The demise of incandescent light bulbs

Someone phoned me last year to tell me that GE closed its last incandescent bulb factory in the United States. This was a surprise to me. I had dabbled in those new-fangled CFL bulbs that were supposedly so efficient, but I had some difficulties with the ones I tried: (1) They started out very dim and it took a couple of minutes after you turned them on for them to reach their full brightness. (2) They did not respond to dimmer switches. Someone had pointed out a third drawback, that the bulbs contain mercury, so if you ever break one, Bad Things will happen. I can’t remember the last time I broke a light bulb (if ever), but items (1) and (2) are issues that you’d deal with every time you used the bulbs. And to add to that, I got a whole bunch of “daylight-colored” CFL bulbs. The color of their light is really creepy, so I had to swap them out for those now-antiquated incandescents.

But wait, how could this be? The last incandescent bulb factory in the United States? The article in the Washington Post actually heavily qualifies this (qualifying words are underlined): “The last major GE factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the United States is closing this month.”

Also, I had only recently found a type of light bulb that I really liked (made by GE, oddly enough): the GE Reveal. The color of its light is very nice. You can easily sort out dark blue, black, and dark brown items of clothing to its light, something you can’t do with ordinary incandescent light bulbs. But was my new favorite bulb type already obsolete? Now I was worried.

Further research uncovered that legislation had already been passed to phase out incandescent light bulbs, apparently all the way back in 2007! And the phase-out starts in January 2012, which is right around the corner! GE assures me on their website that they’ll be right there with the latest technology to work around the limitations of the old-fashioned CFLs.

Apparently this sort of thing has been happening all around the world, so the US is just jumping on the bandwagon. I had no idea that a technology that had not quite matured was going to be essentially forced upon us. And if I wasn’t happy in 2010 with the state of CFLs, they must have been even worse back in 2007 when this legislation was passed.

Well, it’s a done deal now, so there’s nothing to do but hope that technology accelerates enough to give us some decent light bulbs. Only time will tell.

One thought on “The demise of incandescent light bulbs

  1. In the UK stores have already stopped stocking incandescent bulbs. I’ve been using the slow to start-up replacements since about 2007. I’ve changed my behaviour, for example in my bathroom I used to switch the light on and off each time I went in, now I leave it on to avoid the ‘dim’ time which normally lasts as long as I am in there! so the energy saving benefits may be lost because I leave it on, but I don’t know, I have some vague memory that the act of switching a light on takes more energy than leaving it running…but that could easily be a myth…

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