Migraine and other light sensitive disease has rendered me from being an active, athletic outdoor girl, to that of an indoor dwelling, sunglass-wearing, disabled hermit of a person who spends a good portion of her day peering through the tinted windows of her home at the things she used to enjoy. These are actually pretty good days for me. For a long time, Migraine, Sjogren’s syndrome and lupus had me in even worse circumstances, behind windows covered by black trash bags, living in a home where most light fixtures had only a single low wattage incandescent bulb in them.
When I learned of the phased-in ban of incandescent light bulbs, I shrank into a deep depression, literally wondering how I was going to survive without incandescent light. My body is intolerant of CFL’s and LED’s. We live in Amish country, and briefly discussed having gaslights put into the house. That’s an example of the extremes we were looking at to keep me healthy.
I know I am not alone. Maybe you are one of those patients who, like me, have been hoarding stockpiles of our favorite incandescent bulbs while simultaneously praying that this harmful ban will be overturned before it is too late.
My family is sensitive to my issues, and my techie son has diligently been trying to find me options so we’ll know what to do when it is completely illegal to sell incandescents here in the US. Every couple of weeks he sends me a link to something new. Cardboard bulbs. LED bulbs. You name it, I’ve seen it. Sometimes these things are so new they’re still in development. Yet, each time he sends the links I check them out, get excited, and then see the price for such cutting edge technology.
I thought, “Canada — I’ll go to Canada to buy them.”
Nope. Canada is banning them as well. In fact, a large percentage of countries with which the US does business are in the process of banning incandescents.
Twitter to the rescue
Yesterday while perusing twitter, I saw a tweet that led me to the miracle I’d been praying for…
…A United States company making incandescent bulbs that are excluded from the current ban.
The bulbs that have been banned are called General Service light bulbs. These are the bulbs designed to be used in your home, etc. The bulbs that you find at Wal-Mart and corner grocery stores.
This… this is something different, yet exactly the same!
One company’s story
When major US light companies began to sell their bulb-manufacturing equipment, one smart gentleman purchased it. You see, when they changed the energy laws, they left one category open called Rough Service. They changed all the specifications and created new guidelines which this enterprising engineer was able to meet. He applied to the Department of Energy (DOE) and the design was accepted. With his used equipment, he was able to begin manufacture of these new bulbs and called the company Newcandescent.
The bulbs themselves are no different than regular incandescents we all have grown up with. The beautiful sun-like glow is the same. They look the same and come in basic options, from 15 — 1000 watts. They can be dimmed, unlike their CFL cousins. They’re disposed of just like the incandescents we have used for generations — without a hazmat team.
The price is slightly more than a traditional incandescent, but at less than $3 per bulb, I am considering it a bargain when compared to other bulbs we have looked at purchasing at $40 each – or more. They also last longer than typical light bulbs, and that is part of why we can purchase them in the US despite the ban…
You see, there are different types of incandescents for different purposes.
For example, a bulb you buy for home use is graded for that use because the bulb itself cannot withstand vibrations or abuse without self-destructing. They’re cheaper in price and in design. A bulb designed for home use will not withstand say, placement in a subway car. It would die a short but brilliant death. These are general purpose bulbs.
So, companies designed tougher bulbs that are able to withstand vibrations etc without damage. These are termed Rough Service bulbs. They are still incandescents. They still look and work the same, but they’re made better. They last longer. They’re in a different category. When the new Newcandescent design was approved, these new rough service bulbs essentially became ban-proof. At least for now.
Yes, it seems these bulbs survive partly due to a loophole in the paperwork, but that tiny, yet important difference is apparently what makes them legal for us to purchase here in the US.
Aside from the health benefits we could reap by using them instead of CFL’s, another benefit of these bulbs is that they are manufactured right here in the United States instead of China, the country to which most bulbs owe their existence.
So, in this case, we have the type of light we need, in the form we want, for cheaper than other non-incandescent options, and it’s made in the US.
I feel like I hit the mother-lode!
Too good to be true?
Just to be sure, I researched “rough service bulbs” and found that earlier versions of rough service bulbs manufactured by other companies included a chemical coating (Teflon) which retards breakage, but which also gives off toxic fumes that have been fatal to animals. However when I contacted Newcandescent directly and inquired about chemical coatings, I was assured that there are no coatings on Newcandescent bulbs.
As to lights that are exempt from the current ban, here is a list of the current 22 bulbs that are safe from EISA legislation:
Specialty Lamps including: appliance lamp, black light lamp, bug lamp, colored lamp, infrared lamp, left hand thread lamp, marine lamp, marine signal service lamp, mine service lamp, plant light lamp, reflector lamp, rough service lamp, shatter-resistant lamp, sign service lamp, silver bowl lamp, showcase lamp, 3-way incandescent lamp, traffic signal lamp, vibration service lamp
G-shape lamp with a diameter of 5 inches or more
T-shape lamp of 40 watts or less or a length of more than 10 inches
B, BA, CA, F, G161.2, G25, G30, S or M14 lamp of 40 watts or less”
Additionally, some companies are still apparently producing “incandescent bulbs” that are legal. They are called “Energy Saving Incandescent bulbs.” To be legal, they must be 72 watts or less and these lights use new halogen technology, so they aren’t exactly the incandescents we used to know – they are halogen lights that supposedly look like incandescents. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they give out less light however, just different light which may or may not be *safe* for Migraineurs or those with other light sensitivity issues such as autoimmunity. These are expected to be carried in some big box stores and other light bulb outlets. If your local store doesn’t carry them, please ask them if they can get them for you, then come back and let us know what you think.
New labeling will begin to focus on lumens instead of watts like the old incandescent packages. Lumens are the amount of light or brightness that is produced by the bulb. You’ll find this new labeling in essentially the same places you used to see watts labeled, including on the box and on the bulb. However, Migraineurs should be warned that light produced by different sources such as halogen or LED or CFL’s have a different quality to them that may or may not be a trigger for them.
So, are Newcandescent bulbs utilizing the new halogen technology, or are they the old incandescents we’re looking for? When I called the company and spoke to a representative, I was told “No, there’s no halogen in Newcandescent bulbs”. They explained that a new system that uses 4 specially designed filaments is what makes Newcandescent bulbs different. Other than the filaments, it is the same as the old Edison light bulbs we all love so much.
Customers are still able to purchase existing stock of banned bulbs until any particular store’s stock is gone. Then they will be forced to make some difficult decisions regarding what they will choose to use instead of their old traditional incandescents.
Disclosures: Neither Migraine.com nor I have any ties to this company or their product. My purpose in writing this post was to educate and inform, giving otherwise desperate patients hope that they have options they had only dreamed of before.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.