Ha! Exposed!

A green bulb side-by-side with an incandescent bulb
A 60-watt-equivalent "green" bulb (left) next to an actual 60-watt incandescent bulb 

| This morning I noticed that one of the vanity lights in the guest bathroom was out. Normally I would replace all the bulbs in a set at the same time, but I only had one extra bulb so I put it in.

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Packaging for the energy-saving bulb

The replacment bulb, a "green" compact flourescent in a glass globe to make it look like a normal light bulb, is 14W, with light output supposedly equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent bulb. As you can see in the photo above (cropped but not retouched), the light output from the two bulbs is anything but equivalent.

All along I have found these new bulbs, mostly compact flourescent coils, whether or not encased in a glass globe, to be wanting in light output. The ongoing search for light bulbs sufficiently bright to read by, or simply keep the shadows at bay, was frustrating because these new bulbs do not generate the light that old-fashioned incandescent bulbs of 100-, 150-, 200-, or 250-watts produced.

At the same time I knew that, like all old people, I was developing cataracts and attributed part of my difficulties to the cataracts rather than dim light bulbs. But now that I've had one cataract removed and can see things quite clearly with one eye it's obvious that the light-bulb industry has been perpetrating a big lie with all their "equivalent to" talk. "Equivalent to" a 60-watt bulb, my eye!

With the new bulbs was supposed to come a new measure of light output, "lumens," to distinguish between power consumptions (watts) and light output (lumens). But like the metric system before it, this new vocabulary seems to be disappearing. Any trip down light-bulb aisle will reveal as much. If the lights are bright enough for you to see the labels, of course!

Last updated on Apr 29, 2016

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