Why I’m not stocking up on 100w light bulbs

Contrary to Instapundit’s regular reminders, I am not stocking up on 100 watt light bulbs right now. That’s because Monday I plan to try and buy them after the toothless New Year’s dead line passes and they are “banned”. It will be an educational experience all around. If I find them stocked, well and good. I have regular retailers with the stones to do the right thing, offer a legal product despite the protests of the nannies. That’s a useful thing to know and something that ordinary people don’t have a chance to find out in the regular course of business with their retailers. As economic corporatism becomes more and more accepted on the left, this will increase in importance.

I’m going to set aside enough time for this chore that I can have several calm conversations with managers at my local retailers in case they have been cowed or are on the other side. Those on the other side lose my business and I go into “name and shame” mode. Not only are these people siding on the side of the green fascists, they’re taking sides in a constitutional battle between the Congress and the Executive. If defunding a regulation doesn’t stop it from taking effect, what point the power of the purse? Those who have been cowed get to find out that they’re between a rock and a hard place and they might as well pick the option that at least gives them additional sales.

29 thoughts on “Why I’m not stocking up on 100w light bulbs”

  1. I was surprised (should I have been?) to learn George Bush signed this legislation.

    Am I alone to think the govt is too invasive and large to be deciding what kind of light bulbs we should use?

    What would Jefferson or Franklin think?

    As I am typing this I am thinking the power to tax is what got us where we are today – take in money and dispense political favors with the use of that money.

  2. It will be interesting to see what happens. Markets tell the truth. If you can buy a “banned” product after the ban, that tells you something. My guess is that it will be possible to get incandescent bulbs, perhaps at prices not much different that what we pay now, even if their manufacture is banned.

  3. I love it. Normally I’d buy the alternative to the incandescent bulb because, tho having a greater initial cost, its lifetime cost is less. But I’ll pay the little extra to take advantage of the opportunity to teach, to defy statism, to mock OWS, and get something I can use.

  4. We will have an EPA Stasi getting people to rat out their neighbors for having incandescent bulbs. It will be a sign of being a member of the resistance to have incandescent bulbs.

  5. Consider for a moment the chronology of your protest of over-arching government and your location. It is well and good to thumb your nose at the light-bulb Gestapo, but what happened thirty years ago when it was firearms ownership by private citizens of Chicago and then of the entire benighted state of Illinois?

    Might you have waited too long to assert your freedom?

    I speak as a Chicago emigre who left at age 21 never to return.

  6. I had bought several packages of 100-Watt bulbs for my dad’s Christmas stocking; he uses them in his greenhouse. And today I was doing a little home-improvement shopping and just out of curiosity checked the stock; the 100-W bulb shelves were either bare (two stores) or had been reorganized and the 100-W bulb tags were gone (two stores). All national chains, which will not risk violating even a toothless law.

  7. So you are going to go out and “take sides” in spades while harassing those who either have different views, whom you will threaten, or are those who are just obeying the law, who you will call weak?

    Just want to make sure I have this right.

  8. You will regret your decision when the EPA orders DEA style midnight no-knock raids on homes of suspected 100w traffickers.

    Possession with intent to distribute (2+ grams of 100w bulbs) can earn you 20 years in jail.

    The Armies of the Night are looking for scoff-laws who threaten the very survival of civilization.

    Exemptions will be for sale at party HQ together with a banner to be hung on your front door.

  9. You will regret your decision when the EPA orders DEA style midnight no-knock raids on homes of suspected 100w traffickers.

    Nahhh, that just makes it easier to know who to shoot.


  10. We have been replacing our traditional bulbs when they burn out with the new corkscrew ones for a number of reasons. Allow me to make my case.

    After testing corkscrews for years we’ve noticed they last a very long time, use much less electricity and if you buy them where they are displayed lit up, one may purchase corkscrew bulbs that will replicate a traditional and bright warm glow. It’s hard to tell the difference to us even installed in our many recessed ceiling fixtures.

    We found that our traditional outdoor bulbs burnt out often and cost a lot to replace so often, especially the floodlights. We installed corkscrew bulbs outdoors that have lasted over seven years and still light up the property brightly for much less money.

    For us they make economic sense plain and simple. I am no eco-putz and will do nothing that makes me appear to be ‘green’ especially if it costs me more money.

    If others choose to pay for more kilowatts and to frequently replace burnt out traditional bulbs with traditional bulbs then I say to you, go with God.

    A nanny government regulating light bulbs is just so wrong in so many ways.

  11. Someone I know has a pair of compact fluorescents in a hallway fixture that have lasted thirty years, but the compact fluorescents that I buy now often don’t last much longer than incandescent bulbs. There seem to be big variations in quality which make fluorescents more expensive in practice than they are touted as being. They have some advantages but the idea that this particular technology should be pushed on people is outrageous, particularly when it looks as though LEDs may soon prove far superior. The legislation that is pushing them on us is a piece of crony-capitalist corruption along the same lines as the recording industry’s efforts to change copyright law for the benefit of big IP owners.

  12. “After testing corkscrews for years we’ve noticed they last a very long time, use much less electricity and if you buy them where they are displayed lit up, one may purchase corkscrew bulbs that will replicate a traditional and bright warm glow.”

    How nice for you. However, your experiences are not universal. In our experience, CFL’s (1) may, or may not, last a long time. There are some in the house we haven’t replaced in 8 years. Some have lasted a year or two. The same goes for our incandescents. I will concede that on average, the CFL’s probably last somewhat longer. (2) How do you know they use less electricity? Do you have little meters hooked up to your outlets? (Ok, being snarky here, I’m sure they do use less electricity. But how have you “noticed” this? Any difference in our electric bill appears to be swallowed up in the noise. (3) In this household’s opinion, the light from CFL’s looks like crap. It has always looked like crap, continues to look like crap (just more, different values of crap), and the repeated protestations from CFL-pushers that “no! they’re just like incandescents!” simply reinforces the suspicion that they, the CFL-pushers, are not objective parties to the dispute.

    CFL’s are fine in places like the basement, where we don’t care about the quality of light. Elsewhere? Ghastly.

  13. Lexington Green – The Congress recently defunded enforcement of the ban. Generally this means that the ban is killed for the time being while Congress works up a more permanent fix.

    PenGun – The Executive’s allies are organizing extra-governmental goons to force compliance with an explicitly defunded mandate. If the Executive can successfully do this, the power of the purse means little and our current constitutional arrangements are in serious need of a revisit. You may feel no need to take a side in that little problem, but then again you’re Canadian so it’s not a crisis for you.

    Gerry from Valpo – I wish you luck when one of those corkscrews finally breaks. Will you just throw the bulb away or “properly dispose of it”? Do you even know how to properly dispose of it? I personally favor the LEDs as next generation lighting but the plain fact is that the LEDs are for early adopters with regard to general lighting. The market will give plenty of incentive to move on around 2015. We’re being pushed into either putting stuff that’s going to reduce our home values because of mercury contamination or spending through the nose on expensive LEDs before their prices drop.

  14. Regarding inconsistent quality of the CFL: it is not an isolated problem, applicable exclusively to CFL. It helps to look up where the bulb in question was made; “China” or “Mexico” should sound a warning. I am not saying everything made in those countries is crap, but the percentage of is higher than in other sources – possibly, due to lower QC.
    Re: the quality of light: CFLs have been on a market long enough to have its technology improve significantly compared to times complaints like these were valid. Every product has its use and specific formulation for application. If you’re looking for warm white light close to that of an A-bulb incandescent, I’d suggest to look up the color rendering index on the tech data of the lamp (and select only those manufacturers who supply that). See, f.i., this lamp by Sylvania -where they list CRI at 82.

  15. Thanks for the idea. As I was going about my daily business I snapped a couple pics of 100W bulbs still available at Target & the supermarket. Link on my name goes to pics.

    Have a great 2012.

  16. Jack Diederich – Amazon is currently selling 100W incandescent bulbs from both Sylvania and GE so the Executive is not having it all its way. GE bulbs are in stock, Sylvania’s stuff is on reorder. On an unrelated topic, you should be careful about snapping picks at retail locations. Sometimes management has draconian rules against it.

  17. Funding for CURRENT enforcement has been eliminated. That doesn’t mean that someone, somewhere, is not keeping a list of malfactors and enemies of the state for the day when some funding can be reallocated within the bureaucracy. Even if that day never comes, we all know that we citizens commit three felonies a day. Just knowing that a business has committed a single transgression can bring down enforcement in other areas.

    Speak negatively and loudly about a mayor of Chicago and don’t be surprised if the building code inspectors don’t show up eager to protect you and your customers from the pending collapse of your building due to code violations.

    No, almost all businesses in the US will adhere to the ban.

    “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…”

  18. David Fleck Says:
    How nice for you. However, your experiences are not universal. In our experience, CFL’s (1) may, or may not, last a long time. There are some in the house we haven’t replaced in 8 years. Some have lasted a year or two. The same goes for our incandescents. I will concede that on average, the CFL’s probably last somewhat longer. (2) How do you know they use less electricity? Do you have little meters hooked up to your outlets? (Ok, being snarky here, I’m sure they do use less electricity. But how have you “noticed” this?

    With all due respect, Mr. Fleck, I do not own ‘little meters’, all it takes is one meter to perform some tests.

    While I do not know exactly how much I save with the corkscrew bulbs, the meter measures the Kw of appliances that are plugged in and draw power when not being used as well as when they are in use. You may be surprised. So yes, I do save money on electricity because we unplug many power sucking appliances while not being used and install corkscrews wherever possible. They are not practical in some decorative lighting fixtures so we still have some regular bulbs.

    In the home office I shut down my computer, peripherals and then turn off the power strips when not in use. We installed LED night lights and under cabinet lighting in the kitchen that draw next to nothing. We are not environmentalists, we are conservationists. In the past year we have saved 20% over the previous year’s utility bills and it’s not only due to the corkscrews, it’s about paying attention. Some of that may also be due to our mild early winter of 2011 but we are also very conscious of our power usage. Any penny saved is a penny earned.

    Buy your own meter here and see for yourself:


    For us, it’s not about saving the planet as much as it is saving our cash. We are simply being smart with our hard earned money, as any good conservative would.

    Please understand, Mr. Fleck, I respect your right to do as you wish. it matters not to me. Snark all you want : )

  19. “It’s hard to tell the difference to us”

    The comment above made me laugh out loud. Of course, with a spectrometer one could tell the difference instantly. But with the eye we all have different natural acuity for color, and then different levels of training on top of that.

    I’m just as happy with the Corbett Canyon chardonnay out of the box as with the bottle the snobby guy in the wine shop suggests when I’m trying to impress my dinner host. But I’m afraid that if I went around on internet fora suggesting that Corbett Canyon was just as good, it might tell the readers more about my taste than about the wine.

    I am an early and enthusiastic adopter of CFL lamps. Yet, when we had a utility energy audit that included free CFL replacements for any incandescent lamps that were found, he managed to find over a dozen places in my house to put new twisty bulbs.

    As I looked over the report, I could see that in each case I had good reason to use or switch back to incandescents:

    Stairwells: Lately all new CFL purchases come on within about a second, but some still take quite a while to reach full brightness. When I turn on the light for a stairwell, it is for safety. I want the light to achieve adequate brightness before I reach the first step, not sometime after I have completed the flight. Yes, “designated “instant on” lamps are available, but at premium cost.

    Crawlspace: On about two occasions a year, for about 10 minutes a time, I am very pleased that someone had the forethought to have a well-lit crawlspace. I am not about to crawl into the most inaccessible corners to replace working lightbulbs with new ones that will never pay for themselves.

    Outdoor fixtures: I don’t know about where you live, but it gets cold here in the winter. Again, one can buy special lamps for extra cold ambient temperature, but…

    Enclosed fixtures: I’ve a number of enclosed fixtures where my experience with CFL is that they last no longer than incandescent.

    “Base up” use: I rarely get rated life from CFL used in partially enclosed base up fixtures.

    Electronic switches: In our previous house, the previous owner went mad with installing dimmers, timers, and other electronic switches in order to save electricity. Ironically, that meant we had to undo his work and install new conventional switches before we could save even more electricity by using CFL lamps. There were places though where we wanted to continue to have automatic dusk-to-dawn security lighting or PIR triggered lights, hence incandescent bulbs.

    As mentioned above, there are now CFL options available that ameliorate each of these problems. And, as it happens, I’ve got a special shelving unit in my utility room with the special sort of CFL lamp needed for each purpose shelved and marked with where it should be used — When we moved to the USA we had to start fresh with light-bulbs, and I managed to purchase every variety of “things people don’t like about CFL” lamp until we were happy. The cold-looking ones are now marked to use in the crawlspace and attic, the slow-starting ones are perfect for the light that gets turned on when you need to use the toilet in the middle of the night. Still, I suspect I’ve got enough of these lamps with some undesirable quality to last me the rest of my life.

    I suspect that most people aren’t like me, however. After three or four bad experiences with CFL lamps, they might not keep researching and trying. And I can see people being upset that they are being forced to use a technology that they had tried once and deemed inadequate for the purpose. They just don’t understand the joy that comes from experimenting and hunting to find the right lamp for each purpose, a joy that is renewed each time their favorite retailers change suppliers and stocked items. Incandescent light bulbs are boring — aside from the odd manufacturing defect or power surge, they just work reliably in every situation and give the light output and color rendition we expect. Where is the challenge in that?

  20. The bulbs mentioned in the Instapundit post are not the USUAL 100W bulbs. Those bulbs are rated at 100W at 130 volts.

    Incandescent bulbs used to be rated at 120 volts, i.e., the normal US household electrical voltage.

    Those bulbs are actually much closer to 85 watts when operated at 120 volts.

    When you buy those bulbs you are NOT getting what you thought. The marketing folks are playing on the ignorance of the masses.

  21. DOuglas2,
    I have good news for you: certain fluorescents are now dimmable, so you could enjoy savings now for your dimmer switch application as well.
    You method (trial and error) is valid but costly; may I suggest another, “learn about the light source characteristics first and then buy for appropriate application”? One would do better if spent time in his desk chair and read first on rapid start-bulbs; electronic ballasts; on CRI and color temperature, on possible health risks (mercury&phosphorus poisoning and likelihood of its occurrence), on various coating composition, on lamps that are combination of CFL and LED (f.i., by OSRAM-Sylvania) -or just read the reports of similar research already done, like this one. And only then buy the bulbs suited for particular application.
    In your “inapplicable” list you didn’t mention other factors, like “light level” and frequency of distribution. F.i., in a stairway safety suggests that primarily the steps should be lit, so you don’t need ceiling-mounted fixtures for general illumination (also, it makes walking more dangerous due to added shadow from a walking person falling onto steps) – so it would make sense to distribute 2-4 low-watt rapid-start CFL wall sconces, like 11W @ 2’h above steps along the run. At eye level the illumination will be too low to read a book, but at the knee level it will be bright enough to see the whole stair perfectly clear – and it will save money in the long term.

  22. Changing light bulbs is my pet peeve.

    I have shunned 100W incandescents, because they are short lived, and not usually necessary.

    I use CFLs in my office, because it is mine and she can’t complain about it. If you use a couple different makes of bulb, it averages out the color.

    I replaced most 60 W incandescent bulbs with 60 W halogen encapsulated A19 bulbs. They are actually a bit brighter and whiter than incandescents and have a longer rated life. However they cannot be used in closed fixtures because they will cook themselves to death in short order. Encapsulated halogens are also available as outdoor PAR lamps, and they work very well in that role. We have one on the 2nd story corner of the house — a 45W bulb. We only have to replace it once a year.

    I use glass encapsulated 14 W CFLs in several outdoor fixtures and I have had no problems, and long lives from them.

    I yearn for the day when all of these lighting kludges are replaced by LED and OLED lighting. No more sconces, chandeliers, cans, and imitation candles. Just pure unobtrusive, low energy cost, and low maintenance light.

  23. Robert, I agree with what you said – until your last paragraph. You slap together light source (bulb) and light fixture (luminaire). No matter what technological progress will be achieved with light source, a luminaire that uses it serves a different purpose.

Comments are closed.