A Lightbulb Moment

So today I go into France’s biggest DIY chain to buy a lightbulb. The type I’m after is one of the small, spiral-wound fluorescent bulbs which fits neatly into a ceiling lamp. Only they no longer sell fluorescent light bulbs: they’ve all been replaced by LED bulbs, which are better. But they’re not the same shape, having a more bulbous glass piece (similar to the old incandescent ones) for the same connection size, and it doesn’t fit the lamp.

No doubt I can buy the bulb elsewhere, but answer me this: which fucking dickhead persuaded governments worldwide to force hundreds of millions of people to switch to fluorescent bulbs when LED bulbs, which would make them obsolete, were just a few years over the horizon? Can we get hold of them and string them up by the balls please, followed by each and every politician who went along with this idiocy?

Share

25 thoughts on “A Lightbulb Moment

  1. While I agree in general, I do wonder whether seeing how rubbish the compact fluorescents that people were forced to use by the filament ban were spurred investment in LEDs Filaments did a perfectly good job so persuading people to ditch them because long term cost benefits rarely trump familiarity and immediate cheapness, making investing in household LED development a potentially dodgy proposition. Persuading people to ditch dim (at least for the first quarter of an hour or so), expensive CFs for instantly bright, flexible LEDs was a much easier sell, hence easier to fund.

  2. “answer me this: which fucking dickhead persuaded governments worldwide to force hundreds of millions of people to switch to fluorescent bulbs when LED bulbs, which would make them obsolete, were just a few years over the horizon?”

    1) A fucking dickhead likely to profit from the increased sales of fluorescent bulbs, or
    2) A fucking dickhead who had heard some vague stuff about the environment or somesuch, and thought it would be a good reason to make people do something different, because they find that sort of thing gratifying.

  3. Tim,

    The premise of your question is backwards. It assumes the needs of the consumer drive decision making. The EU reality is that decision makers can make decisions – in the same way that dogs can lick their own arseholes, and so they do. What they like and value and want is harmonisation of everything, watermelon green if possible, and with lots of penalties, bureacracy, virtue signalling and monitoring and enforcement jobs for the boys. And fuck the electorates, because nobody votes for the EU president, commission or apparatchiks, or their policies and plans. You naively assume they give a flying fuck what you think. Or your right to buy products you want to buy.

  4. Last year I sold a client of ours a you beaut brand new expensive construction solution, it kind of failed drastically early this year and I managed to get out of the contract liability and have just sold them a new type of double glazing that doesn’t leak. I know they fucking hate my guts and would cut up my passport if they had half the chance, but I got the sale and only winners are grinners. Yes they may not buy from me again but that really doesn’t matter to me or my shareholders.

  5. Dunno if you’ve something similar in Paris, but here in Spain we have the Chinos. Shops run by chinese packed to the gills with cheap chinese tat. They sell LED bulbs & the fluorescents. But, importantly, a lot of them seem to carry the complete range of filament bulbs.
    Chinese seem to be a funny bunch. You get the feeling that none of them have ever actually done anything. Show ’em a screwdriver & I shouldn’t think they see any connection with the packs of screws they’re selling next to it. So when it comes to ordering stuff for the shop from the chinese wholesaler, that filament bulbs are illegal in the EU a concept beyond them.* And that the wholesaler should be importing filament bulbs for retail sale’s beyond him. Or maybe they just had 20 billion in stock & they’ll carry on selling them until they’re all gone, rules or no rules.

    *To be honest, I get the impression much everything’s beyond them. At home they have a table & chair, a pot to cook rice in, maybe a TV gets chinese cable & one of those electric cats with the arm goes up & down. Everything else is just gwielo stuff they flog

  6. @Patrick,

    The only flaw in that argument is that the incandescent ban covers most of the globe, so at the least the EU are no worse than any other crazy regime.

    The LED manufacturers are very keen that you buy units with integrated bulbs. Germans are crazy for natty light fittings, and it can be difficult to find anything at a price point between DIY store staples and €1000 upwards designer stuff (which often looks a lot like the DIY store staples). A lot of money to throw away when a few elements die.

  7. The LED manufacturers are very keen that you buy units with integrated bulbs.

    Yup. I spent about six months looking in stores and online for an LED lamp that didn’t say “bulb not replaceable”.

    Germans are crazy for natty light fittings, and it can be difficult to find anything at a price point between DIY store staples and €1000 upwards designer stuff (which often looks a lot like the DIY store staples).

    Same in France. In the end I went for DIY store, because I couldn’t honestly tell the difference between that and the €1700 one. Although when it comes to a bedside lamp, the only one I’ve found with a solid base that keeps it from toppling over was about €300. I didn’t buy it.

  8. Bloke in Spain

    From what I can see going on in the world and with all due respect to your excellent view on things, I think that you got this one wrong with respect to the Chinese. You may be living in an old and stubborn fully developed economy that may have hit its full development potential in the current paradigm in Spain. But my advice to you would be to watch out for the new Conquestedors, as they may be planning how to deal with your kind in a modern economy as you figure out how many Spaniards it takes to replace a new fandango LED light fitting in the hacienda!

  9. Oh, I’ve great respect for chinese entrepreneurs & chinese industrialists. But I don’t think these chinese are those guys. I think they’re the chinese from the back streets. Wouldn’t surprise me if the stores weren’t owned by the entrepreneurial guys, put families in as managers. Pakistanis do much the same with the corner shops, back UK side. Typically the stores are rows of close packed aisles stuffed with stuff. With no logic as to what’s with what. , Half the time invisible because of poor lighting. The concept of point of sale retailing completely passes them by. You can spend an unsuccessful hour looking for something you know they must have & just give up. Although you’ll probably walk out with half a dozen things you didn’t know you needed. Like a load of filament bulbs for all those lighting units you couldn’t find replacements for.
    Dagos? All I know is the only thing more useless than a Dago is two of them. Incompetence & laziness is written through them like Brighton Rock. I’ve got the plumber at the house the moment, trying to fix the problems the last one caused. It’s enough to make a strong man weep.

  10. BiS

    I’d suggest you move North for a more professional attitude to work.

    But you wouldn’t like the weather and the police and taxman are much closer to you and your wallet

  11. “which fucking dickhead persuaded …”: at the time it was alleged to have been Philips, the Dutch electrical company.

  12. P.S. We use a shop that will supply almost anything to do with domestic electrical kit. It’s run by a frail-looking, charming codger who keeps rather short hours. I suspect it’s as much a hobby as a business. And when he jacks it in I suppose we’ll use Amazon and e-bay like everyone else. (Except in Paris, apparently.)

  13. dearieme: At more or less the same time that one of their competitors (GE) was announcing a high-efficiency incandescent lamp – pretty much comparable to a CFL of the time.

    It’s a shame that the early LED lamps suffered so much from quality issues – I’ve got a collection of early LED fittings where it’s pretty obvious that no thought at all had gone into the electronics. The most impressive of these is a 10W floodlight that _reliably_ knocks out every ADSL connection within 300 feet. Not much good as a lamp, very good as a stress test device.

    P.S. Read the book, won’t say I enjoyed it – but I couldn’t put it down. I’ve recommended it to a few people.

  14. Our local DIY store in Singapore is staffed by a local family who know where everything is and have so little room for people you can’t walk easily down the two aisles. But they know where everything is.

    No normal light bulbs though. And don’t get me started on the 10,000 hours claim. Each LED company seeks to have a slightly different colour temp so when one goes on a multiple fitting you have to change the lot.

  15. This is the logical conclusion when governments make decisions about technology that the market would have decided more efficiently.

    In Australia, the government decided on the technological solution to provide high speed Internet to the population. Before they finished rolling it out, 5G wireless HD has become available at higher speeds and without the need to dig up millions of kilometres of tarmac.

  16. @ bilbaoboy
    Yes. I am aware of the rest of Spain’s opinion of the Andalus. But you’re not really Spanish up there, are you? I’ve seen the amount of traffic headed into Bilbao at 7 in the morning. The only time we get that sort of density here is at going home time.

  17. “Typically the stores are rows of close packed aisles stuffed with stuff. With no logic as to what’s with what.”

    All non-brand shops in Hong Kong are like that. But the people in them know where everything is and what it’s for as long as they understand what you want.

  18. “Screwfix”… one of the positives about being back in the U.K. – AND the staff usually know what they are selling you, perhaps offering more suitable or better value alternatives along the way. #turningintomydad

  19. Screwfix are good; their sister outfit in France is the one I went into.

    AND the staff usually know what they are selling you, perhaps offering more suitable or better value alternatives along the way

    That’s very un-British.

  20. It is possible that I am the only man in the UK who brought back from a holiday in Goa, not some Indian carvings, but a shed load of bulbs which I am not allowed to buy in this country, but fit perfectly, the lamps and lights I have in my home. I may have to go back in about 3 years.

  21. “No normal light bulbs though.” You ask the old codger for rough service bulbs. No probs.

  22. It was Phillips mainly (plus Siemens). They sold the gyrator chips that replaced the chokes in florescent fittings. Note how they put the chips in the bulbs instead of in the sockets so they sold more.The fact that they had a dreadful power factor that incandescents didn’t have – which meant they cost more to run as the generating companies hate nasty loads – whereas ‘normal’ bulbs were resistive and were a dream to power (after the initial inrush). LEDs must have come as a great shock to them (thanks CREE!)

  23. So it seems New Zealand is virtually alone amongst developed (and not-so-developed) countries in not having any kind of ban. Even when there was (briefly) a proposed restriction, domestic use was excepted. Remains to be seen whether the current Labour/Green/NZF government will try to resurrect it, given that technological developments and the market are gradually doing away with incandescent bulbs anyway.

  24. “In Australia, the government decided on the technological solution to provide high speed Internet to the population. Before they finished rolling it out, 5G wireless HD has become available at higher speeds and without the need to dig up millions of kilometres of tarmac”

    It’s even worse than that. 5G isn’t actually available yet (Telstra are talking about starting to roll it out next year sometime) but the National Broadband Network isn’t finished either. Sometime 2019 is their current projection. But 4G is good enough for a lot of people with reasonable bandwidth requirements, so there are plenty of people using wireless base stations as their primary internet connection already (especially renters, you can pack it up and take it with you when you move). Meanwhile, NBN Co is losing money hand over fist by connecting every household as required by their charter then finding that they inexplicably aren’t signing up for the service. Then the ISPs don’t buy enough back end bandwidth for the connections they do get, so the performance at peak times is terrible.

    One thing they aren’t doing very much is digging up roads though. They did a deal with Telstra (formerly the government telecom monopoly, privatised in the eighties) who own the existing pits and conduits. The deal was pay them for access to the ducts, pull in the fibre, then decommission the existing copper. So if you had a perfectly good ADSL link, you got six months to switch to NBN then it got turned off. This was a key element of their business model, removing the competition.

    Telstra must be laughing, they got paid for handing over their conduits right at the time when they were about to rapidly drop in value as 5G gets rolled out. Deals don’t come much better than that.

Comments are closed.