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Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Bloody EU lightbulbs

Our recent page on those bloody low-energy light-bulbs the EU and the government are bullying us into using prompted a couple of interesting replies from readers …

Malcolm wrote …

Thanks for your enlightening (pun intended) post about light bulbs. You may be interested in a bit more information about these so-called low energy lamps.

For a start, they're not all that low energy. It's been estimated that it takes 20 KWHrs of electricity to make one. That's a lot of energy.

Next. They are full of electronics and have no power factor correction. It's a bit complicated to explain unless you know a bit of physics but the net result is that they actually use about twice the power that that are supposed to, although only half of this is picked up at the meter. The other half is dissipated as heat in the supply cables and although you aren't charged for it, the power companies still have to generate it.

To continue, they are very dim when first switched on - no use for stair lighting and the like when you need light straight away.

They generally don't have the life claimed for them. They are OK if left on all the time but every time they are switched on it shortens their life.

Unlike an incandescent bulb which just fails safely at the end of its life, low energy lamps can overheat, melt and cause a fire hazard.

They generally can't be used with dimmer switches. They may appear to work (sort of) but overheat.

They can't be used in enclosed light fittings because they will overheat.

An ordinary incandescent lamp is easily recycled or disposed of. Landfill's OK. It's only made out of glass, steel, a tiny bit of tungsten, some lead-free solder and a bit of pitch or plastic. Even the gas inside is only argon or nitrogen. We get it from the air anyway and it just goes back to where it came from.

With low energy lamps, it's not just the mercury inside them. There's a lot of plastic from the casing and phenolics from the circuit board, silicon and all sorts of plastic and nasty chemicals from the electronic components.

In fact a recycling nightmare.

I just hope that we, as Australia seems to have done, drop all ideas of removing conventional light bulbs from sale.

It appears that, on the back of the Global Warming/Climate Change con, some self-serving tw@s somewhere are going to make a packet out of low energy light bulbs. They'll charge us over the odds to buy them once there's no alternative. Then they'll charge us again to get rid of them.

Best wishes …

… while Pete had this to add …

There seems to be a lot of misinformation peddled about compact fluorescents by journos who basically don't know what they are writing about. I would like therefore to present some facts:

1) ALL fluorescent tubes contain mercury and have done since their introduction early in the 20th century. The amount contained in a full-sized tube is a drop roughly 1mm in diameter. The amount contained in a compact fluorescent lamp would need a microscope to see it - honestly.

2) Fluorescent tubes work by passing electricity through mercury vapour to generate ultraviolet light which in turn causes the phosphor (the white stuff on the wall of the tube) to glow. The mercury vapour is at such a low pressure that inside the tube is to all intents and purposes a vacuum.

3) The environmental problem associated with compact fluorescents isn't the minuscule amount of mercury they contain (which in fact will most probably be unrecoverable) rather the electronic components in the ballast contained in the base of the lamp. These take a hammering during the life of the lamp and are most certainly not reusable. The chemicals in the phosphor are of very low toxicity and can be recycled.

My credentials? Radio and electronics engineer of some 40 years' standing.

The Nanny State has really got its knickers in a twist regarding mercury, and any story involving mercury is always good for a meeja feeding frenzy. Juts a couple of feet from where I'm sitting now are two mercury vapour rectifiers. Each of them has roughly a teaspoonful of mercury sloshing about inside. I'd love to see the look on the faces of some 'Elf'n'Safety prodnose who saw them!

Best wishes …

Our thanks to both contributors.

As the Captain said in response to Pete's missive, the real issue is that these tossers are telling us what to do in our own houses and manipulating the law to make us comply, and it's none of their bloody business what we screw in our light-sockets. We already can't buy creosote in B&Q, or Thawpit Spot-remover, or that vicious weed-killer you used to put on tree stumps and, frankly, enough is enough.


Thanks to:

1 comment:

  1. Excellent and informative - send it to your MP with a covering letter asking what his / her views are. Start a facebook group to shout about it. You and your correspondents have the background to explain this and make it stick.


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