17 December 2009

Green lights and the common man

Yet another in my commentaries left elsewhere that I'm turning into a blog post. This time it is from Hot Air and the examination of how LED traffic bulbs in cold temperature ranges do NOT melt snow off the facing of the traffic light, thus causing wintertime death and mayhem at intersections.

As always I am presenting my commentary 'as-is' with no refinements, no spell checking, no changes in syntax and all other defects in logic just as they are for the amusement of any readers.

Remember this is personal experiences that I am recounting and YMMV.

Yesterday was the last day for complaints.

The commentary:

In some places in my home CFLs will not last a month, while their incandescent brothers will last nearly a year. That happens in the kitchen where the bulbs are exposed to the vagaries of what goes on in the atmoshpere there. Other replacements in floor lamps and bedside lamps, plus in bathrooms is telling that similar story, and I’ve given four different brands a try-out across all of them and incandescents last longer.

Overhead recessed lighting with protectors around the CFL bulb last over 8 years. But then the incandescents haven’t had to be swapped out in the same fixture type in the same room over that period, which is a replacement rate test I have going on down in the basement back room. So that is a wash.

An outside CFL bulb I put in nearly 6 years ago has lived longer than any of its incandescent counterparts, which lasted barely a year. But then that is a hardened, protected CFL with special dome around it for nasty weather. It is in a fixture that can only be covered if we get 8′ snow drifts, and if that happens I’m shipping the shoveled snow to Al Gore.

Thus my experience is telling me that the bare bulb CFLs are pretty much a dead loss save in fixtures not exposed to much internal environmental change and low usage rates.

Totally enclosed CFLs seem to have a longer life, but their up-front cost is much higher, and only for hard to reach lighting is that worth it (the outdoors fixture or recessed lighting).

I’m a tech person and love LEDs. Just not at their current pricing. CFLs are not battle tested, stress tested and otherwise made to handle the rigors that over a century of trail and error has gotten modern incandescents, and the things just can’t handle exposure to even mild inside environment changes without having that protective shell on them. And those cost more than bare bulb CFLs. Then the question of lifetime replacement cost comes into play… and the amount paid for a protected bulb is nearly equal to their incandescent replacements and minimal energy savings. Mind you Congress feels it has the wisdom to know exactly what I need in all conditions, at all times, for all purposes. There is a cost to over-riding consumer choice and this one will get you a larger mercury handling problem plus increased mercury in the environment due to CFL bulb breakage.

Thus the Green folks love mercury in the environment.

Good job!

Do CFLs last longer?

That is a 'Theory and Practice Conundrum' question.

In theory, under lab conditions and no changes in atmospherics, then YES CFLs do last longer than incandescent lights.

In practice, it depends upon such a wide range of variables from environmental conditions (indoor/outdoor), humidity, house wiring, humidity, and how well the bulb is protected that one cannot say, across-the-board, that theory is correct.

Theory is a fine thing to have, but it should be built on statistical evidence for real-world applications and not upon lab conditions. Many medications work perfectly well in lab conditions, and yet we have a plethora of regimes for testing such medications on larger populations to find out the effects and side-effects of them and even WITH that some godawful medications get to the shelves because they can't test on 10 million people for 10 years and have a viable medicine that is profitable... or even unprofitable come to think of it due to the sunk costs involved. And would you really put up with a fatal or critical disease that has a medication that has demonstrated itself on sub 100,000 populations and yet was still going through the 10 million/10 year test before general release?

CFLs have had NONE of that rigor and they are STILL getting feedback from consumers on their ability, or lack thereof, to stand up to household use. Same goes for LEDs which, all for being solid state, have their own inherent problems which can only be fixed by long-term marketplace use and THEY haven't gone through rigorous testing like we would apply to medications. I don't expect there to be any negative effects of EMF or other stuff from either CFL or LED lighting, but then no one expects that of cellphones, either, and they are only getting long-term use testing due to having so many people using them for so long that any effects can show up... and yet a few years of medical level testing might have shown there to be a problem, say, a decade ago. Which would have delayed their introduction and uptake, of course... yet for a non-medical device that uses power at a greater rate than many medical devices (say, pacemakers or diabetic insulin pumps) and sit right next to the body we get LESS testing for one sort of electronic device and MORE for another based on application.

Yet they all use electrical power in different ways and at various levels of intrusiveness for different periods of time, and someone having a cellphone with them as close as an insulin pump really is not in a different use regime, just a different comfort zone that may or may not be indicated by the purported safety of the device and its underlying regulations. You see, the regulations weren't made to cover medical effects from cellphones and were done in an era of intermittent exposure to certain types of radiation. Does this mean we need newer and better regulations?

Not necessarily.

Better and more thorough testing, yes, and then documenting the effects seen and having them available to a wider research community would be far, far better than regulations that are out of date in days, months, weeks or years. I would rather have commercial testing facilities employing some medical labs to help research effects of equipment than have some bureaucrat who may not be an expert in the field draft up regulations that then have to be applied by non-experts, with those regulations only covering certain phenomena in a limited regimen so that any different effects of different use are MISSED. That gives you an unwarranted feeling of comfort, seeing all those regulatory standards that a piece of equipment passes, and then you go out and use that equipment far out of the regulatory schema for those standards and have the temerity to complain when you get medical conditions stemming from that use... and you can't sue a damned soul as it was your sorry lack of knowledge of the standards that led you to have a false sense of safety. Of course after a number of incidents we will get NEW standards that give a NEW false sense of safety. And employs more bureaucrats, too.

I really don't care if CFLs or LEDs meet US, EU, Japanese or other standards. I want them to work in common household environments for a given set of time so that the investment in them ISN'T wasted and putting more mercury into the trash/recycling system. That would mean throwing out the 'but they live longer and use less energy' trope and getting real world, stress tested bulbs that are guaranteed BY THEIR MANUFACTERER to be useful in a given set of conditions, last an average set of time given standard and accepted norms for household wiring.

To do that means you move from a regulatory paradigm to a guaranteed use/indemnity paradigm and being able to show that YOUR use of anything is within the given and set conditions of the manufacturer and that you are not to blame for using things in an asinine way.

Which would you rather have:

1) A regulatory system that gives you a false sense of security and allows you to sue a manufacturer for a medication that has MET all federal health and safety guidelines, or,

2) A system in which a manufacturer has a set loss indemnity policy for medications so that those that come down with known and persistent side-effects, including those that cause disability, loss of body function or death, have a complete coverage for those cases to care for the disabled and sick due to their lack of testing.

Which do you think would stem class action suits better, as a system, by causing them not to happen?

We have chosen the first route, and yet the second would have cost companies far, far more and put insurance companies on the hook to make sure that manufacturers have actually tested medications out widely and deeply enough to ensure that the common side-effects are well known and the critical, life altering ones also known.

You get better information with the second than the first because of more rigorous testing for actual use, not test use. Standards for basic tests on overdosing and such would be done with them, as they are now, so that even intentional mis-use would be understood. Little known side effects have a hard time in both, but in the latter a single lawsuit can ruin a company's reputation, while in the former things have to get bad enough on a wide enough scale to get ANY attention.

Currently we have so many government regulations with so little oversight that anyone purchasing damned near anything can't trust the health/safety/use information, and individual cases get those lovely warning stickers festooned to everything, which you then blithely ignore. This is a high overhead system, with definite problems to get manufacturing changes done save on the class-action basis, and regulatory reform just adds more regulations to an overburdened regime.

We would be better off where the assumption is that YOU, the poor user, actually KNOWS what you are doing with anything and that when something goes wrong in your use you need to demonstrate that the device failed WITHIN the manufacturer's guidelines, and when you use a folding step ladder to fully extend it to a roof beyond all safety limitations of the manufacturer that you, not the manufacturer, is the one at fault for NOT THINKING about what you were doing.

As it is you assume the manufacturer has made objects/devices/medicines to work far outside their tested area and when you do something asinine you feel that the manufacturer is at fault for your unwillingness to read the five or ten page document that tells the exacting limitations of the device/object/medication. And you constantly pray that some overworked bureaucrat a decade ago had any idea of how the use of devices would change a decade later when they are made to do things and be used in ways never imagined then.

In theory that might work.

In practice it is a piss poor way to do things and not require demonstrated safety for new objects/devices/medication in a constantly changing use environment.

You can decide where you place your safety.

Do you really trust those standards labels to mean anything?

A lot of medications get through FDA screening with harmful side-effects and drug interaction problems, and no doctor can keep track of all the interactions for all the medications for all the patients they have. Do you feel safe in that?

Do you feel that you are doing a good 'Green' job when you experiment with CFLs or LEDs that have not had rigorous, long-term, real-world testing to see how they stand up for both longevity and electricity use? Not to speak of light output, of course.

Do you like the idea that government is actually 'looking out for you' when it is only trying to follow more regulations than can be documented by any organization on the planet? Even the regulators don't know all the regulations, any more, and the actual criminal penalties become so vague that you can't even figure them out IF you can find them.

That is called living by The Law of Rules.

It didn't work so hot for the USSR.

We were supposed to live under The Rule of Law.

But then we used to be superior to the USSR.

Soon whatever isn't prohibited will be mandatory.

And you will have no liberty left to speak of, as you will not be allowed to speak about it.

That might 'hurt' someone, which is discriminatory and will be prohibited.

And you become a slave to government which ministers to you like any benevolent slave owner does.

Don't mind the whip,now.

It is what you have asked for when you ask for so many rules.

You wish to be ruled, not governed, and ruled you shall be.


Papa Ray said...

There are a few of us that understand what you just explained. The majority just ignore most rules anyway and pay what ever consequence or happenstance occur. Then say...

I didn't know or I didn't understand.

Try explaining to a progressive that his right to your money is false. Try explaining to them that you don't feel your responsible for buying food or supplying shelter to the poor and homeless and he will tell you that you are a cruel person and a racist.

Try explaining to a teen ager that for each mile faster you go in a vehicle the longer the distance to stop.

All of the above are exercises in patience and usually are futile until the consequences jump out and get you.

Like taxes and death.

Prepare yourself because there will be many very unpleasant consequences in the near future.

Papa Ray
West Texas

A Jacksonian said...

Papa Ray - It is always easy to think the world will look out for you.

Until you step off a cliff, that is.

When I hear people disclaiming responsibility for their actions by the 'I didn't know' concept, I really do wonder if they know they have just admitted they are not an adult. Very tempting to ask where their parents are so you can find someone responsible to talk to.

And when that reliance is put on the State, the holder of our negative liberties and our punisher, then what I hear is 'I wish to be enslaved so I don't have to think'.

Progressivism is becoming a means to wanting slavery to the State. The Greek City States did pretty well with that, pity we have an industrialized economy that requires responsible adults to run it...