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Fear over lightbulbs
 Started by  GBP-Keith
 13 Jan 2009, 1:57 PM

I have a real worry that low energy lightbulbs could be the wrong answer to the right question and I'm obviously not alone.
"Last year the Daily Mail reported that fluorescent bulbs aggravated skin conditions, such as eczema, and lupus, and, because of their cost, were an especial bugbear for the poor and elderly. More recently their front page read: "Revolt! Robbed of their right to buy traditional light bulbs, millions are clearing the shelves of the last supplies. End of light as we know it."
According to the Mail, the bulbs were "incompatible with millions of lamps and sockets", "did not work with dimmer switches and security timers", "can't cope with freezing conditions when used outdoors", and, worst of all for an aspirational readership, were "unsuitable for chandeliers".
Postings on a BBC website were typical. One man from Fareham asked: "What will happen to sufferers from diseases like lupus who are made ill by the new form of bulbs?" and another proclaimed: "Did you know that if you switch an energy efficient bulb off and on again in less than an hour it uses as much energy as leaving it on for an hour?"
Others complained that "it takes four times as much energy to make these energy saving light bulbs", that their lack of instant full light when turned on means that people tend to leave them on all the time, and that the mercury content means they are, if not a health hazard, certainly bothersome to properly dispose of. And one woman claimed her reaction to the light emitted by compact fluorescent bulbs was so extreme she could not enter a shop, doctor's surgery or any building lit by them."
The full story is here:
However, I do use quite a lot of them at the moment because I need to keep electricity consumption to a minimum but they blow/expire, in my personal experience, at least as often os ordinary bulbs. I think the phase-out is a little premature. We should have waited until LED technology had gotten better established. These are the true future for lighting i think.
The Government would do better by outlawing electric heating rather than subsidising it as they are currently. This is where all the future consumption is heading. I think heat pumps, for all their hype are a technological dead-end that will consume far more un-sustainable energy than lighting ever could.

Yes but Tesco are trying to cash in by selling 5 energy saving light bulb sticks for just 40 pence. The promotion will run until the 27th of January
I don't work for Tesco by the way . Just trying to helpful!
majik (Guest)
Keith, I'm surprised at your comment about heatpumps. So what exactly is YOUR answer as a low-energy-consuming alternative to heatpumps?
Heat pumps are an interesting technology for the FUTURE but right now, defiantly not. If everyone were to install them under the misconception that they are a renewable technology then our systems could just not cope. The are powered by electricity and therefore are a desperate burden on the national grid. If and when tidal power and offshore wind provides an over-abundance then that would be the time to get excited about heat pumps. Not before I'm afraid.
Biomass would be a far better choice - pellets or logs. Gas in condensing boiler would be better too.
cloister (Guest)
In a reasonably well insulated house, incandescent bulbs add to the heat gain of the house. Take a room with 200 watts of incandescent bulbs as lighting, turning off that heat source will mean either a lowering of ambient temperature or turning up the central heating (or whatever means of heating is used).
When is lighting most used? Winter. When is heating most used? Winter.
I do stand to be corrected.
regarding these low-energy bulbs: As well as the polluting impact during manufacture and disposal, And the possible health effects, And the problems in use....i feel another point should also be made. It may be minor (?) but as these bulbs take a minute or two to reach full output strength...then what danger does it pose to those people with diminished sight (especially light-detection problems). If they have to wait whilst these lights brighten, then surely accidents could occur in this dimness?
I'm going to stockpile some goo old incandescent bulbs I think.
You are right Cloister but other appliances do this while performing other tasks too. the problem with heating your home with lightbulbs of course is that they are on the ceiling!

Dr T (Guest)
cloister -- I have been on the theme of low energy bulbs not saving as much energy as they claim for the reason you give -- the heat that they do not produce has to be produced by some other source or the room will be cooler in the heating season. and in the summer the lights are used much less. Is this misdescription?
Also the bulbs are poisonous -- they contain heavy metals and mercury is particularly bad, causing madness impotency hair loss etc.
From my experience of led lights they are not yet bright enough for general lighting but what i have done is mixed the two - in all my rooms i have around 6 downlights the centre 2 i use standard 50w halogen lights and the 4 around the ednge i use warm white led downlights with a wide angle beam . This will save me a fortune in the long run as they wil last for up to 10 years and only use 3 watts per fitting.
I brought mine from who are quite cheap plus also they offer some other interesting led lighting products which are quite nice effects.
In my view, there is A LOT of false info here:
1. skin complaints: if someone suffers from a complaint from a compact flourescent lamp they will have the same problem in a room lit by stadard long flourescent tubes as they generate light by the same method: I've never met anyone who was so affected. ( in my career as a teacher I have taught over 15,000 pupils, none has reacted to flourecenets. Its a myth.)
2. heat from incandescent bulbs: this is mostly lost: in relation to the requirements of the space they light up. Heating a room with incandescent bulbs is impossible; its a myth.
3. Turning LEB's on and off uses more power than a traditional bulb; This used to be said of flourescent tubes when they were first installed in factories in the 1940's. But it is also a myth, and was never true, but was said to discourage factory workers, because frequent switching on and off could damage the starter choke, which was difficult to replace in early tubes. The story has stayed and is still quoted but is a myth.
4. LEB's use toxic metals such as mercury; true, but the amount of toxic metals they contain and release on disposal is much less than would be released by burning coal to provide the power to light up a traditional bulb for the same time.
5. They dont work with dimmers: older ones do not, but newer ones do.
6. they are expensive: not true; 5 for a quid in Morrisons recently
7. They dont fit into some fittings; Not true. there is an LEB alternative for every type of lamp fitting and size of shade. Look at the megaman range.
Finally: LED's will take over as the standard domestic lighting method, though probably not in the form of the light bulb we are used to: most probably as arrays of self adjusting, auto dimming lighting panels. After all; ask yourself if "Light Bulbs" in any form, are the best shape and size and method to light a room? Clearly not. And the only reason we have the bulb shape is because such a shape was required to enclose a short piece of tungsten that could safely glow white hot and easily disperse the immense heat (and light) that was prodeuced when a massive electrical current passed thought it!!

"Last year the Daily Mail reported "
I agree with abbotsmead , some good fact to bring into the discussion
A typical storm in a tea cup from the sensationalist press.
The Daily Mail , Leave it out mate !
The LEDs are far more efficient than other light sources, all of products are designed to be bright and therefore they consume quite a bit of power.
There seem to be a lot of people set against using energy saving bulbs. The two main reasons I've come across are the (Daily Mail supported) argument about posionous mecury used in their production, and the time that bulbs take to light up.
As Abotsmead points out, currently we rely mainly on coal power stations to provide the electricity to switch on a light. By reducuing energy use we actually levels of toxic chemicals in the air that are a by-product of burning coal.
Agreed, some energy saving bulbs take a while to warm up and initially they were available in a very limited number of fittings and brightness. This is not at all the case anymore. There is an energy saving bulb for practically every need and there are now excellent low energy bulbs on the market that light up almost instantly.
The main problem - as I see it - is that prices for anything other than the basic ones are still prohibitive to the average shopper. Maybe a government subsidy would help...
There are so many misconceptions about renewables, many voiced in this particular thread.

My posting recommended the free to download book by Dr McKay from the withouthotair website, but the link dropped.
Highly recommended.
Energy saving light bulbs are hazardous to health because they contain mercury. It is harmful if the bulb is broken, and emits radiation in lighting and creates a magnetic field.
More about the effects of these bulbs can be found here:
from Abbotsmead's post
4. LEB's use toxic metals such as mercury; true, but the amount of toxic metals they contain and release on disposal is much less than would be released by burning coal to provide the power to light up a traditional bulb for the same time.

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