February 02, 2008
Hate Fluorescent And Dreading Incandescent Bulb Phase Out?

Writing in Slate Ron Rosenbaum captures a widely shared (including by me) hatred of fluorescent light.

Yes, the idiots in Congress, too torpid and ineffectual to pass a health-care bill for children, have busy-bodied themselves in a bumbling way with the way you light up your world. In December, they passed legislation that will, in practice, outlaw incandescent bulbs because they won't be able to meet the new law's strict energy-efficiency standards. The result: Between 2012 and 2014, incandescent bulbs will be driven from the market. Replaced by the ugly plasticine Dairy Queen swirl of compact fluorescent lights.

From a purely environmental perspective, this move is shortsighted. CFLs do use less energy, which is good. But they also often contain mercury, one of the most damaging—and lasting—environmental toxins. Not a ton of mercury, but still: A whole new CFL recycling structure will be required to prevent us from releasing deadly neurotoxins into the water table. CFLs: coming soon to sushi near you.

The compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are supposed to replace the incandescent light bulb. But they've got major drawbacks. As Rosenbaum sees it, the real evil of flourescents is aesthetic.

But the greater crime of the new bulbs is not environmental but aesthetic. Think of the ugly glare of fluorescence, the light of prisons, sterile cubicle farms, precinct stations, emergency rooms, motor vehicle bureaus, tenement hallways—remember Tom Wolfe's phrase for the grim, flickering hallway lights in New York tenements: "landlords' haloes"?—and, of course, morgues. Fluorescents seem specially designed to drain life and beauty from the world. Don't kid yourself if you hope Hell is lit by fire. More likely fluorescents.

Yes, fluorescents. Buzzing, flickering, able to cause epileptic seizures in the susceptible, in addition to headaches and other neurological symptoms. Let's smash all the incandescent lights and replace their glowing beauty with the harsh anatomizing light of fluorescence. The flickering tinny corpse light of bureaucracies and penal institutions.

I'm more down on them due to their distracting effect. I have enough interruptions to my concentration as things stand without the mental fatigue and distraction caused by flicker.

In the book of Genesis God did not say "let there be flickering".

The new CFLs pulse faster than their ancestors, so the flickering is less perceptible, but at some level, it's still there. CFL manufacturers may be right that the new bulbs are an improvement, but there is still something discontinuous, digital, something chillingly one-and-zero about fluorescence, while incandescent lights offer the reassurance of continuity rather than an alternation of being and nothingness. If I remember correctly, the line from genesis was "Let there be light," not "Let there be flickering."

I bought some CFLs several years ago to use in places I spend little time in. But my light fixtures in most of those places can't fit the CFLs.

Dan Neil of the Los Angeles Times shares Rosenbaum's lack of enthusiasm for fluorescents and also thinks LED lights are not good substitutes either.

As a good liberal, I’m ready to embrace, and pay for, more efficient lighting. And yet, I’m already feeling what might be called Edison nostalgia. Even a bare bulb hanging from a wire is a thousand times more bewitching, more jocund and welcoming than a CFL screwed into the most arty fixture featured in Wallpaper magazine. The light from a CFL—stark and shadowless and overcorrecting—is a scold: Why haven’t you dusted? Why haven’t you taken better care of your skin? (This is the well-known public lighting effect.) LEDs, by their very nature, produce a single frequency of light, a sliver of the visible spectrum. In the case of “white” LEDs that would replace the common bulb, they are actually a ghastly white shade of blue, and that’s why everyone looks a touch cyanotic under them. The quality of light from these instruments will get better, but they only can approximate—only counterfeit—the warm, wide-spectrum glory of a filament that radiates across the visible spectrum and beyond.

But on FuturePundit there's the obligatory "but can't technological advances solve all problems?" angle to any story. Some Turkish researchers might have found a way to make LED light more acceptable.

Topping LEDs with a coating of carefully tuned nanocrystals makes their light warmer and less clinical, a new study shows. The researchers argue this is a must for energy-efficient LED lights to make headway in the commercial market.


To accomplish this, Hilmi Volkan Demir and colleagues at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, coated blue LEDs with a layer of nanocrystals. These crystals are made from a core of cadmium selenide with a surrounding layer of zinc sulphide.

The crystals absorb some of the LED's blue output and emit their own red and green light. That combines with the remaining blue light to produce a soft white glow.

A New York Times panel looked at 21 alternatives to incandescents and found most of the compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) disgusting. But they liked some of the LED and halogen choices and even found a few CFLs acceptable.

Another object of excitement was the Pharox bulb (upscalelighting.com) from Lemnis Lighting, which uses a light-emitting diode, or L.E.D. This technology, which works by illuminating a semiconductor chip, is more efficient than compact fluorescent lighting. But because L.E.D.'s emit directional rather than diffuse light, they are typically implanted in flat surfaces like walls or light panels.

Not all the bulbs were met with negativity. Panelists favored the light cast by halogen bulbs (including the Daylight Plus and the BT15 from Sylvania, and G.E.'s Edison 60), which last twice as long as incandescents, requiring less energy for the production and distribution of replacements, and are therefore more efficient.

One halogen model, the Philips Halogena, was not only pleasing to the eye - "nice, soft, golden light" one panelist said - but efficient enough to meet the criteria of the new energy bill.


The n:vision TCP Home Soft White, for example, was deemed "a warm pleasant light." The TCP Spring Light/Soft White was "almost warmer than incandescent," one person said. And the MaxLite SpiraMax was generally liked.

That LED Pharox bulb costs $59. Not exactly cheap.

Since we will have halogen and LED alternatives the death of incandescent bulbs won't force us to use CFLs. LED costs are falling and moving into wider spread use on cars. That bodes well. But as we near incandescent phase-out dates if LEDs and halogens aren't looking like acceptable and affordable alternativs you might want to lay in a few year supply of incandescents to provide more time for the non-fluorescent alternatives to improve.

Update: Brendan Koerner defends CFLs.

The irony of CFLs is that they actually reduce overall mercury emissions in the long run. Despite recent improvements in the industry's technology, the burning of coal to produce electricity emits roughly 0.023 milligrams of mercury per kilowatt-hour. Over a year, then, using a 26-watt CFL in the average American home (where half of the electricity comes from coal) will result in the emission of 0.66 milligrams of mercury. For 100-watt incandescent bulbs, which produce the identical amount of light, the figure is 2.52 milligrams.


The last, desperate swipe at CFLs—as elucidated by the Lantern's colleague last week—is that their light is cold and dreadful. Perhaps this was true in years past, but the Lantern just doesn't see it anymore: In a recent test, Popular Mechanics rated CFL light as far superior to that produced by incandescent bulbs.

You can always try one of the higher rated CFLs and judge for yourself. But I continue to hate the workplace long tube fluorescents that I come across.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 February 02 07:37 PM  Energy Lighting

Fat Man said at February 2, 2008 9:05 PM:

I guess I am just not sensitive, but I have no problem with CFLs. I love that they give off a lot of bright light and that they don't heat the room in the process. I think a lot of color problems can be solved by paying attention to lamp shades and wall colors.

Vincent said at February 2, 2008 10:28 PM:

My CFL never flickers. I'd advise you to buy one that hasn't been manufactured in a low-rent shoe factory.

Phil said at February 3, 2008 4:34 AM:

I have been using CFLs here in England since 1992.

They do not flicker.

They have NEVER flickered.

The only way to get them to flicker is to put them on a dimmer switch.

Their colour temperature is nearer to natural daylight than those orangey incandescent bulbs ever were.

The Slate article is FUD.

future now said at February 3, 2008 7:13 AM:

It seems the common theme of the articles you quote are the leftist/enviro/luddite slant (slate,lat,nyt). Their predecessors were probably ranting about how the incandescent bulb didn't "hold a candle to"....candlelight.
I've seen the exact same arguments vis-a-vis digital books vs. dead-tree-format books; flickering screen(?), cold and impersonal, "ugly glare", "sterile", etc...
The luddites will never be happy until we're back in the caves. The fact that there are new, more efficient technologies emerging almost daily, only whip them into a greater fervor for their death wish (see; peak oil, ozone layer, nuclear reactors exploding, power line cancer, electro-sensitives, global ice age,whoops...warming,whoops,...climate CHANGE?)

Bob Badour said at February 3, 2008 9:39 AM:


The article you quoted was an ignorant rant.

CFLs use solid-state ballasts. While they flicker, they flicker at a frequency for which human physiology has no sensing organs to detect. As such, CFLs have less perceptible flicker than incandescent bulbs, which flicker at the very noticeable 50 to 60Hz in North America. Granted, the amplitude of flicker is much less than the intensity of the light with incandescents, but one might as well rant about the equally imperceptible microwave noise left over from the Big Bang.

I am very sensitive to flicker. I find monitors at 75Hz refresh rates barely adequate and strongly prefer 85Hz and higher. Anything less than 75Hz will give me a migraine very quickly. I cannot even look at 65Hz monitors, and they are even worse in my peripheral vision.

My house is full of CFLs, and I do not have any problems with the light from them. If you have CFLs you do not use, I suggest putting them in places where you spend a lot of time. If the bulb flickers, try another CFL. If they both flicker, replace the fixture. In that case, the bulb is not getting full current, which means the current is going somewhere you don't want it to, which could lead to a fire or electrocution. However, I doubt you will notice flicker in any case.

From a toxicity perspective, coating things with cadmium is just as bad as filling them with mercury. Worse actually. I am surprised you would repeat such ignorant claptrap without tearing it to shreds.

averros said at February 3, 2008 2:38 PM:

The trick with CFLs is to use "full-spectrum" lamps, with CRI (Color Rendition Index) of at least 90.

They do a quite passable imitation of midday sunlight. They're expensive, too (the good spectral distribution of light energy is achieved by mixing five or more different phosporus). I ended up using a 55w full-spectrum CFL in my home office which doubles as an electronics lab (the alternative was to use 300 watt halogen bulb which heated the relatively small room noticeably and cast harsh shadows, too). The only disadvantage is that it takes about a minute for the lamp to get to the full brightness.

LEDs... well, I think "LED-bulb" manufacturers are missing the point - the most attractive feature of LED lighting is ability to control color; a special dimmer replacement can be used to communicate HSV information to the LED bulbs digitally over the existing AC wiring. The phosphorus-covered blue LEDs (which is what "white" LEDs are) aren't any better than CFLs.

Rick said at February 3, 2008 3:04 PM:

Waaaahhhhhh!!! I love how people are all for energy efficiency and conservation as long as they aren't inconvenienced one teeny tiny little bit. The mercury thing is a joke. The mercury issue was thoroughly vetted in committee before the legislation was passed. It's such a tragedy that this guy's sense of aesthetics has to be compromised in order to help the environment. Boo hoo hooo!!!!

odograph said at February 3, 2008 3:16 PM:

The odd fluorescent will bother me, but most of them do not.

As an aside, I find the U-shaped CFs better than the twist ones intended for incandescent replacement. Maybe with a fixture switch we'd have better results.

Brett Bellmore said at February 3, 2008 6:36 PM:

"I love that they give off a lot of bright light and that they don't heat the room in the process."

I love the fact that, given high propane prices, the incandescents in my house heat the room more cheaply than the furnace. A pity the government can't cope with the complexities of the real world...

g.salter said at February 3, 2008 6:46 PM:

Half of the compact flourescent lamp manufactures in europe are supposidly coating the bulbs with a clear plastic coating just like they do with some commercial 8 foot flourescent tubes used in office buildings (greenpeace UK)... that would go a long way to protect against a broken bulb, all that is needed is a manditory recycle program to recycle the mercury...also, they need to solve the problem of when the compact bulbs wear out, they tend to overheat and smoke (sometimes flame) the electronics inside before they "expire".

Randall Parker said at February 3, 2008 7:48 PM:


Glad you brought up heating costs.

1 kilowatt-hour of electricity contains 3413 BTU. A gallon of gasoline might contain 115,000 BTU (it varies by time of year and region). So a gallon of gasoline is about 34 kwh. Since the future is electric I'm leaning toward converting more energy measures to kwh equivalents.

With electricity at a the US national average of 10.6 cents per kwh a gallon of gasoline delivers as much energy as $3.60 worth of electricity. But wait. There are conversion inefficiencies with the burning of fuel. You get maybe 80% or at most 90% as real heat. So electricity and gasoline are about the same price for heating on average.

Of course, if you live somewhere that has 8 cents or less per kwh electricity (e.g. the Dakotas, Oregon, Kentucky) then electricity provides more heat energy than gasoline.

Now, people who heat with liquid fuel tend to use heating oil (139,000 BTU per gallon) which is basically diesel. Though I think it is taxed differently. So you have to compare heating oil to electricity. But the cost is close.

What are you paying for propane? At $1.87 per gallon propane was $20.47 per million BTU in early 2007. On that same page #2 heating oil at $2.22/gallon was $16.01 per million BTU according to that page.

Engineer-Poet said at February 3, 2008 8:01 PM:

Q:  How many country music singers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A:  Six.  One to change the bulb, and five to write a song about how much better the old one was.

Randall Parker said at February 3, 2008 8:26 PM:

I found an article that puts heating oil at $3.35 per gallon in Virginia. Okay, that's 139,000 BTU per gallon/3413 for 41 kwh per gallon of heating oil. So if you have 8.1 per kwh electricity or cheaper it makes more sense to use electricity than heating oil to heat a house. Weird wild stuff.

Even without using a heat pump electricity has become cheaper than heating oil for some parts of America. Add in a ground source heat pump and electricity for heating becomes very compelling.

Of course, natural gas is still a cheaper heat source. But not everyone has access to natural gas - especially not in the Northeast.

Jerry Martinson said at February 3, 2008 9:54 PM:

I have CFL's in my Edison-socket installed in my recessed cans in my living room, family room, and kitchen. I bought the cheapest ones I could and the CRI is very high (must be upper 80s or low 90's) and I only had one infant mortality. Other than that one, I haven't replaced a single one. There is no perceptible flickering. If you break a CFL, you can release mercury vapor. In a closed room, it will exceed OSHA requirements unless you open the windows for an hour or two. However, it is really methyl mercury, not just mercury that causes the major health hazard so this isn't really much of a problem.

In addition, some people I know who work at EPRI have analyzed the net difference of mercury emissions from most power plants caused by the excess power for incandescents versus the mercury inside the CFL bulbs and the CFL's come out ahead.

There are now new ICAT (Insulation compatible air-tight) CFL cans that are going to really be the way to go for modern residential light fixtures. When they are in a can, they blend in with traditional decorating schemes very well. There is some FUD going around about how CFLs need to be "special" to handle going into a can but the real problem was some bad Electrolytic caps made in 2002 caused by a common supplier's mistake of missing a key ingredient in the electrolyte (the caps built up H2 gas and burst after 6 months). This problem was sometimes mistakenly attributed to heat in can fixtures but it really was just a fluke of bad parts. I agree that the swirl CFLs can look like crud in some Edison socket fixtures - but this is just industrial design lagging the technical design. In my bathroom I have some exposed CFLs that are have bulb housings that look pretty good.

Most of the LED bulbs I've seen peak too much in narrow spots of the "red" and "blue" spectrum. This makes it uncomfortable for reading as your eye lense has high chromatic dispersion causing black and white text to have a discontinuous blur on your retina.

Lono said at February 5, 2008 11:53 AM:

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (a fairly mild case) but I find that incandescent bulbs seem to keep this at bay.

Flourescents of any flavor seem to negatively affect my mood and concentration as well.

I shaln't be giving up my incandescents any time soon - no matter what some over-Federalized B.S. nanny state says..

No wonder R. Paul is getting such a fanatical support base - people are getting quite sick of this shite!

DD said at February 7, 2008 6:54 AM:

I have a love of chandeliers and I cannot stand the thought of replacing my incandescents with a swirly CFL. I don't mind if it's under a lamp shade but don't make me put it on my crystal to stare at over an elegant dinner. I want to see the White House crystal chandeliers on full bright CFLs during a state dinner - unable to dim.

Engineer-Poet said at February 7, 2008 8:09 AM:

You can go down to Home Despot today and buy frosted-shroud candelabra-base CFLs... which are dimmable.

Got one outside my front door.  It works when the temperature is in the teens, too.

Bob Badour said at February 10, 2008 6:47 AM:


The problem with the long tube fluorescents at your workplace and other locations is not the tube or the fluorescence. Keep the tubes and lose the ballasts.

One can install long tube fluorescents with solid-state ballasts that will have less perceptible flicker than an incandescent bulb. I have had a light box for over a decade that uses just such ballasts.

The price of solid-state ballasts has declined greatly in the past decade and will continue to decline. In fact, once people start using them more, the increased production will drive down the price very rapidly just as it does for other solid-state devices.

To increase your effectiveness as a futurist, I suggest you shift your focus to the right technological culprit. Eventually, building codes will insist on solid-state ballasts in new construction. The sooner that happens, the better for everyone who is sensitive to flicker. If you want to agitate, agitate for that change to the building code.

Sometime after that happens, the price of the ballasts will drop to the point where legislatures can contemplate requiring employers and public spaces to replace the old ballasts with new ones. Railing against CFLs won't help anyone.

Daisy said at February 13, 2008 1:39 PM:

Several people here claim not to find the CFL's offensive. Hey, lots of folks think junk food tastes good and is inexpensive but that doesn't mean junk food is good or inexpensive. Face it, lots and lots of people have lousy esthetic sensibilities and even lousier common sense.

CFL's and LED's produce ugly light - it's harsh and cold and it's also inefficient. I LIKE the fact that incandescents throw off heat - believe me, in upstate NY in February that heat is not wasted. The most basic claim concerning CFL's twice longer life (than incandescents) is bogus: after about 40% of their life-span, most CFL's operate at less than 40% effectiveness - which put them in just about the same category as good quality incandescent light-bulbs. Personally, I don't care that environmentalists have been sold a false bill of goods by greedy light bulb manufacturers who can't wait to offload cheap light bulbs at high prices on the sanctimonious public - environmentalists live for that sort of masochistic thing - however, I do resent having it shoved down my throat. I'm currently stockpiling. In addition to stockpiling, I've made friends w/a plumber who can get me a full flush toilet, full blown shower head, and rig my hot water back to high enough temperatures. When the best sort of thermometer gets banned because it's made of glass and contains mercury and we are simultaneously forced to use glass light bulbs filled w/mercury .. you know the wackier environmentalists need to be stopped.

Up with Capitalism/Down with Unwashed Environutties.

Engineer-Poet said at February 13, 2008 8:01 PM:
I LIKE the fact that incandescents throw off heat - believe me, in upstate NY in February that heat is not wasted.
How about in upstate NY in August?  I spent one there, it didn't need extra heat.  How efficient is a light bulb compared to a heat pump?
CFL's and LED's produce ugly light - it's harsh and cold...
Says somebody who's probably never seen a "warm white" CFL.
... and it's also inefficient.
Roughly 4x as many lumens per watt.
The most basic claim concerning CFL's twice longer life (than incandescents) is bogus: after about 40% of their life-span, most CFL's operate at less than 40% effectiveness
Sounds bogus, and contrary to all my experience (I've been using CFs of one sort or another for about 15 years).  You want to support that with something more than your say-so?
When the best sort of thermometer gets banned because it's made of glass and contains mercury and we are simultaneously forced to use glass light bulbs filled w/mercury ..
I think you'll find that the 5 mg of mercury in a CFL is nothing like the 1 gram in a fever thermometer.  It's also far less than the 20-odd mg emitted by coal plants to run incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light over the lifetime of a CFL, and the powerplants' mercury goes into the air, not a landfill.

As someone who lives in a state with contaminated gamefish due to coal combustion, I rather like CFLs.

Gene said at February 27, 2008 4:03 PM:

My problem with CFL's is that they do not go well in places where clear light bulbs are used what are you suppose to replace clear bulbs with?

Charles Nickalopoulos said at April 23, 2008 10:00 AM:

Is everyone comfortable with the government telling us what kind of light bulb to use?
What about what we eat? What if the government forced everyone eat chicken feed, because it
it is more efficient than feeding it to the chicken, and then eating the chicken?

Everyone had better think long and hard on this, and then decide; if you still like CFL's, then use them. Does "big brother" know best?

Engineer said at May 31, 2008 6:19 AM:

I have no particular beef with either Incandescent or Fluorescent; I figure they both have their place in a lighting scheme. But as a comment, I have noticed that quite often I see regular tube fluorescents; in the same room, mounted at right angles to each other. As a young apprentice I was always told to avoid mounting them like this because the split polarity of the each lamp causes a flicker... which was particularly bad for machinists. I suspect that if the effect is not actually visible as flicker that it nonetheless is subconsciously uncomfortable for the observer I wonder therefore if some of the flicker problems referred to be really related to incorrect fitting

pfunk said at June 26, 2008 11:32 AM:

Im going to manufacture good ol incandesant bulbs in my garage and you get a free mercury thermometer with every 6th purchase on your punch card. Seriously, were headed twards political disaster and your government is daily taking away your rights for what they see as a just cause. We should be considering what china is outputting with thier coal processes, not the US or UK for that matter even aussie land. concentrate on better means of power production. Please the earth is its own polluter with volcanic activity and underwater fishers. Thier was a pretty funny artical about mt st helen producing more sulfer then the fed allows per state/year in like a week. the old biodegradable foam vs WAX paper = same. ussing methane mills at garabage dumps. I like the idea of water bottles being returnables. common sense of the people, not knee jerk reactions to lobbyists,,, oh, and Ron Paul rules ;)
Im keeping my incandesants period, Ill outsource them from other countries on ebay if I have to

ff said at August 1, 2008 7:55 AM:

The switch from incandescent to CFL lights did not go well for me: The ceiling lamps would flicker and buzz often following during and for awhile after using the CFL's in them. It would even interfere with other appliances in the rooms: small TV's, and a microwave sometimes. I took em out and now use just incandescent's. The flickering and buzzing went away within another week; the buzzing was unlike the quiet humm from the the cfl and unapparant flicker within the bulb because it continued for awhile in the incandescent bulbs I replaced them with, as well as affecting the other appliances. It was just like a shortcircuit effect.

I Know Better said at December 6, 2008 12:23 AM:

I can't stand CFL lights my god it's either the spectrum or the flicker. It makes my eyes blink rapidly I can't use
LCD monitors either I've tried 3 different ones and keep using my 2001 Trinitron. Don't let the goverment fool you CFLs are shit
turn off your computer if you want to save energy

Evelynne said at March 29, 2009 11:32 AM:

Why not use the incandescent bulbs in winter and replace them with cooler CFL's in summer?? Why take away the heat we get (in colder climates) from the pleasant incandescent?

Andrew said at June 2, 2009 2:30 PM:

I've already stockpiled more than 200 incandescent light globes here in Australia, as our government falls further under the sway of the lies and distortions of the 'climate-change' crowd.

For me light is not just about illuminating a space.

It's about lighting it with mood and elegance.

Incandescent lighting ticks all the mood boxes, while I find flourescent lighting(including the CFL's)grotesque and nausea inducing.

It's lighting for people who don't get the beauty of light, and don't get, in general, that everything in life is not just about function.

CFL's will get no foothold in my house, all power to the incandescents and their evoking of electric candlelight.

Those of you who prefer the light of a morgue, well and good, but please show some respect and tolerance for the humble incandescent as well, and the filament fan.

Karen said at June 22, 2009 4:41 PM:

Andrew, this is very important, you have to help me stockpile some too... please pal. Please tell me the shops that still have stock. There is no fucking way those cunts in Canberra are gonna dictate what kind of light I read by, cook by, enjoy my house by. Fuck them. Did you know that the whole fucking exercise is only going to save the emissions of running the real bad coal powerplant in victoria for two days? Fuck them. I will not kowtow to fascists. I've got a few light globes, I'm buying them up wherever the fuck I can see em, I'm making a point of only buying the 100w ones. I am in my 20s... I swear to god, when I am in my 80s in Australia I will still be using my stockpiled incandescents. Fuck you all, you fascist pigs. I spit on your pathetic forced CFL rubbish. I'll be as fucking inefficient as I want, and I do it just to piss you off.

ANDREW, if you come back here, or anyone else who reads this and knows which australian stores still have stock, or if you own a store with stock, before november, I'll be happy to snap all your globes up. So reply to this message, I'll come back and check it weekly until november.

cool386 said at August 19, 2009 11:17 PM:

For Aussies wanting to stockpile, I've bought 800 bulbs from http://www.esidirect.com.au/category-s/89.htm in Melbourne. Very easy to order online & quick delivery. The bulbs are being sold in cartons of 100 for around $45. My last four cartons arrived only this week. They tell me they have tens of thousands left. The catch is they are Edison Screw base, so you need to make or buy adaptors to fit normal bayonet sockets. You can get ready made adaptors on the UK eBay. In any case, a lot of imported light fittings (particularly European)use ES base bulbs.
I started hoarding a couple of years ago so have a lifetime supply of BC & ES bulbs....I could see what the government was up to.
CFL's have their place, but not inside my house...I have never seen such a depressing and ugly kind of light source. It should be up to me to decide what kind of bulb is appropriate for my use. Incidentally, the Kiwis with their progressive laws have reversed the ban and continue to be free to choose.
The Australian import ban was effective February 2009, and the retail ban comes in November 2009. Some supermarkets are still selling off old stock cheap...go the independent smaller ones. Note also that fancy round and candle bulbs are still available up to 60W for another year.

Mike said at August 23, 2009 5:17 PM:

i have a real issue with the goverment shoving these ugly CFL light bulbs down our throats. I'm hearing rumors that Sylvania (i think i spelled it wrong) is working fast to actually improve on the incandecent bulbs b4 they phase out. the only good think i can say about the CFL bulbs is that yes, they do save energy. i understand that the governments job is to make certain laws to help us live a better life but this time they're taking this too far. just because they use CFL's to light up their homes and they like it, doesnt mean everyone likes it. Forget about just the flickering, even if CFL's dont flicker, the light is ugly. . . . . ENGINEER POET, you're argument about not needing extra heat in upstate new york in August from the old bulbs, in some cases you are right but in many cases you're wrong.... People living up north (especially in upstate new york) have very, very long harsh winters so every source of heat is important, even if its coming from incandecent bulbs. I'm only guessing that u have never been there in the dead of winter. If u have, u wouldnt make that comment.... As far as the US is concerned, not all states are gona totally ban the old bulbs. I live in the new york city area and the only thing they require is for all the buildings to use CFL bulbs. The only bulbs that will be banned unfortunaly are the 100Watt and 60Watt Bulbs. Theres no word about them banning the others at this time. Who ever is dead against using this new CFL crap, you write a letter to your government explaining to them about the deadly mercury they have. . . . Whoever said that these bulbs have no mecury is full of shit and have no idea what they're talking about. i've heard of many cases where ppl get sick cuz they accidently broke the bulbs (accidents do happen) and they breathed in the toxic. Doctors confirmed that they're sickness came from the mercury in these bulbs. I'm glad that many ppl have come forward to complain about these new bulbs. The more complaints we get, mayb the government will try to ease off on their power trip to force us to change these crappy ass bulbs.

Randall Parker said at August 23, 2009 5:32 PM:


E-P lives in Michigan. So he knows cold.

You are missing the point: electricity as a direct heat source is very expensive. Electricity used to power a ground sink heat pump is 3 to 5 times more efficient.

Hien said at September 29, 2009 8:33 PM:

Hi Guys there is an Australian website selling Lighting Online.
They sell Circular Fluorescent Tubes, Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs, Compact Fluorescent Plug-in Lamps,Fluorescent Starters, Fluorescent Tubes, Garden Lighting Halogen Globes, Light Bulbs.
Speak to TOM at esidirect.com.au and he will be able to source any of your lighting needs..

Andrew said at October 1, 2009 5:07 AM:

Andrew to Karen .. re incandescents in Australia.

I've been stockpiling incandescent bulbs from my local Perth Cole's store.

Every time we go shopping we just buy-up what we can.

Let's hope the talk of low energy incandescents eventually becomes more than just TALK.

I fear for the next generation of light users sitting around in all that deathly flickering blue light, or whatever it is.

Yes, the soft white CFL's are better, but still annoying because you know that what they're trying to evoke is not the real thing, but a still mildly nauseating imitation.

Climate Change Nazis DIE!......What's worse than right wing totalitarians? .. the left wing ones .. because of their toxic, smug self righteousness .. get a real religion and quit shoving it down my throat.

The AGW theory remains just that THEORY .. and bunkum at that!.

Andrew said at October 1, 2009 5:09 AM:

Andrew to Karen .. re incandescents in Australia.

I've been stockpiling incandescent bulbs from my local Perth Cole's store.

Every time we go shopping we just buy-up what we can.

Let's hope the talk of low energy incandescents eventually becomes more than just TALK.

I fear for the next generation of light users sitting around in all that deathly flickering blue light, or whatever it is.

Yes, the soft white CFL's are better, but still annoying because you know that what they're trying to evoke is not the real thing, but a still mildly nauseating imitation.

Climate Change Nazis DIE!......What's worse than right wing totalitarians? .. the left wing ones .. because of their toxic, smug self righteousness .. get a real religion and quit shoving it down my throat.

The AGW theory remains just that THEORY .. and bunkum at that!.

Ramogg said at December 19, 2009 8:54 PM:


By the end of 2007, I replaced all my incandescent bulb with CFL's to help the planet. My wife complain several times because the ugly light and how she fills nausea but the electric bill compensates all.

We experience every year health problems with my kids (like cold, influenza, etc). However, this year was excessive, over 6 events during year compare with 2 events in 2008.

A few weeks ago we discover a lot of mildew in all closets on each room, we never had this problem in the past. Looking in the thermometer I detect that Temperatures variates from 12-35°C and Humidity from 30-88% and most of the time is around 65-70% inside the house, just in 2009.

I evaluate to use a dehumidifier and it cost around 250 usd and consume around 350-500 Watts, this is not an option is too expensive.

If I evaluate the cost to save the planet, do we really save the planet buying more complex technology for lighting or heating?, I know that all electronics are produce with toxic components and chemicals. Are the CFL's cheaper than Incandescent bulbs in the overall bill of the house? Are CFL's safe for human use? The elimination of a simple technology as incandescent bulbs will really reduce the global warming?

I have no data from 2007 but I will make an experiment and replace again all CFL's with incandescent bulbs. My thinking now is the following. Incandescent light produces heat also, heat dries the ambient and maintain humidity around 50-60% which does not cause mildew issues. This obviously will reduce the Dr's, clothes and the house reparation bills that are comparable more expensive than electricity and my wife finally will obtain a nice light. By the way, she is suffering some headaches since one year I do not know if is related to this.

Do you have similar issues?

Cris said at March 17, 2010 1:25 AM:

All these comments proclaiming how awesome CFL's are! Horse shit!

I run a recording studio and they ALL (LED's, CFLs and all the other new tech) produce a large amount of RF interference. In a recording environmnet, RF silence is a must to keep the noise level down in the very sensitive recording electronics. I am in Australia, and all incandescent globes are now banned. There goes the quiet recordings. It's a choice of accept the bzzzzzzzz noise on each and every track, or play in the dark.

I am not against CFLs. I am against CFL fascism. Make incentives, help people choose CFLs. But don't ban them outright and make them illegal. Its rubbish.

Judy said at May 12, 2010 9:41 PM:

We had to put fluorescent recessed lights in my kitchen, in the closets, and on our outside patio to get approval for our new house. Can I now replace some or all of the bulbs with regular incandescent bulbs or is the fixture itself going to need to be changed?

JK said at June 13, 2010 5:19 PM:

Too many nasty, self-righteous comments.

The simple fact of the matter is, CFL's generally produce a horrid, unnatural light. Yes, I've TRIED them, and I continue to try them when I hear about a new one comes out capable of producing an "amazing quality" of natural light. I've tried quite a lot. And the claims that they are just fine is pure bunk. They simply aren't.

It should be mentioned as well that CFL's are linked to aggravating or triggering migraines, episodes of epilepsy, depression, and even lupus, among other conditions--IN ADDITION to the gradual buildup of toxic mercury in landfills around the world occurring as a result of their widespread mandates.

I'm all for energy effeciency. But for God's sake DEVELOP SOMETHING TO REPLACE IT WITH FIRST. I would be HAPPY to change over if there was an acceptable alternative, and yes, I'd be willing to pay for it.

And to the crotchety clown who mentioned that "they have never flickered". The flicker isn't necessarily NOTICABLE: It's not going to be like a strobe light. The FREQUENCY however is not something seen in nature, and this is what's responsible for the above mentioned health issues. If you actually had an epileptic in your family, maybe YOU wouldn't be so smug and sanctimonious about this kind of thing either.

What do I suggest? Tax the hell out of incandescents--give the money to dedicated RESEARCH to make something BETTER. Light is a very primal thing. The light of the "hearth" is something primally imbedded in humans as something comforting, and actually necessary for physical health and a stability of stress levels. We literally, physiologically NEED "good lighting" for our emotional and physical well being. Those who diminish this are really ignorant of what they're actually talking about.

If you're really so politically concerned about this issue you shoudn't be attacking people who have problems with this kind of lighting--rather you should be using your energy to COMMUNICATE these bulbs inadequacy: That is the ONLY way to force the development of serious, good alternatives. When you accept the bad, you impose no pressure whatsoever, and simple are responsible for saddling other people with an inferior product that actually hurts them, and you too.

Mom_of_4legged_kids said at January 11, 2011 7:42 AM:

The CFLs I've been around give off a light that I can only describe as "baby poop" color. I get optical migraines from bright light. I have to "defend" my eyes against much of the harsh lighting becoming popular nowadays. This includes those HID (High Intensity Discharge - I call them "HIDeous Headlights") on cars. It also includes LEDs that are unexpected flashing in my eyes, causing a "ghost" spot that can fragment into little triangles - a migraine aura in the making. At night, if one of these cars approaches me, I have to shield my eyes. This is not conducive to safe driving, really. If it comes to the point that most cars on the road and perhaps the streetlamps lighting the road itself are LED, I may have to give up driving at night. And in my home, I'd probably go back to candlelight before I'll have baby-poop CFLs. If I can find a full-spectrum one that works, I guess I'd do that. It's going to be a pain in the patootie to have to recycle them, but oh well. Sorry if the rant ruffles any feathers. It's how I feel. I have to do more research on this, and I appreciate some of the things that have been said by those who are ahead of me. Peace.

Mike Martin said at January 20, 2011 2:30 PM:

I have just purchased a shite load of incandescent bulbs that I plan
to black market just as soon as they have been banned. I will be
selling them on e-bay for about double the regular cost. The
government and Al Gore cronies are not the only ones who can profit
polar ice caps are melting but has anyone noticed any changes at the
beach? The ocean level was still at sea level the last time I
checked.Help!!! "The planet is melting". OH NO--- WAIT "IT JUST
we could get a little global warming it's cold as hell down here this
winter and no we didn't land a man on the moon. If you still believe
that government BS you have your head so far up your ___ you will
probably just go out and buy what the government tell you is good for
you and the environment.

Sid King said at February 18, 2011 7:13 AM:

I have some experience with CCFL and LED lamps. (I even designed a DC electronic fluorescent ballast for a client 20 years ago.) It is true that in the past fluorescent lights were much worse sources of light than they are today. Most of the newer CCFL lamps have a few noble gasses injected to achieve a "warmer" light.

All of that being said, there are places where CCFL's can be used but there are places they just don't make any sense. They are tough to use any place that is cold. They won't work with standard dimmers. (I have several dimmer circuits in my house.) They provide poor directional lighting. They seem to have a worse life expectancy than incandescent bulbs. (I am seeing 1-2 years.)

LED light output is still inferior to most incandescent sources. (Unsuccessfully tried to replace some small halogen spots with LED lighting.) Cost is still a huge drawback. I am anxious to see improvements here since many of the negative aspects of CCFL's are eliminated.

I am on-board with consuming less energy and we should use these energy conserving lights, but only where it makes sense. I would also like to see CCFL life approach even close to the 5 year promise. (I would be happy with three years.)

Long live Thomas Edison's incandescent!

S. King

Post a comment
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
Remember info?

Go Read More Posts On FuturePundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright ©