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Selling Incandescent Light Bulbs As Heating Devices 557

Csiko writes "The European Union has banned by law trading of incandescent light bulbs due to their bad efficiency/ecology (most of the energy is transformed into heat). A company is now trying to bypass this restriction by offering their incandescent light bulb products as a heating device (article in German) instead of a light device. Still, their 'heat balls' give light as well as heating. So — every law can be bypassed if you have some creativity!"
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Selling Incandescent Light Bulbs As Heating Devices

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  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:37AM (#33711002)

    What's wrong with that, it's not as if they're being misleading. That "wasted" energy has to go somewhere and if it's being used to heat up your home in the winter, then it's hardly "wasted."

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:42AM (#33711062) Journal

      True on the technicalities, but seriously? Electric radiant heat is terribly inefficient, and more often than not you'll be putting the heat source literally at the ceiling.

      Or hell, I dunno. Maybe you guys have fond memories of clustering underneath the bare bulb in your bedroom for warmth when you ran out of heating oil or something.

      • by Trepidity ( 597 )

        Electric space heaters aren't actually illegal though, even in the EU, though their use is restricted in some kinds of buildings due to fire-hazard concern.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by slim ( 1652 )

        Electric radiant heat is terribly inefficient

        Er, where does the wasted energy go?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jeffmeden ( 135043 )

          It goes into magnetic energy and heat generated in the power lines and transformers along the miles and miles between the point of production (usually a coal plant far outside of town or even clear across the state) and the point of use (your livingroom, for example). The rule of thumb I have seen is that over half of produced energy is wasted in this way. Contrast this with natural gas or even heating oil, which requires a pretty light energy burden to travel to your home and it's efficiency is determine

          • Nope (Score:5, Informative)

            by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @12:20PM (#33712788)

            The rule of thumb I have seen is that over half of produced energy is wasted in this way.

            Most of the loss is within the power station. Where the heat energy is converted to electricity. Only 35-60% of the energy produced is converted to electricity int the first place (depending on generation system).

            Transmission is relatively efficient in comparison.

            Course in some countries (like Finland or Denmark), they distribute the "waste" heat produced by power plants and people use that in industrial processes, space heating, hot water production etc. So they have (relatively) close to 100% efficiency.

        • by san ( 6716 )

          It heats the coolants at the power station. But maybe your power station uses that heat to heat cities, like in some cold places in Europe.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Twinbee ( 767046 )

          Why, it disappears into the 74th dimension where the ether's infinite free energy resides. You should go there some day - it's neat not being bound by the laws of thermo-whatsit.

        • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Jon_S ( 15368 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @11:20AM (#33711732)

          It's 100% efficient at the home, but the power plants that generate are limited by the laws of thermodynamics to converting only around 30% - 40% of the energy into electricity.

          Obligatory wikipedia link:


          • ...and? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @11:39AM (#33712034)

            That is true of anything. If it uses electricity, the plant efficiency is the same.

            However that doesn't imply wastefulness, it would well be a hydro, solar or nuclear plant. Also in some areas, natural gas isn't available. Where my parents live you heat your house using electricity. There just isn't natural gas hookups to be had.

            Electrical radiant is not at all an inefficient way to heat your house. The original poster didn't know what he was talking about.

        • by skids ( 119237 )

          What the below people said, and add to this: if you have high quality energy like electricity that can run a heat pump, it can move more watts of heat energy than it uses. In other words, the carnot curve also works backwards, not just forwards.

          However if the radiant heat source is close to you, you don't need to heat the entire apartment as much, so space heating can still save energy even when it is electric.

        • In this case? Into light. I mean, if you want a lightbulb, you should just buy one...
      • by arivanov ( 12034 )


        I still remember fondly 1/2KW incadescent quartz bulb reflector heaters we used to use during my childhood and student years. I would not call them terribly inefficient. They had about half of the efficiency of a modern convector or the _SAME_ efficiency as a modern fan heater. The fan heaters are still selling and they are noisy, ugly and they as you say "warm up the ceiling"

    • They would fuck up the day night cycle of many animals. Since there are bulbs available that don't give out _any_ light, legislation will be adapted quickly to close all such moronic loopholes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by guru42101 ( 851700 )
      And some incandescent lights are already specifically sold for heating purposes. Just head down the reptile section of your pet store and you'll find heat lamps.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xtracto ( 837672 )

      No no no... in the case of this product the wasted energy is turned to a yellowish light.

    • I agree. One of the few incandescents that I have in use currently is the lamp for my turtle. The main purpose is actually heat for that one!

      The only others that I still have in use are the ones in the staircase leading to my flat (using that for maybe two minutes a day, probably less), and a few connected to dimmers (those dimmers for CFLs are mighty expensive, so are dimmable CFLs).

    • The problem is that they are horribly inefficient at BOTH tasks, thats why they are being banned. They create so much heat just to create light, but they don't create enough heat to justify their cost as a heating device. Ever tried heating a room with just the incandescant bulb? A few minutes in a space heater would do better, or you could turn on a heat lamp, or any other means of heating a room are currently more efficient than these bulbs.

      It's like if they banned cars, and every dealership in the world

      • Typically they will be used in conjuction with another heat source. This means that the other heat source, say a natural gas furnace, would burn less fuel to heat the house due to temperature controls and the heat output from the light bulbs.

    • by tmosley ( 996283 )
      I used to use one of these to keep my well pump from freezing in the deep of winter. It was nice because I could see the light on from my window, so there was no need to go trudging out through the snow to see if there was a problem with the well. Now I have to use a heater. Though it uses less electricity, it has more moving parts and is liable to break or cause a fire.

      Thanks for nannying me, federal government. I switched to all fluorescent lighting in my house without you forcing me to. I don't s
  • by Sonny Yatsen ( 603655 ) * on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:42AM (#33711060) Journal

    This is not news to anyone who's ever owned an Easy Bake Oven.

  • ez bake oven (Score:3, Informative)

    by gr8_phk ( 621180 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:42AM (#33711072)
    This is the primary heating element in an ez bake oven []. So they must remain available for the children.
  • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:45AM (#33711098) Homepage Journal
    We should ban them. Too much of the energy is emitted in the visible spectrum, not as heat.
  • Is it just me? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Or do other people similarly dislike CFCs? In the cold they take several minutes to come on. The light they give off is harsh. And, at least where I am, I have a hell of a time trying to get rid of them when they die - there's a single store in the area that takes them (though dozens sell them). Oh, and they don't seem to last any longer than incandescents, though they cost more, and at least on the box claim that they should. How am I saving the planet again?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by PhuFighter ( 1172899 )
      I don't know where you buy your CFLs from, but the ones I have come on like any normal incandescent light build does. Also, there are ones that are coiled, and ones which have a normal glass covering - these typically have light filters which give off varying colours of light: I have soft light CFLs in the living room, but more cooler, white light CFL's in my workshop. Unless you looked closely, they appear just like normal incandescents. The difference being that instead of the bulb being HOT after some
      • I don't know where you buy your CFLs from, but the ones I have come on like any normal incandescent light build does.

        I guess you either live somewhere that's warm all the year round or you heat your rooms 24 hours a day. In winter mornings my room temperature is about 5 degrees C and it takes a minute for the CFLs to reach normal brightness. My wife insists that we keep the stairway light on all night so that the stairs are well lit, so I am not exactly sure we save any energy.

        • by xaxa ( 988988 )

          My wife insists that we keep the stairway light on all night so that the stairs are well lit, so I am not exactly sure we save any energy.

          I bought a cheap LED light (£1) too see if it was any good. It's not, except as a nightlight, but that's a job it does very well.

          It uses 0.5W, so even if it were left on day and night for a whole year it would only cost £60 in electricity. A CFL would cost over £1000, a 40W incandescent almost £5000.

        • I don't know where you buy your CFLs from, but the ones I have come on like any normal incandescent light build does.

          I guess you either live somewhere that's warm all the year round or you heat your rooms 24 hours a day. In winter mornings my room temperature is about 5 degrees C and it takes a minute for the CFLs to reach normal brightness. My wife insists that we keep the stairway light on all night so that the stairs are well lit, so I am not exactly sure we save any energy.

          Wait, you really let your house interior get down to 5C (that's 41F to most of us in the USA)!?!?!

          Oh, I get it, you live in a tent. How did you find one with stairs?

          Seriously, put some insulation in the walls and roof before you complain that modern lamps don't work in your house, or move from the freezer to a modern house.

    • by mcvos ( 645701 )

      Or do other people similarly dislike CFCs? In the cold they take several minutes to come on. The light they give off is harsh. And, at least where I am,

      Where is that? The 1980s? There are plenty of CFLs that give "warm" light. And modern ones don't take minutes to come on either (although it does get a bit worse with age).

      Even so, CFLs aren't the solution. LED lights use even less energy, and you can do ridiculously cool stuff with them. The big downside is that you need special dimmers, though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      And, at least where I am, I have a hell of a time trying to get rid of them when they die

      Just do what 99.9% of everyone else does. They go in the trash where they can be sent to a landfill, the mercury can leach out and into the soil where it will enter into the food chain.

      You save the planet by eventually storing all that evil mercury in your organs.

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      And you can't dim them. Yes Yes I know that if you order a special fixture from Uzbekistan and a special bulb from Mauritania and the phase of the moon is correct, it'll work for a couple hours, but I mean "can't" as in compared to old fashioned bulbs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Traciatim ( 1856872 )
      You're just not using them right. CFLs should not be placed in enclosures with no air flow, anywhere that there are extreme temperature fluctuations, anywhere that there are high on/off cycles, anywhere there are below freezing temperatures, anywhere they would be exposed to moisture, or on any circuit that could have power fluctuations. I've had one turned on at the bottom of my basement stairs (because you can't see and there is no switch at the top) since I moved in my house 3 years ago, it's been on th
  • It is hard to compete with a 50 cent Incandescent bulb in any country.
    Raising prices or banning the cheap bulb will just make poor people poorer.
    With LED or CFL bulbs costing between $5-$50, GE, Phillips and friends will be the ONLY winners with those laws.
    (Note: CFL under $5 tend to give headaches, make colours look awful and last about as long as regular bulbs)

    Solution: Make every household own and use at least one "good" non-Incandescent bulb per house and more if the house is worth lots of $$.
    As the pri

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      Also what happens if they develop a much better Incandescent bulb that is almost on-par with substitutes?

      They count as energy saving and are allowed. I actually have one for a room where we have a dimmer switch, it is a halogen bulb inside an normal one!

    • by alta ( 1263 )

      Wow, screw letting the market decide, lets force these fuckers to comply.

      First we're going to MAKE people buy a bulb. I'll be damned if the government makes me buy a light bulb.
      Then we're going to REQUIRE a house inspection. No liberties lost there. I can understand why some states inspect cars, but houses? Not without some suspicion that it's unfit to live in. As it stands now, no one comes in my house without a search warrant. Except those who want to play tag with my 12gauge.

      You may not have meant

      • CFLs have lower lifetime costs than incandescents, so it's hard to see why they're a hardship for poor people.
      • All incandescents are not being banned. There are numerous exceptions for bulb types that can't effectively be made fluorescent.
      • Strictly speaking, incandescents are not being banned at all. The laws/regulations only specify that bulbs need to achieve a certain number of lumens/watt. In practice, incandescents can't meet the standard, but in the unlikely event some new incandescent technology made t
  • I doubt many people are going to start buying these instead of fluorescent bulbs. One major advantage of incandescents was the price. These "heat bulbs" are for sale at EUR 1.70 ($2.28), plus shipping costs. They will appeal to some people but the vast majority will continue to buy bulbs from supermarkets, which means they'll be buying CFLs, which means these regulations will have achieved their goal (reduction in power demand, rather than complete elimination of incandescents).

  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:58AM (#33711310)

    The European union has banned by law trading of incandescent light bulbs due to their bad efficiency/ecology reasons (most of the energy is transformed into heat).

    If these items are generally better, in terms of energy consumption, and are likewise sold at a reasonable price, they OUGHT to make sense to buy. (Or make cents, as it were.) If they don't then people should be free to wait until they do.

    On the inverse, if there's a law requiring they be the only kind of bulb, then they can be built without concern for energy savings, and sold at any price. After all, the law says you have to have them, so why not profit from the artificial demand.

    Oh, and by the way, all that artificial demand is damaging the economy, which will likely lead to war, which is about the least 'green' thing imaginable. Why is it that we love to talk long term about climate change and human behavior, but can't seem to do so about economics? I'm astounded mostly because while the former is a natural phenomenon that could be influenced by humanity, the latter is entirely human and will cease to exist when we do.

    Just astounding.

    • by BZ ( 40346 )

      Of course there's the obvious question: are externalities being properly priced into the prices of both kinds of light bulbs?

      Or put another way, on the one hand governments subsidize the cost of electricity and on the other they want people to still use the more energy-efficient light bulbs... The net result is counter-regulation to offset the existing regulation.

  • by alta ( 1263 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:59AM (#33711336) Homepage Journal

    We live in a rural area. We aren't on city water, we have a well. About 3 or 4 times a year it gets cold enough that we turn on a light in the pump house to help raise the temperature to protect our already well insulated pipes. This is a very effective solution for us and safer than using a space heater. The space heater costs a lot more than a lightbulb and isn't considered 'safe to leave unattended.' We also have chickens. We have a heatlamp in there, and they can move in/out of it's light to control their own temp (don't want them cooked... yet...)

    Do we NEED more fucking regulations? Give me a break.

    • Many types of incandescent bulb, including heat lamps, will remain available even after the regulations come fully into effect. As for your question, if the choice is between continuing to send supertankers full of dollar bills to Saudi Arabia, and producing sensible regulations that will at least somewhat cut down on this wholly unnecessary expense, I'm in favor of the regulations.
  • for various crafts / hobbies --- e.g., every heat box design I've seen for curing epoxy when making a fiberglass-laminate (archery) bow uses a bank of ###-watt light bulbs.

  • This isn't 'bypassing' the law. Many incandescent bulbs are used as inexpensive low-power heating devices for small outdoor enclosures where a small amount of heat is required to control interior humidity. Try buying a 50-watt electric heater for a few dollars. The light produced in the process is just a fringe benefit.

    • More efficient devices are actually sold for that purpose, they are ceramic-encased and have a longer lifespan then the typical light bulb.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @11:11AM (#33711572) Homepage

    Although it is not approved by the FDA as an ingredient in foods [to replace HFCS and/or Aspartame] Stevia is being sold as a dietary supplement and more recently as a sweetener that may be added to foods by the end user. Sweetleaf, a sweetener as natural as sugar simply can't get the approval that high fructose corn syrup and aspartame have been able to acquire. So, instead, it is sold as "something else."

  • I have 2 incandescents and 2 cfl's in the bathroom.

    I flick the switch here is the result.

    CFL: Up to 60 seconds of absolutely dim, sick light from the CFL's (these are less than 6 months old). You can see the coil inside the dim pastic bubl-- then finally a bit 'bluish' light becomes too bright to look at directly without being dazzled.

    INC: Instant "warm" bright light floods the bathroom.

    The lights are on in the bathroom less than 7 hours a week. This is a particularly bad place for CFL's. CFL's are okay

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by apoc.famine ( 621563 )
      Three things:

      First, the lifespans of CFL are based on on/off cycles, not time on. I haven't seen anyone who's in any way informed claim that CFL are good for places like bathrooms. In fact, other than a refrigerator, I can't think of many places where it would be worse to use a CFL. If you're putting a CLF into a bathroom, (or a refrigerator) you're using it in the worst way possible. Yes, it will suck for that. Those are places where we should be using incandescents. Use CFLs properly, and they last a dam
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SETIGuy ( 33768 )

      What's sad is that the newer incandescents may only use 25% of the energy but the laws are based on the technology- not on the energy consumption and they ignore the mercury poisoning aspects.

      Lie repeated often are still lies. The law in this case is based upon watts per lumen. If there were incandescents that used 25% of the energy, they would be legal. Also the mercury released to the environment from an incandescent is worse than the exposure from a CFL. []

      You may now go back to being a crybaby.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @11:17AM (#33711688)

    at Costco and Home Depot they run just over $1 per bulb. with the energy savings you have to be crazy to keep on looking for incandescent bulbs

  • CFLs, which are actually superior to incandescents by most measures will be used naturally in almost all areas except those few where incandescents are truely superior ( such as heating - I've seen them used for instance to heat a box housing baby chicks - a use for which a cfl would not do ). The law would have that person buy a heater and a cfl bulb at greater expense to do both jobs.
    Laws simply can not mandate true efficiency. They can only EVER a) redirect resources and/or b) decrease efficiency.

  • by cellocgw ( 617879 ) < minus language> on Monday September 27, 2010 @12:41PM (#33713142) Journal

    I have lots of ceiling fixtures of the "dome" style, and CFLs are too long to fit inside them. I have wall fixtures (e.g. over bathroom mirrors) and CFLs extend below the glass shade, leading to a very annoying glare. I'd like to switch to LEDs,but there are no products on the market which both have 360 illumination and the lumen output of a 60 or 75W incandescent.

    Personally, I vote for a massive increase in the cost of electricity, and let both consumers and businesses decide what type and how much light they want.

  • by marxz ( 971164 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @01:55PM (#33714248)
    using incandescent globes for heating is not _that_ uncommon in tropical areas... eh? you might say... WTF? even.... well simple, you put a low wattage (20-40) in your linen cupboard to keep humidity from condensing in what would normally be a cooler part of the house and it helps stop mould and mildew forming. it would be insane to have space heating in a house like my ex's in Broome Australia that normally sees a minimum temperature of, say, 15c at the coldest and averages around 30c and with almost constat high humidity... In this case it is light that is the waste product.

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