How Many Politicians Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb? California May Find Out

from the but,-why? dept

There’s been a lot of buzz today over the news that a California state politicians is probably getting to introduce the amusingly named “How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act,” which would ban the old classic incandescent lightbulb from California by 2012. It’s no secret that fluorescent bulbs use up a lot less energy and last a lot longer than incandescents, and are becoming quite popular — but that still doesn’t quite explain the reasoning behind the legislation. In part, it’s probably just to get more attention for fluorescent bulbs, but it’s really an education issue, not a regulatory one. As people realize just how much they save by going fluorescent, they’re making the switch anyway — and adding legislation to ban the incandescent bulb doesn’t make much sense, other than as a way for a politician to pretend he’s making a difference. It’s great that this legislator wants to get more people to make the switch, but this highlights how politicians use the hammer of regulation to view every problem as a nail.

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Comments on “How Many Politicians Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb? California May Find Out”

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wto605 (profile) says:

Not really the right idea

While I love fluorescent bulbs and use them in over 95 percent of my house there are still some purposes that fluorescent can’t fulfill. From a decorative sense small incandescent bulbs do have the ability to look like candles (at least a heck of a lot more than fluorescents) and what would happen to Susie’s Easy Bake oven?

Legislation isn’t the answer, education is. I don’t even think California would pass a law banning unnecessarily large vehicles even though it’s quite obvious a lot of gas can be saved an emissions reduced. Through education incandescent bulbs will become a luxury just like gas-guzzling cars, boats, and planes (though on a slightly smaller scale).

Jason Bateman says:

No matter how many WATT or how bright a fluorescent bulb says it is – have you ever tried to read a book under one of these things? Its just horrible!

And something more to think about, what happens if this ban goes through? What the heck is going to power all the bulbs inside the Californians refrigerators and stoves – not to mention the Lava Lamps as well…

PT says:

Re: Huh?

An improperly setup camera is the reason why some equipment doesn’t hold up too well with fluorescent lighting. Now, I’m not much a videographer, but I’ve been taking pictures with a DSLR camera for over 3 years in studio and non-studio environments and I’ve never had problems with fluorescent lighting itself. The problem arises when you have mixed lighting or two or more lights with different color temperatures that make white balancing very difficult. Even incandescent lights can have different color temperatures that cause the same problems.

Also fluorescent lighting has been used in many photo studios and it does work well in small studios for video as well. That’s not to say they will be able to replace those 20,000 watt flood lights or even many 1000 watt light boxes, but different applications, different needs. A fluorescent studio setup does cost more, however, for the same light output, but then it saves on energy costs in the long run, usually lasts longer before each bulb needs to be replaced, won’t burn you, and people who work under the lights for hours on end would appreciate cold lamp setups.

As for dimmer packs, it does seem dimming fluorescent lights are more difficult, with most dimmer switches completely not designed to dim fluorescent lights anyway. I would think the solution to that would be to use LED lighting instead, if being able to use a dimmer is required.

In fact I would love to see High Intensity LED lights replace compact fluorescents.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not only are fluorescent light bulbs bad for your skin and eyes, but they are so awesome in they energy efficent-ness that the average school classroom used 270 wats of them (27 bulbs), which could be just as well and much more healthier by a simple 70 watt lightbulb that uses only tungsten in it’s lighting element, no chemicals.

Danielmieser (user link) says:

Saving the planet...BAH HUMBUG...

wow, save the environment by contaminating it more…
an incandecent lightbulb really doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals, florecent bulbs have mercury, the balasts for the CFLs often have lead based solder, and i have no idea what the phosphor is made of/contains.
according to the earlier article it says that incand. bulbs are only 5% efficient. wrong. they ar more in the realm of 20-30%.

these are the same people who passed a bill here in washington that effectively declares hydroelectricity as NONRENEWABLE.

what about those electric cars they have been pushing. they use batteries that have to be replaced every 5 years or so for optimum performance. oh, and what about charging them? you have to plug it in and in many areas that electricity comes from hydrocarbons. they have just created more problems rather than fixing any.

Yet Another anonymous coward says:

Stupid is as stupid does...

California, the most liberal state in the country, and most accepting of bizzare lifestyles (I worked in Hollywood for 2.5 years), has the most draconian government in the country. There are more mandates in California than illegal aliens.

I just wonder what kind of bonus the fluorescent light industry is going to pay their lobbyists?

Here is an example of how California improves their local world:
1. “California” determines that there are some hazardous chemicals that outgas from building materials.
2. Legislation is passed to label buildings, so if you are sensitive, you can stay out. (Like the peanut warnings on candy bars.)
3. The law is interpreted as vague as possible.
4. Every building has a generic sign that indicates it “…may contain chemicals determined by the state of California that could be hazardous to your health”.
5. Sign companies make a good profit from these signs.
6. Consultants that did the studies walk away with a chunk of cash.
7. Nothing else changes – except you had better have one of these signs on your building with a vague warning.

Jason Bateman says:

Re: Stupid is as stupid does...

You must have been hurt real bad. let it go. live life and stop crying about the small things that dont have any real affect on your personal life.

BTW, California isn’t the only state to print “warning, might cause cancer” on the packages of cigarettes, “warning, may cause birth defects” on the labels of soda and other distilled drinks…. yeah, but do people always read these labels and follow them 100%?

So you point about the warning signs on the outside of SOME buildings in California falls into that same category. The warning is there if you actually care – or in your case, it’s there to bother over-sensitive people like yourself… and it works, wouldn’t you say so?

Yet Another anonymous coward says:

Re: Re: Stupid is as stupid does...

Please read my post again. All public accessible buildings in California have this warning, mandated by the state govt., or

And, I never said anything that would lead you to think that California mandates the cigarette warnings, that is federal stupidity.

The signs don’t bother me – it’s the govt mandates, especially those that cost private citizens and corporations money, or federal mandates that force local schools to spend more, for instance. Unfunded mandates.

The bottom line, some where behind this promotion is a lobbiest representing some interest that is going to make money from this legislation.

Tyshaun says:

devils advocate seeing the light...

The other way to think about this is that California has a severe energy generation issue (remember those rolling blackouts every summer?). It seems kind of logical to want to enact laws to prohibit certain practices that are energy intensive if analagous low energy ones are readily available. Would this be any different than the current push in the federal government to increase fuel efficiency standards in cars? The goal is to help with a current (and future) energy resource limitation, in the case of cars oil, in the case of light bulbs, kilowatts hours of energy.

That being said, I doni’t think this legislation will be useful not because of the underlying intent, but it seems very apparent that flourescent light bulbs != incandescent light bulbs in all functional areas. Until that happens, they should look for other ways to get energy savings, but you have to give credit for at least attempting to deal with the problem

energy says:

Start somewhere

Why not use legislation to rid the market of outdated and earth harming technologies. How is education going to work? Take smoking, everyone knows it is harmful to them. People just don’t care.

I say use legislation, why not. It isn’t like choosing a light bulb is a sacred right that every man, woman , and child should fear losing.

Outdated and polluting technologies such as these should not be allowed onto store shelves. Let the educated people make this decision and pass the legislation so the rest of the uneducated don’t have to teach themselves about the differences between light bulb technologies.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

Bad point of Flourescents

on of the worst points of Fluro lights is that if you flip them on and off a lot, they will last a lot less time than incandescents which are treated the same, and the margin of electricity used is much lower. THus for IR-activated lights, for example, they are not much good, and although halogens arte used in the upmarket ones, the one that you might use in areas just to find the mailbox/dustbin/whatever, does not need to be a halogen, and a simple incandescent is good for the job.

With regard to the colour temperature, using warm white (3000K rather than 5000K) are more like incandescents, and so more suitable for some rooms.

ken roberts says:

on the head

you sir / lady have hit the nail on the head , law makers make laws just be in the public eye and that is bad . If you take a mathematical aproach to this if a new law were made every day then we would 365 new laws a year and in ten years we would have 3,650 new laws and when the law wants us all not to be ignorant of the law then we would have to read 24 hours a day seven days a week to keep up with the laws and we could not do it then , to many laws to much bull.

Suzanne Smith says:

Flourescent bulbs

For people who have Lupus, sunlight, fluorescent, and halogen lighting is dangerous. It is frightening for us to see a number of states proposing to make incandescent illegal in a few years. Already, we have a hard time finding shopping and public / government buildings and medical buildings that do not have fluorescent. I would hope that an ADA challenge to fluorescents in government buildings will be forthcoming, as the government is supposed to belong to all of us, and be accessible to all. That is why ramps and push-button doors and other architectural modifications were required when the ADA passed in 1991.

L.Hammond says:

Fluorescent bulb eye problem

We have gradually changed many of the light bulbs in the apt to Fluorescent bulbs, and initially there was no problem. I have since been experiencing a problem with my eyes- the reflection of the bulb’s spiral is apparently bouncing off other surface, such as my computer monitor or various reflective surfaces in the kitchen, burning a very bright, temporary imprint of the spiral onto my eye. The “burn” generally starts in the center of my eye and then gradually expands to the corners, and lasts up to an hour. It is extremely distracting, making it hard to read or work on the computer. I don’t believe that at any point I looked at the bulb directly and assume it’s the result of reflections. Has anyone else experienced this or can offer an explanation?

helen holmes (profile) says:

My eyes can't survive florescent lighting and I am

I suppose I could put up with the headaches but that the least of what happens to my eyes when I am in an florescently lit atmosphere.

My eyes are filled with pain that nothing relieves. The pain moves on to redness that seems to up the pain level even more.

Is anything going to be done for the few of us that seem almost to be allergic to florescence. Normal soft light bulbs and halogen bulbs even more, permit me to have a reasonable quality of life. I am so concerned that with the rush to legislate everything under the sun that people like me will end up living at night with candles – which by the way are expensive and with their smoke throw Lord knows what into the air.

Does anyone know if those of us with opthamalogical probems will be permitted to use the less green but so much kinder though not very greenish bulbs that are available today?

Many thanks.

Angela Lagomarsino says:

incandecent light bulb ban

I respect it’s intent to a degree, but I’m a fine artist and florescent still isn’t comparable to incandecent. It would cause problems. I also read about people who have trouble working under flourescent. If I could find their organization I would sign their petition. Ironically when I was younger the heavy yellow of a soft white was a real problem for staying awake during homework. The bill doesn’t have enought exceptions. My workplace regularly breaks the law tossing flourecent tubes in regular trash. By the way how would artists not yet pro defend their need for incandecent. Please if you read this mention these problems.

Steven E. Davis says:

Light bulb ban

It is now january, 2008 and the congress and the President have slyly foisted this Incandescent light bulb ban on us for real. It’s no longer a matter of possibility–it’s federal law.
Take apart a CFL bulb sometime and look inside the heavy plastic (petroleum-based) case. Here’s what’s inside: A printed circuit (PC) board with copper traces, 10 capacitors, 6 diodes, 6 resistors, 2 small IC’s (I think), 2 aluminum brackets, 1 small magnet with aluminum coilwire around it, 2 heavy multilayer copper wire coils on black plastic cores, an iron frame around one of the coils, 2 steel screws, 2 steel nuts, 2 non-conducting plastic (petroleum) safety washers, 2 tungsten filaments (for start-up of the bulb I presume), 4 long filament stand-wires, 2 heavy-gauge plastic insulated power-supply wires, a great deal of wiring for all the components and a great deal of lead-tin solder to affix each component to the board, plus the standard aluminum threaded base and base contact (which, incidentally, is all there is to an incandescent bulb).
The whole thing weighs 4 to 6 times what an incandescent bulb does and costs $4.95, as opposed to $0.25 for an equivalent incandescent bulb. So let’s see, it’s bigger, heavier, costs 20 times as much, requires a great deal of petroleum-based plastic, and also substantial amounts of semi-precious and even exotic mined metals and complex electrical equipment. (I.E.: Copper, lead, mercury, tin, silver, gold, aluminum, silicon, iron, steel, cobalt, samarium, kaolinite, polymers, adhesives, resins, carbon, rubber, etc…..). So it costs much more to produce and ship (greater weight implies more diesel burned to move anything), and it is hazardous to dispose of legally. Compare how much mining and oil exploration have to occur to make one of these CFL bulbs to the same considerations for the old incandescent bulb and it is very clear that the incandescent is the less environmentally damaging choice. Even though it burns more energy when used, much of that lost heat is not lost at all because it helps to heat your home, and most homes in the US require some heating at night…when the lights are turned on! Additionally, our generating network is moving rapidly toward cleaner sources (Nuclear/wind/solar), so mandating a much more materials-intensive CFL will only increase the need for mining and oil exploration. As I see it, this CFL law is a great bonanza to anyone in the metals mining, oil exploration or electronic components industries. I’m all for these industries, but doesn’t this defeat the purpose of a promised “environmentally-friendly light bulb”?
One last thing: In a supposedly “free country” like the US, the central (federal) government has no right to ban ANY type of light bulb. and you should be offended at this gross overreach by both the Congress and this President. (It reminds me of the alcohol Prohibition experiment of the 1920’s-30’s.) If you understand the principles that the Founding Fathers based this Constitutional Republic upon, you cannot support or tolerate any ban at all.
Is anyone out there interested in petitioning to get this portion of the ridiculous knee-jerk energy bill repealed? I’m working with my congressmen and Senators in Colorado right now to generate such a movement. Predictably, only the Republicans have even responded to my phone calls–and they are outraged by the ban as well.
“They that will sacrifice even one libery in order to secure safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
— Benjamin Franklin

I couldn’t have said it better, Ben.
–Steve Davis
Denver, Colorado

Ethan Lamoreaux says:

Mandating CFLs is evil!

You hit the nail on the head, Steve Davis. I only just recently heard that our federal legislators have done the unthinkable in mandating the elimination of incandescent lighting, by requiring all light bulbs meet impossible efficiency standards starting in 2012 with 100 watt bulbs and moving on to target the 60 watt in 2013 and 40 watt in 2014, with all bulbs needing to be 70% more efficient by 2020. This will apparently stop the earth from melting… or perhaps it will be freezing by then, I can’t track the latest “scientific” fads. Perhaps in the upcoming elections we can throw some of the bums who write these stupid laws out of Washington.

Ron Lentjes says:

Did you know?

A course on the Art of Lighting – Human Factors

Now that Australia has been rudely transformed into a scientifically sound Watts and Lumens place of Friday the 13th Lighting Expedition due to the PROFIT motives of PHILIPS ELECTRONICS NV NEDERLANDS, we need proper assessment of lighting needs. Namely the art of lighting, the human factors of lighting, and the FIGHT for APPROPRIATE lighting practices other than those of the CARTEL members of the PHILIPS GIANT.

Q. Who started the BAN OF INCANDESCENTS?


Q. What was the motive behind the ban?

A. PHILIPS was pushing the SALE of it’s baby the CFL but was up against the constant client preference to INCANDESCENT lighting. Americans in a 2003 study kept going back to INCANDESCENT. Only 2.5% take up.

Q. Why is Australia hushing up those apposed to the BAN?

A. Unlike Canada and USA where this is not allowed, Australia have very bad policy of white-washing the just opinions of its citizens. This is due to the CRAFTY bribes of PHILIPS and members of persuasion (to put it mildly). Woolworths is part and parcel of this collusion.

Q. Why such a push?

A. Huge profits. The INCANDESCENT can only sell for $0.50 to $1.00. A poor profit item. CFL and LED can pull in approx $6 and $20 accordingly.

Q. What is incandescence?

A. It is light produced by the ‘black-body’ heating of an object.

Q. Why is this preferred?

A. Incandescence produces an INFINITE range of FREQUENCIES of smooth composition of light. This kind of light can take all the reflections and refractions and filtering after bouncing off all the objects in a room lit by this quality of light. It is also a favorable yellow-white warm light of INFINITE FREQUENCIES that maintains its quality under all the transformations of dimming and reflections and refractions and filtering that normally occurs in the process of ambient lighting conditions.

Q. What is the common problem with CFL, Fluorescent, and white-LED?

A. They all produce their light using a selection of approximately 5 different pigments excited by UV or BLUE LED light. The spectrum is like that of a dead forest of spiky trees with little fill in. Very poor rendition. Very sensitive to manufacturing and to other conditions. Resultant lighting becomes very distorted after only a few (if only one) reflection, refraction or filtering. Many view the light as ‘strange’ or ‘eerie’. Low quality. Most often rendered as COLD white light. Some ‘WARM’ pigment versions are still very strange and vary between BLUE-PURPLE-GREEN-VIOLET off white. Unstable rendition.

Q. Has anyone taken into consideration the human factors of lighting?

A. Not PHILIPS. Not those with VESTED INTERESTS in PROFITS. There is HUGE margin for profits. Human factors are an annoyance to PHILIPS and they rather use the MEDIA to propagate FALSE MISINFORMATION about the entire issue. False mentions that people will get used to this kind of light (absolutely not possible) and false uptake numbers.

Q. Why the hush campaign?

A. Many people DO NOT LIKE the new forms of lighting. It is a natural response. You don’t paint walls pure white. You don’t paint them blue-white. You paint off-white with warm colors for warm effect. No different than the choice of INCANDESCENT lighting. This includes the use of fire-place lighting, candle lighting, kerosene lighting and incandescent lighting.

Q. Is it worth abandoning warm, calm, inviting INCANDESCENT lighting just for the sake of more energy efficient options of poorer forms of lighting such as CFL, Fluorescent and white-LED?

A. If quality of light, quality of life, quality of health, quality of tourism, quality of relaxation are of concern, then the answer is simply no. Everything is to be taken in balance. The most efficient lighting is the most annoying kind of lighting. It is BLUE light and devoid of BODY (the billions of frequencies of INCANDESCENT lighting).

Q. Why is it important to choose quality lighting?

A. You spend all you life under lighting. Choose INCANDESCENCE (fire-place, candle, kerosene, INCANDESCENT) lighting and you will never suffer from the ills of bad lighting. You don’t have to limit your exposure, you don’t get headaches, you don’t have biological stresses from this kind of lighting. It is safe. You’re body knows it is safe. But choose poor lighting (CFL, Fluorescent, white-LED) and you suffer from any number of issue including BLUE light, UV, Flicker (even new CFL: one at 40,000 Hz and one at 39,990 results in 10Hz of annoying sickly feel), biological stress from the light and the EMF from unshielded clipping power supplies in the near radio frequency 40,000 Hz range, the strange incorrect reflections, refractions, filtering of 5 frequency spikes resulting in eerie and strange lighting effects. And the UVA, B, C, D, E so on that is NOT filtered from atmosphere, ionosphere, ozone layers that normally shield us the the Sun’s generation of these UV spectrum (the CFL/FLU is direct to you).

Q. What does Canada say about CFL?

A. Not to be exposed closer than 30cm for no longer than 3 hours per day (or 1 hour for larger units).

Q. What does Australia say about CFL?

A. (Hushed up).

Q. What does USA say about breaking CFL?

A. Proper guide to all clean up steps to be taken. Step one is to leave the area immediately, FIRST. Then follow all remaining steps (including NOT to vacuum or sweep with a broom).

Q. What does Australia say about breaking CLF?

A. (Hushed up).

Q. Why is Australia not backing down?


Q. What does artists and photographers think about this fiasco?

A. Many simply change to in-house studio with their heavily guarded collection of INCANDESCENT bulbs. Some are upset they cannot take night photography anymore in Australia outdoors. Many artists have a similar issue with LED. Colored monochromatic lights for display (not ambient room lighting) is great, fantastic. When lighting white off-white and moody, use INCANDESCENT only. When general room lighting: Only INCANDESCENT for art. Fluorescent ok when using machinery to cut things but otherwise not. But white-LED is NOT TO BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE what-so-ever. The only exception is non-art. Friday the 13th movies with eerie scenes: COLD CLF, COLD Fluorescent and EERIE white-LED is perfect for those ‘DEAD’ scenes.

Q. What do interior decorators feel about CFL and white-LED?

A. They are very angry. I know one in particular who now has a site about how they cannot properly design because an important tool has been taken away from them: THE INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULB.

Q. Why does Australia gov’t not care?


Q. Where are OHSA complaints about lighting directed?

A. 1st attempt. Sorry, their is no department to handle such a complaint. 2nd attempt. You have to contact Australia Lighting (aka PHILIPS).

Q. Why have they eliminated all avenues to oversee lighting in Australia?

A. PHILIPS controls the lighting in Australia.

Q. Why are there very few courses for human factors of lighting?

A. PHILIPS educates kids in schools. They want total control of lighting and the resulting sales and PROFITS.

Q. You’ve got to be kidding.

A. Do your own research.

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