Say Goodbye to the 100 Watt Incandescent Light Bulb

While the politicians in Washington find it impossible to solve our debt crisis, they have no problem with making things yet more difficult for consumers by banning 100 watt incandescent light bulbs. This new policy, on the part of Congress, will take effect on January 1, 2012, and may require that even those in older/historic homes replace their incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED lighting units. For some this may mean requiring the replacement of the actual light fixtures themselves. So what are the members of Congress basing their decisions/ votes on?

Well, I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that if a 100 watt light bulb uses 100 watts of energy, while a CFL bulb produces the equivalent amount of light using 26 watts, it is going to be less expensive to operate. In addition, while a CFL may cost more to purchase, it could last 10 times as long, depending on whose specifications one wishes to believe. That means that, over all, a CFL — while costing more to purchase and/or install — will in the long run save money by using less electricity than the standard incandescent bulb.

Say Goodbye to the 100 Watt Incandescent Light BulbI, personally, started converting to CFLs about eight years ago and have now converted all of our household lamps, outside lights, and garage lights to CFL lighting. The only lights I have not changed from incandescent to the new CFLs are the 65 watt flood lamps in our recessed lighting units. These fixtures were in place when we purchased our home and are installed in the kitchen, pantry, hallways, and master bedroom closet. For these recessed lights I have been very displeased with the CFL replacement bulbs.

One such example is the unit over our kitchen sink where we have a lone 65 watt flood light set in a recessed housing unit controlled by a single switch. This unit takes about three minutes to fully activate, appearing more like a night light when it first comes on. So, while this one is the most annoying to me, I also notice that this happens with the bulbs in our master bath. What I believe these three bulbs have in common is that each of these is encased in a glass cover to make them resemble traditional incandescent bulbs.

However, outside of these minor quirks, the newest CFLs provide an acceptable light, are no longer plagued by flickering, and have softened their output making them closer in color to existing units than previous CFLs were. That means that, over all, I do not personally believe that eliminating the 100 watt incandescent light bulb will have any dire affects for the majority of us.

Comments welcome.

Article Written by

I have been writing for LockerGnome since relocating to Missouri seven years ago, where I continue to be a technology enthusiast who enjoys playing with the newest and latest gadgets.

  • Paulsub63

    For those of us who live in cold climates, the added heat from traditional bulbs is not wasted energy. But the environmental effect of all that mercury ending up in the environment from Compact Fluorescent (CF) lights (and the massive increase in electro-magnetic (EM) noise in the radio bands) make the CF lights a nightmare. They should work on making Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights more available and affordable. LEDs are safe, environmentally friendly and don’t produce the EM noise that CF’s do. The cost of CF lights are quite a bit more than incandescents and even though they don’t burn out as quickly, they will still burn out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1570738047 Kevin Sexton

      Newer CFLs, though they should still be recycled contain far less mercury than older ones. EMF output should also be minimal unless you are talking about ebay specials

  • Triplesea

    My experience with CFL’s has not been all that positive.  Last ten time as long?  Not mine.  And, as you say, very long to come up to max light.  And all, ALL, the CFL’s are imported.  The incandescent’s I buy are made here in the USA.  Adios CFL’s.  

    • Anonymous

      I would love to see cold cathode bulbs made here in the USA, but until we develop a more rational and responsible national industrial policy, it’s just one more thing that we have to import.  Virtually no consumer electronic products are made in the USA anymore.  And that’s true for a lot of other products, too.

  • Hugh Donnell

    I have used CFL’s for six years.  I find that the specs for the CFL’s are exaggerated.  The light output of a CFL averages considerable below spec.  For the same light level, I buy 130 or 150 watt CFL equivalent to replace a 100 watt incandescent. Although the initial level may be slightly higher, the CFL rapidly looses brightness (and efficiency).  The life of the CFL is nowhere near 10 time an incandescent.  I date all my bulbs and most are dead or the light output is too low to use in 2 years.  The dimmable CFL’s barely work.  Enclosed CFL’s get hot and die because of the internal thermal fuse. The form factor (long and fat) does not work well in many fixtures.  The spot form factor CFL is a joke.  The lamps are cheap, made in China products, mostly from the same manufacturing plant.  An old dim CFL lamp emits large amounts of broadband RF noise.  The mercury problem seems to be ignored.  The LED lamps still need improvement in life, reliability, brightness, cooling and form factor.  Skip the CFL’s and go to LED’s.

    • Anonymous

      My experience with dimmable CFLs (the Philips ones) certainly doesn’t match yours… I don’t think I’ve EVER had one of those burn out, even in fixtures I used a whole lot (I eventually replaced most of those, though, with CCFLs instead).  Try CCFLs… they ARE more expensive, but there’s a reason why all the big convention hotels and casinos in Las Vegas use CCFLs almost exclusively. 

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Paulsub63. The LED bulbs are much better, safer and should be made more affordable as the first choice. CFL lights can affect the vision of people even if they have various light sensitivities or even epilepsy. The worst thing though is the mercury which will start ending up in the environment more often once people start throwing the bulbs away in the years to come.

    • Anonymous

      The mercury in cold cathode bulbs is a small fraction of what’s used in CFLs, and that is a small fraction of what we used in the old traditional linear fluorescent bulbs in kitchens, bathrooms, and offices.  There are plenty of hazardous materials used in all kinds of electronics equipment (including computers and semiconductors) so responsible recycling is a good idea, no matter what kind of lighting you use.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1570738047 Kevin Sexton

        even the incandescent have lead in the solder, and could have nasties in the white coating on the glass.

  • 1peislander

    The electric energy used by the incandescent lamp is emitted into the surrounding room as either heat or light. There are absolutely no energy savings to be had, if in the winter, your house is heated by electricity. Sure, your new lamp draws less electricity, and as a result less heat is emitted, but the electric heaters are now called upon to produce the heat needed in the house! There are summertime savings when air conditioning is in use, but lighting is not used as much in the longer days of summer. Changing to CFL may well be a false economy.

    • Anonymous

      A lot depends on where you live.  Here in Dallas, we typically run our A/C six to eight months out of the year… and in the winter, I tend to not use much heat anyhow because the computers and other electronic equipment do the power consumption thing too.  Before we started converting over, I understand that the amount of energy we here in the USA wasted in incandescent light bulbs was equal to SEVENTY PERCENT of the energy used in every car and light truck in America… meaning that if we TRIPLED the gas mileage of those vehicles, and then replaced our entire nationwide fleet, we wouldn’t save as much energy as we’ll save by getting rid of incandescent light bulbs.

    • Amyshoppa

      Lighting is not an efficient way to heat a house.

    • PRei

      Yes, it is false economy!
      See http://freedomlightbulb.comReferenced reasons why the switchover justifications don’t hold up

    • PRei

      The heat issue is specifically covered on Ceolas net
      see the content listing on top, can’t link to it here

  • Gkmarsh

    I don’t find that they last that much longer than the old bulbs. I use them in places where the light will only be on for a few minutes and I want that bright light now, not when it gets warmed up. They are not supposed to be used outside in freezing weather so what am I going to put in my motion sensor lights? 

    • Anonymous

      Cold cathode bulbs are normally rated to something like -20F so that’s colder than you’re likely to get in at least large portions of the USA (and certainly colder than even our coldest days here in Dallas).

      • Sfurbish55

        How fortunate for those of you in Dallas. Living in Maine I have a somewhat different experience. I didn’t mind changing the lights in my house to CFLs when local government and power companies provided savings incentives. I think that is the proper way to do it. Legislating a product completely out of existence and saying too bad for those with alternative use issues a different story. It would have made more sense (IMHO) to tax the sale of incandescent bulbs to discourage their use while leaving them available as an alternative to those with a legitimate need to keep using them. Saying that they are not an efficient means of generating hat means little when it comes from someone living where it rarely dips below freezing.

  • archer rehcra

    this is insane. when the cfl’s came out, i thought cool, and went out and bought a case of them. big mistake. they are toxic fails. you need to call a damn hasmat squad if you break one. they are bizarrely inconsistent. i have had brand new bulbs burn out as soon as i turned them on. needless to say, i have never bought another one and have stockpiled enough incandescent bulbs to last for probably five years. i figure by that time these things will be recognized for the disaster that they are and incandescents will again be available or at least something as good or better.

    • Anonymous

      CFLs (and cold cathode bulbs, although cold cathode bulbs use significantly less than even CFLs do) do use mercury vapor, but it’s FAR less mercury than the old traditional linear fluorescent tubes that you probably had in your kitchen and bathroom… and that we’ve been using for more than 50 years without serious problems.  CCFLs typically use a few milligrams worth.  Yes, it’s a good idea to recycle even that small amount responsibly, but it’s hardly as serious as you’re suggesting.  As for lifespan, there is a certain amount of “infant mortality” in most any electronic devices, but I’ve had cold cathode bulbs that have been lit here at my house 24/7 for more than four years continuously (they only use 5 watts, and putting them on a timer would cost more for the timer (and the electricity to run THAT) than the cost of the electricity it would save in the CCFL bulb), and they show no sign of burning out any time soon.

  • Ben Trujillo

    No dire effects! Does freedom and personal choice I make based on market conditions have no value? If these interfering gits can do this and not pay a price, what exactly do you think they can’t do? You’ll get your “dire effects” before they’re through.

  • Anonymous

    Personally, I _much_ prefer cold cathode bulbs to CFLs…. I’ve converted over almost my entire house to cold cathode lighting (and removed most of the CFLs).  The cold cathode bulbs are dimmer-friendly, generally light faster, work down to -20F (so no problem outdoors, even well past the coldest days here in Dallas).  They outlast CFLs 3-5x (typically 25,000-30,000 hours, compared to 6,000-8,000-10,000 hours for CFLs), which is a big advantage for bulbs that are awkward to get to for changing.  

  • Electricbug

    I live in a trailer in central Maine.  The first few years, I used to have freeze ups at various points towards the ends of the mobile home.  I installed a light fixture at each of these points with a 100w bulb in each, controlled by a thermostat.  The lights come on and stay on as long as the temperature under my home is below freezing.  I haven’t had a freeze up since I did this.  But what will I do when these bulbs burn out as they eventually will.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1570738047 Kevin Sexton

      When they burn out, buy a heating bulb, meant for the purpose, it will last longer, having a heavier filament, and put out less waste light. Those are not being restricted.

      • Anonymous

        It will cost 8-10x as much, use the same amount of (if not more) electricity, and not provide any real lighting benefit. I love it when people from warm climates have such helpful suggestions for those of us who live where it’s already in the low to mid 20s each night. The real issue is that there is no legitimate reason for the government to ban incandescent bulbs. Tax them, make eco-friendly bulbs cheaper or simply leave them as an alternative for people who do not want to spend more money on bulbs that give off inferior lighting.

        • Mhampshire

          have cfl in the barn. they last less than a year and are worthless in the winter.

      • Anonymous

        It will cost 8-10x as much, use the same amount of (if not more) electricity, and not provide any real lighting benefit. I love it when people from warm climates have such helpful suggestions for those of us who live where it’s already in the low to mid 20s each night. The real issue is that there is no legitimate reason for the government to ban incandescent bulbs. Tax them, make eco-friendly bulbs cheaper or simply leave them as an alternative for people who do not want to spend more money on bulbs that give off inferior lighting.

      • Anonymous

        It will cost 8-10x as much, use the same amount of (if not more) electricity, and not provide any real lighting benefit. I love it when people from warm climates have such helpful suggestions for those of us who live where it’s already in the low to mid 20s each night. The real issue is that there is no legitimate reason for the government to ban incandescent bulbs. Tax them, make eco-friendly bulbs cheaper or simply leave them as an alternative for people who do not want to spend more money on bulbs that give off inferior lighting.

  • Lori G

    How can they ban a product? Based on what? Are they illegal? This makes me very unhappy…perhaps I need to go stock up now?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1570738047 Kevin Sexton

      sure if you want to go on wasting power.

  • Amyshoppa

    There is nothing about the advantages of LEDs here. CFL has been on the market since the 80s and has just now become mainstream. Its a crummy product that doesnt meet marketing hype. LED has much greater benefits on every way: lasts longer, huge energy savings ( reduction from 100 watt to 15 watt in larger fixture 1000 watts to under 500 watts), ROHs compliant (no toxic chemicals), you don’t have to dispose of as hazmat, if you buy a quality led bulb it’s good for 50,000 hours (that’s with zero catastrophic failures and only a 30% reduction in light output. I stress here you must buy a quality led product as with anything there are lots of crap imports on the market.

  • BG

    I use a 100 w incandescent bulb to heat my pump house in the winter (Puget Sound).  One bulb generates enough heat to keep it from freezing throughtout the winter and gives me light when I open the door.  Likewise I use a similar bulb to heat the outside enclosure where my hot water tank is  the tank is well insulated and does not provide enough heat to keep the pipes from freezing  the bulb does.

    • Sfurbish55

      I have an almost identical setup for my pump house. I use a 60 watt incandescent plugged into a Thermo Cube outlet.

  • Bitterbluez

    Does this mean resistance heaters will also be illegal? How do you legally distinguish between an incandescent light bulb and a resistance heater?  The concept is the same.  The radiation spectrum is similar.
     
    What about the fact that filament bulbs are full spectrum radiators (yes, like the sun) while any fluorescent source only radiates in a specific and limited frequency range.  Our bodies and indeed our emotional well being responds best to full spectrum emissions.  People subjected to limited spectrum light for extended periods of time develop neurotic tendencies. 

    There are other biological effects that have not yet been fully explored.  Epileptic seizures have been evoked by exposure to certain light frequencies.  Just like “pink noise” calms people allowing them to fall asleep more easily, it’s known that light tones have similar effects.

    Oh well… maybe Congress, like the Borg, assimilates and “resistance” is futile!

  • michael weiler

    Another disturbing fact is that not one CFL bulb is made in the USA……do the research before you comment…NOT ONE!!!!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1570738047 Kevin Sexton

      and how many incandescents are made in the US. I believe that argument was gone a long time ago. Do you also not watch TV because they are also not made in the US?

  • Lwph4851

    If you have used CFL bulbs you know that they will over a short period of time will start out dim and then brighten upin about 3 to 5 minutes. I personally use a combination of CFL bulbs and incondesent so I have immediate light. when I turn on a light.

  • jebug29

    I guess this means Edison needs to invent something else!

  • Michael Poppers

    I’m using CCFLs in a lot of places around my house, but there are certain places (mostly fixtures with decorative-glass covers) I still use incandescents, and I’ve stocked up on 100W incandescents for my two outside “post”/lantern-fixture lights (aside from the fixture being enclosed, which others have noted can cause problems for CCFLs, the controlling timer switch’s manual specifically says it doesn’t work w/ fluorescents, perhaps because they don’t draw enough current?).

  • http://www.perfect-it.fr PERFECT-IT

    Here in Europe incandescent bulbs have disappeared from the market having been banned by the EU. Latest to go were the 40W bulbs that I need for my office and living room. The first low energy ones I found to replace them cost 8€50 each, so a total of 120€ for the two rooms !!

  • http://www.perfect-it.fr PERFECT-IT

    Here in Europe incandescent bulbs have disappeared from the market having been banned by the EU. Latest to go were the 40W bulbs that I need for my office and living room. The first low energy ones I found to replace them cost 8€50 each, so a total of 120€ for the two rooms !!

  • http://www.perfect-it.fr PERFECT-IT

    Here in Europe incandescent bulbs have disappeared from the market having been banned by the EU. Latest to go were the 40W bulbs that I need for my office and living room. The first low energy ones I found to replace them cost 8€50 each, so a total of 120€ for the two rooms !!

  • SoDak

    The reason CFL bulbs don’t work very well is not the bulbs themselves, but the fixtures.  Mfrs. have been unable to incorporate a proper ballast into the CFL bulbs.  That is why the fluorescent tubes that you see in shops and garages work so well, even in cold weather.  This limitation cannot be overcome until proper fixtures are implemented, which is not an easy thing to do in existing housing.

    Yes, it’s true that CFL bulbs are a stopgap technology until LED lighting comes of age.  LED still has a long way to go, particularly in regard to heat dissipation, light distribution and light tint. 

    Heat dissipation is the real killer for LED lighting, and again will require proper fixtures to dissipate the heat.  Without proper heatsinking, that 100,000-hour LED becomes a 100-hour LED.  People like to refer to LED lighting as being cool, and it is when you compare BTU’s given off relative to an incandescent bulb.  However, the LED itself isn’t much bigger than the head of a pin and it can get VERY hot (like your CPU in your computer) – it doesn’t give off much ambient heat, but the heat it does create can shorten its life significantly if not dissipated.

    Personally, I use incandescent bulbs in areas where I will only be for a minute or two (like closets or utility rooms) or cold areas (like my garage in the winter).  I use the CFL bulbs in main room lighting and hall lighting, and the enclosed PAR flood bulbs for outside landscape lighting.  Outside, the bulbs generally last a year or two, but they are only $6 on sale and I save a couple hundred watts for a few hours every night.

  • PRei

    Energy saving is not the only reason to choose a bulb,
    the supposed energy savings don’t hold up,and, yes, touted halogen type incandescent replacements will be banned too,
     on the 45 lumen per watt end regulation kicking in after 2014.
    Just part of all the Deception used to justify the light bulb ban:
    See the referenced list on Dunday com