No more regular light bulbs?


The California legislature may want to revisit the wording of their proposed ban on incandescents (AB 722). California assemblyman LLoyd Levine, a Democrat from Van Nuys in Los Angeles, wants to make California the first to ban incandescent light bulbs (by 2012) part of its new initiatives to reduce energy use and greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. But somebody hasn’t thought this through completely.

Why do I suggest a change? Two reasons: 1- There’s a new efficient challenger to the old tungsten filament light bulb. 2- The Compact Flourescent Lamps touted as “Eco Bulbs” have a small amount of mercury an other heavy metals in them, making disposal a problem. Some landfills won’t take them!

GE has announced an advancement in incandescent technology that promises to increase the efficiency of lightbulbs to put them on par with compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).

The new high efficiency incandescent (HEI(TM)) lamp, which incorporates innovative new materials being developed in partnership by GE’s Lighting division, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, and GE’s Global Research Center, headquartered in Niskayuna, NY, would replace traditional 40- to 100-Watt household incandescent light bulbs, the most popular lamp type used by consumers today.

The new technology could be expanded to all other incandescent types as well. The target for these bulbs at initial production is to be nearly twice as efficient, at 30 lumens-per-Watt, as current incandescent bulbs. Ultimately the high efficiency lamp (HEI) technology is expected to be about four times as efficient as current incandescent bulbs and comparable to CFL bulbs. Adoption of new technology could lead to greenhouse gas emission reductions of up to 40 million tons of CO2 in the U.S. and up to 50 million tons in the Eeropean Union if the entire installed base of traditional incandescent bulbs was replaced with HEI lamps.

So take note California assemblymen and assemblywomen, how about mandating a level of lighting efficiency for bulbs rather than assuming that innovation of older technology can’t happen?

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Tom Barrett
March 6, 2007 7:15 am

Having been responsible for installing over 10,000 CFLs recently I’m somewhat concerned as to where CFLs are going. First, I think they are a great source of light. Second, they went in the wrong direction making them totally disposable. When CFLs first came out they were two-piece units, a lamp and an inefficient magnetic ballast. Today they have evolved into high tech electronic devices and are one piece. The ballast typically lasts 3 to 5 lamp lives so it can be resued over and over lasting up to 20 years or longer, except that we can no longer replace the lamp portion. A typical product of a manufacturing system run in a nonsustainable way. And yes there is a tiny bit of mercury that is a concern, not to mention the lead in the solder in the electrtonic ballasts (in case you hadn’t noticed incandescent lamps use lead solder too and should not be sent to land fills) and other heavy metals and nasty materials used in elctronic components.
So the solution is to go back to the two-piece system, place a deposit on both the lamp and the ballast, set up a recycling campaign similar to aluminum cans, and not allow them to be disposed up in the household waste stream. Think of the fund raisers that school kids could do to cover the cost of their books and field trips by recovering the deposit on these lamps, not to mention the energy savings and the fewer nuclear power plants we’d have to build.

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