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Australia Outlaws Incandescent Light Bulb 944

Posted by Zonk
from the lots-of-quiet-nights-down-there dept.
passthecrackpipe writes "The Australian Government is planning on making the incandescent light bulb a thing of the past. In three years time, standard light bulbs will no longer be available for sale in the shops in Australia (expect a roaring grey market) and everybody will be forced to switch to more energy efficient Fluorescent bulbs. In this move to try and curb emissions, the incandescent bulb — which converts the majority of used energy to heat rather then light — will be phased out. Environmental groups have given this plan a lukewarm reception. They feel Australia should sign on to the Kyoto protocol first. A similar plan was created together with Phillips, one of the worlds largest lighting manufacturers."
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Australia Outlaws Incandescent Light Bulb

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  • More than Australia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:24PM (#18083418) Homepage Journal
    For those with short memories, there's a legislator in California proposing the same idea [slashdot.org], though over a five-year period instead of three.

    I find the difference in approach interesting, though. The California proposal, judging by the press releases, seems to be about banning sale of incandescents. The Australian proposal is simply upping the energy efficiency standards to the point where incandescent bulbs no longer qualify.

    Considering California actually has a higher population than Australia (estimated 36 million in 2005 vs. estimated 20 million in 2006), the California ban, if adopted, would actually have a greater effect.
  • LED's (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DogDude (805747) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:31PM (#18083522) Homepage
    Your complaints about compact fluorescents are well-founded. Although, in reality, CF's will be replaced by much more efficient, and much prettier-light-producing, and even longer lasting LED's within the decade.
  • by Panaqqa (927615) * on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:32PM (#18083542) Homepage
    Fluorescent bulbs running on AC are in fact strobe lights. If the frequency of the AC matches that of some repetitive motion (such as a spinning blade, cog, or other machine part) then the machine will give the appearance of standing still.

    I wonder how many hands people will have to lose before they consider allowing exceptions to this one? All in all I am in favor, but not of a blanket ban.
  • Will do little (Score:5, Interesting)

    by llZENll (545605) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:32PM (#18083544)
    Austrialia will do little to curb overall output, North America and Western Europe are the problems.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Carbon_Emission _by_Region.png [wikipedia.org]

    I also wonder what the environmental manufacturing cost of a CFL vs a plain lightbulb is.
  • by TheMeuge (645043) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:34PM (#18083582)
    I think that a total ban, as all total bans, is really arrogant and short-sighted. After all, there are many decorative lights that will look simply horrendous with incadescent light bulbs. Aesthetics are important, and forcing people to make their households less appealing isn't going to help anyone live a better life.

    Instead of a ban, let's create an economic pressure. Tax the incadescent light bulbs, so that they are significantly more expensive than compact fluorescents, and use the money for conservation. This way, the shift will be natural, and the people who prefer/need incadescent bulbs, can still purchase them, albeit at 10X+ the current price.
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:35PM (#18083600)
    "Environmental groups have given this plan a lukewarm reception. They feel Australia should sign on to the Kyoto protocol first."

    So Australia does something concrete, something difficult, by itself instead of signing on to a flawed international agreement with limited enforceability. And "environmental groups" are upset.

    I'm shocked, I say! Shocked!
  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:35PM (#18083610)
    Tax high wattage bulbs like 100W and up.
    Better yet, establish a lumens per watt minimum and tax accordingly.
    That way you don't force people away from certain technology, just the inefficent ones.

    While they're at it, do the same for air conditioners.
  • by David Horn (772985) <{gro.remagtekcop} {ta} {divad}> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:41PM (#18083740) Homepage
    I'm all for it. Our house uses solely compact fluorescent lamps and I'm planning to add low level LED lighting that's on all the time to further cut the bills. The main reason we use the low energy lights is to save electricity, rather than the environmental benefits.

    On a related matter - all our Christmas tree decorations were LED this year, looked a lot better than incandescent and in the UK, at least, sold out well before Christmas.
  • by Erioll (229536) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:42PM (#18083746)

    The difference is, there's no downside here. Incandescent bulbs produce less light per watt, waste far more exlectricity, and they don't last near as long as their flourescent counterparts. Flourescent's are more expensive at the get-go, but that is easily made up for by their low power usage and extremely long life.
    But what about the energy cost of manufacturing? How much energy does the entire manufacturing process for a CFL take compared to an incandescent bulb? I really don't know the answer here, so if somebody has numbers, that'd be great. If it's drastically more for CFLs, then it's just useless switching to them (the energy consumption is shifted to the factory, not actually reduced). If it's truly less, then that part at least is a real benefit.

    Unfortunately, there's also the environmental cost, as I see the probability of these being recycled at a high rate as a near-zero probability concept. People only do it with Cans because of the deposit. You'd NEED that to have it happen here, and even then plenty of mercury will be going into landfills. It'd be interesting to me to know what the current rate is with all types of fluorescent bulbs.
  • by solios (53048) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:46PM (#18083830) Homepage
    I tried CF bulbs a couple of years ago, for about three months. Three months (closer to four) is how long it took every CF bulb in the house to stop working. These things are supposed to last longer than regular light bulbs (LASTS OVER FIVE YEARS!!!!1 the packaging said) - but in my experience, they were vastly more likely to die during a power surge, power outage, or other form of "electrical event" than traditional bulbs.

    Of course, I rent a Fight Club house with old wiring, but that doesn't change the fact that the rest of my equipment (oldskool light bulbs, half a dozen computers, alarm clock, etc) is still plugging away. But I can't exactly put the ceiling fixtures on a surge protector. :P

    So until I hear for sure that CFs will actually last on a power grid that looks more like an EKG than a nice straight line, I'm sticking with the older technology - I'd rather spend five bucks a year on lightbulbs than twenty bucks a month.

    As for the OMG UR ELECTRIK BILLZ!! - I run my lights for about two hours a day, tops. Maybe four. I don't really live in my house, so the utility difference is nill.
  • by zippthorne (748122) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:50PM (#18083898) Journal
    My wasteful halogens on a one-minute motion sensor outside use a lot less energy than the fluorescents that would replace them since the fluorescent would have to be on all the time rather than a cumulative total of about ten minutes a night.

    Similarly with bathroom lights.

    CFLs are good, and we should all use them. But we shouldn't use them stupidly as if they're some kind of magic energy-reducing talisman.
  • What about... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stagl (569675) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:54PM (#18083996) Homepage
    halogen? I'm looking at installing dozens of recessed halogen lamps in my home in the next few months. I plan on flipping the home, but I wonder if something like this will cause problems for those in the future. The bulb socket will only accept a halogen bulb. If they are no longer sold because of envromental reasons, the lights become useless and would have to be removed.

    Could be frustrating for those in the future.
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:57PM (#18084058) Homepage Journal
    There are some areas where CFLs are just plain not appropriate however, like in Ovens and Refrigerators. That's why blanket bans on all Incandescent bulbs are not a good idea.
  • by reidconti (219106) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:05PM (#18084206)
    Christ, if there's one thing I hate about being a geek, it's being lumped in with people who make up dramatic crap like eyes bleeding and ears panicking from flourescent lights. It's as if you're trying as hard as you can to invent shit to bitch about to make yourself stand out.

    What is it that makes a noticeable percentage of us complete and utter idiots? Like Dwight from The Office (US).
  • APPLIANCES (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Phreakiture (547094) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:06PM (#18084226) Homepage

    Okay, so they ban the sale of incandescent bulbs. Fine.

    Now, mind you, I have a house full of CF tubes. Every single bulb socket that can fit one, has one. I have also given presentations on the advantages of CF tubes, including in the presentation what the financial payback is of using these tubes. I believe in this technology greatly.

    That said, what are you supposed to do for your refrigerator (where a CF tube will be at the double disadvantage of being cold and not running an appropriate duty cycle), or your oven (where the temperatures will be prohibitively high)? Will appliance bulbs still be available?

  • by Greyzone (851410) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:21PM (#18084536)

    In fact, to people with a brain, flourescents are already cheaper, there's no need for another attempt by government to micromanage the population by taxing - taxes are supposed to be a necessity to collect money used to run government, not change our behavior.

    These bans are an affront to personal freedoms. I hear so many people claiming they want personal freedoms, yet a lot of these same people are thrilled when the government oversteps their boundries to control, through threat of fines or imprisonment, peoples behavior.

    Personal freedoms are an illusion. They are a useful illusion but an illusion nonetheless. Planet earth is a finite system and resource base. While it seems large, we can afford the notion of personal freedoms. But when there are 10 people for every bathroom you no longer have freedom to use the bathroom as you please, do you?

    The core problem which so few people wish to discuss is that of overpopulation. GHG emissions are a problem because the total emissions by the given human population exceeds the capacity of the ecosystem to absorb without deleterious side effects. Water availability issues are, at their core, overpopulation issues. Excessive soil erosion issues are also overpopulation issues. In an overshoot population situation, personal freedoms lose meaning and may even have to be abandoned in order to simply ensure survival. The correct overall solution is to lower the population - not just stop growth but actively lower it. In the meanwhile, we will continue to see these sorts of hackneyed "solutions" thrown about because no one wants to touch the real problem - overpopulation. Even most of the "greens" are unwilling to discuss the population problem. But fear not! If we don't solve it, nature will. The only difference between us solving it ourselves and nature solving it is that most of us may not like nature's choice of methods.

  • by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:26PM (#18084654)

    "Great, dear! Now we don't have to worry about turning up the heat in winter!"
    Well, now they'll have to turn up the heat in the winter because their light bulbs will be giving off so much less of it.

    Anyhow, do they even make CFLs for, say, ovens? Freezers? Chandeliers? Can they operate at 500 degrees in my oven?

  • by bradavon (1066358) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:29PM (#18084708)
    What about dimmer switches? Those don't work with energy saving light bulbs or areas of the house you need imediate light such as an attic/loft or basement? The idea is a good one but they need to sell regular light bulbs too.
  • OneBillionBulbs.com (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jfoster100 (1046350) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:37PM (#18084854)
    If you like the idea of replacing incandescents with compact fluorecent bulbs, you might want to take a look at http://onebillionbulbs.com/ [onebillionbulbs.com]. They are running a site that demonstrates the aggregate impact of light bulb replacements by groups and individuals.
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:37PM (#18084870) Homepage Journal
    Bullshit. I don't care if it's 2017, the fact is that the current crop of commercially available and affordable Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are not capable of producing decent light. I should know as I've run through the gamut of what's available at local stores. The color temperature sucks. And even if the 60 Hz flicker is gone, none of the lamps allow you to have natural looking colors indoors. Especially when they're your only source. Supposedly the "HD" CFLs have overcome this, but it looks like they're only available online. And each site I've visited lists the lamps as "pre-order" implying that they're not really available. I've looked at the Bluemax site for instance and the only lamps available are the same ones you can get in any store. I've tried them, they all suck. None of them approach natural light in the least. At least halogen has a prayer of doing that as do the daylight spectrum incandescents. I'm all for going green (and I have in that I now have five CFLs running at home instead of the previous incandescents. But damn is it depressing to feel like you're sitting in a hospital waiting room.

    1. "Daylight" CFLs have a strong bluish tinge similar to the backlight of an LCD display. Ugly. Horrible for photography. Looks nothing like real daylight.

    2. "Bright White" CFLs have a strong greyish tinge. This would make you want to slit your wrist if you sat under it all day. Totally useless for anything except killing yourself.

    3. "Warm" CFLs are about the only ones that are tolerable and what I wound up going with. But they have a pretty strong pinkish/yellowish tinge. All your whites look kind of dingy. These feel like a hospital waiting room or doctors examining room at best. With a pink cotton candy look.

    Supposedly the HD lamps approach natural daylight, but from the photos I've seen taken online with them, we're talking a gloomy winter day and not a sunny day at the beach. Frankly, I'm waiting for some kind of hybrid lamp using LED or OLED technology. I suspect they will be more efficient, last longer and will be capable of generating ANY color of light through simple digital controls. Only then will the light problem be solved.
  • -20C (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:38PM (#18084896)
    Such a regulation would never fly in Canada.

    These compact fluorescent bulbs don't take well at all to cold temperatures. I have tried three different brands in my porch, none of them work if the temperature drops significantly below 0 Celsius. They work great indoors however.

    Australia and California, sure, Canada and other countries with cold winters, no way.

    At least with current compact fluorescents. I imagine they could be re-designed to work in cold weather. (and should be)
  • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:48PM (#18085124)
    I agree with all of that 100%. If they want to reduce electricity consumption, why not raise the tax on electricity until people cut back however much they want? If they're doing this to save the environment, spend the extra tax revenues on buying up and retiring carbon permits (once we have a carbon trading system), or some other environmental protection/remediation scheme. When people's electric bills go up, the government might point out that they could bring them back down by using more efficient bulbs, but let the consumer decide how to bring it down.

    I switched over 90% of the bulbs in my house to compact fluorescents five years ago. But making me switch over the other 10% just makes me mad. None of them get used much. And there are three fixtures where, despite looking, I've never been able to find any CF bulbs that fit in them. One of these is an antique brass lamp I inherited. What am I supposed to do, throw it away? I'd like to point out that, if I were to buy a new big, heavy, nice brass lamp to replace it, there is an energy cost to mining, refining, shipping, casting, assembling, and re-shipping that new lamp. A new lamp a lot like it costs about $800. It would never save that much energy, or that much money.

    Additionally, my father was in vision research. Their entire vision research lab ran on incandescent bulbs for experiments. On the one hand, they don't want to toss a $10,000 experimental apparatus it took a year to build because they can't buy the bulbs anymore. And on the other hand, they can't very easily redesign these things to use CF bulbs, because they treat the clear incandescent bulbs as point-sources. They do have one easy solution, though, if replacement incandescents were difficult/illegal to obtain. They can place their xenon arc by the experiment, and run a thin beam of arc light through a gradient mirror (to adjust the brightness to match) to a small mirror where the bulb used to be. In this respect, they would replace a 40-watt bulb with a 10,000-watt bulb.

    CF bulbs already make economic sense for consumers to buy- they save a whole lot of money over their lifespan. The main reason they haven't been adopted is consumer inertia. Most people don't really know about them, or how much they'll save, or how similar their light is to normal incandescents. This problem is better fixed with a marketing campaign then a ban. This marketing campaign is already underway, by the likes of Walmart, NPR, GE, and others.

    Economic incentives result in more efficient solutions to problems than command and control. If their goal is to reduce electricity usage, why don't they try to reduce electricity usage, instead of mandating people buy a particular kind of light bulb? The Playstation 3 runs 380 watts, while the Wii only consumes 53 watts. Why not ban the Playstation 3?
  • by skiingyac (262641) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:59PM (#18085358)
    The problem with the only incentive being that people will saved money after a year or two is that a lot of people either don't care enough or don't have the available cash to spend a few extra bucks on a fluorescent bulb.

    What should be done is tax incandescent bulbs so they are more expensive, and use the tax to discount the price of fluorescents. Then people are encouraged to make the "right" decision, but are not forced.

    The same thing should be done, IMHO, with many other things. For example, 2 liters of soda costs $1 but 1/2 gallon of real 100% juice costs like $3. Many low-fat foods cost more than mostly identical regular-fat foods. Whole-grain bread, rice, etc. is more expensive than super-processed, bleached white bread, rice, etc. A bag of fresh vegetables easily costs $5, and a bag of candy is $2. That should not be the case, since the cost to society is greater than the low price indicates. Someone who only has $1 to spend for their kids' drinks should not have to choose between soda and 95% sugar water. Car manufacturers should not be able to offer gas guzzling pickup trucks & big suvs for less than a more fuel-efficient vehicle because they have too much stock, as if its some surprise that gas prices keep going up and they couldn't predict this before they made them.

    I agree bans are not the answer, but definitely tax the unhealthy, unnecessary, damaging, etc. stuff and rebate the better, but currently more expensive, option.

  • by jonnythan (79727) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:20PM (#18085728) Homepage
    They are not fully bright immediately. They take several seconds to warm up to full brightness. It's noticeable. There's a slight delay between flipping the switch and any light at all coming out as well.

    They also dim over time rather quickly. 8 years with a "100W equivalent" CFL bulb means 6 months of 100W equivalence, 2.5 years of 75W equivalence, and 5 years of 60W equivalence.

    Furthermore, the color of every CFL on the market sucks compared to a GE Reveal bulb. Full spectrum light output just cannot compare with the peaky light output of a CFL.
  • by sminky (1066550) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:42PM (#18086082)
    Thers is something in the hot/cold theory. It's well known among interior designers that people living in hot climates tend to prefer a colder fluorescent light whereas colder countries prefer warmer incandescent light.
  • by ElectricRook (264648) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @05:02PM (#18088344)

    I live in a remote area in Northern California. The power is somewhat erratic. A friend of mine has a Solar to Grid power system, that routinely ( once a week) shuts off due to the grid voltage driving above the stated spec (120v RMS, +/- some small percentage).

    I bought two CF bulbs, and neither lasted for more than a few months.

  • by snowwrestler (896305) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @06:25PM (#18089492)
    Because the sun is rising or setting, or (in the temperate regions) the sun sits low in the sky due to the season. And although I won't speculate as to why, people like that light. It's why photographers call the hour after sunrise and hour before sunset the "magic hours."
  • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @04:57AM (#18093910) Homepage
    Agreed. Just outlawing refuses to acknowledge that there are people who have important reasons (important to them!) for using old-fashioned bulbs. Putting a price on it is the sensible approach; it allows people to vote with their money.

    Strange thing is this is really already the case. But people are stupid. They see only up-front cost and fail to include the power-consumption when buying bulbs and/or lamps.

    • A 60w bulb with 2000h lifetime will consume 120Kwh before it burns out.
    • A 12w efficient bulb with 6000h lifetime will consume 72Kwh before it burns out.
    • You need 3 of the former to get the lifespan of the latter.
    What is the rational choice for providing 6000 hours of ligth:
    • Buying 3 bulbs for $1, and pay ~$55 for power. (total $56]
    • Buying 1 bulb for $5 and pay ~$10 for power. (total $15)

    In warm climates its worse: The extra power is converted to *heat* and you'll spend additional energy in your AC-unit getting rid of that heat again, probably you'll end up spending another $10 or so getting rid of the heat.

    Conversely, in cold climates where heating is *needed* the calculation turns the other way: the heat ain't wasted at all. In the extreme case, where you're heating electrically anyway you'll save nothing whatsoever by replacing the bulbs.

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