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Science Technology

Australia Outlaws Incandescent Light Bulb 944

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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  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:32PM (#18083550) Journal
    ... the ancillary effect of the incandescent -- namely, heat.

    They're also used as an inexpensive heating element for things like battery houses and pump houses (to keep the tanks and pipes from freezing and the batteries at a temperature where they operate efficiently) in rural areas with cold climates. A 60 watt bulb on a thermostat will keep an insulated pumphouse above freezing in subzero weather. (Of course you use more than one for when they burn out...)

    More roadblocks for people trying alternative energy in areas where it makes economic sense.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:33PM (#18083562)
    Modern CFLs do not oscillate at anything nearly as slow as 60Hz.

    It's 2007, not 1997.
  • by flynt ( 248848 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:36PM (#18083624)
    The downside is that my eyes start to bleed when I turn on the flourescent lights that came with my apartment because of the light it's giving off. My ears also panic with the buzzing noise. And I'm supposed to have someone over for dinner with that light above my kitchen table? It feels like an interrogation room with it on. Ugly, ugly, ugly. How can anyone stand it?
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:39PM (#18083688)
    Thereby making almost any dimmer switch entirely useless, as well as forcing people to use CFLs in dimmer circuits that could damage them.

    I think you mean using CFLs designed to work with dimmer switches. Like the ones made by GE [gelighting.com] and numerous others?
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:40PM (#18083710) Homepage Journal
    Maybe not.
    Australia gets almost 100% of it's power from fossil fuels. As far as I know they burn a lot of coal.
    California has a much more diverse energy base than Australia. In fact Australia has the highest carbon output per person in the world last time I checked.
    They are a large country with a low population density. Australia doesn't have a lot in the way of hydroelectric resources and they have not embraced nuclear power. They do have a lot of coal.
  • by mypalmike ( 454265 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:46PM (#18083806) Homepage
    It's very misleading for the summary to claim that, "Environmental groups have given this plan a lukewarm reception." The article doesn't mention this. In fact, the article interviews a guy from an environmental group who is very happy with it:

    Founder of environment group Planet Ark, Jon Dee, said he had been working with Mr Turnbull's predecessor, Ian Campbell, and lighting company Phillips on the idea since late last year... "The fact that the Government is committing to this idea is absolutely fantastic."
  • by SirMeliot ( 864836 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:46PM (#18083818)

    I wonder how many hands people will have to lose before they consider allowing exceptions to this one?

    Not a big risk in the home but in the UK at least, the wiring/lighting regs for industrial use say that adjacent flourescent lights must be spread across the three phase supply to eliminate the possiblity of the 'stroboscopic accidents' you suggest.

  • by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:46PM (#18083822)
    "GE makes a dimming compact fluorescent light bulb (called the GE Longlife Plus Soft White Energy Saving Bulb) that is specially designed for use with dimming switches."

    http://www.gelighting.com/na/business_lighting/faq s/cfl.htm#3 [gelighting.com]
  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:52PM (#18083940) Homepage Journal
    Compact Fluorescents don't use old fashioned ballasts so they don't oscillate at 60Hz. They use electronic ballasts that oscillate somewhere in the thousands of Hz.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:54PM (#18083978)
    Ironically, a regular incandescent light bulb actually releases much more mercury into the environment than a CFL. CFLs prevent mercury from entering our air, where it most affects our health by reducing energy demand at the power plant. The highest source of mercury in our air comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal, the most common fuel used in Michigan to produce electricity. A CFL uses up to 75% less energy than an incandescent light bulb and lasts up to 10 times longer. A power plant will emit 10mg of mercury to produce the electricity to run an incandescent bulb compared to only 2.4mg of mercury to run a CFL for the same time.

    Source: USEPA 'Fact Sheet: Mercury in Compact Fluorescent Lamps CFLs', 2003
  • by AvitarX ( 172628 ) <meNO@SPAMbrandywinehundred.org> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:08PM (#18084276) Journal
    The "warm white" CFs are very warm, and the "soft white" are very close to a standard incandescent.

    The "sunlight" are very cool, but I use them where there is insufficient lighting (mostly outside and in the basement) because they look much brighter than they are.

    The "full spectrum" bulbs are a little cooler than incandescents, but make artwork and tapestry look great (or faded if it is).

    CF bulbs are not by any means universally cooler color than an incandescent though.
  • by Stanistani ( 808333 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:11PM (#18084338) Homepage Journal
    In California, the power companies subsidize the CFLs and there are huge displays in the major stores - six bulbs for a dollar. They don't want to build more generating capacity.

    I've replaced all mine. Cheap. The instructions on the box say to put them in the recycle bin when used up. Easy.

    What was the problem again?
  • by SEMW ( 967629 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:16PM (#18084422)

    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.
    Perfectly true, but mostly irrelevent; since compact flourescent lamps don't run on AC. The ballast boosts the frequency to the region of 25 to 40 kHz. True, some of the older 'tube'-style florescent lamps do run on AC, but the ones that are being sold as light-bulb replacements are CFLs.
  • RFI from CFLs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot...kadin@@@xoxy...net> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:16PM (#18084432) Homepage Journal
    All joking aside, the radio-interference issue is a non-trivial one to many people (including myself) who are concerned about mass producing a whole lot of anything that's going to possibly mess up the shortwave or HF radio bands. Luckily, most CFLs don't seem to be too bad. There are a lot of anecdotal reports of ham radio operators using them alongside HF radios without problems, and the manufacturers themselves seem to be cognizant of the problem.

    In case anyone is interested in specific figures, there is a chart of RFI versus frequency from a typical CFL ballast here [nxp.com] (go to the very end of the document for the graph).
  • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:23PM (#18084580) Homepage

    But I can't exactly put the ceiling fixtures on a surge protector

    Actually, you can. When I had my fuse panel replaced with circuit breakers, I had them install whole-house surge supression. (they're installed in two of the circuit breaker slots, one for each leg)

    There are also suppressors that don't go in the circuit panel [smarthome.com]

    Either way, you're going to need an electrician, but it is possible.

  • Re:Just a thought... (Score:3, Informative)

    by SEMW ( 967629 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:24PM (#18084602)
    Out-of-date. Modern compact florescent lamps step up the frequency to 25-40 kHz, rather than just using mains frequency as the old-style industrial 'tube' florescent lamps did.
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:33PM (#18084790) Journal
    Firstly, you can get a flourescent in practically any colour temperature you want.

    Secondly, even old fashioned flourescent strips flicker at 120Hz in the US, not 60.

    Thirdly, any flourescent (strip, compact, whatever) manufactured in the last 15 years will have an electronic ballast - so the flicker will be around 20kHz to 30kHz depending on the design, and imperceptible to any human.
  • by BeProf ( 597697 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:41PM (#18084968)
    Given the screaming migraines that flourescent lights cause me, quite a bit.
  • by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:48PM (#18085108) Homepage
    Given that CFLs are in fact a pile of shit that are actually about half as "bright" as the packaging claims and take time to warm up before they produce even that, quite a lot of effort thanks.

    Clearly you've never actually used them, just like regurgitating what someone with an agenda wants to tell you.

    For your information they are extremely bright (in fact they're probably underrated - I find the '100 watt equivalent' ones too bright for an average room). They also work just like any other light and are fully bright immediately.
  • by proxima ( 165692 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:49PM (#18085148)

    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

    You need to get your power fixed, or move. I live in a townhouse which had really bad power problems when I first moved in. Over the summer, whenever the air conditioner of any neighbor turned on, my lights would dim and my UPSes would go off. Still, my CFLs survived for the most part. The ones that died came from another apartment and were 2-3 years old by the time they died. I still have some which are pushing 4 years now.

    Talk to your neighbors, see if they have power issues too. It could be mostly a neighborhood thing (our neighborhood needed an upgraded transformer as a first step, and still needs more line upgrades which are in the works). Call your power company, find out if they have a "power quality" department that handles non-emergency power issues like this. My problem was that they kept sending over techs who were trained to fix outages and emergencies, whereas you might need an upgrade to the grid near you.

    Of course, it could be a combination of that with internal wiring. Don't put up with inadequate internal wiring from your landlord. If you are having issues with things like CFLs dying, then your power is probably bad enough that you could build up a legal case if you needed to. Still, it's best to start cordial, and have the landlord have a qualified electrician look at everything and see if there are any reasonable ways to upgrade the setup (replacing old circuit breakers, etc.).

    And relating to your other equipment, you should probably get a ground tester and see if all of your outlets are grounded. If they aren't, that could pose a real fire hazard if you plug in equipment that expects a ground. I've seen people put up with really remarkably bad power, especially on college campuses. If you spend a little time on it, you can really improve your own power and that of everyone who rents in your place in the future. We spend tons of money on electricity every month, it should be of reasonable quality.

  • Re:Crazy (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sesticulus ( 544932 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @03:04PM (#18085438)
    Are you insane? I've been using compact flourescents for about 10 years. The first one burnt out about year ago. It was so odd I actually checked the breaker before trying a fresh bulb.
  • by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @03:08PM (#18085506) Homepage Journal
    Good work Sherlock. One of the main prerequisites you forgot about is that the Average Joe isn't going to do that. You're also forgetting that CFLs look like ass [berkeley.edu]. Not to mention... how many people just have fixture in their house that they can put their warming gels in? In my basement, the lighting fixtures are the bare bulb kind. So that means there's NOTHING that I can put the filter in. Should I REALLY have to go to the trouble and expense of building a custom light fixture (that may not even be safe as I'm not an engineer) just to make the switch from incandescent to CFL? Should anyone? The answer is NO. In my case I compromised. I don't spend a lot of time in my basement, but the amount of time the light is on throughout the day is enough that putting the CFL will not only save me a little money, but will also cut down on emissions from used electricity. The basement looks even uglier than it did before due to the completely ass light that CFLs provide. But I can live with that as it's not where I spend a whole lot of time.

    However, I will NEVER put CFLs in my living room (it has halogen tracklights anyway), kitchen, bedroom or bath until they produce one that gives off light that doesn't look like the bleakest day in February in Canada. I want the light to look natural and comfortable. I want to be bathed in the light of the warmest summer day as viewed from a comfortably shaded (but not dark) location. CFLs don't cut it yet. Since this is where the industry is headed though... I hope they will make moves towards creating decent CFLs that won't require filters or other bizarre tricks.

    Finally, the gel suggestion while it might sound like a decent idea is actually a load of crap. The problem that all CFLs seem to suffer is not that they product the wrong colors that you can filter out. The problem is that they LACK the appropriate level of certain colors to produce something that feels natural. With a lot of work, you probably could filter out the more dominant colors to try and emphasize what's missing, but that would result in a VERY dim output. What's really needed is a better balance of phosphors to produce the REAL full spectrum and not what some marketroid labels as "daylight".
  • by Umrick ( 151871 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @03:11PM (#18085548) Homepage
    Had a not dissimilar problem when I first tried them. Of 6 I bought to replace 6 60watt bulbs in a bathroom lightbar, within 3 months, all were dead. All came from Home Depot.

    I decided to try again with a different brand with a different color range from 1000bulbs.com, this time buying 14 bulbs, 6 for the light bar above, and 8 for a lightbar in the master bath. That was 3 years back, and every one of them is still working fine, they also get to full bright much quicker than the ones I'd tried previously. All were globe shaped.

    Source seemed to play a huge role in life. Or at least brand.
  • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @03:14PM (#18085600)
    If you want to control carbon emissions, calculate the marginal externality cost and charge it to people. If they reduce -- great. If they don't -- you can fix their damage. Plus, it lets them pick whichever method is least inconvenient. The market would then incorporate externalities into prices.

    Environmentalists: isn't that solution a LOT better than setting up millions of pages of regulations for how big a house you can have, how fuel-efficient your car can be, who needs to get a prescription for a light bulb, etc?

    Environmentalists who have a gram of economic knowledge know that capturing externalities by converting access to the commons into a market commodity is the most sustainable way of ensuring environmental efficiencies. Once the commons (in this case, the atmosphere) is no longer freely available for dumping, a well-designed market will automatically compute the costs and distribute them appropriately.

    Every environmentalist worthy of the name knows this: if you restrict access to the commons via a market then environmental efficiencies become economic efficiencies, and you do not have to waste enormous resources trying to maintain unsustainable economic regulation.

    This worked extremely well in limiting sulphur dioxide emissions in North America in the late 90's, to the extent that everyone was astonished at how quickly "cap and trade" reduced acid rain. There is no reason to believe that something similar can't work for carbon emissions. The only issue is that like any market it must be free of political interference. When that happens we get disasters like the East Coast fishery in Canada, which has been mismanaged due to political manipulation of catch limits to the point where major commercial stocks have collapsed.

    Treating access to the atmospheric commons as a limited, ever-shrinking, tradable commodity is something that absolutely everyone whose political agenda does not trump reason and responsibility ought to be in favour of.
  • by davper ( 954176 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @03:20PM (#18085706)
    Every light in my house is a CFL. Since living here for the last 2 years, I have not had to change one.

    My electric grid is not the most stable either. I am constantly getting power surges and brown outs. I have had to buy a UPS as a result for my PCs.

    In situations were I want a warm or ambiant light, I just use a proper shade. If you walked into my living room, you would never know I was using CFLs.
  • Re:-20C (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wolvie MkM ( 661535 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @03:38PM (#18086026)
    Works fine in Ottawa where we've seen up to -40 with the wind chill this year.

    They take time to warm up but they've worked flawlessly all winter for me and saved me a TON (read: paid for themselves) on my hydro bill.

    The one I've got in the garage takes a few minutes to get bright but I'm not exactly hanging in my garage when it's -20 ya know??

    I'm using the Phillips bulbs everywhere in the house, might want to give them a shot...
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionary.yahoo@com> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @04:07PM (#18086512) Journal
    First, a couple of small nitpicks:

    There is no such thing as a greyish tinge to light. In subtractive color theory, grey is made by adding black and white. In additive color theory, grey is just a dimmer white. It is not a tinge. If something seems grey, add more light.

    There is no way for anything to have a "pinkish/yellowish tinge." It could be one or the other, or it could be orange. Pink is desaturated red. Red and yellow make orange. Pink and yellow makes light orange.

    The problem I think you are encountering is not an actual color temperature issue, but a color accuracy issue. There are a lot of different ways of making colors that all look the same to a human eye. You could make orange by mixing red and green light, or by using an orange light. To the human eye it looks the same, to a spectrometer one "orange" looks like peaks in the red and green wavelengths, the other looks like a peak in the orange wavelengths.

    Because phosphors only emit light in a very narrow band, CFLs use a combination of phosphors to approximate white light. But instead of a continuous spectrum of color mixed together to make white, you are getting just red, green and blue mixed together to make white. The light looks white to the human eye, because we only have red, green and blue receptors, but some other colors will look off because the light is not full-spectrum. There is no way to fix this with gels, either. There is nothing there for a gel to subtract.

    Here's what wikipedia has to say about the quality of light in CFLs:

    Quality of light: A phosphor emits light in a narrow frequency range, unlike an incandescent filament, which emits the full spectrum, though not all colors equally, of visible light. Mono-phosphor lamps emit poor quality light; colors look bad and inaccurate. The solution is to mix different phosphors, each emitting a different range of light. Properly mixed, a good approximation of daylight or incandescent light can be reached. However, every extra phosphor added to the coating mix causes a loss of efficiency and increased cost. Good-quality consumer CFLs use three or four phosphors--typically emitting light in the red, green and blue spectra--to achieve a "white" light with color rendering indexes (CRI) of around 80. (A CRI of 100 represents the most accurate reproduction of all colors; reference sources having a CRI of 100, such as the sun and tungsten bulbs, emit black body radiation.)

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionary.yahoo@com> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @04:24PM (#18086766) Journal
    Gels work by subtracting wavelengths from the spectrum of light. CFLs have a spectrum with at most four sharp peaks, they do not radiate a full black body spectrum. There isn't anything between the peaks for the warming gel pack to subtract. Therefore, this is not a solution. The only solution is to add more types of phosphors to generate a fuller spectrum. This both adds to the cost and decreases the efficiency, however.
  • by raynet ( 51803 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @05:24PM (#18087772) Homepage
    CFLs do work with dimmers, but you must get ones that are especially made for dimming, otherwise you get very short lifespan on the CFL. Not that I have any dimmers, I watch my movies in a dark room.

    Also, almost half of the lights in my home are CFL, and during last 3 years I've had to change 1 CFL and about dozen or two normals ones.

    It probably takes about 30 seconds until CFL reaches the maximum brightness, but for me 90% brightness is usually enough for anything that I need to do within that timeframe.

    Basicly the only reason that I haven't changed all my lights to CFL is that I have still 50 old lightbulbs left, but once they are gone, I'll switch to use only CFL. Except for my outside lamps, CFL really don't like winter and temperatures of -30C or more. They often just die in a week or so. Though some people have been lucky and their CFLs have lasted a winter or two.
  • by h2_plus_O ( 976551 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @06:06PM (#18088414)

    You can get any temperature CFL. From pure white to nasty yellow that old-timers like.
    They may exist, but where? I tried, wanted to use more efficient lights, and did not find CFLs that worked for me in local hardware stores- and not for want of trying different bulbs. I didn't do a lot of research at the time, and although I now know the difference, when I was doing my buying I didn't- I just had the afternoon to finish my project and worked with what was available at the hardware store. I expect that most people will operate this way.
    I recently re-did much of the lighting in my house, and found that none of the CFLs I found in the hardware stores produced suitable light for my purposes. I do use CFLs in the garage, on the front porch, and in the office- but for the kitchen, my bedroom, my wife's vanity, and the dining room, (think: places we spend the bulk of our time) my wife and I rejected CFLs and used either incandescents or mini-halogen floods.

    One thing that made CFLs a non-starter in the kitchen and dining room was the fact that my wife wanted to be able to dim the lights for meals. No CFL will work on a dimmer, unless you're willing to tolerate loud, scary buzzing noises coming from your fixtures.
    Undaunted, I started shopping- and in the process, really started paying attention to the quality of light they produce. Compared side by side, the differences in quality of light between CFL, Incandescent, and mini-halogens are dramatic.

    Having grown up in Alaska, where it's dark in the winter much of the day and all night long, I appreciate the value of good lighting, not just for the health benefits involved in avoiding too much time under standard fluorescents, but also simply as a quality-of-life thing. As a result, I (and I expect most people to do some form of this) tried several varieties of CFLs, determined that the light they produce sucks despite the branding that says 'like sunlight' and 'full spectrum', then gave up and installed lights I actually liked.
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionary.yahoo@com> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @06:45PM (#18088982) Journal
    Yes, but that is not the real problem. The problem is that the spectrum produced by a CFL isn't full. Subtracting more colors fom it will not make it more full. It may make it warmer, but there are already warm spectrum CFLs. Because they don't have a full spectrum, when their light is reflected, it will produce different colors than you would see from a full spectrum light, even if the color temperature is the same. That's my theory anyway, what do you think?
  • by AvitarX ( 172628 ) <meNO@SPAMbrandywinehundred.org> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @08:26PM (#18090182) Journal
    I actually was using packaging adjectives to help people interested in shopping (that was what the quotes were for).

    here [lightbulbsdirect.com] is a chart on color temperature (of course they do invert it just for fun).

    here [lightbulbsdirect.com] is a chart of CRI ("full spectrum is greater than 90", and higher means more colors are distinguishable, it makes a HUGE difference).

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @08:28PM (#18090206)
    While we're on the topic of anecdotal evidence...

    They also take a while, (about 30 sec. to a minute) to reach full brightness and some of them flicker or pulsate until they get fully warmed up.
    Note the ones I use. They take about 0.5 of a second to actually turn on, but then are at full brightness. They also do not flicker or pulsate. Though I do admit that I don't like the color light they produce. For anyone interested - these are standard GE bulbs that came from Home Depot. YMMV depending on what you buy.
  • by E++99 ( 880734 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @02:43AM (#18093154) Homepage

    There is no such thing as a greyish tinge to light. In subtractive color theory, grey is made by adding black and white. In additive color theory, grey is just a dimmer white. It is not a tinge.

    Ah, the old "you can't be percieving it that way; it's not in the theory for you to do so."

    There is no way for anything to have a "pinkish/yellowish tinge." It could be one or the other, or it could be orange. Pink is desaturated red. Red and yellow make orange. Pink and yellow makes light orange.

    Sure, if you're talking about setting the background color on your web page. With a lightsource that is a collection of narrow spectra some illuminated surfaces could look pinkish and others could look yellowish.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers