Eco bulbs

Energy Safety, the governmental agency charged (oops) with ensuring the safe supply and use of electricity and gas, has warned the Fire Service about the potential hazard of eco bulbs (compact fluorescent lamps). Eco bulbs are reported to be “melting, blowing up and blackening surrounding electrical equipment.”

This comes a couple of months after the Minister of Energy (along with the Government Spokesperson on Energy Efficiency and Conservation, Jeanette Fitzsimons) announced that new energy efficiency standards would lead to traditional incandescent bulbs being phased out from late next year. The move is part of the Efficient Lighting Strategy. NZers could save an estimated almost $500 million of the $660 million spent on lighting electricity annually.

It’s not clear from the DomPost’s report whether there has been a sudden upsurge in reports of problems with the eco bulbs. Energy Safety says it has received 13 complaints about eco bulbs in the past fortnight. However, a spokesperson for the Minieter said the agency had received no reports of “serious problems” and a spokeperson for the Fire Service says, “We do not know if there is a manufacturing fault, a user fault or a dud batch…”

In other words, we need to know more before we start drawing conclusions.

Well, not all of us. Egged on by David Farrar — “… they may burn your house down!” — the kiwiblog right greeted this news as more evidence of a big brother conspiracy to foist dangerous and user-unfriendly light fittings on the unsuspecting citizenry, presumably for the sheer hell of it since eco bulbs don’t save energy anyway.

Never mind that the Efficient Lighting Strategy was developed in partnership between the lighting industry, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, and the Electricity Commission. What would they know!


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8 Responses to “Eco bulbs”

  1. Inventory2 Says:

    JP – I know you don’t rate him, but have you seen Wishart’s article about the CFL’s? If you can’t stand the thought of buying his “tory rag”, or don’t want to run the risk of being seen, e-mail me, and I’ll send you a copy. By Wishart’s standards, it is quite mild, but surprisingly informative.

  2. Let There Be Light (Maybe) | MacDoctor Moments Says:

    […] Kiwiblog and Jafapete blog about the latest news about compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) – that they are potential fire […]

  3. macdoctor01 Says:

    Your faith in these government bodies is truly touching 😉

  4. Inventory2 Says:

    Well said MacDoc – do you think it’s faith, or blind loyalty?

  5. macdoctor01 Says:

    You can find Wishart’s article here. I agree with I2’s assessment of it.

  6. macdoctor01 Says:

    Let’s see:

    The EECA has only one scientist on it’s board and he sounds suspiciously socialist 🙂
    The Commission has no scientists but does have an electrical engineer but I suspect he hasn’t actually worked in the field for about 15 years 😦
    And the commission site refers you to the Ministry of Environment site when queried about the safety of CFLs. The Ministry site quotes Wikipedia…

    WIKIPEDIA? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

    I’m guessing blind faith, here 🙂

  7. Ian Wishart Says:

    Virtualmark…with the greatest of respect, before engaging mouth please ensure your factual assimilation matrix is in gear.

    I didn’t just pluck the figures out of the air, or from some disgruntled scientist. The endnotes for the article reference them. The 2% savings figure, for example, is from an official government advisory written by scientists.

    New Zealand doesn’t have exclusive access to the world’s best CFL maker…all of us are getting our bulbs largely from the same sources. The bulbs tested in Maine were those avail on the US market towards the end of last year…not from five years ago. Some are the same as those sold here. The ones tested by Brown University are those available this year on the US market.

    Read the studies properly, not just cherry-picking to suit your argument. I interviewed members of the Lighting Council directly. They didn’t have the glib list you’ve thrown up, and I suspect they are more au fait with the issue.

    You also need to read the studies more carefully. You talk of the “amalgam” lamp releasing less mercury. It was actually a specialised CFL for use in dimmers, with advanced amalgam vapour control technology. It was the only lamp with that tech. If you read the paragraph below, you’ll see most or all of the lamps in the study were common or garden variety “amalgam” lamps, just as we have here:

    “The one scenario where a vapor control amalgam technology lamp was broken suggests that this type of CFL may emit less mercury vapor on breakage and may present fewer cleanup challenges than certain other CFLs. However, this study did not test enough of this type of
    amalgam technology lamps to draw any significant conclusions. Researchers believe that most lamps used in the study were manufactured with either liquid dosing or solid or “pellet” dosing amalgam technology, a method for introducing a limited amount of mercury into a CFL during
    manufacture. More research is needed for a meaningful assessment of amalgam technologies.

    “In addition, this study cracked a lamp (Scenario J) to see if less mercury would be released than from a thoroughly broken lamp, and this study broke two lamps that had been turned on and were warm or “hot” (SD and SD duplicate) to see if there was a difference from the “cold” lamps
    that were broken in the study. Although the results from those three trials did not appear to be different from other trials, more data is needed to make findings”

    So thanks for your input Virtualmark…now read it more carefully.


  8. Ian Wishart Says:

    Classic…I signed into Kiwiblog and managed to post my comment here…

    sorry boys and girls…

    Ian, I can’t imagine anyone confusing my blog with Farrar’s!

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