Ban on incandescent lamps

Ban on incandescent lamps is coming to Finland and other EU countries. Decision makers think that consumers and the environment alike would benefit from replacing the familiar incandescent lamps with energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs or LEDs.

At present, some 80% of the electricity used for lighting by Finnish households is consumed by incandescent bulbs, the standard filament lamps. Replacing them with energy-saving lamps is expected to save around 900 gigawatthours of electricity, which equals the annual electricity consumption of 50,000 households. Article Ban on incandescent lamps discussed by Finnish Parliament discusses on banning old light bulbs in Finland and in EU. Should There be a Ban on Incandescent Lamps? gives a view to what is happening in Australia.

Using more efficient lighting would reduce the carbon dioxide emissions, but not for the full amount of the saved electricity. During winter time (and spring and autumn) most of the electricity wasted as heat in light bulb heats up the space it is operated. When you replace the lamp with energy saving lamp, you need to turn up to heating to keep the temperature same.

The compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, which in turn adds to the problem-waste problem. According to Should There be a Ban on Incandescent Lamps? article many compact fluorescent light bulbs are not very good in construction, which will cause shortened life span and possible danger of fires.

LEDs are advertised to be super efficient light sources. They are much better than normal light bulbs, but they are far form ideal. Today’s high power white light LEDs are only about 18% efficient. This means 82% of the energy put into an LED dissipates as heat. LED inefficiencies EDN blog posting will list out where this 82% of energy is lost. There’s a lot of room for improvement in each of these areas of loss – especially the white light conversion process.

Acording to LED lighting: panel debates quality versus cost posting LEDs won’t make a replacement for screw-in light bulbs any time soon. A typical 5mm LED produces about 6 lumens. So a big commercial fixture built out of them would require thousands of LEDs to be as bright as the original bulb. This will create all kinds of challenges to the designer. And in the end the result is that the created bulb will consumie about the same power as a florescent fixture of the same output. The typical 5mm LEDs are not very good for lighting applications anyways. When you drive or overdrive that small LED in hot environment, it will degrade the epoxy encapsulant. The epoxy turns yellow, and then it starts to crack. Once you get a crack, the LED will fail. So this is not a good use of these LEDs.The products built carelessly in this way will not live up to the promises of the LED technology and the advertisements of those products.

The big advantage for LEDs in lighting applications will not be replacing the existing light bulbs or fluorescent lamps. Best LED lighting results are obtained when the lighting instrument that used for the purpose is specifically designed for LEDs in mind. Then you can achieve output efficiency, directability of the beam, and reliability that you can’t get any other way.

Regular light bulbs are also getting better. Halogen light bulbs are better efficiency than normal light bulbs. There are also light bulbs nowadays energy efficient that look like normal light bulbs, but they actually small halogen light bulbs packet to package that makes them to fit to the place of normal light bulb. There is also energy saving halogen light bulbs, for example new energy efficient halogen light bulbs promise to give same light as “normal” 300W light bulb with only around 200W of power. There are some research results that a Laser Blast Makes Regular Light Bulbs Super-Efficient: Laser Process Doubles Brightness for the Same Amount of Energy. I expect that it will take some time until this new innovation will come to use, if ever.

Light bulb ban


  1. Peter in Dublin says:

    Hello Tomi
    I agree that a ban is wrong – which I think is what you are saying..
    for all the reasons why a ban is wrong..
    see onwards
    including the odd way it was decided by the EU.

    Odd to sacrifice simple safe bulbs for complex
    environmentally questionable CFLs …although of coure they like LEDs have uses too.

    There is no energy supply shortage in society, and consumers could decide for themselves between the advantages that all types of lighting have, including of course light bulbs with their quick response bright broad spectrum light.
    As for emissions, light bulbs don’t give out gases, power stations do, and their emissions can be dealt with directly in several ways, as described on onwards

    The savings of a ban are low anyway for all reasons given on onwards.

    Even if light bulbs needed to be targeted (they don’t)
    taxation would be more logical, as it lowers use and gives government income that can be used to further lower emissions more than any remaining light bulb use causes them.
    See onwards

    • tomi says:

      I think that the ban decided by the EU is wrong.
      The idea of saving energy and reducing emissions is a good one, but the way this is done is not the right.
      If light bulbs needed to be targeted taxation would be more logical.
      At least in Finland, the country where I live, it is hard to see a justification for targeting light bulbs that heavily.
      Most of the heat from the light bulbs is not lost here, it is used to heat up the building (they need heating most part of year).
      In countries where most of the year it is so hot that you don’t need that heating most of the year, and you often use air conditioning, it makes more sense to stop using traditional light bulbs. In those cases the heat from light bulbs is lost, in worst cases you need to use even more electricity so that the air conditioner will also take care of that heat caused by the light bulb.

  2. Peter in Dublin says:

    “In countries where most of the year it is so hot that you don’t need that heating most of the year, and you often use air conditioning, it makes more sense to stop using traditional light bulbs.”

    True, but people can still decide what they want to use:
    Nobody is forcing them to use light bulbs!
    Also, in many countries it can be both hot and cold…

    About LED lamps.
    Everyone says that they are great and people will like them!
    So imagine they are bought a lot – unlike what’s happening with CFLs
    (fluorescent “energy saving” lights).
    Do light bulbs then need to be banned? Obviously not.

    The radio valve (tube) – a bit like a light bulb-
    and the transistor.
    People wanted to buy transistors, but that didn’t mean banning valves, even if they drew alot of power.
    They are still used a little today, for those who want them.
    Same could happen with light bulbs, if politicians showed more imagination and patience.

    The savings aren’t that big anyway from a ban, as explained on
    and elsewhere on the same site.

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  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Is The Light Bulb Ban A Bright Idea?

    Some—and possibly most—distributors and retailers may choose to follow the laws anyway. Anyone who would like to ignore them, however, will be free to do so without impunity until at least September 30, 2012.

    Assuming EISA’s lighting rules have their intended effect, compact fluorescent bulbs will account for a majority of light bulbs sold in the United States, serving alongside the select halogen incandescent bulbs that meet the updated efficiency requirements. This hard-earned era of dominance, how­ever, may be short-lived.

    That’s not to say LEDs are ready competitors to CFLs. There are few lamps on the market, and almost none are 100-plus-watt equivalents. Then there is the price: In the world of LEDs, $20 is a bargain. Fifty dollars is the norm.

    Whether the EISA rules achieve their goals remains to be seen. In one way, however, they have already been a failure. The perception of the ban as a regula­tory overreach has merit: It does more than encourage lower energy use; it limits choice in situations where incandescent bulbs might be preferable.

    In the end, consumers are best served by ignoring the rhetoric and trying new bulbs for themselves. And while an open mind will find a lot to like in the alien lighting aisle of 2011, don’t worry if you feel the lingering urge to stockpile a box or two of those old-style bulbs—just in case.

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  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Light Bulb That Has Been Shining for 110 Years

    In 1901, the Livermore Fire Department in California decided it was time to try that newfangled “electricity” thing all the kids were jabbering about. So they installed electrical lighting in the station, complete with modern light bulbs and everything.

    And 110 years later, one of those original bulbs is still doing its thing.

    When you look at the statistics, this is truly mind-boggling: Old-style incandescent light bulbs should only last a few thousand hours, while newer bulbs can go up to 25,000 hours with moderate use. The Livermore bulb, by comparison, has been in near-continuous use for over 110 years, and hasn’t been turned off since 1976. That time period alone is well over 300,000 hours.

    When they all verified that the bulb was actually the oldest functioning one in the world, the town went nuts

    Read more: 5 Historic Artifacts You Won’t Believe Still Work |

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    Free energy is an interesting idea, but unfortunately there is no magic free energy like there are no free lunches.
    Your electromagnetic generator page you mentioned describes basic electromagnetic generator, generator type used for more than 100 years.
    This type of generator will convert mechanical rotation to electricity (with considerably less than 100% efficiency), but it will not give you any magic free energy.
    The energy to rotate the generator needs to come from somewhere.

  40. tomi says:

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