalent reflector lamp (for ceiling installations).  They plan to expand their selection in the future.

Read More

Hybrid Light Bulbs

General Electric announced it will be releasing a unique new light bulb on Earth Day.

Apparently, “hybrid” will not just be all about cars anymore.

This light bulb is a combination halogen-compact fluorescent (CFL) built inside a glass bulb shaped like a traditional incandescent. GE is calling it a hybrid-halogen CFL, and advertising it as “three bulbs in one.”

The instant brightness factor makes our new hybrid halogen-CFL more versatile than other CFLs. Simply flip that light switch and it’s at your service – immediately.” Kristin Gibbs, general manager of consumer marketing, GE Lighting

The light bulb will be available in GE Energy Smart, Soft White, and Reveal bulbs, price between $5.99 and $9.99.  Add it to the list of replacement contenders for the standard incandescent light bulb, which will be phased out beginning January 1, 2012.

Will you be buying one?

Read More