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Inefficient Energy Policy

I’m okay with the idea of government legislation which encourages citizens to be more efficient. At least when the inefficiencies have negative externalities, like pollution. So I’m kind of okay with the US law which takes effect in 2012 dealing with how efficient light bulbs need to be. When the law was first proposed the idea was to ban incandescent light bulbs. I’m not okay with that. If the purpose of the law is to deal with inefficiency, let the law be about that. Don’t make the law about one type of technology being bad, and another being good. Thankfully the US law is about having a certain lumen to watt ratio. Ideally I think that the law shouldn’t ban a certain inefficient way to do things, it should put fees on the item to make it prohibitivly more expensive than the efficient way. That would help with the  transition from an old habit to a new solution. But anyway, that’s not the law that we got.

The law that was passed though has two (what I consider) gapping holes in it. Light bulbs don’t need to meet the efficiency requirements if they are a three way light bulb or a candelabra light bulb. I can picture in my mind how the arguments to exclude those happened. People arguing against the law said that the efficient light bulbs don’t do a sufficient job at replacing three way and candelabra bulbs. The result of this though, is that everyone is now going to be buying three way and candelabra bulbs, when without the law they wouldn’t have. There’s nothing preventing you from putting these light bulbs in normal lamps.

Now that those inefficient light bulbs have been grandfathered in, how are they going to make them more efficient? There’s little encouragement for someone to invent a more efficient version of those light bulbs. But if they were made expensive due to government fines, people would stop desiring them, and their market would dwindle. Or bulbs which met the efficiency requirements would become invented to fill the demand for that market. I realize that the new light bulbs being invented don’t perfectly fulfill the demands of the current market, but I think the wrong thing was done to deal with that situation.

I’ll be interested to see if candelabra and three way lamps will have an increase in sales, when consumers realizes they can get incandescent light bulbs for those type of lamps. I won’t be surprised when they take over the market, and in a few years the amount of power being used to light our homes will have in no way been influenced by this law.

Categories: News and politics
  1. Paladin
    February 21, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Jared,

    Candelabras are excluded. There’s provisions in the bill for Three Way, Rough Service and light bulbs 150 watts and over. The 150 watts and over are excluded, but if sales of the three way and rough service bulbs rise dramatically, they will be included.

    Chandeliers and other specialized light fixtures (and this includes recessed can lights, enclosed fixtures, ceiling fans, fixtures where the base of the bulb is up instead of down, lights on timers, outdoor security lights (especially when cold) dimmer circuits (where these bulbs can start a fire), in bathrooms where there’s moisture,) can’t use CFL’s. Please read again, CFL’s cant be used in about 60% of the intended applications. Halogens burn 1.5x hotter than normal bulbs, and many fixtures can’t handle that much heat. They are dimmable, sort of, it can shorten their lives dramatically.

    Putting a tax on incans? Maybe, but understand that this whole boondoggle has nothing to with the environment, it’s all about greed. Pure and simple. GE and the other majors were major backers of the bill and wanted incans gone to make more money of off CFLS.

    On dimmers, I’ve caught the damn things on fire using a non dimmer bulb in a dimmer test rig. I have a ceramic socket connected to a typical off the shelf dimmer, and a plug. This rig also has a 2 amp in line fuse to protect the house circuit. Basically I put the bulb in the socket, dim it about 20%, sit back and wait. In about 8 minutes, the base of the bulb starts to smoke, then a few minutes later, the base then catches fire. The two amp fuse NEVER BLEW.

    Dimming on these is a joke at best, and dangerous at worst (see above mentioned fire hazard). CFL’s will NEVER be fully dimmable simply because the electronics in the base and how electricity/current works. A CFL in a dimmer is about the same putting a VCR or DVD player on a dimmer. The effect is the same. The power supply is not linear and must have a certain amount of power to operate. For a bases for comparison, old tube type radios (even tube type televisions), both transformer and transformerless, CAN BE used on a voltage reducer (this is a common troubleshooting technique), because the power supplies on these are linear. In other words, if the power transformer is designed to put 350 volts out at 110 volt input, if the input voltage is dropped to 100 volts, the output drops to 320 or so. Switching power (non linear) supplies cannot do this.

    What’s even more interesting is that a company out of Dallas, Tx, 1000bulbs.com, have been directed by their legal department that they cannot sell dimmable CFL. (I been doing some business with them because I needed specialized 300 watt industrial incan lamps for an antique ceiling fixture I’m restoring)

    http://1000bulbs.com/category/dimmable-cfl-compact-fluorescents/

    On power plants, the whole logic that removing incandescents will remove plants is false.

    Pwr gens have to keep a certain amount of reserve online to handle spikes and insure stability. That never changes. Here’s why. Take a hot summer day in the south, pwr gens ramp up during the afternoon to handle the a/c load, then ramp down again during the off peak hours. Lighting, especially residential, is used during the OFF PEAK hours, when the demand is the lowest. <—read that again.

    How is it that something that's actually used during lowest demand time of day, is actually going keep plants from being built, or taken off line? Especially when they have to ramp up again the next day to handle the load? Residential lighting makes up about 6% of the total draw on the grid.

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