/ Home & Energy

Farewell to 60 watt bulbs – are you sad to see them go?

Exploding light bulb

This time last year, I was writing about the demise of the 75W traditional light bulb, banned under EU rules. Now it’s the turn of 60 watt bulbs, which will also soon be disappearing from shop shelves.

The move is part of an EU initiative to phase out less efficient light bulbs by 2012 in favour of energy-savers.

Shops will no longer be able to buy new stocks of traditional clear 60W incandescent light bulbs from 1st September – following a similar ban on 75 watt bulbs last year, and 100 watt bulbs the September before that.

For shoppers, it means swapping over to energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or newer LED or halogen bulbs instead – or alternatively stocking up on old-style bulbs before they’re gone for good.

Your light bulb leanings

So how will you be lighting up your home in the near future?

Love, hate – or hoard – them, the little light bulb has been a real talking point over the past year here on Which? Conversation, and lots of Convo commenters have been telling us how they’ve been dealing with the switchover in their homes:

  • CFL convert: ‘I now use Osram Duluxstar Mini Twist 23W spirals which give out light equivalent to somewhere between 100W and 150W tungsten, quite quickly. And I bought a Varilight Dimmable EnergySaver+ just a couple of weeks ago. Yes – DIMMABLE!’ said EMCman.
  • The stockpiler: ‘I really object to being forced into wasting money and time replacing these wall lights because of a totally unecessary ban on traditional bulbs. So I am doing what loads of others are doing – stockpiling old lamps to delay changing the lights – hopefully until either small golfball LEDS are available (and cheap) or the government sees sense,’ fumed John.
  • Hopeful about halogens: ‘We’ve just started using halogen bulbs. They use more power and aren’t so long lasting but are very bright and come on instantly. Not too expensive,’ Rosemary Nimmo commented.
  •  Liking LEDs: ‘I have replaced 12 x 50 watt halogens with these 3 LED, 3 watt, soft white bulbs which give out 300 lumens… I like the resulting light and I can use all of them at the same time and use less energy than one of the originals,’ said Daiverse.

Lighting up your home

Our lab-based tests suggest that the technology is improving, but the reputation of energy-saving light bulbs continues to be far from glowing, with various issues making the idea of change offputting to many of us.

So what are people’s main complaints? The ‘truly awful’ or ‘very dim’ light emitted, compatibility problems with specific lights, the aesthetics (‘ugly’), a dislike of the way the phase-out has been conducted (‘big brother banning’), and concerns about reports of a recent jump in the cost of CFLs.

So how are you dealing with the changeover in your household? Are you a grudging or enthusiastic energy-saving bulb user, an early adopter of LED lighting or have you got a supply of traditional bulbs large enough to keep you going for years to come?


Interesting, tytalus. Some people might want to know what the 9 errors/exaggerations were. A film on the last war that had only one error might seem all right. But what if that one error cast serious doubt on the existence of the Reinhardt extermination camps . . .

In any case, I don’t think the judge actually said that it was “the best scientific information we have to hand”. If he did then he was rather more acquainted with the hotly disputed field of climate science than is usual among the legal profession – or a bit of a Silly Billy (which is not quite so unusual among that profession).

As to whether it should be shown to impressionable youngsters without a balanced opposing view, I do have doubts. I am a schoolmaster of some experience and would deem it to be inappropriate, given the trenchant manner in which it is presented. I do not believe in one-sided partisan material of any kind being given a platform within an educational establishment.

I still shudder slightly when I remember the ghastly video where kids are blown into pieces for not going along with the ‘consensus’.

I wish you luck, by the way, in your quest to find a clincher.

Oh yes, getting back to those horrid bulbs, how much exactly do you pay for your cheap low energy bulbs?

I confess that I find it hard to understand how an effect manages to precede a cause. Perhaps that’s because I’m not a climatologist. But I seem to recall that the film in question also fails to explain IanF’s “oscillators and feedback systems” theory. Perhaps the film makers assume that viewers (including school pupils) are, like IanF, fully aware of the “oscillators and feedback” effect. But I do not recall this ‘explanation’ making much headway among sceptical scientists of international repute either.

After admitting my ignorance, I feel on safer ground with IanF’s contention that “we are carrying out an experiment with the climate at a scale and speed that is both unprecedented and unpredictable”. Here he is, to put it mildly, a bit ‘way out’. We are not carrying out any experiment that I would characterise as such. It is also unwise to bolster any argument with phrases like “current understanding suggests”. It is, forgive me, lazy thinking and not any part of a scientific debate. Indeed, it comes perilously close to that “consensus” nonsense that riddled alarmist talk for years before being, I thought, finally put out of its misery. Of course, the BBC continues to intone “Experts say . . . “Scientists fear . . . ” etc at the beginning of dire news of terrible consequences if we don’t see the light and mend our ways. But they hardly ever go into details about the provenance of these ‘experts’ and ‘scientists’. And probably for very good reasons.

IanF is on safer ground with his anodyne statement that CO2, rather like farting sheep, is a contributor to warming. Few people bother to dispute that, mostly because it is a simple fact. It is also a simple fact that it is a tiny contributor and not worth bothering about – unless one is taking time off one’s usual hobby of working out how many angels can be comfortably accommodated on a pin-head. I don’t mean to be rude, and I apologise if I give offence. But I find the notion of spending enormous amounts of money and precious resources on projects doomed, for a myriad number of reasons, to abject failure fairly offensive too.

People in rich western nations cannot conceive how their foolish obsession with wasting resources on fashionable, unnecessary, and self-pleasing schemes are viewed by starving people whose sole desire is to have food, clean water, and health care. To a starving Ethiopian the attention lavished on producing directives on light bulbs, never mind stupid wind-farms must be bewildering and beyond comprehension.

And who is to say he is wrong?

Wildberry wites”…We do not “owe it to our descendants to leave a habitable planet for them”. It sounds nice and caring but we never have operated in that fashion and, I fear, we never will. …”

It is quite true we never considered the planet’s future in tha past – but there are many things we didn’t consider in the past simply because we didn’t know about them. Fifty years ago tobacco smoking was considered a harmless – indeed a beneficial – habit. Now we know that smoking tobacco kills people and responsible authorities are doing something about it.

We didn’t know much about the effects of fossil-fuel use either, fifty years ago. Now we do and people are trying to do something about that as well.

Although it would be a relatively simple thing to stop tobacco smoking, humankind has not managed to do it in half a century; doing something about climate change and fossil fuel depletion is a far more compex issue and will take much longer to sort out. But because some of the ideas don’t work very well, and the difference each one makes is small, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try.

I am certainly not keen on change for the sake of change and unnecessary legislation, but sometimes we need to be told what to do for our own good and sometimes it works. The phase-out of leaded petrol does not seem to have created the problems that some envisaged and the air we breath is no longer contaminated with lead. I’ve previously mentioned the benefits of smokeless zones and fitting catalytic converters to cars. I presume that the installation of desulphurisation equipment at coal-fired power stations was done as a result of legislation. I don’t think that many will argue that these measures have been worthless, even if we had our doubts during their implementation. I am glad that we are making progress on discouraging smoking. In view of the fact that it is addictive, I believe that the gradual approach is right, even though exposure to cigarette smoke has put me in hospital and contributed to breathing difficulties and asthma attacks in my earlier life.

I believe that it was a good decision to phase out incandescent bulbs, though a lot more thought should have gone into addressing the various problems that people have encountered with energy saving alternatives. Some have stockpiled the old bulbs, others have discovered that they are still available online and some have switched to halogen replacements that save a little energy and last longer. The lack of compatibility of most CFLs and some LED lamps with dimmers can be addressed by using table lamps etc, which is the way we provided lower level lighting before dimmers were introduced. That is a useful energy saving measure because dimmers cut down the brightness of the old bulbs without proportionally decreasing the power consumption. I know a number of people who were strongly opposed to CFLs for one reason or another but have become converts and even proponents in recent years. No-one can deny that low energy lighting will save a vast amount of energy and when bright LED lamps become available at a sensible price we will have a lot more choice.

If we want to push for freedom of choice and wasting money on new technology, look no further than smart meters. If anyone wants one, let them have one and let them pay for it.

To Richard and wavechange: I fear we shall not agree. The way that “passive smoking” has become an accepted fact, without the slightest proof, is very depressing and an indication of the way we are being gently (and sometimes not so gently) manipulated into taking our lead from those who prefer to do our thinking for us. It signals the power of suggestion and strident alarmist lobbying. The British Medical Journal was viciously attacked for having the gall to print the best long-term study of this theory because, although run by two scientists who originally believed the fashionable “passive smoking kills” line, showed beyond reasonable doubt that it was simply not true. Cold water was also thrown on the “passive smoking” theory by the very man who was most influential in establishing the link between smoking and respiratory conditions, including cancers. But, such is the power of those promoting an alarmist line that seems to chime in with the current fear-laden theories of our time, that these opinions were instantly and scornfully dismissed. I would mention that I smoked for 25 years until I gave up the disgusting habit and I do not enjoy other people’s smoke at all. But I still defend their right to shorten their lives if that is what they want to do.
When Richard says, almost as an aside and without reflecting on the implications, “it would be a relatively simple thing to stop tobacco smoking”, my heart sinks. And wavechange’s “sometimes we need to be told what to do for our own good” makes me feel very cold indeed.

I recall a recent meeting (July 7 2011, at the Royal Society of Chemistry) where a prominent Green campaigner stated (and I quote),

“I’m not advocating relying on sixty million people to change their habits. I’m after top-down intervention to make people change their habits”. He went on, “ . . . it seems to me it’s romanticism to expect markets to do this; it’s romanticism to expect individual action to do it. It’s got to be done top-down – this is what we invented government for; not to give us more freedom of choice but to coerce us into doing the things that we need to do in our own best interests.”

During his follow-up question from the floor Mark Lynus immediately remarked “Roger seems to have given up on democracy and Greenpeace seems to have become a wholly owned subsidiary of the renewables industry . . .”

If this sort of attitude doesn’t put fear into you I am sorry. Perhaps I’m one of those ‘romantics’ so scornfully dismissed by Greenpeace’s Roger Levett. If so, I can live with it. And, if necessary, I can also put up with people who smoke in my vicinity. Freedom is too easily put aside for “good reasons” and “for our own good”. So – it’s been interesting to exchange view, chaps, but I shall now bid you farewell and best wishes.


I agree that rather too much has been made of the effect of passive smoking on the general public, but I am an asthmatic who used to be badly affected by smoke in pubs and at social events. There are others who have had similar experiences. I don’t want to ban smoking or consign smokers to stand outside – and certainly not to shelters heated by wasteful patio heaters. All I ever wanted was smoke-free rooms so that I and others could join in normal social activity without (literally) losing sleep or having another asthma attack. Am I being terribly selfish?

I never mentioned passive smoking – although there is plenty of evidence to show that, even though it might not cause lung cancer (although I doubt that Roy Castle’s widow would agree) passive smoking does cause many difficulties. My own wife, who is asthmatic, had been unable to go into pubs for years. Now that pubs are smoke free she uses them regularly.

My words “…“it would be a relatively simple thing to stop tobacco smoking” …” I stand by. Relative to trying to stop the profligate abuse of fossil fuels it is very easy. The main difficulties are political – in the broadest sense. Make smoking and the manufacture and sale of cigarettes illegal – as such things as heroin use, dog-fighting and racing cars on the public highways have all been made illegal in the past century – and you will get rid of most smoking very quickly. Of course, there will still be lawbreakers but most smoking will stop in short order because most people do not want to break the law.

The law against smoking in public buildings is widely obeyed – in spite of the vociferous protests against its implication.

But the multi-million pound tobacco industry has, and will continue, to put its considerable weight behind the opposition to making smoking illegal and that is what I mean by politics.

David 2JF says:
26 January 2012

I do so agree with your thinking, Wildberry – especially as it supports thinking by others; ie freedom to think differently in a democratic society.

>”Freedom is too easily put aside for ‘good reasons’ and ‘for our own good’.”< This is so true – and so full of potential dangers for us all.

I suppose it depends on who’s ‘good reasons’ they are. The Film ‘AI’ takes this to it’s conclusion: man is a danger to himself. But this is what keeps us human.

I am overweight. Through choice? No. Though being human and lacking will-power. Should someone legislate against my choice of Latte over Filter? There’d be ‘good reason’ to… but as long as I don’t directly affect others at the point of use. Then maybe we shouldn’t have our freedom curtailed.

I don’t smoke. Through choice? Yes. Never did like it or understand why people would do it since my first school report into it at the age of 11 a few decades ago. Should someone legislate against my choice of whether or not I would want to smoke? There’d be ‘good reason’ to… but as long as I don’t directly affect others at the point of use… I do like to go into a pub now and not be told it’s not my choice to have a pint without suffering the smell, stinging eyes and the scary asthma attack I one had (in the now renamed Montagu Pyke in London). Then maybe we should have our freedom curtailed.

This is why it’s Okay to drive like a maniac, on racetrack. Do it pass my sons school in a clapped out chavved up VW…

This is why it’s Okay to use a mobile phone, sat in a chair. Do it in the cab of your 7.5 ton lorry… http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/58714/Trucker-on-phone-kills-girl.html?print=yes

Depends on the good reason.

I’m surprised nobody has yet mentioned the Stern Review, which concludes that the cost of action is very much less than the potential cost of inaction if, as he believes, the threat of climate change is real. Therefore, even if those who believe climate chase is real and man-made turn out to be wrong, the expenditure incurred will have been far less than the potential cost of if they are right.

I’d also like to comment that most of us, on sound selfish gene grounds, would surely rather our children and grandchildren were able to live in a world that was not an ecological and therefore a political disaster.

Nobel prize winner Kenneth Arrow in the Economist’s Voice (Arrow, 2007a)[68] and for Project Syndicate (Arrow, 2007b):[69]:

” Critics of the Stern Review don’t think serious action to limit CO2 emissions is justified, because there remains substantial uncertainty about the extent of the costs of global climate change, and because these costs will be incurred far in the future. However, I believe that Stern’s fundamental conclusion is justified: we are much better off reducing CO2 emissions substantially than risking the consequences of failing to act, even if, unlike Stern, one heavily discounts uncertainty and the future.”

Is this the last we will hear from Wildberry? I do hope not: a lack of alternative views (for or against) in any discussion stalls progress and threatens a ‘pat on the back’ culture of ‘see, everyone agrees with me’. Maybe it’s my appalling spelling and grammar (never my strong suit, but I still managed to get an Electronics Degree).

But to answer your question, Wildberry (if you’re still reading), concerning bulbs:
5 x either free (to me) or Tesco’s 10p a shot: very Cheap. Only one has gone in 5 years. (interesting the power company free ones, shows what a threat of a fine can do and how they play the systems).
15 x 7W Candle-type in 3 fittings in 2 hallways: I remember spending nearly £75 on them 5 years ago. Not one has gone, each replaced a 40W bulb when we moved in. Not a Cheap outlay, but much cheaper than the Tunsten ones very quickly. I really don’t know why the previous house-owners wanted 2 halls lit up like Blackpool in winter!
4 x 7W GU10 CFLs: 2 packs of 3 recessed fittings with CFLs, £15 each pack. Changed 2 of the CFLs with £13 LEDs, one failed and replaced with an excellent Halogen like £16 LED as mentioned earlier. Much cheaper to run that the 50W halogen MR16 with 70% efficient Voltage converters.

I have also brought 3 dimmable CFLs for the back of our lounge. About £10 a pop, but I don’t use them in the front of the room where we need instant light. I’m still using Halogen type replacements as they need to be stable, quick and bright.

We still have a couple of Tungsten lights (outside) that are hardly used and hardly worth the effort. We have a decorative Tungsten one in our sons bedroom, as it forms the head of his light fitting in the shape of a bird. And the bathrooms still have 2×2 standard 50W MR16s in, as the sums don’t add up yet for the amount they are used.

So, I play a balanced game: Some Cheap (or free) to buy bulbs, some Cheap in the long run bulbs and some Standard bulbs because technology is yet to catch up.

So slamming this conversation right back in to the topic: I am sad to see the 60W bulb go completely as there are places for it. But many would never have found out where they were not necessary, nor would there be as much a demand for movement in the alternative technologies, without the ‘ban’.


It’s very nice of you to say that, tytalus, but one thing I have learned in many years’ teaching and lecturing is that there comes a time when one has to move on. I do not mean this to be seen as departing from the debate in high dudgeon. Far from it; I admire your determination to fight your corner but one senses that you are too committed to change your chosen viewpoint and I am not, despite what I sometimes may suggest, in the business of knocking my head against a wall. I have had many pupils and students who have opposed my views and some who have changed theirs after long and happily civilised debates. Where reason reigns there is always a place for disagreement. I profoundly disagree with much of what you (and Richard) accept as too obvious for dispute, and that is fine. But where one cannot persuade, one should not overstay one’s welcome. That is why I am withdrawing from the debate although I have found it quite stimulating as well as (of course) occasionally disappointing. That is my excuse but I sincerely wish you well whilst (one is only human) hoping you will accept the odd point I have tried to make.

One last comment however: I note that Anna has joined the fray with a stoutly argued defence of what I have always regarded as the utterly indefensible Stern Review, and has supported its pernicious “precautionary principle”. It is always dangerous – and often very very boring, to quote other people’s articles to bolster one’s own. But there is one essay that puts the anti-Precautionary Principle case so well that it would be pointless to attempt a paraphrase. I would, tentatively, commend it to Anna in the hope that she may reconsider her perception. It is to be found at

As I said before, I wish you all well and shall, from time to time sneak a look at your ongoing discussion – particularly if you continue largely to ignore the beastly light bulb controversy which, I believe, has probably run its course.

postscriptum: Thank you for the information, tytalus. I have taken careful note!

Wildberry writes, “…I profoundly disagree with much of what you (and Richard) accept as too obvious for dispute, and that is fine. …”

I could say exactly the same about much of what Wildberry writes. His spirited rebuttal of passive smoking which – regardless of anything that the BMJ might have printed – has a deletarious effect on many people – especially asthmatics – as two of us here have pointed out.

Incidentally, without wishing to drag this debate too far off topic, I would point out to Wavechange that the licensed trade was offered, some years ago, the chance to provide separate accommodation for smokers, and they had to declare their smoking policy on their entrances. With the notable and laudable exception of J D Wetherspoon, the majority of pubs stuck to the letter of the law by stating that their smoking policy was “Smoking permitted throughout”. They lost their chance of self-regulation and so the might of the law had to be invoked to ensure that the non-smoking majority of the population could avoid others’ fumes.

Now, of course, the smoking lobby is asking for that separate accommodation that pubs failed to provide back then. Sorry guys – you lost your chance and you don’t deserve another one.

Thanks for that, Richard. I have a lot of respect for Wetherspoon, and not just because of their efforts on the smoking issue.

Perhaps Wildberry should watch someone having an asthma attack and struggling for every breath. I am told it is quite alarming to watch.

I remember the day of the votes in parliment: there was the main vote, and the ammendment. The ‘don’t ban’ lobby had argued that the main act’s inclusion of ‘smoking’ rooms was unworkable and the whole thing should be thrown out.

It backfired: it resulted in the amendment for a total ban to solve the issue once and for all.

Democracy in action, 3/4 of the voting populas don’t smoke but most do go out. Passive smoking, or no, those 3/4 wanted it gone.

As for Passive smoking and health: ask the unfortunate minority of lifetime non-smokers with smokers dieseses (cancers and lung, mainly). Tell them that it’s all buncus. Or put another way; tell my sister in law that her condition was her fault, and that her mum should have been taken off the register for a new heart/lung transplant, all because they used to sing in clubs.


You don’t seem to have had much of a problem with premature failure of CFLs. Most people I know find them OK and they seem to survive tests run by Which? despite the fact that the poor things are switched on and off umpteen times. Having said that, many people have experienced high failure rates. Given your degree subject, I wonder if you have any thoughts on this problem.

Dimmable CFLs are not very common in the UK and I have read that they are prone to flickering at low brightness. That seems likely because there is no way of keeping the heaters hot at low brightness with a two wire supply. (Dimmable fluorescent tubes have circuitry and wiring to keep the heaters hot.) Do your dimmable CFLs work OK and if so, have you used a dimmer specifically designed for use with CFLs, or just the standard type you would use on incandescent bulbs?


I don’t know why I’ve not had many CFL failures, but it’s interesting the one place I have had it was a short duration, often switched, place: the downstairs loo. Arguably this is one place where I shouldn’t be bothered with a CFL, a Tungsten would arguably do the job better. However, Being Human kicks in and there is nothing worse than getting home and finding that the Wife, Son or myself had accidently left the damn thing on all day. That’s why I replaced the old Tungsten I put in there with a CFL again; I had a 10p one to hand, costs a lot less to keep on all day/night and saves the arguments about who was to blame this time…

The Dimmable CFLs are, quite frankly, lacking. I put one in our small study (as I prefer a dim light when gaming, and a bright light when working), but it took such a time to get to full brightness that I replaced it with a Halogen. However, I brought another 2 (same Megaman brand, but now stating ‘no liquid mercury’) to put in a 3 bulb rose, which is one of 2 in our lounge. This was a compramise: the back of the room doesn’t need to be bright, especially not quickly, but the front of the room (where the sofas and TV are) do. These lights are also left on most of the time, so the CFLs have time to get to full brightness, and are a fraction of the cost of the Halogens over a period of time (and last a damn sight longer; we have anotherone out at the moment).

As for flicker: yes, they do start to flicker when you turn them to their bottom setting, but the Halogen bulbs are no more than glowing at this point, so it’s pretty low. Anything above 40%, say, and they appear fine. Not ideal, but meets our needs.

However, having seen the improvement in GU10/MR16 LEDs over the last 4 years, I’m hopeful that they’ll crack the problem.

As an asside, and to the comment concerning dimmers and electricity costs, there are several articles out there about how the old (resistive) and new (wave chopping) versions work. Anything fitted over the last 15 years should be the chopping type (they often buzz) and do reduce electricity bills when dimmed; you are using less electricity. I was a little sceptical, but even the energy monitor I have indicated it: turn the lights to 50%, the monitor dropped by 50%.

Like large inductive loads, though, too many of them and it starts playing merry-hell with the grid!

Thanks tylalus. I understand that many CFLs use mercury amalgam rather than mercury to help keep the vapour pressure of mercury constant despite the large change of temperature. One of the drawbacks seems to be a longer delay before full brightness is achieved.

I have heard of a lot of failures of reflector-style CFLs and Megaman in particular.

I appear to have missed out the reference I meant to have given. My apologies.

It is

I’ll try again. Perhaps there’s a ban on recommending other sites? If so it is easy to find (if you are still remotely interested), at “Beware the Precautionary Principle”

Last try: http://www.sirc.org/articles/beware.html

Messages with website links or email addresses are delayed until they have been checked by the moderators. This is now in the FAQ.

Just read that article.

I would summerise it as: the abscence of certanty of eternal safety shouldn’t prevent progress.

I note that it mentions ‘greenhouse’ gases amongst GM crops and cellular phones, but I question that this is a fair pot to be put into:

We have read on these pages about doubts about changes; but we haven’t been lacking in articles, for and against. Very different from GM and mobile phones; I’m yet to read or find many reports about historical affects, natural phenomina or likewise, but apart from the MMR like scaremongering, I’m also hardpressed to find circumstantial evidence about any effects of them (there was one about local warming and old Analogue phones, but nothing to show that it did any more damage than sleeping on a hot-water bottle…).

However, we have seen the issue of CO2: it’s a green house gas, it helps keeps the planet in this nice middleground humans like, and I do hope that this fact is not a point of argument. It’s a small constituant of the atmosphere, about 0.0387%. This is an interesting figure as when I looked for stuff to discredit the ‘facts’ in An Inconvienent Truth (I do not take anything at face value), it was a figure used to show how insignificant CO2 was.

The argument continued that the ‘green’ lobby didn’t realise that humans were putting only about 0.0002% per year more into the atmosphere (after all the sinks had done their thing). Or as Wildberry put it: ‘It is also a simple fact that it is a tiny contributor and not worth bothering about – unless one is taking time off one’s usual hobby of working out how many angels can be comfortably accommodated on a pin-head.’

Yes, it a very small figure. But I did some maths… industrial revolution, continuing increases in outputs (thanks to the developing world), average it out… we (Man) would have doubled the atmospheres’ CO2 in the next 50 years or so at present rates.

Is this really not a problem? Whether Antartic ice cores show a lead or lag of temperature and CO2 over 1000’s of years; if CO2 does what it does, does not doubling it over a few decades give us enough of the willies to actually want to do something about it? Is this not enough to be precautionary?

Okay, dump the historic science and it’s ‘dodgy’ East Anglian Professors as it’s unproovable, apparantly:

CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
It is the most signifcant greenhouse gas (after water vapour).
Since it’s been measured it has increased significantly, and will have likely doubled in my expected lifetime.

Sorry if this sounds entrenched, but I am yet to hear anything to challenge this, only question the scientists (personally) and their projections, because they haven’t happened yet, so they can’t prove it. And what can’t be proven, apparantly, is rubbish science.

O.K. the precautionary principle can be used as an excuse for preventing innovative action or for forbidding existing actions to continue, but what we are talking about in relation to climate change is weighing up the costs of taking or not taking a particular course of action – reducing the output of greenhouse gases. Stern believes that the cost of taking action is very much less than the potential cost of not taking action if man made climate change is occurring. Perhaps flu is a useful analogy: flu jabs are not particularly pleasant and are quite costly for the NHS, but the consequences and costs of a major flu epidemic are very much greater so it is considered worth while for flu jabs to be offered even though there is no guarantee that a particular epidemic will actually occur.

Karl Popper said that the difference between science and non-science is whether something is potentially refutable – hence religion and Marxism and other slippery and mutable dogmas are not scientific. Climate change is something that can be and is being monitored: it’s extent and causes can be not only discussed but are open not only to demonstration but potentially to being disproved i.e. are within the realm of science. Time will tell.

Back to bulbs: I’m about to put a 48″ LED tube light in my kitchen as a replacement for the old fluorescent. Has anybody else tried these?

IanF says:
27 January 2012

I’d really like some details on the LED tube light. The long fluorescent tubes are very efficient and though LED might be able to beat it I’d not expect to save a great deal if any money by replacing a 4′ strip fluorescent with LED.

off topic… if you think a little knowledge is a dangerous thing then you need to try ignorance! I stop listening to any of the climate skeptics when they refuse to bother to find out just why the CO2 lag in the ice core data is what we would expect to see. Much as I sop when the CC proponents use hyperbole.

further off topic. The problem of fossil fuel reserves is a red herring. The issue of growing demand for energy can be summarised as just where are we going to put all the power stations. http://www.imperial.ac.uk/college.asp?P=7396 unfortunately Prof Nocera’s lecture no longer appears to be online. Somewhat has put together some notes though from a variety of sources http://instaar.colorado.edu/~lehmans//env-issues/documents/S09_3520_20comp_002.pdf

Going directly back to the topic of this Convo, and with apologies for repeating myself again, I’d just like to add two more examples of how CFL’s are unfit for purpose (in their current form).

My mum’s house was rewired in October 2010. Every light fitting had brand new bulbs fitted during the rewire. 2 nights ago mum called me to say that all her upstairs lights had gone out. The cause was the Pro-Lite 15w CFL in the landing light. As with a number of CFL’s that I have had, when it failed it blew the circuit fuse (strictly, it tripped the breaker in this case). At less than 14 months old, and mum being very energy conscious having been used only when she is going up and down the stairs, this is a very poor life span, much much less than stated by the manufacturer or by the Which? and Government claims and because it tripped all the upstairs lights also very dangerous for a widowed lady in her 80’s left, literally, in the dark.

The mandatory (by law) inclusion of internal fuses in all CFL’s, such as exist in all Tungsten lamps, would have saved the tripping problem. Higher quality manufacture (as discussed at length by Wavechange and others way back on this board and others) would alleviate the short life span issue (and of course be likely to correct the fuse issue too).

And finally, testing brands which are commonly available (Pro Lite being in almost every shop in Sheffield (where I am) and Chesterfield (mum’s nearest shops), to the exclusion of all other brands, but not being featured in any Which? tests that I can recall) would assist us in knowing what is a good buy and probably place some pressure on shops not to stock poor brands and in turn on manufacturers to up their game.

So that’s my first example. The second is of less concern to me as it didn’t leave a more vulnerable person in an unsafe situation. A Pro Lite 7w spiral in a table lamp in my own home failed again this evening. This lamp was fitted base-down in a completely open, wide, cylindrical shade on a table lamp and was fitted on Dec 3rd 2011. It’s been on every evening since then, for roughly 6 hours each evening. That’s roughly 336 hours and about 56 switching cycles. I call that exceptionally poor value and, whilst I absolutely approve of all efforts to save energy and I am well and truly ‘on the fence’ over whether the manufacture and disposal of CFL’s is any worse for the environment than the manufacture and disposal of tungsten lamps, I absolutely refuse to accept that such unreliability and short life span can, overall, make cfl’s anything other that WORSE all-round than tungsten lamps. Without doubt it most certainly means that financially they are a dead-loss.

I agree that CFLs should include fuses to prevent consumer unit fuses fusing ant trips tripping. I’ve no idea of which brands, if any, include fuses. On the rare occasion that a CFL has passed away it has caused me no problem. I am not sure if some incandescent bulbs (e.g. candle and golfball styles) contain fuses and most halogen bulbs don’t have them. I recently replaced a friend’s kitchen dimmer killed by a GU10 halogen bulb blowing and the instructions for the new dimmer stated that the guarantee was invalid if used with bulbs lacking a fuse.

You are absolutely right about safety and the elderly. I put CFLs in my parents’ house to save them from being left in the dark and perching on stepladders to replace blown bulbs.

The three obvious causes of CFLs failing are overheating of the electronics (especially in enclosed and recessed fixtures), poor quality electronics and frequent switching on and off. Voltage spikes could be another problem, but I have no idea if this is likely. I have also seen a fair number of CFLs (ordinary rather than dimmable) destroyed by being used on a dimmer circuit.

I have had success with Philips and GE CFLs and the only brand I would avoid is Megaman, on the basis of what I have read on review sites and comments from people I know. I have never seen Pro Lite CFLs but then I did not know about high brightness CFLs until I read your comments on this forum.

I have suggested that Which? should test more of the CFLs that are commonly in the shops, including cheaper varieties. Obviously this takes time but it is a lot cheaper than testing washing machines.

That second example is pretty poor for a CFL, in what should have been its ideal operating environment: low cycles, long periods of use, open fitting.

On purely cost basis: if it cost you more than £1.40 to buy, then it’s a financial loss. (336 hrs at 33 W (saving) and 12p KW.) But it should have been multiples of this.

On the flipside: we’ve the 9W candle types in our downstairs hallway (hmm, not the 7W I thought). On for about 2 hours a day (average over winter/summer) for the last 5+ years. That means the 9 of them (one of the fittings never worked) have been on for 3600+ hours, each. They are (grabbing one from the hall): FLE9TBX/XMCDL827. Now thats not bad (and I have been economical with the average usage, now our 3 year old knows how to keep turning them back on!).

@tytalus – quite agree, and since the Pro-Lite lamps are supposed to be good ones you’ll not be surprised to learn that they cost £4.99 each (from B&Q)

Conversely I have some Phillip’s “Economy 6yr” (verbatim from the base label) which must be at least 9 years old now and have been fine. I don’t remember where they came from (they could even have been freebies from the electricity company) but I’m sure they didn’t cost a fiver a piece.

Try as I might, whether I put on my electrician’s head, my home-owner’s head, my environmentalist’s head or try to have an open mind, I cannot understand why there is such a vast variation in quality, light output, lifespan, warm-up times and cost between all the cfl’s, and least of all, why the new ones are both more expensive than and far lower quality than the earliest cfl’s. The nearest I can come to understanding is what Wavechange and I have said often before: keep the electronics separate. But with modern technology there should at the very least be much greater consistency.

As I have probably said before, I don’t dispute that some CFLs have a much shorter lifespan than quoted by the manufacturers and share Dave’s concerns about the environmental impact of this. What would be useful is to do a failure mode analysis, but that is not easy since it involves dismantling the base of a failed lamp and having a little knowledge of electronics. Perhaps the manufacturers have collected this information but are hardly likely to share it.

Perhaps there is a forum for sharing information about why CFLs fail. Until recently I was unaware of the amount of online discussion about energy consumption and the benefits of hot & cold fill washing machines.

I have replaced a couple of my trusty old CFLs with modern spirals to see if they fail but so far they are brilliant, even though they are cheap ones from Tesco.

For what it’s worth I have only had three cfl failures in five years and they have all been the same kind and in the same fitments. All have been small “bulb-shaped” lamps, fitted cap down in decorative wall lights with click-on shades. They were chosen to replace the old tungsten “golf-ball” bulbs, which they do without any problem despite being a little larger.

It might be relevant that, being close to a wall and being covered with a shade these cfls (which themselves actually comprise tubes covered with a plastic envelope that mimics a bulb) are getting warmer than ideal.

Just a thought.

Three failures in five years sounds like a lot but obviously that depends on how much they were used.

If the plastic part between the lamp and the cap runs hot then the electronic components inside will be hotter. Having the cap at the base means that much less of the heat will come from the lamp itself. Lamp caps can be live if there is a wiring fault, so check when the power is off. I’m sure you know what you are doing, but we cannot afford to electrocute any current or potential contributors to this discussion. 🙂

Anony Mouse says:
5 February 2012

Having just moved into a flat in a new development, my only lighting options in the living room are 4 halogen wall lights. The lighting is dim and uncomfortable to say the least. I upgraded them from 25w to 40w – and it is still an uncomfortable and straining light. It is the first time I am living without the old incandescent bulbs – and I miss them greatly. I will now need to pay an elctrician a few hundred pounds for an alternative and brighter set up in my living room – when before I would have just needed to buy a new light bulb ! – which would have been in the middle of the ceiling !

Wall lighting is terrible in my opinion – it does not provide a bright enough light compared to an old style light bulb in the middle of the ceiling. In fact, in my kitchen and living room there are 7 lights – when in the old days you would have just 2 lights in the ceiling.

I feel the new eco-friendly energy efficient bulbs are just a big con job. They provide worse light and cost more money – and people need to invest in expensive lighting updates just to get the damn same lighting they would have got from an incandescent light bulb (in the middle of the damn ceiling).

My rant is over – I hope you all have enough light to read this post !

Halogen wall lights? Eco-Friendly?

It sounds as if you’ve suffered at the hands of someone who favoured fashion over substance, which is why all of the the none-globe type Halogen lights came into so much use. I’ve raised issues in these pages in different ways, but you’d have to read 100+posts to get to them, so in brief:

I’ve found that the good old efficient 35W Flourescent tubes have been banished from the kitchen in favour of the 35/50W GU10/MR16 energy in-efficient horrible little halogen things, through fashion. Usually there are 4-10 of the things in a kitchen that have light so focused, all you have left to work with at a counter is sharp shadow. And not only being impractical, you’ve got 150 to 800 Watts of lighting, where a couple of tubes only came to 70W for the same light level.

The wall lighting, of which you speak, sounds like more of the same: 100 Watts of dim light, when a good old 100 Watt Tungsten bulb in the centre of the room did a much better job.

None of what you appear to have are eco-friendly or due to the phase-out of the good old Tungsten incandescent light-bulb.

However, what has been discussed is the Tungsten replacment Halogen bulbs that look very similar and provide the same light, with the same dimmable feature, for a 1/4 to a 1/3 less energy. Same great light in the centre of the ceiling, less electricity. Expensive, though.

The best replacement for a none-dimmable light is the Compact Flourescent Light (CFL). These pages are littered with sorry and success stories alike, and a call on Which? to do some more in-depth reviews of which work best, longest and fastest.

My advice? Get an electritian in to fit a centre rose of none-dimmable lights, fit some nice candle type CFLs and keep the wall lighters for the more romantic lighting when needed! 🙂

Good luck, and nice to hear from you.

Your problem has little or nothing to do with CFLs and everything to do with your wall lights. Decorative they may be; efficient they are not.

You only have to think how much more light the sun seems to give at midday than it does in the evening – but it is the same sun. It’s just its position that makes the difference.

Get a centre ceiling light and you’ll be fine regardless of what kind of bulbs you use. It’s not a tricky job and even if you need to get an electrician the cost will be reasonable – certainly not several hundred pounds.

jackie says:
10 February 2012

Hi All

Just trawled my way through all your posts and hope someone can help. I have had 100w R80s spots in my kitchen, changed to halogen Par38 75W, found R80 spot to GU10 convertor sockets & tried GU10s 3 yrs ago, but they were too dim and beam too narrow. I don’t want to pay to rewire so I need something to give me equivalent beam and at least 75W equivalent output but at 240V (no transformer please)

any suggestions?

Anony Mouse says:
20 February 2012

tytalus – thanks for your response to my wall lighting plight ! – as you can see I am new to the lighting game, with my knowledge being limited to the no nonsense old fashioned light bulbs…………yep, style over substance rather sums up these wall lights. 4 of the damn things in the living room when one light in the ceiling would suffice. Initially I upgraded the 25w halogen bulbs to 40w – so I got some more brightness. So my current living room set up is a ridiculous 160w – when in the past I would have had maybe a 100w bulb in the ceiling ! I also put a question to the floor….has anybody got sunburn from being around halogen wall lights ? I am aware that they give off UV rays – and I feel the wall lights give me mild sunburn whenever I am around them. It just gives me more reason to get rid of them. Thanks for your advice and to the subsequent poster – will get an electrician in. Wall lights definitely are going into ROOM 101 !!

Halogen desk lamps often have filters to remove UV. Thanks to the inverse square law, the risk of UV radiation decreases considerably when we are further away and I have never heard of any cases of tanning, never mind sunburn.

There is a lot to be said for ceiling lights as a good way of lighting a room and until cheap, bright LED lamps come along, CFLs are an effective and efficient option.

Stan Arnold says:
26 February 2012

The idea of man-made climate change is one of the great scams/crimes of the 21st century. I left the UK two years ago – and one of the reasons (amongst many) was the government’s belief in MMGW – how can you live in a country run by nutters like that. As for those light bulbs – super if you want to live in rooms that resemble the average morgue. The left wing never recovered from the fall of communism, so they hitched a ride on the one world government, global warming frightener. Energy saving lightbulbs are just a symptom of the whole corrupt business, and Australia, of all places, was first to fall for it, big time. For Earth Hour – I switch on all my lights and electrical appliances, including four cooker rings and an oven. Someone has to fight back!

Discount global warning if you wish, and I’m not convinced myself. You cannot reject the fact that electricity prices in the UK are rising and perhaps you will agree that we are getting through our reserves of fossil fuels quite fast.

My energy saving bulbs make a worthwhile saving in electricity and are bright enough for me. I have been using them out of choice for years.

I changed to cfls years ago and the savings in both electricity and bulb replacement costs are well worthwhile. The only downside of some (but not all) of the bulbs is the time they take to reach full brightness. But what’s a minute or so in the several hours the lamp will be on?

And, whether or not you believe in man-made climate change you have to believe that we are using up fossil fuels; the argument is just how long they will last. According to this site – http://www.worldometers.info/ – (wait for it to load) there are only 15,256 (less than 42 years) days left to the end of oil.

This site also shows just how much “free” energy there is available to us from the sun, should we just care to harness it. I am doing my bit – I got around 35KWh from my solar-voltaic panels today.

It is good to read some good common sense – even if it has to come from Australia, of all places! But I fear, Arnold, that you will find it hard to convince those who have ceased to think for themselves and who find it more comfortable to go along with the crowd although, pleasingly, the sceptical tendency has been gaining ground and will, one hopes, eventually triumph.
On the plus side, you will find that the comments hereabouts are from rational folk who do not usually display the rudeness and bad temper that often disfigures this sort of debate. Even wavechange has been known to temper his stance from time to time, although I am saddened to note his enduring and curiously endearing belief in the manifestly false mantra of declining fossil fuel reserves.
This is because of the power of constantly reiterated ‘facts’ coupled with the counter-intuitive nature of the message. To perceive that these fuels are, in every sense bar the absolutist and simplistic, inexhaustible within mankind’s likely span, goes ‘against nature’ and demands a quite different perspective. The effort involved is beyond many people who feel safer just accepting what appears to be ‘obvious’.
I have made people cross on this website before, and have given up trying. But I am delighted to see that you are keen to have a go.
Keep it up, chum – and stand by for a bit of flak!

Sounds like a well structured, researched and relevant argument to me; what’s wrong with it?

Quote “…To perceive that these fuels are, in every sense bar the absolutist and simplistic, inexhaustible within mankind’s likely span…”

Humankind has been on earth, according to most authorities, for around 6 million years. Nobody knows how much longer humankind will last but, if we guess (and it can be no more than that) that we are halfway through our existence then we have another 6 million years. Can anyone seriously believe that fossil fuels will last that long considering the rate at which they are being used?

Of course, if you believe that a nuclear holocaust will destroy us all within a century then we’ll get by on the reserves we have.

Or do you mean that the fossil fuels reserves we have will last the livetimes of those who are posting here today? If that’s the case then you could be right – although oil might get a bit tight.

Which “well structured, researched and relevant argument”, tytalus?

a sykes says:
26 February 2012

whilst thes lights are a step in right direction, if only applied to the EU it is a bit like using an extra thimble to bail out the Titanic.
the overiding critical problem, is exponential growth of world poulation, A horrifying statistic is that there are more people alive now than have ever died since time began.(on Earth) all fighting for finite resources. It is interesting to plot world population and predict when this will reach infinity.

I agree that population growth is our biggest problem and if we could reverse that, many of the problems debated on the Conversations would disappear. (Population growth is not exponential, which has a precise mathematical meaning. Likewise the population cannot reach infinity. Sorry but I’m a sad pedant when it comes to anything vaguely scientific.)

I reckon that the easiest way to promote energy efficient lighting is through the savings in fuel bills. A few have found CFLs to be very unreliable but my answer is to take them back for replacement or a refund.

We have been here before, Richard. It may be worth pointing out that this sort of question (“Can anyone seriously believe that fossil fuels will last that long [sic] considering the rate at which they are being used?”) is irrelevant. You should be bearing in mind mankind’s inexhaustible ability to adapt to changing circumstances (not excluding the satisfying of energy requirements) and asking “how long we will require fossil fuels?”.
Think of the amazingly short timeframe within which we have discovered and developed nuclear energy. Then reflect that our present knowledge of fossil fuel deposits is so limited as to make any firm estimate laughable. But we do know one thing – one very important thing. And that is that every year since we first began exploiting fossil fuels we have found ever more deposits. It should not be difficult to grasp that we can only talk sensibly about known deposits – deposits that we know exist.
The essential question, therefore, is how many such deposits are there and to what extent are they recoverable. The fact is that recoverable deposits have never been greater. Next year they will be greater still. Hitherto difficult to exploit, shale gas deposits are now – thanks to man’s endless ingenuity, easily and safely recoverable. To talk of fossil fuels running out is as silly as talking of man’s ingenuity running out. To all intents and purposes they will never run out.
So the answer to your original question about whether it is true that fossil fuels will never run out, the answer in essence is “yes”. Even if we are stupid enough to follow Mrs Merkel and abandon nuclear energy next week, and even if do not continue to discover new deposits, we know that there is no danger of running out of fossil fuels for the next hundred years.
Despite the fact that we do keep discovering vast amounts of the stuff, our deep desire to feel threatened and our media’s insatiable appetite for seriously alarming news keep us in the pleasurable hunt for someone or something to blame. Global Warming was the culprit of course, but that seemed too easy. Make it Man-Made GW and we feel much happier. Bit it then stops warming and even the dreaded CRU admits it. So what; lets start talking about climate change. After all, no one can deny that. So the next step is to pretend that we, puny mankind, can control what is acknowledged to be the most complex, coupled, non-linear, semi-chaotic system known to man. This outrageously arrogant proposal is swallowed whole by scores of impressionable folk who would normally regard themselves as being intelligent, knowledgeable, and not easily persuaded by flawed arguments.
But inject the word ‘science’ into the debate and add just a spot of fashionable self-loathing and, hey presto, job done! To point out the obvious flaws in the theory is not allowed, and blaming the sun would be too easy. And we don’t want to be let us off the hook anyhow.
So carry on worrying, Richard, if that’s your thing. I was thinking of asking you what sums you have been using to estimate the likely exhaustion of oil deposits within your lifetime. But, on reflection, no. Perhaps not.

The “sums” I have used are not mine; they can be found at the link I gave you. If you wish to disagree with its figures that is your right – but I would sooner believe them than I would believe an uninformed guess. Man’s ability might be inexhausible as might his ingenuity – but fossil fuels, no matter how many we keep finding must, in the end, run out. They are being used and none are being made.

But mankind is very good at deluding itself about supply. Just think of the numbers of fish species that have been so overfished that they are endangered (“there are plenty more fish in the sea”). And fish breed, unlike fossil fuels. Just think of the shortage of some kinds of timber due to excessive logging. And trees breed, unlike fossil fuels. Just think of the number of animal and plant species that have become extinct. And animals and plants breed and evolve, unlike fossil fuels. Whereas the timespan over which fossil fuels will run out is unclear; they will run out. Your suggestion is they will last more than a hundred years – that is not “ever”. There are people alive today who will still be alive a hundred years from now.

Nuclear energy is a different topic and I agree that nuclear fission – or even better nuclear fusion – both offer amazing possibilities. But neither are using fossil fuels, which is what we are discussing. Fossil fuels will run out and the fact that it might be our descendants that suffer the consequences, not us, is irrelevant.

We owe our descendants the benefits of our ingenuity and one of its products is the ability to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels; that our present technology does not offer a solution that is more cost-effective or convenient than fossil fuels doe not mean it will always be thus. It is the fate of just about every new invention to be less effective than the existing solutions; that does not mean that the newer ideas should be abandoned.

I am glad you can be so positive wildberry, but I hope you will not dismiss my view that energy saving lamps save energy, compared with incandescent bulbs, and that helps us save money. I can be fairly positive about that.

I hope Richard proves to be wrong but I fear that he might be right.