The Dumbest New Ban in 2014: Incandescent Light Bulbs

Every New Year brings a bevy of stupid new nanny state bans.

In Los Angeles supermarket chains can no longer give out free plastic grocery bags made of plastic. From now on, either bring your own or shell out 10 cents per sack.

Illinois – a state so well-run that is faces billions of dollars in unfunded pension obligations - now bans anyone under the age of 18 from going to a tanning salon.  Residents also face a $50 fine for flicking a cigarette butt in the street or on the sidewalk too.

Delaware has banned the sale, possession, or eating of shark fins. New York City has banned horse-drawn carriage rides, and Major Leauge Baseball has banned home plate collisions.

The list is long and grim and seemingly endless but the worst nanny state ban going into effect in 2014 is almost surely the federal prohibition on the production of new incandescent light bulbs.

This ban was seven years in the making. The 2007 Energy Bill – enthusiastically signed by then President George W Bush – effectively killed incandescents light bulbs via energy efficiency mandates. 100 and 75 watt bulbs were phased out in previous years and now cheap 60 and 40 light bulbs – once the very symbol of a good idea – verboten in the Land of the Free.

Before the incandescent bulbs go out for good, it’s worth shining a light on its cause: The ban was pushed by light bulb makers eager to up-sell customers on longer-lasting and much more expensive halogen, compact fluourescent, and LED lighting. When customers balked at paying more for home lighting, General Electric, Sylvania, and Philips did what corporate behemoths always do: They turned to the government for regulation that rigs the market in their favor.

So when you throw out that last 40 cent 40 Watt light bulb, remember that you’re not just tossing out a piece of history, but a piece of what used to be a freer market.

Runs about 2:30.

Produced by Todd Krainin. Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. Cameras by Meredith Bragg. Music by Chuzausen.

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  • Raston Bot||

    did the Reason fantasy football league get this shirt for the winner?

  • montana mike||

    I came in second tied with Kara, can we each get half a shirt (equality).

  • Pro Libertate||

    "Got a light, dude?"

    "You're under arrest."

  • lighthouse||

    Yes there are amusing videos about that
    like here

  • John||

    That asshole from Michigan who sponsored this should be prison. This was nothing but GE and Phillips buying Congress so they could force people to buy products with a higher profit margin. It is disgraceful.

  • ||

    Fred Upton (R)

    His father was cofounder of Whirlpool appliances in Sain Joseph Michigan, which used to e a major employer in his district.

    Whilrpool and Phillips have an extensive history working together in the appliance business in Europe. Follow the money.

  • lighthouse||

    A lot more about the industry politics behind the light bulb ban
    (GE, Philips and Osram/Sylvania in USA and Europe)

  • playa manhattan||

    Which one of you a-holes is buying up all the 100 watt bulbs on Amazon? I had 2 orders go out of stock between the time I put them in the cart and checkout, which was about 10 seconds...

  • playa manhattan||

    Problem solved. I got a case of 48 coming Saturday. Suckers!

  • John||

    Do they still make them overseas? If they do, then I don't see why you can't just forever order them on the internet.

  • playa manhattan||

    I'm guessing all of them are made in China.

  • Zim||

    I bought a 72 watt halogen bulb today that was made in the US. But I do miss 'real' 100 watt bulbs.

  • Generic Stranger||

    That halogen ones are exempt, for now. Probably because they have a higher profit margin than regular incandescents.

  • Lonely Stalker||

    In Yurop, the incadescent ban is already in effect and halogens are gonna be banned "soon" (i.e. by 2016; I cannot fathom the misery of sitting under a LED or gas tube in northern countries). However, you can still get incadescents with a little sign on them saying "outdoor/industrial use only". Saved my day.


  • dinkster||

    Can't import them technically, though the enforcement will be very difficult.

  • ||

    Any light bulb factories in Mexico?

  • BardMetal||

    Do any of you know of a website where I could order them? I would much rather buy from a foreign company thats honest then an American company that uses government force to gain an advantage.

  • BardMetal||

    I don't even care if they cost more. It's a matter of principal.

  • dbobway||

    I know the bulbs we buy (bought) here were all made here. All of the new stuff is made out of the country. We just sent home more American workers who made a competitive product to fill the pockets of the man! And all but Reason thinks it's not even news worthy.

    So do you recommend Panama over Costa Rica for relocation? I'm a self employed white male. I think I'm going to be discontinued soon.

  • Tony||

    I haven't done the math but there is absolutely no way that I've paid more for fluorescents than I would have for incandescents over the same time span. Seven years in my home and I may have replaced one bulb once.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    I haven't done the math

    We believe you.

  • Zim||

    If I had a nickle for every incandescent light I've ever replaced I'd have less than a dollar. Incandescent lights will usually easily last 7 years unless they get shaken on a garage door opener or some other rough duty.

  • Tony||

    Incandescents last on average about 1,000 hours, which is about 30 times less than modern bulbs.

  • JWatts||

    CFL's do not last anywhere near 30,000 hours. That's just a moronic assertion. Most of the standard ones are rated at 8-10K hours and since I date mine (sharpie with the date it gets plugged in), I know that the no name CFL's don't actually last anywhere near that long, and get significantly dimmer after a couple of years.

  • BardMetal||

    Well if they're so great why do you need government force to make sure people buy those instead?

    Maybe some people don't think installing a bunch of mercury filled bulbs in their homes is worth the tiny fraction of energy it saves.

    Why do you want me to install a light bulb filled with a toxic heavy metal in my child's bedroom? Why do you hate kids Tony? Do you like the thought of them getting mercury poisoning? Is that how you get off?

  • LarryA||

    If you break a CFL bulb:
    Before Cleanup
    Have people and pets leave the room.
    Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
    Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
    Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb: stiff paper or cardboard;
    sticky tape;
    damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and
    a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.
    During Cleanup
    DO NOT VACUUM. Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
    Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder. Scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag. See the detailed cleanup instructions for more information, and for differences in cleaning up hard surfaces versus carpeting or rugs.
    Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

  • LarryA||

    After Cleanup
    Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
    Next, check with your local government about disposal requirements in your area, because some localities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center. If there is no such requirement in your area, you can dispose of the materials with your household trash.
    If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.

    CFL = WMD

  • ||

    Tony, do you ever tire of being idiotically ignorant?

  • dbobway||

    As long as you don't switch them off and on. Studies are proving them to be much closer in lifespan unless you leave the new stuff on all the time.

    More energy burnt and disposing the new bulbs will have to go to a village in China, so they get contaminated instead of us.

  • Will Nonya||

    I have incandescent bulbs which have been in my house for 8 years and most of them get turned on multiple times a day every day.

    I have yet to have a cfc last longer than 6 months regardless of whether it's in a light duty location or somewhere that is on a large portion of the day.

  • || are making "special use" candescent bulbs of ALL types and it is allowed under this foolish law. The biggest difference is a brass base and at least a 7 filament strand. So with these American manufactured bulbs you get tough long lasting American made bulbs with no mercury or fire hazard bases of CFLs ...

  • ||


  • John||

    I am sure you have Tony. But "doing the math" is not the same thing as "doing the math correctly".

  • Tony||

    John you are upset about something nobody is really upset about for no reason other than you like being pissed off at anything that conserves resources, and god knows what psychological motivation is behind that kind of pigheaded nonsense.

    This wasn't a conspiracy of industry (not that such a thing bothers you in most cases), it was supported by an alliance of industry, utilities, and conservation groups, and passed by a Democratic Congress and a Republican president. Idiot Republicans actually defunded this bit of that law a couple years ago, because they're ridiculous curmudgeons just like you, but the industry had "moved on" anyway. Unquestionably modern bulbs save people money--not just on bulbs but on energy use. So chalk one up for powerful interests actually backing a good thing for once. That of course means you're against it.

  • NealAppeal||

    Of course, there is an alliance. If not, then these politicians and and 'greedy' corporations with only the purest of intentions wouldn't need to ban incandescent lights that continue to compete against their higher profit margin lights. Gotta stop those market forces!

  • John||

    it was supported by an alliance of industry, utilities, and conservation groups,

    All of whom were in a position to make money off of it at the expense of the consumer. That is called corporatism you fascist twit.

    The bottom line is this makes the world darker and people poorer but made cronies rich. So course you like it. Nothing makes you happier than making the world a worse place and hurting average people. It is what you do Tony.,

  • ||

    So chalk one up for powerful interests actually backing a good thing for once.

    There are hundreds of achievements that I would ascribe to a unified politico-industrial machine, a light bulb ban is not one of them. Even if it is one, it has got to be one of the most needlessly intrusive ones.

    It's like heralding a bi-partisan ban on the comb-over as a phenomenal effort to fix America's image.

  • David K||

    Who the hell are you to tell me what kind of light bulb I can buy?

    Fuck off, asshole.

  • JPyrate||

  • Curtisls87||

    Great, you've made a choice as a consumer to go CFC (btw, I have done so in almost all of my house, as well). Why is it necessary to reduce choice by force of government?

  • Tony||

    Because you didn't manufacture the coal being burned by inefficient bulbs in your back yard.

  • BardMetal||

    Coal isn't manufactured dumbass, it's mined, and the government didn't mine it, you didn't mine it, the coal companies mined it, and they have no problem selling as much of it as the electric companies want.

  • NealAppeal||

    But I willingly pay for that coal to be burned, to create steam, to rotate their turbine, to generate electricity, to deliver it to my house, and light my inefficient bulb.

  • Logical 1||

    If you haven't done the math then how do you know you haven't paid more?

  • Aloysious||

    Dude. It's Tony. Consider the source.

  • seguin||

    Tony can't do math - don't stress his brain any more than you have to, he's on the edge of a mental break constantly. If he were forced to type and think at the same time, he'd probably snap.

  • montana mike||

    This is true, while he'd be wildly in favor of new rules to limit mercury emissions from coal fired power plants (as I would if the rules are effective, which I'm not sure of), this twit wants the to put the threat of mercury pollution in your living room and local landfill...that's truly fucking brilliant. I'm glad I'm getting older and won't see the worst of the stupid that's coming down the pike.

  • Radioactive||

    just bypassing the middle man and making the market more efficient

  • ||

    I have done the math in my home... several times.

    There's no question that I'm not paying more for fluorescents and receiving a lower quality of lighting.

    Between dimmer switches, ceiling fans (both of which were local ordinances during the 70s energy crisis), and -10 degree garages. The bulbs last nowhere near as long and are nowhere near as reliable.

  • montana mike||

    And I have an incandescent that's been burning for 5 years and doesn't require a hazmat team when it burns out, you dolt. I think I paid a couple bucks for a four pack 7 or 8 years ago.

  • woodsy||

    "Residents also face a $50 fine for flicking a cigarette butt in the street or on the sidewalk too."

    This doesn't sound unreasonable.

  • SIV||

    Under the laws of the State of Georgia, cigarette butts aren't litter.

    Fuck You Mistuh Owl.

  • woodsy||

    I don't see how that makes a difference in the argument. I'm sure Q-tips are also not mentioned in the law as litter, but they sure would make the same impact if strewn about in public spaces.

    Liberatrians on this website need to stop clinging to their ideology and balance personal responsibility with public order and safety. And please be more civil instead of cursing out other people like thugs.

    Have a nice day. :)

  • seguin||

    "If only you libertarians would just abandon your principles completely - then team fascists like myself would listen to you."

    No sale, Woodsy.

  • woodsy||

    More name-calling and ad hominem attacks. I thought those were the tactics of liberal folks. I guess I was wrong. ;)

  • montana mike||

    Piss off, woodsy.

  • Radioactive||

    yeah, it will all be ok just a ssoon as everyone agrees with you and get's in line...ooops, not gonna happen douche bag

  • JPyrate||

    I was walking down the street today and stepped on a piece of chewing gum. It stuck to the bottom of my shoe. Since they are not evil, disgusting smokers I think they only need to be fined 25$ if they are caught throwing their chewed gum on the pavement.

  • Tony||

    Did I read correctly? Is Gillespie also bitching that shark fin consumption was banned? Look the best soup I ever had was shark fin, but like coal sharks are not an unlimited resource. Libertarians do understand that there are such things as limited resources right?

  • BardMetal||

    You do realise that if we were running low on coal the price would go up, and people would start switching to alternatives on their own, without the need for fascism.

    But like every other arrogant retard you know whats best for others, and have no problem using force to make sure they live in a way that you approve of.

  • XM||

    We eat cows, chicken and pigs all the time, but we don't seem to run out of those. Now why would that be?

  • Tony||

    If sharks could be raised in a sustainable way I would be all for it, because as I said I adore shark fin soup.

  • DarrenM||

    For some reason the move "Deep Blue Sea" popped into my head.

  • JWatts||

    "The Dumbest New Ban in 2014: Incandescent Light Bulbs"

    Yes, but the year is still young and Bill de Blasio hasn't had a lot of time. I'm sure he can top this. Banning the horses from Central Park is already a contender.

  • ||

    In the effiency equation that Tony didn't do, be sure to include that in winter that "wasted" heat supplements the heat produced by your furnace. That heat does add to AC loads, but generally people use residential lighting less in the summer when the sun is shining.

  • ||

    That heat does add to AC loads, but generally people use residential lighting less in the summer when the sun is shining.

    Also in the US people use way more energy heating their homes then cooling them.

  • Will Nonya||

    I particularly like how it takes forever for cfc's to come to full brightness when it's cold. What could be better than a dim half light when you flip the switch.

  • ||

    Ironic given the light bulb is a symbol of American inventiveness is now banned.

    Sign of the times.

    Try and tell me this is not a dark age.

    As for plastic bags, I've had to shell out 5 cents per bag since that stupid ban took place here in Quebec. The only places who don't give a shit are ethnic places who tend to barely pack one item per bag. I leave with six bags for 18 items. It's hilarious.

    I love it.

  • plusafdotcom||

    and if there were anyone in government agencies who could do the math on the manufacturing and shipping costs of paper versus plastic bags, that law would never have come about.

    How many plastic bags could be carried by one semi-trailer versus plastic.

    My recycling bin says "no paper bags, please." My supermarket collects plastic bags for recycling.

    Morons to the left of us, morons to the right...

  • plusafdotcom||

    Here's one for y'all... I took a dead CFL to my local Lowes hardware today, bought some LEDs for the house and asked the cashier if she could put the CFL into their recycling bin.

    She trotted over the recycling center and came back shaking her head. "We don't recycle CFLs any more," she said. "It costs each store something like $1000 to get an OSHA hazmat team out to remove up to only thirty pounds of CFLs, so there's no way the stores can afford that, so we stopped doing it."

    So I took my CFL home, put it in a plastic bag and dropped it into our garbage bin so it could go to a landfill.

    Government has NO concept of economics OR the Law of Unintended Consequences.

    Anyone surprised? I'm not.

  • Will Nonya||

    Good point. I have some CFC's in my home because, well my better half bought them. She was dismayed when I came home and explained the hazards should one of them brake.

  • UCrawford||

    Collisions at home plate were already banned in baseball...blocking the plate has been illegal for decades. It's just that it wasn't enforced. Personally, I think it's a smart rule.

  • ||

    With regards to flicking a cigarette butt, why would this be a sign of government overreach? Or are you opposed to littering laws and/or illegal dumping laws as well?

    Smokers may be accustomed to just dropping their trash on the ground, but make no mistake: they are and always have been littering.

  • Loki||

    I suspect the $50 fine is an additional fine over and above the penalty for simply littering. That's what makes it shitty. I agree it's littering, but the penalty for littering should be the same regardless of whether you're dropping a cigarette butt or a napkin.

  • JPyrate||

    I have an idea !!! Let's ban the old Ford Model T in order to promote the sale of electric cars !!!

  • Doc Wild||

    The anti-science environmentalists have no idea about the health impact of CFL light bulbs.
    The spectrum put out by CFL bulbs contains a very high amount or short wave-length visible light. In the evening the natural content of visible light contains very little short wave-length light, and our bodies have evolved to use this as a signal that it is almost time to sleep. If there is too much short wave-length light entering our eye our melatonin production gets messed up and we will end up with sleep problems. Disruption of the sleep/wake cycle can lead to many other health problems, which will lead to higher medical costs. This is a very bad idea. In Canada the vision scientists were able to overcome the environmentalists and get rid of a ban on incandescents by explaining this to their representatives, we need to explain this to our representatives and get the ban reversed (I would say forever, but we might only convince the liberals to at least delay it until lights with the appropriate spectrum are released).

  • Mark154||

    Forget about CFL's! LED bulbs are superior. Home Depot is selling the Cree LED bulbs, which give off light exactly like a nice warm incandescent, at a fraction of the energy cost. Rated to last 23 years at 3 hours per day use. Granted, remains to be seen if that is actually true in real life.

  • Radioactive||

    and they only cost $24,000/watt equivalent...shazzam

  • Loki||

    What about people who can't afford upwards of $9.97 for a single light bulb?

  • jhonmary||

    Start working at home with GOOGLE!YAHOO. ABCNEWS AND MORE GLOBAL SITES... It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this - 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour.for a work detail go to home tab.... I work through this link,


  • Will Nonya||

    There's obviously no better way to help the poor than to rid them of cheap necessities by forcing them to buy more expensive ones.

    This whole idea that they last longer depends largely on the type of bulb and the way it's used. I have incandescent bulbs which have been turned on multiple times a day for 8 years and infrequent use fluorescents that I have to replace every 6 months.

  • Will Nonya||

    I wonder what the difference is in the amount of electricity required to produce an incandescent bulb and a fluorescent or LED bulb.

  • Will Nonya||

    A friend brought up a good point earlier, when someone has an idea are they now mandated to picture one of the newer curly q bulbs over their head?

  • lighthouse||

    Apart from the Free Choice arguments and that all light bulbs have different advantages, it is odd to ban a popular product for consumption rather than usage safety reasons (tax would be more common with other products, at least outside the USA).

    As it happens,
    the big business element Nick mentions becomes all the more obvious since the energy savings arguments don't stand up to scrutiny either.

    Dept of Energy grid data, Coal plant references, etc
    (Freedomlightbulb org):
    Incandescent use is mainly off-peak evening surplus electricity - which is why those rates are cheaper on time based pricing - in particular coal plants, the main worry, effectively burn the same coal on minimum night cycle operation.
    So, little if any society energy/emission savings - especially if one goes into the life cycle (mining to recycling, and all transport) of complex CFL-LED replacements, remembering that simple patent-free generic bulbs are much easier to make locally by small/new outfits
    - now understand why major manufacturers don't voluntarily stop making them, but want to stop any competition!

    Incidentally it is a "ban"
    - supposedly allowed halogen incandescent 72W for 100W type
    "similar"replacements for regular bulbs will as seen be banned too
    EISA tier 2 2014-2017 45lm/W final rule regulation equates to fluorescent bulbs (or LEDs) for general use, again as per the website and its references.

  • MichalaMatanzagyn||

    my co-worker's aunt makes 67 dollars/hr on the internet. She has been out of a job for 9 months but last month her pay check was 18639 dollars just working on the internet for a few hours. browse this site


  • ||

    Reason readers....the bulbs now not available are the 2 filament incandescent's.....the bill leaves "special use" bulbs .. an American company offers these and a complete selection of ALL types of incandescent bulbs. They start at 2.88 and up ...the address is made and sold direct , the best thing is they have 7 plus filament and will last much longer. Do not bring CFL's into your home ...the other lighting systems are not cost efficient and the majority are manufactured overseas...put your money back where it came from and your bound to see it American and get what you want...screw the fed...this is OUR country and OUR money.

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