2

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Are incandescent bulbs preferable over energy saver?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 12, 2011 at 9:04 PM

Energy saver bulbs last longer and are less costly, but could they also be giving off a type of light that causes our eyes to strain more? I'm sure the light given off by the old-school incandescent bulbs is much more similar to that our ancestors would have ever been exposed too.

I notice a significant eye discomfort stepping out of dusk into a a room with energy saver bulbs compared to stepping out of dusk into a room with incandescents. Is it just me?

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 14, 2011
at 03:23 AM

Wow, I never even considered this (I live in Houston, air-conditioning capital of the world). CFL's still save energy overall though, by a much slimmer margin.. but it's apparently possible (per wikipedia) that using incandescents in a cold climate might result in a smaller net emission of greenhouses gases (if natural gas is used to heat the house, and the hypothetical CFLs would have been run on electricity from low greenhouse gas sources). http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2009/03/04/mb-light-bulbs.html

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 14, 2011
at 03:21 AM

Wow, I never even considered this (I live in Houston, air-conditioning capital of the world). CFL's still save energy overall though, by a much slimmer margin.. but it's apparently possible (per wikipedia) that using CFLs in a cold climate might result in a smaller net emission of greenhouses gases (if natural gas is used to heat the house, and the CFL's are being run on electricity from low greenhouse gas sources). http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2009/03/04/mb-light-bulbs.html

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 13, 2011
at 08:26 PM

The way these people talk, you'd think incandescent bulbs are defying the laws of thermodynamics by rending the fabric of space and putting the energy in another dimension. Funnily enough, I bet these same types are strong believers in calorie-in/calorie-out.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 13, 2011
at 08:25 PM

Nice site. .

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 13, 2011
at 08:20 PM

Yup. The electricity isn't wasted. It's heating the house and taking some of the load off the heating system.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 13, 2011
at 08:03 PM

Or recycle the CFLs...

127116e41acceee9f2f000076f8b788d

(477)

on February 13, 2011
at 03:54 PM

One more thing, spend the extra money and get the full spectrum CFL.

127116e41acceee9f2f000076f8b788d

(477)

on February 13, 2011
at 03:52 PM

Very good comment, looking at the big picture here.

127116e41acceee9f2f000076f8b788d

(477)

on February 13, 2011
at 03:51 PM

and what about the mercury being released to the air from the coal fired power plant? It seems to me that a solution is very simple, go LED or go mercury free CFL.

127116e41acceee9f2f000076f8b788d

(477)

on February 13, 2011
at 03:49 PM

How much mercury is actually in CFLs? What about the extra pollution produced by the power plant to provide the energy for the incandescents? That's got all sorts of nasties in it, including mercury. And what about LEDs?

Aebee51dc2b93b209980a89fa4a70c1e

(1982)

on February 13, 2011
at 03:17 PM

If you want to look at the bigger picture, think about what all those CFLs are going to do to the environment when they end up by the millions in landfills, releasing ALL that mercury into the ground.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 13, 2011
at 09:33 AM

I agree with you Ed. Forcing people to replace incandescents with fluorescents, which release poison into people's homes when they break, is crazy.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 13, 2011
at 09:32 AM

I agree with you Ed. Forcing people to replace incandescents with fluorescents, which release poison into people's homes when they break, is crazy. The environmental movement has become an irrational religion and not something anchored to facts or reason.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 13, 2011
at 09:31 AM

I agree with you Ed. Forcing people to replace incandescents with fluorescents, which release poison into people's homes when they break, is crazy.

34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on February 13, 2011
at 05:25 AM

I totally agree Helen, I suppose we should count our blessings that they haven't banned the old fashioned light bulbs yet so we have no choice but to use their awful "green" lightbulbs =)

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 13, 2011
at 02:43 AM

I think the term "eco friendly" for those bulbs is seriously Orwellian, and that they should be called something like "fiat bulbs" "mandated mercury-emitting eco-bombs". Btw, I'm not saying that *you*, personally, are being Orwellian or anything like that. But whoever thought of the term "eco friendly" to describe those bulbs sure was, and I'm sorry that your son has to suffer because of a bunch of arrogant, stupid, greedy lawmakers.

Aebee51dc2b93b209980a89fa4a70c1e

(1982)

on February 13, 2011
at 01:16 AM

http://www.energystar.gov/ia/products/lighting/cfls/downloads/CFL_Cleanup_and_Disposal.pdf

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 13, 2011
at 12:29 AM

Care to elaborate or give a link?

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on February 13, 2011
at 12:01 AM

The Edisonian light bulb ban is one of the most stupid and arrogant things that governments have done in recent memory

4f61f7c4a8bb1adeb9cf45aa9e3f9e7d

(281)

on February 12, 2011
at 09:37 PM

Ah yes, the risk of harmful exposure is another knock against the energy saver bulbs. Thanks for pointing that out!

Aebee51dc2b93b209980a89fa4a70c1e

(1982)

on February 12, 2011
at 09:09 PM

I can't answer your specific question, but the "twirly" bulbs contain mercury and are not good for you or the environment. Try to Google the instructions for cleaning up a broken one. The first step is often something like "Open all the windows and get everyone out of the house."

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9 Answers

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6
82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 13, 2011
at 03:54 AM

Incandescent bulbs give off the same type of light as the sun. It's natural light. Our eyes evolved in this kind of light.

Fluorescent bulbs are different.

Both sunlight and incandescent light are continuous spectrum. That means they are a blend of all possible colors within a certain range. At sunrise or sunset, when sunlight becomes reddish, it is very similar to incandescent light.

Fluorescent light is not continuous spectrum. Its spectrum is uneven. It includes large amounts of a few colors and smaller amounts of the colors in between.

These pictures tell the story. They show the colors produced by each kind of bulb. If we had a picture of sunlight early or late in the day, it would look similar to the picture on the left.

are-incandescent-bulbs-preferable-over-energy-saver?

5
9d741bcbe702044635f2ce3078043054

(1435)

on February 13, 2011
at 03:42 PM

I'm not defending the incandescent ban, because I think it's government intrusion into our lives, but I used to do research into energy efficient lighting.

Over the lifetime of an incandescent lamp, more mercury is emitted into the atmosphere through the power plant emissions (because the lower efficiency requires more electricity) than is contained in the compact fluorescent lamp. And the mercury that power plants emit is the "bio-available" type that ends up in the water and is taken up by organisms. Most of the mercury in lamps is not.

That's not much consolation if one breaks on your floor, however.

And the light quality is another issue, although if you pay more, you get a fuller spectrum. If you buy bargain-basement CFLs, the color quality is horrendous.

LED's will solve the mercury issue, but will not solve the color issue. They are generating light in the same way as fluorescents, where a light source, the diode, produces a single color, and then phosphors convert the light (UV or blue in today's technology) into red, green, and blue to simulate a full spectrum. So you will still get the discontinuous spectrum that a fluorescent produces. But, no mercury, and virtually infinite life, which is nice.

127116e41acceee9f2f000076f8b788d

(477)

on February 13, 2011
at 03:52 PM

Very good comment, looking at the big picture here.

3
902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 13, 2011
at 08:06 PM

Interesting website exploring the spectrum of different household lights:

http://home.comcast.net/~mcculloch-brown/astro/spectrostar.html

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 13, 2011
at 08:25 PM

Nice site. .

2
Medium avatar

on February 13, 2011
at 08:00 PM

My favorite bulbs are the bt15 halogen types in 100watts as well as a 300w halogen 79mm r7s bulb in a torchiere lamp. The color temperature is slightly higher than a standard incandescent and thus less amber in appearance.

One thing that people overlook when buying "energy-efficient" bulbs is that for a significant part of the year, at least at my latitude, we're using electric heat to warm the place anyway. If 90% of my bulb's energy is turned into heat, that just means that I have to use 90 less watts of my heater. It's all the same result. Obviously this changes when it's warm and if the bulbs are outside etc.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 13, 2011
at 08:26 PM

The way these people talk, you'd think incandescent bulbs are defying the laws of thermodynamics by rending the fabric of space and putting the energy in another dimension. Funnily enough, I bet these same types are strong believers in calorie-in/calorie-out.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 13, 2011
at 08:20 PM

Yup. The electricity isn't wasted. It's heating the house and taking some of the load off the heating system.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 14, 2011
at 03:21 AM

Wow, I never even considered this (I live in Houston, air-conditioning capital of the world). CFL's still save energy overall though, by a much slimmer margin.. but it's apparently possible (per wikipedia) that using CFLs in a cold climate might result in a smaller net emission of greenhouses gases (if natural gas is used to heat the house, and the CFL's are being run on electricity from low greenhouse gas sources). http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2009/03/04/mb-light-bulbs.html

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 14, 2011
at 03:23 AM

Wow, I never even considered this (I live in Houston, air-conditioning capital of the world). CFL's still save energy overall though, by a much slimmer margin.. but it's apparently possible (per wikipedia) that using incandescents in a cold climate might result in a smaller net emission of greenhouses gases (if natural gas is used to heat the house, and the hypothetical CFLs would have been run on electricity from low greenhouse gas sources). http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2009/03/04/mb-light-bulbs.html

2
1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 12, 2011
at 09:30 PM

No, its not just you...they hurt my eyes, too, and I won't use them. I'm going to be looking into getting LED lightbulbs, or think about getting oil lamps, like the Amish use. But I absolutely refuse to have those twirly bulbs in my house.

1
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 13, 2011
at 06:53 PM

I'm waiting to see how long the baby chicks survive in the incubator with CFL's... :)

1
Bcb2f5436d11467e89123680c046b858

(1356)

on February 13, 2011
at 11:55 AM

Interesting. I certainly prefer the light from incandescent bulbs, but have switched to compact fluorescents for almost every light in my house. They use a fraction of the electricity. Mountaintop removal coal mining, coal-fired power plants, and nuclear power plants aren't very paleo. I prefer to look at the bigger picture: how do my decisions affect not just me, but my family, my community, and the whole world. I know I'm not exactly changing the world by changing a light bulb, but I try to make as small an impact as possible, environment-wise.

The light-spectrum stuff posted above was intriguing, though....

127116e41acceee9f2f000076f8b788d

(477)

on February 13, 2011
at 03:51 PM

and what about the mercury being released to the air from the coal fired power plant? It seems to me that a solution is very simple, go LED or go mercury free CFL.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 13, 2011
at 08:03 PM

Or recycle the CFLs...

Aebee51dc2b93b209980a89fa4a70c1e

(1982)

on February 13, 2011
at 03:17 PM

If you want to look at the bigger picture, think about what all those CFLs are going to do to the environment when they end up by the millions in landfills, releasing ALL that mercury into the ground.

1
34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on February 13, 2011
at 01:00 AM

I do not like those eco friendly light bulbs either, it's ugly light and bothers my eyes. My son has something called sensory processing disorder (it goes along with autism spectrum disorders) and those fluorescent lights make it really hard for him to focus and make him extremely irritated.

34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on February 13, 2011
at 05:25 AM

I totally agree Helen, I suppose we should count our blessings that they haven't banned the old fashioned light bulbs yet so we have no choice but to use their awful "green" lightbulbs =)

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 13, 2011
at 02:43 AM

I think the term "eco friendly" for those bulbs is seriously Orwellian, and that they should be called something like "fiat bulbs" "mandated mercury-emitting eco-bombs". Btw, I'm not saying that *you*, personally, are being Orwellian or anything like that. But whoever thought of the term "eco friendly" to describe those bulbs sure was, and I'm sorry that your son has to suffer because of a bunch of arrogant, stupid, greedy lawmakers.

0
69673c0f3dad2230dba9c89a96aa8983

(60)

on February 13, 2011
at 09:17 PM

I have preferred the CFL white(or blue as its called) for the longest time to yellow light by incan. Might have something to do with being used to LCD screens most of which use CCFL backlights.

I never get that tired/sore eyes feeling and redness like i would with CRT monitors, .

Mercury is used alot for industrial and commercial purposes, i would take out your hate on the canned tuna before CFL, your directly ingesting the former.

And for those worried about the spectral analysis of the light not being normal, go outside!

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