'Rough Service' Loophole Skirts Ban on Incandescent Bulbs

Tuesday, 24 Dec 2013 05:17 PM

By Greg Richter

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Just as 100- and 75-watt incandescent light bulbs were banned from sale this year, their 60- and 40-watt counterparts will face the same fate on New Year's Day.

But one manufacturer whose family has been making lights for generations has found a loophole: the "rough service" bulb.

Rough-service bulbs are essentially the same as any other incandescent bulb, but are built to be more sturdy for heavy-duty applications. Automobiles and subways are among users of rough-service bulbs, which are less susceptible to vibration because they typically have an extra wire to support the filament.

They can, however, be used in homes just like the regular bulbs that are being phased out.

Larry Birnbaum, who owns the Light Bulb Store in New Jersey, was granted permission by the government, along with one other company, to manufacture rough-service bulbs.

"We're addicted to the color of incandescents, unless you were born yesterday," Birnbaum told The Blaze. "Your body is used to it. When you put on something different, the body reacts to it, and you get irritated."

Birmbaum's Newcandescent.com website offers bulbs up to 300 watts, touting them as "the legal light bulb."

The rough-service bulbs last about three times longer than regular bulbs. That's not as long as LEDs, which have been gaining popularity as their price has dropped, but LEDs still cost three to four times as much.

Both incandescents and LEDs offer more safety than CFL bulbs, which made many people wary after the Environmental Protection Agency issued guidelines for safe cleanup of mercury if they break.

CFLs have also been linked to cancer, migraine headaches, and other health problems.

The phase-out of most incandescents was made law with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The stated purpose was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Other exemptions include black lights, yellow bug lights, infrared lamps and plant grow lights.



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