User Input

User Input: Light Up My Life

The Centennial Bulb, lit almost continuously since 1901.

Man has long worshipped the sun and the moon for, among other things, the light they provide. The light of the sun got man through the day, and the light of the moon helped him find his way to the cathole at night. It’s no wonder then that one of man’s earliest technological advances was fire to emulate both the heat and the light of the sun. But after we finally learned to bang the rocks together, not much advance was made in creating light.

Whenever anyone says “light bulb” the first image most people think of is the typical incandescent bulb. Interesting that it took thousands of years to get from candle to filament, but less than 200 years to see florescent, neon, halogen, sodium, LED, and others. The breakthrough double helix design that made the compact florescent bulb possible started a movement towards more efficient bulbs that were brighter, cooler, and used less power.

The next big step after the CFL was super-bright LED, which ran even cooler and at lower power than CFL. It took a few years to get them from blue to white, and to bring the price below their weight in gold, but you can now find good LED bulbs right next to the incandescent and CFLs at any department store, and indeed in my own home.

Will high efficiency bulbs eventually replace the traditional incandescent bulb that started the lighting revolution, or is man destined to forever burn his fingers while angrily replacing bulbs that blew their filaments?

[“User Input” is the AtomicToasters Question of the Day™ asking you, the teeming millions, to answer our pressing questions.]

  • If you live in Australia, Cuba, Argentina, and parts of Europe, you can no longer buy incandescent light bulbs. The rest of Europe, Canada and the US will be following suit in the next few years.

    Man, I wish I had GE's lobbying power.

    • P161911

      Sounds like DuPont and the R-12 ban all over again.

    • SSurfer321

      My wife has been stockpiling incandescents for years, knowing this was coming. I have at least a case of bulbs buried in a closet somethere in the house at any given time.

  • You bring up one of the things that many people overlook when discussing energy savings from light bulbs. In warm climates, where you run the air conditioner more throughout the year than the heater, non-incandescent light bulbs will have a pronounced energy savings. However, in colder climates where heating is the primary demand the energy savings will be offset by people's furnaces having to make up for the heat from incandescent lights. In fact, in some areas, people may find their furnaces undersized because the number of lights are taken into account in some instances for heating load.

    Energy is energy, and whether you get that energy from 10 100W light bulbs or 1 furnace, it's still energy. Sure, the furnace may be slightly more efficient, but now you're having to burn 10 30W CFLs at the same time so you can see your warm house.

    • P161911

      Also, some places have replaced the bulbs in traffic lights with LEDs. Worked fine until winter time and they realized the LEDs couldn't melt the snow that would accumulate in the lights.

      I remember that my father usually used a 220V bulb to heat out well pump house. Georgia normally doesn't get that cold, but we usually get a few hard freezes. The well pump was 220v and he just installed an outlet for a light. Not sure why he never used heat strips.

  • P161911

    Here's an interesting read, the OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT PROCEDURE for cleaning up a broken CFL:

    Maybe I should stop chucking these things in the trash compactor.

    • Yeah, that's something most people (i.e. manufacturers and the politicians pushing these things) neglect to tell you.

      BTW, I do not mind CFLs in certain cases. I have them in my basement. I just object to the forcing of them on us by mandate and the misinformation about them.

      • P161911

        Just a few highlights:
        •Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
        •Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.
        (That would be great when it is either 5 degrees or 105 degrees outside, How much energy did you just wast on you HVAC system)

        •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.
        •Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass pieces and powder.
        •Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
        •Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
        (sounds like you need to call out the HAZMAT team)

        •If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage
        (Toss all clothing in contact with it, really? What if it is a $200 comforter?)

        6. Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming
        •The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before vacuuming.
        •Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

        (Again, wasted HVAC and what about the outside temp?!?)

    • FuzzyPlushroom

      We officially take 'em at work (small-town recycling center) – hardware stores around here will take them for free as well. They're not too much of a concern, though; I believe we're the only transfer station in the area that doesn't simply shove a box of 'em in every shipping container of discarded electronics we send out, guaranteeing their breakage when a monitor or VCR falls down on the box.

  • FuzzyPlushroom

    Wow, I knew about the Centennial Bulb, but I hadn't realised it was actually an old carbon-filament bulb. I knew it couldn't be tantalum 'cos of the lack of internal supports, and that osmium would have been costly, but I guess I never put too much thought into it.