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The End of Incandescent Bulbs

By Ryan Iversen on 03/30/2019


The End of Incandescent Bulbs

When most people think of a light bulb, we immediately go and picture the clear glass and thin filament of the classic incandescent light. But that picture will become unknown to newer and newer generations in the coming years. For over a decade now, incandescent bulbs have either been phased out of use or in the process of in some countries or out-right banned. Why is this happening? Well to answer that, an explanation is needed.

For what seems like the entire history of electrical lighting, incandescent lights were the only and later the most popular choice among consumers. For a lot of people, their low cost made them a no brainer to buy earlier energy-efficient alternatives like early models of CFLs were disliked because of their high initial price and the bluish light that gave off a cold and unnatural feeling. It also didn’t help CFLs that they contain mercury and even small amounts make people want to avoid it. It also didn’t help that many countries like the EU and Australia started their phase-out during or just before the absolutely worst time financially for many people, the Recession.

So what led to these phase-out programs? For starters, environmentally conscious leaders decided to change to more energy efficient and eco-friendly lighting solutions. The backlash from this was huge in some countries, especially the EU, due in part to people with light sensitivity. People suffering from this needed incandescent bulbs and CFL, the only mass marketable energy efficient option at the time as LED technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now, made their symptoms worse. It also didn’t help as mentioned before that CFLs contained mercury, making disposing of those lights when burning out very costly and potentially dangerous. This also caused EU consumers to go out and buy incandescent bulbs in bulk in a protest to the decision to ban incandescent bulbs.

It also didn’t help that many of these phase-out started, as I mentioned above, during or sometime before the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Recession. During this time, many people were just scraping by and couldn’t afford expenses like switching to energy efficient bulbs whose prices at the time were higher than they are today. For many people switching out a low-cost bulb for one with a higher price wasn’t something that was financially feasible in their minds as they were more concerned with getting by. While recent changes to both the economy and the lower prices of energy efficient lights like LED and the numerous rebate and subsidy programs make switching much easier, in 2009 this was not the case.

But as I mentioned, changes did happen. LEDs are now much less costly to purchase and the long term savings are widely known and beat out the initial cost in all but a few situations. While the earlier blue light was a put-off, especially in CFLs, LEDs can display light in a wide range of color temperature including the soft white that incandescent bulbs had. They also do this with much less power as well compared to both incandescent lights and CFLs so consumers save on the energy bill even more when they switch. In the past dimming was a major obstacle for energy efficient lights to get over as early LEDs and CFLs couldn’t work all that well with the dimmer models that were available at the time. Nowadays, dimmable LEDs are easy to purchase and dimmers designed for them are easy to get as well. Another reason for LEDs overtaking incandescent bulbs is that awareness for them and the savings they provide as now a commonly known fact. Because of this, LEDs are viewed as the preferred choice in lighting over incandescent lights and are quickly dominating the market.

As of recently, many nations have either an outright ban on the sale and production of incandescent lights or have a partial ban. In the years to come, the ban on these lights will continue to grow until the last incandescent bulb has been turned on for the last time and burnt out. That day it seems, is arriving quicker and quicker.

Product reference:

Dimmable G25 LED globe bulb

Dimmable GU10 LED light bulb

Dimmable A19 LED light bulb

Dimmable 3-way A21 LED light bulb-2700K

Dimmable 3-way A21 LED light bulb-5000K