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The future has mercury in it.


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#1 Paul Bruening

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 03:00 PM

My wife was sitting in the doctor's office, bored witless. She picked up a national magazine and read an article that said that the gubmit is going to phase out tungsten bulbs and require their replacement with compact flos by such-and-such date.

No more of the lovely old practicals with their dependable colors and footcandles.

How's the flicker on those compact flos anyway? I've never shot one. Is this going to be a pain in our butts?
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#2 John Sprung

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 03:25 PM

Is this going to be a pain in our butts?


Yup, and all for nothing.

The idea is that CFL's give you more light and less heat for the same amount of electricity. So in theory, that saves energy. Guess what -- The tiny amount of heat that you won't be getting from the new CFL's will be replaced by your heating system when the thermostat kicks in just a tad bit earlier. Net energy savings, just about nil -- only the efficiency diff between the heating system and getting it from incandescents. These policies are made by people who don't look at the big picture.




-- J.S.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 04:04 PM

I'm not so sure I buy the idea that heating costs will go up when tungsten bulbs go away. It doesn't seem like they contribute that much heat to an average house when the season turns cooler. But that's just my opinion, with no data to back it up.

But what does bother me about all this is that the government is shoving CFL's down our throats as the desired -- and sometimes mandated -- alternative, and banning tungsten. Why not simply impose an "energy efficiency requirement" on the light bulbs sold in the area, like they do for cars? That would leave consumers with a choice and encourage competition, new technologies, etc. If that phased out tungsten as impractical (no pun intended), then so be it. Right now it's kind of like forcing everyone to use electric cars simply because the alternative exists, rather setting consumption limits. Don't ban the technology; ban the result (wasted energy).

BTW, compact fluorescents seem to follow the same flicker rules as conventional ballasts. They DO have a green spike though, regardless of the color temperature.
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#4 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 04:06 PM

Some greenies are opposed to this on the grounds that disposing of the mercury lamps is excedingly eco-unfriendly & what if one breaks in your home, releasing deadly mercury.
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#5 Michael Nash

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 04:15 PM

http://www.npr.org/t...storyId=7431198

http://www.grist.org...cury/index.html

http://www.treehugge...reen_lights.php
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 04:52 PM

I'm not so sure I buy the idea that heating costs will go up when tungsten bulbs go away. It doesn't seem like they contribute that much heat to an average house when the season turns cooler.

Do you buy the idea that CFL's save a significant amount of energy? However much that is, it has to be equal to the heat you don't get any more. That's required by the first law of thermodynamics.




-- J.S.
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#7 Michael Nash

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 05:19 PM

Do you buy the idea that CFL's save a significant amount of energy? However much that is, it has to be equal to the heat you don't get any more. That's required by the first law of thermodynamics.


I'm talking about how cold a room feels in fall/winter whether the lights are on or off completely. Two or three 60-watt bulbs are going to warm a living room how much over a 6 hour period? A couple degrees? Regrdless of thermodynamics, I don't think the difference is enough to change people's behavior. Maybe I'm wrong.

Besides, the energy savings of CFL's is due to not only less heat but also more light output per watt, so it's not a direct comparison.
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#8 John Sprung

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 09:09 PM

I'm talking about how cold a room feels in fall/winter whether the lights are on or off completely. Two or three 60-watt bulbs are going to warm a living room how much over a 6 hour period? A couple degrees? Regrdless of thermodynamics, I don't think the difference is enough to change people's behavior. Maybe I'm wrong.

Besides, the energy savings of CFL's is due to not only less heat but also more light output per watt, so it's not a direct comparison.

You're right that light bulbs aren't going to produce a significant amount of heat. That's part of why this is much less big a deal than many people try to make of it. If people don't change their behavior -- that is, their thermostat setting behavior -- that little bit of heat that doesn't come from bulbs will be replaced by an equal little bit more heat from the HVAC system.

There's no magic to more light output per watt. The total energy you put into anything -- in this case incandescent or CFL bulbs -- has to equal the total you get back out (of course with incandescents, that takes a little heat up and cool down time). You put Watts of electricity in and get Lumens of light and BTU's of heat out. Watts in equals the sum of Lumens and BTU's out -- with the appropriate conversion factors of course.

If a building uses electric heating, it makes no difference at all if some tiny part of it comes from incandescent bulbs or the HVAC gear. If you heat with gas or oil, the only advantage is that that tiny bit of heat may come from a more efficient source if you use CFL's.

We're talking a tiny fraction of tiny here, and for this we make everybody jump thu hoops. Unfortunately, the whole thing has become a sort of religion.



-- J.S.
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#9 Michael Nash

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 10:17 PM

We're talking a tiny fraction of tiny here, and for this we make everybody jump thu hoops. Unfortunately, the whole thing has become a sort of religion.

-- J.S.


The power consumption of CFL's for an equal amount of lumens is significantly lower, so it's hard to argue that mass conversion to CFL's over tungsten wouldn't save energy. But I still don't think heat is the issue. By the same reasoning one could argue that air conditioning use in the summer would go down.

You're right about the religion part. It's the same old issue of principle vs. practice. Like petitioners trying to get their new law on the ballot by saying, "but don't you want to save the children/water/puppies/battered wives/whatever?" as though the principle is the only thing that counts. Show me that the proposal will actually work in practice, including what tradeoffs and problems that might cause. We can agree to the principle that we can consume less energy by switching to another technology, but none of us have agreed that switching to CFL's is the best practice to adhere to it.
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#10 Paul Bruening

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 10:28 PM

I don't recall the amount of dirt it takes to diffuse the mercury in just one CFL. My brother was telling me about it on the phone a few months ago. I do recall just how shocked I was by the thousands of cubic feet of dirt per bulb it takes. I imagine that if one of us checked the consumption and disposal of bulbs per year and multiplied that by the amount of dirt needed per bulb... well, you get the picture. I think I'd rather just replace my 100 watt tungstens with 40 watters.
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#11 Michael Nash

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 10:34 PM

I think I'd rather just replace my 100 watt tungstens with 40 watters.


And/or use dimmers, which I do (and you can't do very well with CFL's).

Do standard 48" fluorescent tubes contain the same amount of mercury? Why hasn't the environmental issue come up with them?
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#12 Steve London

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 10:59 PM

I love the look of tungsten lightning and because it's so much less costly than fluorescent softbanks and HMIs I can afford to buy and use great lights for the micro budget indie projects I'm usually involved with.

I use four 100W+ tungsten equivalent daylight balanced high CRI CFLs in my China balls by using three regular Y socket adapters. They run cool and don't draw too much current for the supplied power cord and socket.

As for the physics, replacing the lost heat is hardly the whole story. For starters, what about all those months where I live when the air conditionijng is trying to deal with all the heat from the incandescents let alone all the other energy costs for bulbs that last a tenth as long and are so comparatively inefficient?"

Here is a useful link: http://oee.nrcan.gc....s.cfm#phase-out

A quote:

Will my home energy costs increase if I switch to CFLs?

The answer to this question may vary from one part of Canada to another, depending on the type of fuel used for home heating, the efficiency of your heating system, local climate and other factors. As a general rule, however, the following applies.

Incandescent lamps are only 5 to 10 percent efficient, which means that most of the energy they consume is converted into heat energy rather than light. Depending on where the bulb is located and the time of year, your home heating system may have to replace this heat when you switch from an incandescent bulb to a CFL. The cost of replacing the heat will depend on the efficiency of your heating system, the fuel source and the price of the fuel.

Having said that, most homeowners in Canada will save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by switching to energy-efficient lighting. This is because the impact of incandescent lights on the heating load is negligible in most homes, and any additional cost is usually more than offset by the energy savings from using CFLs. Installing CFLs will also reduce the load on cooling systems for homes that have air conditioning. Switching from incandescent bulbs to CFLs can also make homes that do not have air conditioning more comfortable during hot weather, as less heat will be generated inside the home.


Edited by Steve London, 08 January 2008 - 10:59 PM.

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#13 Walter Graff

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 12:14 AM

I love the look of tungsten lightning and because it's so much less costly than fluorescent softbanks and HMIs I can afford to buy and use great lights for the micro budget indie projects I'm usually involved with.

I use four 100W+ tungsten equivalent daylight balanced high CRI CFLs in my China balls by using three regular Y socket adapters. They run cool and don't draw too much current for the supplied power cord and socket.

As for the physics, replacing the lost heat is hardly the whole story. For starters, what about all those months where I live when the air conditionijng is trying to deal with all the heat from the incandescents let alone all the other energy costs for bulbs that last a tenth as long and are so comparatively inefficient?"

Here is a useful link: http://oee.nrcan.gc....s.cfm#phase-out

A quote:


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#14 Bill Totolo

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 12:18 AM

I'm no gaffer but what are we going to put in our tungsten production lights?
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#15 Walter Graff

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 12:20 AM

I have switched every lamp in my home over the CFL's and the electrical bill savings have been substantial. And with the newest generation fo CFLs you get incredibly bright light and very clean. As for mercury, yea it's a problem with CFLs but hten again every extention cord you touch is coated wit lead so most all of us in this bisiness have lead in our tissues as a result of working in this industry.
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#16 Michael Nash

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 02:51 AM

I'm no gaffer but what are we going to put in our tungsten production lights?


We had a thread about this awhile back. I don't think any of the proposed bans apply to all tungsten, just the household screw-in type.
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#17 John Sprung

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 02:13 PM

The power consumption of CFL's for an equal amount of lumens is significantly lower, so it's hard to argue that mass conversion to CFL's over tungsten wouldn't save energy. But I still don't think heat is the issue. By the same reasoning one could argue that air conditioning use in the summer would go down.

You're right that some times the extra heat is a negative rather than a positive. But the U.S. is on average primarily a heating climate, and at home we run our lights primarily at night. So, still, the net effect of the extra heat from incandescents is clearly beneficial. The energy that goes to heat is, in the vast majority of cases, not wasted.

Heat pretty much has to be the issue, because you only get two things from either an incandescent or a CFL: light and heat. In some cases, there may be a little mechanical vibration that makes a buzz noise, and there could be a tiny amount of RF interference, but those are really tiny. Energy seems to really like to turn itself into heat. That's why your car has a radiator, your amplifier has cooling fins, and your computer has a fan. Most anything we design that uses energy ends up having to dissipate some heat.

Truth be told, your fridge probably uses a lot more electricity than all your lights combined, even if they're all incandescent.



-- J.S.
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#18 John Sprung

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 02:41 PM

I have switched every lamp in my home over the CFL's and the electrical bill savings have been substantial.

I switched the vacant house that we have in litigation over from incandescents to CFL's on timers, just to give the illusion that it's occupied. It's 3124 square feet, a dozen CFL's, and the savings have probably been in the single digits per month. They're lost in the noise of all the odd little fees and charges from the DWP.




-- J.S.
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#19 robert duke

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 05:27 PM

I switched the vacant house that we have in litigation over from incandescents to CFL's on timers, just to give the illusion that it's occupied. It's 3124 square feet, a dozen CFL's, and the savings have probably been in the single digits per month. They're lost in the noise of all the odd little fees and charges from the DWP.




-- J.S.


John,
Off subject but if the house is vacant you should switch the water heater off and drain it. ( draining it prevents it from rusting out under stagnant water and dropping all the water on the floor). You wouldnt believe the $$ those things suck up. Also kill the refrigerator and leave it open for ventilation.
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#20 John Sprung

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 06:08 PM

Yup. the W/H's are off and empty, the fridges are all gone. Gas is shut off before the regulator, electricity is the only active utility. You're right, refrigerators and freezers are the lion's share of domestic power consumption. That's largely why light bulbs are a drop in the bucket.




-- J.S.
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