Ross: Standard incandescent lightbulbs are about to disappear, and that’s OK

Apr 27, 2022, 6:56 AM

(Credit Brennan Burling via Unsplash)...

(Credit Brennan Burling via Unsplash)

(Credit Brennan Burling via Unsplash)

The day has finally come. A new rule governing light bulbs has been officially posted in the Federal Register. 75 days from now, the standard for household lightbulbs will be raised to 45 lumens per watt.

That means for a standard lightbulb to be legally sold in the US, every watt of electricity the lightbulb consumes needs to generate the light equivalent of 45 candles.

That means standard incandescent lightbulbs are going to disappear because none of them are efficient enough to meet the standard.

The day is coming when LED bulbs will be your only choice.

Now before anybody storms the capitol, I just want to point out that this should surprise no one. Congress was fighting about this back in 2011. The State of Texas even threatened to build its own incandescent bulb factory in defiance. It was still controversial enough that Trump delayed the rule again in 2019.

But now, I’m pretty sure nobody will care. Because whereas the early hi-tech bulbs were those curly things that actually had to warm up, the new LEDs can light up your house like a Walmart.

When I turn on the LED lights over the mirror in our bathroom here at home it’s like a flying saucer landed. And I installed them eight years ago – I plan to pass them down to the grandchildren.

I have a work lamp in the garage that could probably light up the Space Needle, and before someone says, well, you’re lucky to be able to afford all that – these lights use about 1/12th of the energy of the incandescents they replaced, and they last so long they’re almost free. Or better than free. I saw one calculation that replacing a filament bulb with an LED is like finding $150 on the sidewalk.

I’m actually running an experiment where I even got a failed LED to work again by taking it apart and replacing the internal capacitor– it’s been on continuously for about two years now.

However, as much as I love this technology, I actually don’t think people should be forced to buy them. In a free country, if you want to burn your money, you should be allowed to.

And that’s why I bought a 16-pack of old-style too-hot-to-touch 60-watt bulbs to sell on the black market.

Unless that’s illegal – in which case I’ll use them for bedtime reading on a cold night when the furnace isn’t working.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Standard incandescent lightbulbs are about to disappear, and that’s OK