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Incandescent Bulbs Return To the Cutting Edge

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the abstract-standards-mean-more-flexibility dept.

Power 569

lee1 writes "A law in the US that is due to take effect in 2012 mandates such tough efficiency standards for lightbulbs that it has been assumed, until recently, that it would kill off the incandescent bulb. Instead, the law has become a case study of the way government regulation can inspire technical innovation. For example, new incandescent technology from Philips that seals the traditional filament inside a small capsule (which itself is contained within the familiar bulb). The capsule has a coating that reflects heat back to the filament, where it is partially converted to light. The sophisticated ($5.00) bulbs are about 30% more efficient than the old-fashioned ($0.25) kind, and should last about three times as long. So they are less economical than compact fluorescents, but should emit a more pleasing spectrum, not contain mercury, and, one supposes, present the utility company with a more desirable power factor."

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569 comments

lasers? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605291)

There was an article a month or so ago about how this guy used lasers to (I'm guessing) increase the surface area on the filament, thus increasing efficiency by something like 40%.

http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3385 [rochester.edu]

Maybe both can be used for a super-lightbulb?

-xed

Re:lasers? (2, Interesting)

kad77 (805601) | about 5 years ago | (#28605417)

Exactly what I clicked on comments to post...

Wouldn't they be motivated to reach a cross-licensing agreement on the patents?

It would seem there would be mutual interest, but maybe I'm missing something?

Re:lasers? (2, Interesting)

jank1887 (815982) | about 5 years ago | (#28605661)

"maybe I'm missing something"

like cost of production. I'm sure people are looking into the manufacturing process. once (if) it becomes economically competitive you'll see it in marketable products. not before.

Re:lasers? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605511)

This is ridiculous. I've been using Philips HalogenA bulbs for about 15years already, how the fuck is this EVEN SLIGHTLY news? They have an excellent spectrum, are pricey and last about three times as long a a cheap incandescant. The NYT story is pure marketing to the ignorant, but HalogenA is an excellent product that deserves a wider audience.

Re:lasers? (4, Insightful)

mftb (1522365) | about 5 years ago | (#28605725)

And what exactly is wrong with variety in the market (and bulbs for which you don't have to wait five minutes to reach full brightness)?

Re:lasers? (0, Troll)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 5 years ago | (#28605781)

I'm wondering what the hell the federal government is doing mandating what kinds of light bulbs we can buy and use?!?!

What's next...federal mandates on underwear design?

Re:lasers? (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#28605817)

[Context: There have been some improvements in the efficiency of incandescent lighting, but it might not be enough to make them escape proposed federal bans.]

I'm wondering what the hell the federal government is doing mandating what kinds of light bulbs we can buy and use?!?!

In order for me to answer that question in a way that you would most easily understand, I'd like you to answer the following question first: who pays to clean up the pollution caused by the power plants that generate electric power for the bulbs?

Re:lasers? (4, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | about 5 years ago | (#28605869)

who pays to clean up the pollution caused by the power plants that generate electric power for the bulbs?

It should be charged back to the power plants in question, and therefore be built into the cost of the electricity.

We're a lot further along that than we used to be 40 years ago, the plants capture a lot of the pollution rather than emitting it*. We're still not all the way.

As for the efficiency, I think that a 30% improvement is just enough to keep them available under the proposed bans, like what California proposed.

Can't find a link, but I remember the law requiring bulbs to be something like 30% more efficient, they weren't banning incandescents by name.

Of course, I also saw on a couple of the sites I checked that there was a proposal against CRT TVs. My old 32" CRT TV(Energy Star rated for it's time) takes less energy, as measured by a meter, both as a unit and per square inch of visible screen, than my new 42" LCD TV(also Energy Star).

*And make a bit of change selling the valuable commodities that would be pollution if just released

not just that (2, Interesting)

MasaMuneCyrus (779918) | about 5 years ago | (#28605913)

The article claims that it would be cheaper, and brighter than a compact-fluorescent, and the manufacturing process is simple. Additionally, the nature of the way they're increasing the light output allows for selective modification of certain areas of the spectrum; increasing certain parts of the spectrum and decrease other parts would make for a cleaner, notably whiter light.

only 30% more efficient? (2, Insightful)

crazybit (918023) | about 5 years ago | (#28605299)

and compact fluorescents are still more economical? why should we change then?

just because of a more pleasing spectrum? The "mercury" issue should be easily solved by disposing the bulbs in the correct way (i.e. recycle).

Re:only 30% more efficient? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605313)

The "mercury" issue should be easily solved by disposing the bulbs in the correct way

easily...with a majority of dumb people disposing trash in the very street whenever they can ?

haha....you are so naive it is not even funny.

Re:only 30% more efficient? (0)

crazybit (918023) | about 5 years ago | (#28605469)

Naive or not, it's an EASY solution, it's not like disposing nuclear waste.

Disposing trash in the correct way is a priority that all governments will need to promote & enforce in a few years. Initiative should be starting from the nerd crowd.

Re:only 30% more efficient? (0)

vlm (69642) | about 5 years ago | (#28605871)

Naive or not, it's an EASY solution, it's not like disposing nuclear waste.

Yes, exactly. Nuclear waste decays away over time, eventually becoming harmless. So, just dump it in the ocean and wait, it'll be OK, eventually.

On the other hand, mercury is toxic forever. It never, ever, becomes safe, no matter how long you wait. When the glass breaks it'll poison you just as well in a million years as it does today.

I agree, the solution is simple, treat it as more dangerous than nuclear waste.

Re:only 30% more efficient? (3, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | about 5 years ago | (#28605531)

I agree on your cynicism towards people disposing trash properly. However I do think that governments aren't making it easy enough for people to have no excuses. Don't get me wrong though, I'm not saying it's a complicated equation, but in order for this to work it should be "as easy" to dispose of your light bulbs properly as it is with regular waste. In some places this is true, but that's far, far from all.

Re:only 30% more efficient? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605353)

Uh.. you can't just stick the bulb in the recycle bin. You have to dispose of it in the proper recycle bin. (and live in a community that has a proper recycle bin for mercury containing bulbs. Mine has a "special dispensation" for CFLs, so if I want my bulbs recycled I have to go out of my way to make sure it happens. Way out of my way. either a 30 minute drive to home depot which I think might work, or an hour and a half drive to the recycle company. by appointment. on specific days only.)

Re:only 30% more efficient? (2, Interesting)

eoinmadden (769606) | about 5 years ago | (#28605497)

Where I live, in the EU, there will be soon a law mandating stores that sell bulbs to take them back for recycling.

Re:only 30% more efficient? (2, Interesting)

umghhh (965931) | about 5 years ago | (#28605597)

Relaying on public to dispose it properly even if the public generally cares is not going to solve the issue. In Germany we have schemes that pay for empty bottles returned to the shop and I still manage to get flat tyre on my back fairly frequently due to all the glass splitter and that even though there are people that actually collect the bottles to get some cents for their own beer. Considering the fact that disposing toxic trash is a big business here which cought attention of organized criminals long time ago the only thing that such caring public is going to achieve is that the mercury (and other stuff) lands in Africa (off coast of Somalia was a good place till recently) and this does not even account for damage that is done to environment in countries where the bulbs are produced - you ever wondered why they can be so cheap when produced in China for instance? It is not only labour but environmental regulation or lack thereof. I am afraid the only way to get rid of the toxic waste problem is not having producing it at all. If all different sorts of bulbs are more or less equal with regards to energy consumption then I see no reason to use ones with mercury. If new bulbs are as simple in use as the old ones then there is no way in mass production they are going to be more expensive than the fluorescent ones, me thinks.

Re:only 30% more efficient? (1)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | about 5 years ago | (#28605701)

There's already a crapton of mercury in the environment. So much in fact, that it's becoming dangerous to eat too much fish. They absorb it, it never leaves their system, and then you eat them.

NOW, we have idiots mandating that CFLs be used by everyone. And as Umghhh brings up, the general public does NOT give a shit about the environment. Three anecdotes from my own life.

1) I used to work at a gas station. We were instructed to throw out the Fluorescent Tubes.
2) As long as I can remember, my mother has thrown batteries into the garbage. Once I confronted her about it, and she just simply didn't believe that pollution was a problem. In her simple mind, the world simply "works" and will continue to work as long as she believes in America.
3) I worked at a small business of 7 people. The owners were political nuts. They were always saying how it was everyone else's fault about everything. One time, I asked what to do with the spent Fluorescents. They told me to toss them, I refused. I eventually had to take care of them myself. Later, I was fired. I'm pretty sure it's because I told them I voted for all independents on election day. They viewed it as my "betrayal" despite all their "enlightened ravings" and viewed me as the embodiment of all the traitors that allowed Obama to be elected. I kinda wish I talked to a lawyer about that situation...

Re:only 30% more efficient? (2, Interesting)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 5 years ago | (#28605763)

There's already a crapton of mercury in the environment. So much in fact, that it's becoming dangerous to eat too much fish. They absorb it, it never leaves their system, and then you eat them.

The question is: Do you spew more craptons of mercury into the environment by using incandescent lamps (since you need more power and hence need to burn more mercury-containing coal), or by using CFLs?

Re:only 30% more efficient? (2, Insightful)

Swizec (978239) | about 5 years ago | (#28605359)

The displeasing spectrum IS, after all, what prevents most people from buying fluorescent lights. Also, the whole fact that they DON'T FIT in many ceiling lights because they are bloody too long and weird.

Re:only 30% more efficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605695)

You don't get the ones shaped as normal bulbs in the US?

The main issues for me is the warm-up time and the problem with finding really strong (bright) lights. I still use fluorescent for everything.

Re:only 30% more efficient? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605413)

The "mercury" issue should be easily solved by disposing the bulbs in the correct way

Breakage - accidents happen in the home, office and ...... car(?) OK forget the car for now. the is the list of steps to safely dispose of broken CFL coils (bulbs) -

      Before Clean-up: Ventilate the Room

      1. Have people and pets leave the room, and don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
      2. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
      3. Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.

            Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces

      4. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
      5. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
      6. Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the glass jar or plastic bag.
      7. Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

            Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug

      8. Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
      9. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
    10. If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
    11. Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.

            Disposal of Clean-up Materials

    12. Immediately place all cleanup materials outside the building in a trash container or outdoor protected area for the next normal trash.
    13. Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.
    14. Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.

            Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Ventilate the Room During and After Vacuuming

    15. The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window prior to vacuuming.
    16. Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

a great way to spend the afternoon, huh?

Re:only 30% more efficient? (0)

Firethorn (177587) | about 5 years ago | (#28605907)

a great way to spend the afternoon, huh?

The problem with these instructions is from officials being paranoid. Look at the instructions for a mercury thermometer break just below, it's a lot less paranoid for something like 10,000x the mercury.

http://www.epa.gov/hg/spills/ [epa.gov]

Re:only 30% more efficient? (0)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 5 years ago | (#28605957)

http://www.epa.gov/hg/spills/

Huh, 2 tablespoons of Mercury weigh a pound? What planet are these guys living on? They're off by a factor of _ten_ (22 tablespoons of Mercury weigh about a pount, assuming 15 ml per Tsp).

Re: Safety gone OTT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605935)

But does anyone really follow these guidelines in reality? I've broken a couple of CFL bulbs in the paste and certainly not bothered going to this extent. Just picked up the big bits, wrapped them in news paper, shoved in bin. Then hoovered up the rest and picked out another bulb. Does the amount of mercury in CFL really warrant such drastic cleaning procedures? I've certainly not seen any mention of precautions like this on the boxes of them. In fact I think I've only ever read such about procedures here...

Re:only 30% more efficient? (1)

worip (1463581) | about 5 years ago | (#28605465)

The warm up time of CFLs is probably the biggest issue for me (I know there are CFLs that claim to have short warm up times). This is most annoying at dusk, when you keep looking up at the light to check if it is actually on! Not a reason not to have CFLs, but still annoying.

Re:only 30% more efficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605581)

Sounds like crap CFLs to be honest. Mine reach ~75% brightness in less than 2 seconds, and are at full brightness after 10. I did not buy expensive bulbs, in fact I've not experienced any that were worse than this.

Re:only 30% more efficient? (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | about 5 years ago | (#28605903)

He might be using them in a cold room/outside. Mine are about the same level as yours, but when my heat broke they turned to crap. There are some specialized ones for cold environs though.

As far at the article goes... 30% better is still a lot less efficient than CFLs (which are 60-80% better than traditional bulbs), and 3 times as long is not nearly as long as a CFL (I bought all of mine 2 years ago and haven't replaced a single one).

I do wonder what the cost to the utility company (and thus the nation as a whole if not me personally) of the PFC on CFLs is though. Am i really using 5% more power, 100% more? How much more inefficient can fancier incandescents be before the PFC issue becomes a deciding factor from an energy standpoint?

Re:only 30% more efficient? (2, Insightful)

that IT girl (864406) | about 5 years ago | (#28605955)

Not just more pleasing, but more healthy too... My eyes get tired a lot more easily under fluorescents, just as an example. A lot of people get migraines, etc. I'm not saying fluorescents aren't good for some uses, but taking away all other choices is not right either.

Dimmer Savior! (5, Insightful)

MukiMuki (692124) | about 5 years ago | (#28605307)

The moment I find these in stores I am IMMEDIATELY buying a few and replacing every bulb attached to a dimmer switch in my house. Ask anyone with a light dimmer who switched to CFL's, and this'll immediately be their biggest caveat with the tech.

Re:Dimmer Savior! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605349)

Dimmer switches! Dimmer switches everywhere!

Re:Dimmer Savior! (0)

commlinx (1068272) | about 5 years ago | (#28605405)

Ask anyone with a light dimmer who switched to CFL's, and this'll immediately be their biggest caveat with the tech.

Not trolling here but are dimmers really that useful?

I've been buying CFLs for a while (Australia has moves to phase out incadescent bulbs soon) but in my lounge for example just have the main overhead light and when I want to set the mood or sit back at relax turn it off and use a smaller lamp with a lower wattage. Also has the bonus it can be physically located in a spot where it doesn't cause glare.

Re:Dimmer Savior! (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 5 years ago | (#28605571)

If you already have them, it might be inconvenient to have them all replaced.

Re:Dimmer Savior! (3, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | about 5 years ago | (#28605411)

The moment I find these in stores I am IMMEDIATELY buying a few and replacing every bulb attached to a dimmer switch in my house. Ask anyone with a light dimmer who switched to CFL's, and this'll immediately be their biggest caveat with the tech.

The 'dimmer' cfls actually work pretty well, and the ones I have, have a better color temperature when dimmed than when full-on. Dimmed incandescents do very poorly when dimmed, shifting a lot of the energy into infra-red that you just can't see. Sure, you could save 25% of the power by getting 50% of the usable light*, but is that really efficiency?

*actually, I suspect it might be worse than that. That's just my first guess without doing any calculus.

Re:Dimmer Savior! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605547)

HalogenA bulbs have been available for about 20 years...

Can I use my universal remote? (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | about 5 years ago | (#28605819)

It wouldnt take much effort for CFL lights to have IR detectors and be able to see remotes setting volume up/down.

But im sure that $0.20 cost feature will end up being blown up to $10 margins so then no one will buy it.

Re:Can I use my universal remote? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 5 years ago | (#28605833)

It wouldnt take much effort for CFL lights to have IR detectors and be able to see remotes setting volume up/down.

Great. A light bulb that draws a watt of power (or more) even when it's off! The utility companies are going to love it.

Canada eh! (5, Insightful)

aoteoroa (596031) | about 5 years ago | (#28605309)

I live in Edmonton Alberta, Canada where 8 months of winter is fairly common. Here our old incandescent bulbs have 100% efficiency because the heat generated does not go to waste :-)

Re:Canada eh! (1)

MukiMuki (692124) | about 5 years ago | (#28605325)

But you guys also have the biggest allotment of cheap natural gas(to the point where some folks use it in their cars), meaning any process which converts electricity to heat is inherently financially inefficient over there. ;)

Re:Canada eh! (4, Informative)

aoteoroa (596031) | about 5 years ago | (#28605471)

Well partially true... Alberta has some vast reserves of oil and natural gas, but just like oil it is sold at international market rates. They don't sell it any cheaper to albertans just because its extracted here.

Re:Canada eh! (1)

Ndymium (1282596) | about 5 years ago | (#28605329)

This is the reason why I have a hard time believing that CFLs would impact energy usage that much in the colder regions, e.g. here in Finland. What goes to "waste" in the form of heat should in turn make for a smaller heating bill - or am I missing something?

Re:Canada eh! (1)

Jared555 (874152) | about 5 years ago | (#28605355)

Any time you are in a climate that uses air conditioning part time that benefit during the winter is negated by the extra cost of cooling in the summer. Unless of course you switch between CFL/incandescent when seasons change

Re:Canada eh! (1)

Ndymium (1282596) | about 5 years ago | (#28605389)

True, but I don't know of a house that would have air conditioning here - at least not mine or my parents'. We don't really get that warm in the summer and opening the windows is usually all we need to keep the house cool.

Re:Canada eh! (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#28605835)

opening the windows is usually all we need to keep the house cool.

Which means your incandescent bulbs are wasting power heating the outside.

Re:Canada eh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605357)

I have a hard time believing you're heating your house with incandescent light bulbs in Finland.

Re:Canada eh! (2, Informative)

gmack (197796) | about 5 years ago | (#28605463)

Your missing the part where heat rises. Unless you are pointing a fan at your light bulbs you are only warming a small section of your ceiling.

Re:Canada eh! (2, Interesting)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | about 5 years ago | (#28605499)

You're essentially correct in terms of convected heat, but it is important to note that human skin is extremely absorbant to infrared radiation. A hot incandescent bulb shining down on you can make you feel warmer than the air temperature in the room would suggest.

Re:Canada eh! (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 5 years ago | (#28605693)

You're missing an apostrophe! :) You get it right later, so no excuse but laziness!

Regarding your point, any contribution to heat in an enclosed space will be worthwhile. The cool air around the bulb would need to be heated anyway, so the incandecense of the bulb assists by not requiring the conventional heating system to have to heat the air in close proximity to the bulb.

You're right that heat does rise, but infra-red radiation travels in straight lines and will heat air for a good distance from the bulb. Not by much, though.

I do know, however, that my gaming PC takes roughly 30 minutes to heat a room 6' x 8' by around 4 degrees celcius. I'd equate the power draw under load to around 0.5kW, though I've not measured.

Re:Canada eh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605813)

Underfloor heating for the next floor up!

Re:Canada eh! (1)

eoinmadden (769606) | about 5 years ago | (#28605467)

That is why people always say, "It is cold in here: turn on the lights!" Except they don't. Because the bulbs only heat the ceiling above them. Let's face it, bulbs are not an efficient form of heating.

Re:Canada eh! (1)

Lakitu (136170) | about 5 years ago | (#28605551)

uhhhh, I do. Well, not really, but if I leave either of the lamps on in my bedroom for a period of time, it makes the room noticeably warmer. Which is what makes me choose to do or not do it sometimes.

why is everybody saying this? I guess the radiators along the floor on certain walls only heat the wall and ceiling above them. Except not, they heat my entire room.

Re:Canada eh! (1)

lyml (1200795) | about 5 years ago | (#28605495)

Lightbulbs are quite innefficient at heating a house, warmth rises. Think about it this way, how many heaters have you seen affixed to the roof, even though that would be an area where they wouldn't be in the way?

It also assumes that you are using electricity to heat your house, quite wasteful to begin with.

Re:Canada eh! (1)

corsec67 (627446) | about 5 years ago | (#28605569)

My apartment, for one.

The only heater is on the wall just below the ceiling. Other stores have the AC in the ceiling, so that is which is also the heater. Many of the ACs here have a reverse cycle that heats the room.

I am in Japan, and they are very behind in that kind of stuff. Single pane windows, limited insulation and poor sealing make cooling/heating more expensive than it should be.

Re:Canada eh! (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | about 5 years ago | (#28605839)

Those origami walls just dont cut it when its cold, but also arent much match to nuclear blasts either.

Re:Canada eh! (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | about 5 years ago | (#28605333)

Or people who have pets, but don't want to buy one of those expensive heatlamp bulbs or whatever.

Wrong. (5, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | about 5 years ago | (#28605429)

You would find less overall electricity usage by switching to CFL and using the difference in power to run a heat pump. Worst case scenario, the ground doesn't have any heat to give you and your pump defaults to standard resistance heating, which is where you are now. All other scenarios are improvements on that.

Unless, of course, you're not currently using electric resistance heating as your main heat supply. In which case, by answering the question, "why not," you will also know why you're not saving anything by relying on your lamps as auxiliary heat.

Re:Wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605491)

I think the government should ban inefficiency, and stupidity.

And slashdot. Think of all the wasted energy posting this crap!

Re:Wrong. (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 5 years ago | (#28605645)

It looks to me instead like the energy efficiency advantage for compact fluorescent bulbs is smaller. Recall that the incandescent bulb is much cheaper than its rivals at the moment. So if the energy efficiency of the rivals isn't significant enough, the incandescent can be the better choice. So yes, even though the original poster wasn't entirely right, the incandescent bulb has greater viability in a region which normally is very cold.

Re:Canada eh! (1)

gmack (197796) | about 5 years ago | (#28605457)

Funny but not really true. You are only warming the ceiling. Much better to save the power and use it on something designed to spread the heat around the room.

 

Re:Canada eh! (1)

GargamelSpaceman (992546) | about 5 years ago | (#28605541)

You know, I think the total heat energy in a room matters more than where it is applied. The heat, whereever it is will get dispersed largely everywhere. Insulation keeps it indoors. Also, much of the heat is infrared which is radiant heat that gets absorbed by whatever it strikes which is the floor. The ceilings are white ( not sure how reflective of IR). But whether the heat is absorbed ( and re-radiated ) or reflected is unimportant. It gets dispersed and redispersed as long as it remains inside the house. Hot air around the ceiling means the ceiling is not a heat sink.

Re:Canada eh! (1)

Fzz (153115) | about 5 years ago | (#28605587)

OK, but where does that heat go from the ceiling your incandescent lightbulbs warmed? Some of it radiates back to the rest of the room, and some warms the room upstairs. The heat is only wasted if it is on the top floor and the loft is poorly insulated. And then not all light bulbs are ceiling mounted - we've plenty of table or standard lamps too.

There's a much better reason why you don't want to use lightbulbs to generate heat, which is that resistive heating makes very little sense. Either use gas, where you get a good efficiency by burning it at the point you want heat, or even better, use a heat pump. Even an air-source heat pump can have an efficiency rating of around 250-300%, meaning you get three times the heat out that you would with resistive heating. Ground-source pumps can have efficiencies of close to 400%, but they're not usually suitable for cities. With those kind of efficiency ratings, it is actually more efficient to burn gas in a gas-fired power station to generate electricity to power the heat pump than it is to burn the gas for heat at home.

Re:Canada eh! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 years ago | (#28605847)

No matter what you do, electricity is maybe the worst kind of energy to do ... well, almost anything. Its main advantage is that it is a very easily portable and storable form of energy and that it is maybe the most versatile one. All other sources of energy still need direction, electricity brings that along, making its use fairly easy and often doesn't require transformation. But from an economic point of view, it's about the worst choice you could make.

Electricity can't be mined or drilled. It has to be produced. From other sources of energy. So whatever efficiency you get from your electric gadget, you have to take into account the efficiency of that electricity production as well. So yes, your electric engine has an efficiency of 95% and only 5% waste. But that electricity was generated from a plant with 60% heat waste.

In other words, electricity is about the worst thing to use just to generate heat.

Re:Canada eh! (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 5 years ago | (#28605885)

Its main advantage is that it is a very easily portable and storable form of energy

I'd like you to carry a two dozen kilowatt-hours of electric energy down the stairs and store them for a year, and I'll do the same with two dozen kilowatt-hours of, say, energy stored in chemical form. Can you guess who just picked the easier job?

Electric energy is fairly easy to distribute (however, chemical energy comes close), and is extremely versatile. It sucks at basically everything else (storage density/decay, efficiency, etc).

Re:Canada eh! (1)

lazy_playboy (236084) | about 5 years ago | (#28605861)

I think gas is the most economic way of heating a house, however.

Mercury-free incandescents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605319)

I guess that would make them safer to eat.

30% efficiency gain is even easier: (3, Informative)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 5 years ago | (#28605345)

Stick a halogen light bulb inside an incandescent light bulb. That's what they sell around here to replace incandescent bulbs once they're no longer sold. Nice spectrum, no warm-up time, longer lifetime than the incandescent bulb it replaces, 30% less energy used compared to the incandescent.

Re:30% efficiency gain is even easier: (1)

corsec67 (627446) | about 5 years ago | (#28605445)

Halogen light bulbs are a kind of incandescent bulb.

Re:30% efficiency gain is even easier: (1)

eoinmadden (769606) | about 5 years ago | (#28605481)

Isn't that what the story in the link is mainly about?

Re:30% efficiency gain is even easier: (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 5 years ago | (#28605639)

Isn't that what the story in the link is mainly about?

Now that you mention it, yes. Why a product that's been on the market for years now is considered _news_ is beyond me, though. Or is it just that the US is lagging so far behind in lighting technology that is actually is _news_ over there?

Re:30% efficiency gain is even easier: (1)

GargamelSpaceman (992546) | about 5 years ago | (#28605555)

Maybe now is the time to stock up on incandescent bulbs and then sell them on the black market later for a tidy profit...

Re:30% efficiency gain is even easier: (1)

will_die (586523) | about 5 years ago | (#28605789)

Get the smaller sizes because people are going to wise up and not want the new bulb in thier ovens and fridges.

Re:30% efficiency gain is even easier: (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 years ago | (#28605857)

Way ahead of you, way ahead...

There are many appliances where you simply can't replace old fashion bulbs with halogen or others. Either there is not enough room for the (usually larger) halogen bulbs, the socket can't supply enough power, or a lot of other reasons why people would prefer old fashion bulbs.

The EU is pushing to phase out the bulbs, too. Actually a law has been passed afaik. And I'm stocking up.

Government Regulation (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | about 5 years ago | (#28605369)

I hope anti-government deregulation fanatics read articles like this to understand the benefits of proper government regulation. Unfortunately, I suspect they'll find a way to misinterpret it, as all party zealots do.

Re:Government Regulation (1)

Ironsides (739422) | about 5 years ago | (#28605515)

I hope anti-government deregulation fanatics read articles like this to understand the benefits of proper government regulation. Unfortunately, I suspect they'll find a way to misinterpret it, as all party zealots do.

You mean like, oh, the research was already under way prior to the regulations being passed? Nah, couldn't be that, given that GE announced two years ago [slashdot.org] .

Re:Government Regulation (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 5 years ago | (#28605603)

I think your concern should be more that pro-government regulation fanatics will read this and think it's an example of proper government regulation. From the "anti-government deregulation fanatic" point of view, the main problem with regulating light bulbs is why should government have anything to do with it. Replacing a $0.25 bulb with a $5 bulb is not a good use of government power. People can do that on their own, if it suits them.

Nor is there a need to reduce electricity consumption. If demand drives up the price of electricity (which it does in relatively deregulated markets), the solution is merely a matter of building more power plants. If it turns out that some forms of power production have unpleasant externalities (ie, impose costs or harm on nonconsenting parties), then a pollution emission market would account for those side effects, effectively billing the problem at the source of the problem rather than trying to change consumer behavior in order to indirectly meet dubious moral goals.

Re:Government Regulation (5, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 5 years ago | (#28605757)

Replacing a $0.25 bulb with a $5 bulb is not a good use of government power. People can do that on their own, if it suits them.

no they can't - no-one in their right mind would buy a roughly equivalent 25c bulb for $5, and as a result, the manufacturers would not even bother trying to make and sell them. Net result: 25c bulbs are the only option.

Sometimes you need some external stimulus to provoke a change in a stable environment, like sticking your finger in still water.

Similarly, saying "the market will provide more power stations", well yes it will - eventually, in the meantime while the market is getting to the point where more power is required, you're suffering brownouts. Besides, it is often in the market's interest to let you suffer like that as they you will pay more.

Sometimes you need more forward planning and organisation than market forces allow.

These 2 factors are why we need and have governments, if only life was as simple as you think, we'd be living in a utopia.

flouro bulbs don't last (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605403)

flouro bulbs always break a lot quicker than conventional bulbs. I have found this in at least the last 6 houses I have lived in, so it's no good blaming it on the electrics as some had been newly rewired etc. How does this impact the 'energy savings'? I bet that it more than undoes the good done by using them! Never mind the cost!

Re:flouro bulbs don't last (2)

FTWinston (1332785) | about 5 years ago | (#28605583)

You're doing it wrong!

Ceiling mounted illuminated heaters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605409)

If you live somewhere cold, the heat output is useful.

New invention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605449)

It is called a halogen light bulb. Nothing new, they just put halogen light bulbs inside a regular light bulb. Some innovation my ass.

cost over life (1)

jacquesm (154384) | about 5 years ago | (#28605459)

As long as the new bulbs cost more than the old ones + their total consumption in electricity over their lifespan this is a net loss.

other ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605483)

We can take the energy savings much further. We only need light where we look, so some advanced eye-tracking/prediction system can help here. Also think about the savings on highways (only need light where there are cars). We might even use some kind of advanced night-vision goggles/contact lenses, and get rid of the lighting problem altogether :-)

I'm sorry but... (4, Interesting)

cats2ndlife (995125) | about 5 years ago | (#28605579)

I'm sorry but this so called new technology is a farce. 30% improvement in efficiency over 5% efficiency is still just 8% overall. At $5 apiece, which is way more then a CFL, which goes around $2.5 to $3.3 apiece, and it's 75% efficiency, I'm going for CFL.

Re:I'm sorry but... (4, Informative)

Chatterton (228704) | about 5 years ago | (#28605881)

hum, hum...

Incandescent: 2.0-2.2% efficiency
Halogen: 2.4-2.9% efficiency
Compact fluorescent: 8â"11% efficiency

We are far from your 5% and 75% efficiency...But your point is valid but not so staggering...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminous_efficacy#Examples_2 [wikipedia.org]

Re:I'm sorry but... (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | about 5 years ago | (#28605895)

No thanks, too. Since today's CFLs have far less of the bluish-white color temperature of early CFLs, I can use them to replace incandescent light bulbs with no problems.

Besides, with LED bulb technology rapidly maturing, at US$5 per bulb for this "improved" incandescent bulb I might as well spend just a little more and get an LED bulb that uses way less power than even CFLs for the same light output.

Why? (3, Interesting)

kramulous (977841) | about 5 years ago | (#28605625)

Gotta tell ya, I replaced all the lights in my house with the newer fluorescent bulbs, both white and warm, over a year ago and I can now no longer stand the light output of the incandescent bulbs; it seems too harsh. Go figure. I guess humans just adapt.

The white light works very well in rooms like the bathroom, toilet, shed and kitchen. The warmer lights almost everywhere else. People really need to stop throwing tantrums.

LED Lamps (2, Informative)

Tuqui (96668) | about 5 years ago | (#28605629)

LED are already here, costs still high but they beat flourescents bulbs in life span and energy consume, and lightup instantaneously.

Re:LED Lamps (2, Informative)

hoarier (1545701) | about 5 years ago | (#28605643)

Yes, true, but as of a year or so ago (the last time I looked) the light of an LED was bluish or weak or both.

Re:LED Lamps (2, Informative)

d0cu (1226728) | about 5 years ago | (#28605675)

and have awfully narrow spectrum

Re:LED Lamps (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | about 5 years ago | (#28605899)

For now. But since we can build clustered LED's with multiple light spectrums, we could within a few years build a LED "bulb" that could be just as warm as an incandescent light bulb but it'll use only 1-2 watts of power compared to 40 watts of power for the incandescent equivalent.

Better be right about the longetivity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605655)

As someone with dimmers, this is great news. I just hope they aren't pulling the expected lifetime figure out of their arse. I've used tried using CFL's (on non dimmers!) for about 6 years on/off, they're less reliable, despite the claims, than a simple incandescent in my experience. They seem to last about 70% as long, regardless of the brand/size.

Factor in their massively increased manufacturing/disposal cost, increased size/weight (affects transport efficiency) alongside their shorter life span (in my exp) and I think they're far, far, worse for the environment and terrible value for money.

But hey, environmentalists and politicians couldn't give a shit about reality - they just like having bandwagons to sneer at us from. The solution isn't more complicated bulbs it's putting a lid on the hippies and building more reactors asap.

PIR Passive Infared (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605671)

Look up PIR in the bulb catalogs. They've been making these for a while. They shape the internal glass envelope and coat its inside surface such that it reflects a portion of the waste-heat (infrared) energy back towards the filament. In the steady-state, this changes the ratio of spectrum of energy emitted from the bulb (slightly increasing the percentage released in the visible band). Compared to fluorescent, especially the new T2 designs, its still pretty pathetic.

HOWEVER, if you've got a car and can't afford to install HID headlight conversions, there are PIR halogens available. They provide a little bit more output.

Daylight CCFL Bulbs FTW (1)

kms_one (1272174) | about 5 years ago | (#28605683)

The "daylight" style ccfls are the only thing I will ever use the rest of my life...ever. This story is irrelevant... so why am I posting? I don't know. Deal with it. (Actually, I blame alcohol)

Strip lights (2, Insightful)

lisaparratt (752068) | about 5 years ago | (#28605715)

I got tired of incandescent bulbs failing, and the low light output of CFLs. I just installed a couple of high output fluorescent tubes in the dungeon, and now it's much easier to see what you're doing. People need to just get over this "warm" light nonsense.

It *does* however, create another problem. (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | about 5 years ago | (#28605751)

Once again the marketing droids will have to go to work to say the same thing, only differently:

Light comes outta dis bulb. :>

How many different "sunlight equivelant" and "efficient" and similar-sounding ways can you say that?

comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605851)

this has been around in 12V DC bulbs for years, it's just a halogen lamp with reflective IR coating.
they do cheat abi about the 30% savings though:

EAN: 4008321917300
Typen-Bezeichnung: Osram Classic A 42W 64543 ES E27 matt Halogen Energy Saver fr
Lampenleistung: 42 W
Lichtstrom: 630 lm

vs:

EAN: 4050300005485
Typen-Bezeichnung: Osram CLASSIC A CLAS A FR 60W 230V E27 matt
Lampenleistung: 60 W
Lichtstrom: 710 lm

you do the math.
(maybe they consider their classic bulb higher then average as well, compared to a really old bulb ;)

also worth to note that here in germany you can get them for around 2EUR (under 3USD).
++ c.

ps: sorry to add an offtopic rant here, but the engine to write comments here truely sucks!
(why cant i control white space? and why is this thing so damn slow?)

Lame (2, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | about 5 years ago | (#28605855)

What ever happened to microwave lighting that I saw on TV over a decade ago that was going to kick ass???

and where is my flying car and VR sex slave.

o.. and why does my car from 1997 get the same MPG as all the new ones that don't have massive arrays of lead acid battery's?

The light bulb is lame. I want my damn sharks with flipp'en lasers and you need to get off my LAN son....

General Electric did this years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28605883)

GE developed a product over a decade ago called Halogen Infra Red or HIR.

Essentially a halogen bulb capsule with an Infra Red reflective coating on the inside that reflected the IR energy back onto the filament thus increasing the output.

This was all packaged into various outer shapes and fittings, like sealed beams for work lamps, headlights and par 38 etc.

It worked well and allowed for less power to be consumed and the life of the lamps was better than conventional.

Halogen lightbulb by another name (1)

Cluster2k1 (1334687) | about 5 years ago | (#28605945)

This was cutting edge technology... in the 1950s. The 'new' technology being presented here is just a high voltage halogen light bulb packaged in the traditional bayonet or Edison screw format. I am amazed that anyone is calling this 'cutting edge'.

Philips sells Polish made halogen light bulbs here in Australia for around $3 each (US$2.40) while Osrams are slightly cheaper. These consume 30% less power (70w instead of 100w) with double the lifetime of a traditional light bulb.

I love CFLs as nothing in a reasonable price range is as efficient. The payback period is only a few months. However, CFLs take a little while to heat up (up to 30 seconds) and don't react well to frequent power cycling. Therefore I use 240v halogens in bayonet format in some circumstances.
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