Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Please Sir, may I have my light bulb back?

Our kitchen was remodelled 25 years ago, with a table at one end. Over the years the table has been the base station for a wide range of family activities. Eating meals, children’s homework, reading a book or the  newspaper, making plastic models, fixing broken stuff, drawing, sewing, you name it. Almost anything that can be mentioned in polite company has happened on the kitchen table at one time or another.
For about 24 of the 25 years the table was illuminated by a light bulb, dangling immediately overhead, and containing a 100watt bulb, simple effective technology for which we have to thank Mr Edison. The dimmer switch meant that it was rarely used at full power, but could be when required.
Then the bulb went, and unlike previous occasions this time I had to fit a low energy ‘bulb’. The dimmer switch had to go of course, so no more choice of subdued lighting for evening meals combined with working light for other activities, and the old shade had to go too because the new ‘bulb’ didn’t fit.
I put up with it for a while then it became noticeably dimmer and dimmer. Taking longer to warm up as the days went by, until I found we were sitting in a sickly discoloured gloom that no longer illuminated but rather oozed across the room. No matter that I used my best reading glasses and polished them, on winter afternoons I couldn’t read small print, couldn’t see properly, I can’t focus properly under these stupid lights, and there wasn’t a hope of judging colours, even simple tasks like matching the socks after washing was hopeless.
So I took myself to Wilkinson and bought a halogen spotlight fitting. No doubt I broke various safety and building laws by fitting it myself in place of the original ceiling rose as nowadays ordinary people like me are considered much too stupid to be trusted to join 3 wires in a kitchen because there is a water tap at the other end of the room, even though I am qualified in electrical and electronic engineering and I rewired the house originally. Fortunately I had kept the dimmer switch so back it went.
So a victory, once again I can read a book, read the newspaper and see what I am eating. But even so it’s a somewhat pyrrhic victory. The new fitting has 4 spotlights, each 35 watt so my new light uses 140 watt in place of the old 100 watt bulb. Each spotlight gets almost as hot as the single old bulb so I’m wasting maybe 4 times more power as heat. These small spotlights are forever blowing, they don’t last long, so at 3 quid a time it’s already cost more than 24 years use of an ordinary bulb and created more waste. And the clincher of course, the EU plan to phase out these bulbs too in the not too distant future.
Basically these so-called low energy bulbs are being forced on us because the large corporations make more profit, and under the guise of ‘carbon reductions’ have persuaded, or bribed, the EU into making them compulsory. The global warming alarmists are also delighted because it’s a nice bullying tactic, a constant reminder in every room of our houses of who is in charge of our lives, and they do so like to rub our noses in their opinionated self-righteousness.
I can only hope that the ‘man in a van’ culture, which already deprives the government of some of their outrageous tobacco duty by supplying duty free to the masses can start sourcing old fashioned, real, working, useable light bulbs. Or maybe we can expect cannabis factories to be replaced by illicit light bulb factories, being able to see after sunset is more important than getting stoned.


  1. Someone I know is a highly qualified Electrical Engineer who has a passion for commercial Lights & Lighting systems.

    He has written:

    We are all being encouraged to change to energy saving lamps, this we are told will cut our carbon footprint and save the planet.

    Using energy efficient lamps will certainly save on power consumption, we will not need so many power stations in the future.

    So we are told, but consider the following:-

    A conventional tungsten light bulb is constructed of glass, brass and a tungsten filament.

    All materials, which, if thrown in a bin will do no harm and all of which are easily recycled.

    An energy saving lamp is constructed of glass, brass and a tungsten filament, but, also has a plastic moulding, mercury and phosphors within the bulb, none of which should be thrown in a bin or landfill. Phosphors and mercury are both potential serious poisons.

    The dumping of mercury in landfill is viewed by many as a time bomb waiting to explode.

    An energy saving lamp which is declared to be 11 watts will often consume 25 watts or so.

    The easiest way to save the planet is to turn lights off when not in use, that includes standby lamps. If we are serious about saving the planet, we need to be broader minded.

  2. Absolutely JP. I have actually had one get so hot the plastic base was melted by the time I traced where the burning smell was coming from.
    They are indeed unnecessary, badly thought out, badly made, poorly designed, bad for the environment, ineffectual at their job, and foisted on us to create corporate profits and help the green lobby bully us.
    However I decided to try and write a post that might lead the undecided into disaffection rather than rant about them :)

  3. I would totally agree. These things are only relatively cheap and the useable life is only about four months,at which point the loss of output becomes noticeable and rapidly gets worse.
    A three or four foot fleurescent tube is much more effective.
    People WILL put them in the bucket so eventually
    people will be poisoned by mercury etc.
    But, hey, thats not as bad as co2 in the atmosphere, and evertually it will cause a reduction in the population, which will also contribute to a drop in co2, so its a win-win situation. See the EUSSR thinks very long term!