Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Brandston Research Team’s Fluorescent Light Bulb Study

imageHoward Brandston is a well known New York lighting designer, and is the Congress consultant of choice when they holding hearings into light bulb matters.

The following information is from his website commentary.
As mentioned in a previous post, he is shortly launching a campaign against the light bulb regulations on a Facebook page, details which will appear on the above website link.
Given his status, it will hopefully get a good following.


Research into the Effects and Implications of Increased CFL Use

In September 2009, I assembled a first-class team of doctors and researchers to study the implications of the wide-spread use of CFLs. Supported in part with a grant from the IES, the primary intention was to determine if further investigation and research is warranted to re-examine the direction of current and proposed lighting related legislation. Our study included:

• A literature search of the health hazards post by Electro-magnetic Fields
• Measurements of the fields generated by CFLs
• Measurements of EMF’s at installations
• Creation of a detailed list of potential problems stemming from installed CFL usage
• An analysis of actual installation system efficiencies – CFL vs. Incandescent
• An illustration of dimmer induced SPD shifts with CFLs. Illustrated with SPDs.

Our findings fully support that further research must be done. The full research report [originally published March 2010] is available here. The document is large — 3MB (.pdf).

RE ” further research must be done”, it may be noted that Canada has indeed delayed a ban for (at least) 2 years, in part because of CFL concerns, more:


Introduction and Conclusion excerpts from the Brandston team study:


The main purpose of the study is to determine if more research is required before the ban on ordinary incandescent lamps takes effect. If it is determined that it would be in the best interest of the country to conduct further studies, then the ban and the restrictions placed on the incandescent lamp should be withdrawn and held in abeyance, until a solid basis can be determined as to what the best course of action be taken to meet the spirit of the act.
All funding by the several government entities promoting the use of CFLs should also cease until there is careful evaluation of relevant CFLs characteristics and comparison with incandescent lamps.

We assembled an experienced interdisciplinary team, fully capable of delivering proposed investigation and research.

Report prepared by:
Howard M. Brandston, FIES, Hon. FCIBSE, FIALD, PLDA, SLL, LC
Philip Brickner, MD St. Vincent’s Hospital
Sasa Djokic, PhD Univ. of Edinburgh
Richard Vincent St. Vincent’s Hospital
Scott Bucher St. Vincent’s Hospital
Heather Auto St. Vincent’s Hospital
Kate Sweater Hickcox Lighting Research Center, RPI


CFLs are not the superior replacement for incandescent lamps, neither in conservation or aesthetics.
Nor is the CFL an equivalent light source technology.
As an indicator of lamp efficiency, lumens-per-watt has been extensively used as a comparative metric to promote the energy advantages of light sources. However, this is flawed because no meaningful conclusions can come from measuring and quantifying an individual type of light source on its own. Lumens-per-watt does not capture any qualitative characteristics, nor does it express the actual performance level of any light source used in practical applications. Most importantly, it does not represent the actual illuminating and spectral properties of a given light source. Lumens-per-watt is simply an idealized quantifier obtained in laboratory measurement, which is often used isolated from other light source characteristics and out of context with the lighting applications under which people live and work. What is really needed is an incandescent lamp with today’s lumen output but with longer life.

Generally, there are no bad light sources, only bad applications.
There are some very laudable characteristics of the CFL, yet the selection of any light source remains inseparable from the luminaire that houses it, along with the space in which both are installed and lighting requirements that need to be satisfied. In the pursuit of more useful lumens-per-watt metric, one must match the luminaire to the space being illuminated.
The lamp, the fixture and the room: all three must work in concert and for the true benefits of end-users. If the CFL should be used for lighting a particular space, or an object within that space, the fixture must be designed to work with that lamp, and that fixture with the room. It is a symbiotic relationship.
A CFL cannot be simply installed in an incandescent fixture and then expected to produce a visual appearance that is more than washed out, foggy and dingy. The whole fixture must be replaced — light source and luminaire — and this is never an inexpensive proposition.


“It is wrong to assume that banning the incandescent lamp is an energy- and ecologically conscious action. We have not solved all our lighting problems by finding a highly efficient source. There is presently no lighting technology that can replace certain types and uses of incandescent lamps.”
[ref, IALD]

This study challenges current political consensus and decision to phase out incandescent lamps and switch to CFLs on the assumption that significant energy savings will be achieved without seriously compromising any of the relevant functional and illuminating requirements in target applications. Moreover, and more importantly, the study points out that there is a need to carefully investigate and elucidate some of the important safety concerns that may arise from a prolonged exposure and widespread use of CFLs, of which levels of electromagnetic fields measured around these appliances are illustrated in more detail. (N.B. an initial measurement of approximately 50 DB from a 13W CFL)


We propose the following simple test that may actually provide an effective method for determining whether the legislation will actually serve people:

– Initiate a field study aimed at satisfying the proposed power limits in all public buildings, from museums and hospitals to the White House, and the homes of all elected officials.
– As this will include replacing all incandescent lamps with CFLs, it would be easy to directly ascertain the effects of the proposed legislation/ban.
– Assure that all of these measures to comply with specified power limits in residential units are done and paid for solely by the occupants, i.e. that occupants may freely decide on the use of specific equipment and devices
– At the end of sufficiently long period (e.g. 18 months) check whether the incandescent lighting had not been reinstalled, and perform a detailed survey with all users to determine their overall satisfaction with the initial, intermediate and resulting lighting.
– This will help to identify specific target applications for different light sources, as they will be selected by end-users, based on their needs and requirements.
– In parallel with this field study, initiate and perform detailed research related to determining quantitative and qualitative characteristics of CFLs and other alternative light sources (e.g. LED light sources), as well as the comparative analysis of their relevant aspects and most important effects of use.

Based on the data collected from the above field/labs studies, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and current lighting related energy legislation still in Congress may be amended, if necessary, to conform to the results of the studies. We expect that the current and proposed legislation would be rewritten in favor of a new act, which will be based on the result of a thoughtful process that could yield a set of proven recommendations that will better serve our nation’s needs by maximizing both human health, environmental satisfaction and energy efficiency. In the end, the most energy effective solution for residences may be achieved using incandescent lamps with a combination of occupancy sensors and dimmers.


Regarding the obvious retort of
“incandescents are not banned, energy efficient halogen types allowed”, or “better LEDs are coming”, and other arguments used to justify bans, see the 13 point referenced rundown of why the arguments don’t hold up here:

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US sales of CFLs have fallen since 2007

From Freedom Light Bulb blog post


Thank you to Howard Brandston for this information, via his Facebook page (the “wall” page can be read by anybody logged in).
Incidentally, keep a watch on Howard’s website commentary – he is shortly launching a campaign on a new Facebook page. Given his status as renowned lighting designer and congressional consultant on lighting matters, it will hopefully get a good following.

Last week NEMA, the electrical equipment association to which light bulb manufacturers belong and which (as not least seen from Howard’s e-book) was heavily involved in pushing for and welcoming the “phase out” of simple incandescent bulbs, published a US sales lighting report.
It not only covers the last quarter of 2011, but also all previous years as useful chart data.



Shipments of Incandescent Lamps Illuminate at the Close of 2011

NEMA’s indexes for incandescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) lamp shipments increased by 29.4 and 3.6 percent, respectively, during Q4 2011 compared to Q3 2011. Incandescent lamp shipments posted a year-over-year gain of 41 percent while CFLs declined by 6.6 percent. The calendar year comparison also showed divergent paths. Shipments of CFLs decreased by 6.6 percent compared to 2010. Conversely, incandescent lamp shipments rose 16.4 percent during 2011. A preponderance–62.1 percent–of the increase over last year occurred during Q4.

Incandescent lamps increased its share of the combined incandescent-CFL market registering a reading of 82.8 percent. Meanwhile, the share of CFLs decreased to 17.2 percent –a ratio of slightly less than one in six lamps sold. The increase in the foothold by incandescent lamps is likely to continue while the new efficiency regulations established by EISA 2007 are phased-in over the next few years. CFLs and other substitute lamp types such as halogen A-Line and LED lamps are then expected to carve out increasing shares of the traditional A-Line market.




Since NEMA is for the ban, this is hardly biased in favor of incandescents
(besides, either big or small incandescent sales speak against a ban,
big sales = why ban what people prefer,
small sales = why ban when people are voluntarily switching anyway, little savings from a ban).

The relative incandescent sales rise during 2011 is indeed probably related to the growing awareness of the light bulb ban, as NEMA say.

However, what is of greater interest is the stagnation and even relative fall of CFL sales since the 2007 boost, a boost from the extensive subsidy and rebate introduced at the time of the 2007 EISA regulations (the extensive USA CFL promotion campaigns are documented on onwards).

In other words, despite the continuation and increase of all the CFL promotion campaigns, subsidies, rebates, handouts etc they are still no more popular.
The sales and market shares of both incandescents and CFLs have held remarkably steady, a slight fall in each perhaps being due to LED sales.

A reasonable reply is that CFLs might be liked, at least if subsidised and handed out, but are simply not suitable for all locations:
Hot or cold ambience, vibration, dampness, enclosed spaces, recesses, existing dimming circuits, timers, movement sensor switching, use in chandeliers and small and unusual lamps, aesthetical use if clear bulbs are preferred, rare usage when cheaper bulbs are preferred – and so on – apart from light quality differences, particularly noticeable when dimming.

Yes, expensive halogen incandescent alternatives may be offered – but they still have differences to simple cheap incandescents (running hotter and whiter for example), and will as seen from the regulations ( also come to be banned for ordinary usage
in the second phase of the 2007 EISA regulations following on after 2014, a phase out which as seen also applies to the European Union.
While the above data does not differentiate simple incandescents from halogen type alternatives, previous data has shown the ongoing popularity of the simpler cheaper incandescents, and NEMA imply the same in their commentary here (the sales rise from 2012 regulations on simple incandescents, the expected increased future sales of halogen type replacements).

Another reply is that LEDs offer an alternative choice – certainly, but again,
with light quality differences in their spiky emission spectra, and with even more light output problems than CFLs to achieve bright (over 60W) light equivalent omnidirectional lighting, and at reasonable cost.


The simple truth is that all lighting has advantages:
and markets, whether you like them or not, always send a message.
In this case the message is clear – people still like to buy simple incandescent light bulbs.
“Great savings” from banning them is therefore to ban what people would have bought if they could, and as referenced on the Deception page, the overall all-things-considered savings whether of energy or emissions or money, are marginal and irrelevant.
Banning chauffeur driven political limousines might bring “great savings”, but that again does not mean that those affected would necessarily be happy with such savings!


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Will CFLs and LEDs become Cheaper?

A lot of recent price criticism about the new $50 dollar Philips LED bulb, as in the Washington Post 7th March article – though in fairness the bulb no doubt has its useful qualities too.

source: Ledinside

But with this bulb, as with any other expensive lighting alternatives to cheap incandescents, the repeated assurance is that prices will come down.
How likely is that?

The proponents behind banning simple incandescents hold that
“If everyone has to buy CFLs and LEDs, then they will become cheaper on economy of scale”
(and the same presumably holds for the expensive halogen type replacement incandescents, while they are allowed – as they will be banned too for ordinary usage, on the 45 lumen per Watt end regulation)

This might at first seem logical.
However, there are many reasons that this is unlikely, to any great extent…

See Freedom Light Bulb “The Deception behind Banning Light Bulbs” 13 point rundown,  point number 4

“The expensive CFL and LED bulbs will become cheaper after a ban, on economy of scale!”

It may seem natural to expect that greater sales means cheaper bulbs.
Firstly it does not necessarily hold on supply and demand. Having removed the other bulb choices, there may be insufficient supply for the new demand. That raises rather than lowers prices.
Secondly, it is irrelevant how many bulbs are sold, in that manufacturers / distributors / retailers simply charge what they can. Since the cheap competition has been removed, and since there are fewer manufacturers of newer more complex bulbs, there is less pressure to reduce prices (besides which light bulb manufacturers have a history of cartels).
Meanwhile, on the Government side, pre-ban price lowering subsidies (as in North America and Europe eg onwards) are no longer seen as so necessary.

That is not all.
CFLs and LEDs contain rare earth elements, the price rise in recent years giving an increase in their prices, as covered in 2011 news reports.
Also they are mostly made in China, where wages are rising, and shipping transport fuel cost has also risen in recent years.
Finally, CFLs (and possibly LEDs) will be subject to increasing recycling mandates on manufacturers and retailers, which will again add to consumer purchase cost.

In comparison, incandescents are of course more simply and often locally made, and have no recycling requirement.

General energy efficiency regulation price issues are covered here:
Some further specific light bulb price issues are covered here:


Regarding the 2011 news reports about CFL price increases,
see the November 2011 Light Bulb Choice blog post,
(itself quoting and


Huge Price Increases Underway from Lamp Manufacturers: The impact of rare earth metals shortages

There is a rapid, emerging shortage of rare earth metals, a primary component used in the manufacture of fluorescent lamps – principally phosphors. Phosphors are transition metal compounds or rare earth compounds of various types. The most common uses of phosphors are prevalent in green technologies such as batteries, magnets, computer hard drives, TV screens, smart phones, and energy-saving light sources – and fluorescent lamps.

The problem with the supply of rare earth elements is that demand has skyrocketed over the last decade from 40,000 tons to 120,000 tons. Meanwhile, China, who owns the monopoly of rare earth minerals has been cutting its exports. Today, it only exports about 30,000 tons a year – only one-fourth of the world’s demand.

In a U.S. Department of Energy report dated December 14, 2010, it was noted that ”it is likely to take 15 years for the U.S. to mine enough rare earth minerals to shake its dependence on China.”

With China currently Global Rare Earth Oxide production trends controlling up to 97% of the world supply of rare earth metals, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ve been imposing tariffs and severe export restrictions.

China first imposed trade limits in 1999, and its exports shrank by 20 percent from 2005 to 2009. Then a dramatic cutback in 2010, squeezing global supplies amid a dispute with Japan*, and they’ve fallen even further in 2011. China claims they’re just being frugal for environmental reasons, not economic leverage, but the cutbacks have nonetheless caused major price spikes – a condition our electrical and lighting industries are now having to deal with.


lighting switchover is of course still justified by the proponents on the basis of the usage savings, regardless of the expensive-to-buy bulbs.

So how likely are people to save energy and money?
Again, the savings are limited for many reasons

Besides which, of course, people may prefer incandescent broad spectrum light bulb quality regardless of paying a bit more in usage – and people voluntarily pay for their electricity, of which there is no future shortage also of environmentally friendly sources.
No-one likes energy waste.
But what is energy waste?
A product unnecessarily left on is a waste of energy.
The personal choice of what product to use is not a waste of energy.

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Always Look on the Bright Side!

The following is from the Freedom Light Bulb blog
As regards Howard Brandston, he is a well known lighting designer with numerous projects including lighting the statue of Liberty, also a guest lecturer, visiting professor, and the Congress choice of expert opinion on lighting issues – a lone voice against the light bulb ban in Senate hearings!
His biography, online commentary, and business.


Imagine calling a fluorescent bulb Tru Dim 😉
(it’s dimmable, apparently, and full of fun components)


#   #   #   #   #   #


Following on from the post about renowned lighting designer Howard Brandston’s Mondo article, he has also updated his website commentary, with a letter to Consumer Reports (that they did not publish)
Excerpts, my highlights:

The design of lighting is the creation of a system to light a space.
When you take the total energy used to light many typical spaces, including the lighting controls, the total connected load and energy consumed when using incandescent light sources the result is, in many cases, equal to or more efficient than the new sources you are touting.

Then you make a serious technical error when you state that lumens measures brightness.
Lumens are a measure of radiant energy in the visible spectrum – not brightness.
More lumens do not mean more brightness or visibility – nor that you will prefer the light illuminating the scene or object it is falling upon. What is critical in this case is the Spectral Power Distribution of the light source.
In this case, when evaluated by most viewers, the incandescent light bulb wins – most of the time. That does not mean there are not several applications where alternative light sources perform perfectly well and are preferred. But to ban the incandescent light bulb is a serious detriment to the design of good lighting for many applications. People will sort that out by themselves without the help of legislation….

Howard M. Brandston, FIES, Hon. FCIBSE & SLL, FIALD, LC.



As covered previously here, Lumens are replacing Watts as the new standard for buying light bulbs by (supposedly) brightness…

CFLs and LEDs have spiky emission spectra, so strong brightness in single pure light colors might confuse the measurements, compares to the smoother, broader, light color emissions as with incandescents.

There are a lot of reasons why CFLs and LEDs seem dimmer than their lab rated values…
more on CFL brightness here (,
and some additional notes on LED brightness (


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