Monthly Archives: August 2012

A View Against Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Velvet Underground drummer Maureen “Moe” Tucker:
“The government deciding what kind of lightbulbs we can use (all you “think green” people, three objections to this b.s.: 1) Those bulbs give off the light of a candle; 2) They’re very expensive; 3) They have mercury in them – how the hell are we supposed to dispose of them?).”







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LEDs with Problems Too!

Update: A further extensive post on LED issues just gone up August 18 on the Greenwashing Lamps blog,
Lighting industry on LED issues basically comparing the 2009 promises with the 2012 delivery…


The always readable and fact filled Greenwashing Lamps blog,
had a good post the other day about LED Tubes and Bulbs.

Looking at the LED Bulb section of the post…
with testing and reports from Sweden and the EU, but likely applicable elsewhere too,
at least in the general observations.
Some of it has been auto-translated from Swedish, but thankfully with adjustments by the author!
My emphases, some editing:

Banned LED bulbs

Report from Dec 14, 2011

With the new energy conservation requirements, incandescent bulbs be phased out, increasing interest in alternative lighting.
The lamps which the National Electrical Safety Board has looked at are (therefore) the incandescent bulb replacement LED bulbs.
They are based on modern LED technology and all the lamps tested contains a small power pack, situated in the lamp socket.

The Safety Board has recently given a variety of (these) LED lamps sales ban.
The most common reason is electrical grid disturbances, but they also interfere with radio frequencies.

List of products which have so far received sales ban: Lamp 1, Lamp 2, Lamp 3, Lamp 4, Lamp 5, Lamp 6, Lamp 7. [3 more but links required login]

Result of market supervision

More than half of the LED lights purchased through the market and tested have received sales bans. This is a remarkably high figure, which may be because most of the lights checked had built-in dimming, i.e. that they are dimmable. Dimmable LED lamps contain control electronics that often require specific measures to achieve acceptable properties to make electrical devices work together, known as electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). This is sometimes overlooked by the lamp manufacturers. It is important to you as a manufacturer or importer to ensure that the LEDs have been tested properly with EMC.

How does the disturbance manifest?

LEDs produce disturbances in the distribution system which, among other things, can cause radio interference. Radio interference caused by the conducted noise radiating from the connected wires. This is because the lines, e.g. to the luminaire, act as transmitting antennas for conducted interference. The disturbance may affect other electrical products in the local area, even those that are not connected to an outlet. It can also affect communication such as wireless broadband and telephony.

What rules apply for manufacturers?

The Electrical Safety Authority on electromagnetic compatibility (ELSÄK-FS 2007:1) has to be followed. Regulations based on the EMC Directive (2004/108/EC EMCD).

Cooperation within the EU about LED lights

There is currently a campaign in the EU to have LED lighting examined. The aim is to investigate if the new LED lights on the market comply with applicable EMC requirements.


A few months later, EU authorities found similar problems:
Disruptive LEDs are examined in the EU

Feb 10, 2012

The National Electrical Safety Board has in 2011 looked into LED lights, half of which got sales bans. The reason for the bans is that the lights did not meet the applicable requirements for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).

Market of LED lamps 2011The lights disrupted other electrical products. Only one in five LED lamps passed the test without comment.

European survey
In parallel with the National Electrical Safety Board’s market surveillance of LED lights, the EU carried out an investigation. The EU surveillance is not strictly comparable to the Safety Boards’s market surveillance, but shows similar shortcomings. The results also show that manufacturers who use LED technology are very poor at complying with the Directive:
The reason for this is that LED technology is so new and there have appeared many new manufacturers in the market that are simply not aware of the directive, said Ulf Johansson at the Safety Board.

Clearer rules
One of several measures aimed at improving the situation is that the European Commission gives the European Committee for Standardisation mandate to supplement and clarify standards in the field. The aim is to help traders in the market to more easily use the current rules.

Continued control
The National Electrical Safety Board will, in line with other market surveillance authorities in the EU, check the LEDs in 2012 as well. It also plans to follow up on last year’s surveillance with a campaign aimed at improving information about the LED lights.



Förbjudna LED-lampor [Prohibited LED-lamps]

Störande lampor granskas i EU [Lights causing disturbance analyzed by the EU]

Final Report on the 4th Cross-Border EMC Market Surveillance Campaign – 2011 LED Lighting Products


Overall, it should also be noted that lab tested specifications, as agreed among the manufacturers, rarely conform with real life usage.
[A problem of course familiar to fluorescent bulb users too – as with the long unnatural 3 hour on-off cycle lifespan testing, given that many bulbs are switched on and off for short periods… which happens to markedly reduce CFL life, and again, the loss of brightness that also effectively reduces their life]
The problems with LED, and the standards applying to them is also covered on
and onwards, with some safety issues covered on


From an American angle,
an interesting court case against false LED advertising:

From the Federal Trade Commission press release, 2010:

FTC Shines a Light on Company’s Deceptive Claims for its LED Bulbs

Agency Charges Firm With Misrepresenting the Light Output and Life
Expectancy of its Bulbs:
The Federal Trade Commission has sued a California-based light bulb manufacturer and its principals to stop them from misleading consumers by exaggerating the light output and life expectancy of its Light
Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs.

As part of the FTC’s continuing work to stop deceptive advertising,the agency filed a complaint charging that since 2008, Lights of America, Inc. has overstated the light output and life expectancy of its LED bulbs on packages and in brochures. The agency also charges that Lights of America misled consumers about how the brightness of its LED bulbs compares to traditional incandescent lights.

A 2011 update, pdf document:

“Accordingly, the Court should deny the Vakils’ Motion to Dismiss and enter its Tentative Decision as its ruling on this matter….”


Meanwhile, in 2012, with the FTC supervised new lighting label regulations, GE has found its own color coding way to give the information:

GE is currently rolling out a series of five new boxes that’ll hit store shelves by summer and, it hopes, change the way Americans do their bulb shopping.
The FTC-mandated label will appear (where else?) on the back of the boxes…

The color coding is meant to represent “strong, vibrant”, “cozy relaxing” lighting etc

For example, the lowest-power bulb (210 lumens) comes in a lavender box labeled “subtle, reassuring light,” while the higher-power 1,170-lumen bulb’s box is bright green termed as “fresh, energizing light.”

Never mind the uneven light spectrum of this kind of lighting, as indeed with CFLs 😉
Light spectrum compared for different lamp types in an earlier blog post here dealing with UV light radiation, some more diagrams in the equivalent post on the Freedom Light Bulb blog.

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A Comprehensive Criticism of Fluorescent Light Bulbs

[An expanded version of this via, as said on the right here: the hosted WordPress versions allow a bit more flexibility, we are therefore experimenting around that!]


Paul Wheaton is an interesting critic of the pushing of CFLs as replacement light bulbs, and indeed of the supposed necessity of restricting the use of simple incandescent light bulbs:
He is a committed environmentalist, as seen from his permaculture farming forums, and yet has an engineering background that allows him and his team to make credible real-life observations about lighting and lighting use.

A point about light bulb manufacturers and their products is that their specifications may be correct under the lab test conditions, but do not correspond to real life use – like with lifespan or brightness.

He has a good and extensive critical account of Fluorescent light bulbs here:, as also displayed further down on this post.

A recent video complements this well, containing further testing…


Not forgetting his earlier Mr Stinkypants video…
A criticism of light bulb manufacturers and politicians, and how they don’t act in the consumers best interest, humorously illustrating the Phoebus cartel limiting the lifespans of regular incandescent bulbs, and then how CFLs get pushed by subsidies before the ultimate resort to simply ban the incandescent alternatives…



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