Lights Out for Incandescents

nanny-state America strikes again

December 3, 2010 updated
Holly Deyo

This is a reminder if you want to continue using incandescent light bulbs, now is the time to stock up. More nanny-state America is about to descend on us.

When first reading World Net Daily's article four years ago, 2014 seemed light years away, if you'll pardon the pun. Now phasing out incandescent bulbs is a few short months from kicking in. Californians will begin their goodbye to incandescent bulbs in 30 days; the rest of us have next year as grace period.

Some U.S. retailers have already quit carrying our old standbys. They are no longer obtainable in any wattage at our brick-and-mortar Sam's Club though they can be purchased through them online. Other retailers have not been so quick to hop the ban bandwagon and they can still be bought for reasonable costs at Walmart, K-Mart and most hardware stores.

Here's the phase out schedule for all 49 states and territories, except California:

Effective Date
(Mfg. on or after)
Effective Date
49 states and territories
(Mfg. on or after)

January 1, 2011
January 1, 2012
January 1, 2012
January 1, 2013
January 1, 2013
January 1, 2014
January 1, 2013
January 1, 2014

Panic Buying Starts

Don't wait till the last minute to set in a supply of incandescent bulbs. In America, 100-watt bulbs are first to get the axe. Next year is your last to buy them so now is the time to lay in a supply.

Take a lesson from Europe. Europeans have already begun 'panic buying' since their phase out of 75-watters began in 2009. Next year their 60W bulbs get axed. Australia led the pack with an outright ban this year. As usual Aussies are not ones to complain.

Most Canadian retailers will quit selling incandescents by 2012, except for IKEA Canada. They began eliminating incandescent bulbs starting August 1, 2010 and will complete their all-out phaseout in 2011.

Not a Bright Idea

Stan and I are not sold on the CFLs (compact fluorescent lamp) for several reasons and apparently we are not alone. Looking at Sam's customer reviews on GE Soft White 60W bulbs, they get a 5-star rating. However, GE Energy Smart 13W Light Bulbs (yes, these (pictured below left) replace the current 60W bulbs) only get 3 stars.

Three years ago we starting using CFLs in a storage room and for overhead lighting in the garage. The CFL is supposed to last many times longer than their incandescent counterparts, but we haven't found this to be the case. It seemed that within months I was shinnying up the ladder to change them. Burned out. Dead. Kaput. Not impressed with their '5-year life span' as stated on the packaging. Cost begins to add up when they burn out early on these pricey 'improvements'.

Here is another testimony that the new CFLs do not last long when lights are frequently switched on and off:

In my master-bath, the light fixture holds six bulbs which, at one time, held six 100 watt bulbs. My wife would mention (not complain ;-) the heat from the incandescent bulbs. She wanted these (GE Energy Smart) bulbs installed. I mentioned to her that heavy switching is not good for the long life of any fluorescent bulb; she said they would be alright (not what I was thinking). My wife is a "heavy" switcher; she turns off lights when she leaves the room. This is great but in the mornings she leaves the bathroom every five minutes for an hour or better.

Out of the six bulbs, only two are still burning after about seven months. We bought two packs of the GE Energy Smart bulbs. The other pack I placed in other light fixtures throughout the house, including my reading light. These other light fixtures are not switched as “heavy” and are still going strong.

I would recommend these bulbs (and any other) fluorescent bulb for any indoor application where the fixture is “on” for about one hour or more. Your mileage may vary."

Another man wrote:

Bought this product to save money. It does use less wattage, but it doesn't last 5yrs – only lasted 7 months. They were placed in the bathroom so usage was very small and to make it worse, they expect you to send it back by mail. Postage on package – $3. The cost of a bulb in package $8, which comes to $1.50 each at the store. What a scam. Don't want to send it back because of cost. They win.

And a third complaint:

Yes, some of these bulbs have not lasted 7 years. I have called GE twice for bad bulbs. I gave them the UPC on the box, and TWICE they sent me a coupon good for a new package of bulbs.

Fluoro Failures

A retired engineer, Alan Andrews, wrote saying that he believes that "an EMP event would take out CFL's (they fail a lot with ordinary power surges already) leaving most people in the dark."

An EMP attack is a very real concern, one that many people are turning a blind eye to thinking it either unlikely or one larger than life. Over the past decade, this issues gets media attention in dots and dashes, but the problem is neither solved nor going away. Be sure to read the Chapter 48 in Dare To Prepare on Electromagnetic Pulse and how to shield against its effects.

Such an unthinkable event would have negative impact on nearly every aspect of our lives. Only the most undeveloped countries would remain relatively unaffected. Indirectly they would be impacted when countries they depend on for food and medical handouts are rendered useless. If power nations are incapable of suppling their own needs, they surely can't help others.

Fluoro Freeze Out

Another reader just wrote in to share that cold weather is very hard on CFLs. Here's what he's observed:

Compact fluorescents do not work in super cold weather. In Barrow, AK, for instance, if you want a deck or porch light it must be on 24/7 in the winter because the bulb will not relight after being turned off. The CF bulbs, which have their own "housing" glass/plastic around them, seem to work best. Also, at -40 with wind chill at -65, the bulb cools so quickly they break even though they are low heat bulbs.

Dimmer Idea

In the mood, but fluoros are wrecking the atmosphere? Switches that worked fine with incandescents are frequently incompatible with fluoros. Rather than reinvent the wheel, this following explains the incompatibility problem best:

Dimmers work by breaking up the amount of electricity reaching the light fixture. Though invisible to the human eye, the staggered electrical current is actually making the light flicker. This is fine for an incandescent (traditional) bulb, as it simply reduces the amount of heat produced by the filament.

CFLs, however, do not use heat to produce light. Instead, a fluorescent bulb contains a gas that produces invisible ultraviolet light when excited by electricity. The light hits the white coating inside the fluorescent bulb and the coating changes it into light you can see. In this process, CFLs regulate power through the tube, which is not compatible with the dimmer's intervals of electricity interruption. So when working with a standard CFL, a dimmer would cause the CFL to dim, and eventually go out altogether. It shortens the CFL's life and, in rare cases, a dimmer operating a CFL could result in fire.

A related problem with CFLs and dimmers is that they only reduce light to about 20% of the rated lumens. If you turn to turn it down further, the fluorescent bulb turns off completely.

For dining rooms, bedrooms and other ares where you want adjustable lighting make sure to purchase dimmable CFLs and replace your old dimmer switch with a high-quality compatible switch that reduces current flow.

Dimmable CFLs don't last as long as regular fluoros. I'm not picking on the MaxLite brand, but want to give you point-of-reference comparisons. MaxLite product information states this bulb burns for about two years yet costs about $13 + shipping. Get ready for sticker shock as dimmable CFLs are significantly more expensive than even regular fluoros. Dimmables switches aren't cheap either . Lutron's CFL Diva Dimmer runs about $55 and Leviton's Programmable SureSlide Wall Switch is abour $60.

Additionally, CFLs are generally incompatible with photocells. These are the switches that automatically turn on lights when it gets dark. One solution is to use a timer.

More Grievances

Annoyingly, CFLs take a while to attain full brightness unlike incandescent bulbs. Brits, who are already well acquainted with these news bulbs, call their light output "sickly".

As World Net Daily pointed out in this article, CFL bulbs contain mercury so you have to be careful when disposing them.

Of lesser importance CFLs have a certain ugly factor going on. I am not in love with these curlicue squiggles of invention. They replace little pieces of lighting magic, where you could peer inside and witness a small miracle with cold, ugly, hard lumps of progress.

Whoever thought a person would wax fuzzy over light bulbs with internal antennae.... Oh for the good ole days when PC only referred to your computer and government wasn't always choosing what was best for us.

Like anything there is a short learning curves of what type fluorescent light bulb works where. If you're confused, here is a guide to help with the transition.

Source: 1 Dim and Dimmer,

© Holly Deyo, 2010, redistribution is granted providing ALL links and images, and the article itself is fully reproduced in its entirety, unaltered.