$50 light bulbs! Unfortunately for you, the green in Green Energy is your dollars…[Reader Post]

By 19 Comments 1,234 views

One has to ask the question about Greens, do they even live on this planet they are trying to save? They often seem to be living in a completely different universe if not just a different planet.

The most recent example of this is the LED light bulb, the latest answer to Congress’s 2007 energy efficiency mandate – which was regrettably signed by George Bush. Last week a story emerged that the 100 watt LED light bulbs slated to replace 100 year old inefficient incandescent bulbs will cost upwards of $50 apiece! That’s right, $50 for a light bulb…

Fifty dollars vs. the one dollar it costs for a typical incandescent bulb. It’s a bit hefty, but then they are more efficient. The question is however, are they 50 times much more efficient? Ah, no. Two years ago Carnegie Mellon compared the energy lifecycle of LED lights vs. those of compact fluorescents as well as incandescent bulbs. (The energy lifecycle includes not only the energy a bulb will burn over the course of its life, but the energy and materials used to manufacture it in the first place.)

The numbers were unambiguous… LED lights were far more efficient. If the energy lifecycle cost of an LED is $1, the cost of producing the same amount of light from a compact fluorescent bulb would be $1.14 and a whopping $5.36 from a traditional incandescent. (Compact fluorescents are those curly bulbs that have their own significant problems.)

So it’s true that green LED light bulbs are more efficient than traditional bulbs. Five times more efficient, which makes your soul feel warm and fuzzy. Unfortunately, your wallet, not so much. That warm and fuzzy feeling of a five times more efficient bulb will cost you fifty times more money to experience.

Of course that is just the latest in a long string of Green initiatives where your wallet plays no role in the choices you are forced to make. Ethanol is perhaps the most blatant example. Not only does it make gasoline more expensive, make your car less efficient, but it turns out that it’s also damaging your engine. As a bonus, it also has the effect of increasing food prices while doing nothing for the environment. Then there’s wind and solar energy, neither of which is even remotely close to being competitive with fossil fuels. Not only are they not competitive with traditional fuels, but at the same time they are unreliable and are not exactly inconspicuous in their footprints. How about those clean energy electric cars that cost twice as much as a similar gas fueled model and go a quarter the distance without needing a recharge? Greenies are so busy basking in the adulation received for not emitting any earth destroying gases that they forget that the electricity fueling their cars comes from coal plants which are far dirtier than gasoline powered internal combustion engines. They also conveniently forget the environmental concerns created from the manufacture of all of those batteries.

As if all of this was not bad enough, Green Jobs are expensive, highly inefficient and kill off twice their numbers in regular jobs.

Greenies inhabit s universe where cost is never a factor. Why? Because they don’t have to. They don’t have to make a coherent argument for their position and give consumers the choice of acting on those rational arguments. No, instead of the rough and tumble world based on the competition of ideas and science, they simply propagate junk science as real and then harness the police powers of government to advance their agenda.

This would be bad enough if it were just about light bulbs, gasoline and CO2, but it’s not. It’s about your fundamental choice of how to live your life. In the most simple sense, forcing Americans to pay $50 for a LED – or even $25 for a CFL – rather than the $1 they could pay for a traditional light literally takes $49 out of their pockets that they can no longer spend on anything else, from buying Twinkies to donating to the Red Cross to buying a share of the latest Internet startup.

Life is about choices and it is through the experience of making choices and living with them that individuals and societies learn about the connection between actions and consequences and by implication the responsibilities that come from choices.

Liberals of course don’t have to learn about consequences or responsibilities because they know what’s best for everyone. Even when their policies fail, both on an objective measure as well as achieving their announced goals, it doesn’t matter because they never have to face the consequences. Unfortunately it’s the rest of the population who are trying to figure out how far they can go on vacation with $4.00 a gallon gasoline who end up paying for the good fortune of living on the planet liberals are trying to save. And that doesn’t even count the taxes paid so the federal government could spend billions of dollars subsidizing electric cars, ethanol, as well as the wind and solar industries…


The product of a military family, growing up in Naples, Italy and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and being stationed in Germany for two years while in the Army, Vince spent half of his first quarter century seeing the US from outside of its own borders. That perspective, along with a French wife and two decades as a struggling entrepreneur have only fueled an appreciation for freedom and the fundamental greatness of the gifts our forefathers left us.

19 Responses to “$50 light bulbs! Unfortunately for you, the green in Green Energy is your dollars…[Reader Post]”

  1. 1


    The real question is just how long the people are g0ing to put up with this. I foresee a lovely business opportunity in black market incandescent bulbs.

  2. 2

    oil guy from Alberta

    Some thoughts:
    1 Barrel of oil equals 25,ooo hard earned man hours. Its a multiplier of achievement.
    If you install say 500 mini fluorescents in a high rise, for example, your power is now inductive and you have to install capacitance to balance your phase angle. Huge money for you or the power company.
    In Canada, propane is less than half the price of regular unleaded. A propane conversion for me was paid back in less than 1 year. They want the propane industry to expand.
    Ethanol as a fuel is a complete bust.
    Americans should convert to natural gas for transportation purposes. Its clean burning and is now being found all over the place. The drawback is high pressured tanks and consequently more weight.
    Hydrogen is too dangerous.

  3. 3

    Theron Trowbridge

    LED room lighting is still a developing technology and “100 watt equivalent” bulbs are VERY difficult to make in a lightbulb-sized package (the reasons are explained in the Yahoo news link). This is why they are expensive… for now. But this will not always be the case. Things are evolving so fast that the Carnegie Mellon study linked is now (2+ years later) completely useless information.

    I personally can’t wait until I can buy a LED household bulb that truly puts out as much light as a 100 watt incandescent bulb. They’re coming, but are not available yet. Basically, we’ll need to see a 10 watt LED bulb for this to happen. And it will be expensive at first. But if it’s made right (and it will be easier to make it right than it is to make incandescent or CFL bulbs right), it will last for decades. I’m OK with paying $25 or $30 for the last light bulb I will ever need to buy.

  4. 4


    If you want light comparable to a 100 watt incandescent in a device rated for 50,000 hours of use that runs cool and draws only 13 watts of power, go for an LED bulb.

    A long-life 100 watt incandescent is a much cheaper buy, but “long-life” means 3,000 hours. You’ll have gone through around 16 of them by the time your LED is dead, and you’ll have used nearly 8 times as much electricity while doing so. (A standard life 120 volt, 100 watt incandescent will last 750 to 1,500 hours, depending on the brand, so you’ll go through 33 t0 66 of them before your LED is dead–plus 8 times the electricity.)

    The intitial cost of an LED bulb is presently very high, so I’m currently using compact fluorescents and a few incandescents where I like ’em better. I’ve yet to spring for my first LED room light. Prices won’t stay that way. I recently replaced an old 40 pound, 19″ Sony Trinitron computer monitor that originally cost well over 5oo bucks with a ViewSonic high definition LED-lit monitor that cost well under 200 bucks.

    Technological progress is GOOD. (Even so, I still have oil lamps and lanterns on hand and fueled up. Once in a while technology fails.)

  5. 5


    I just googled LED light bulbs and found tons of standard light bulb substitutes under $20.00… Even at my local Home Depot has them for $17 and change. So that probably means in a couple of years they will be like the compact florescent which went from the same range to 8 for $5 bucks.

    So much for your thesis.

  6. 6

    John Cooper

    Today I bought another two boxes of 100W incandescent bulbs at Lowe’s to add to my stash of several hundred bulbs. If anyone cares, they cost about $10 for a box of 24.

    I’ll be picking up a couple tanks of R-22 refrigerant as well, since that becomes “illegal” soon as well.

  7. 7

    John Cooper

    Greg– Get a clue. The LEDs in those bulbs may be “rated” for 50,000 hours, but the solder joints connecting them to the circuitry aren’t. Thanks to another liberal scheme to save the world – ROHS – it’s illegal to use 60/40 tin-lead solder any more. Take a look at all those “energy efficient” LED stop lights that the government put up to “save electricity”. Lots of the individual LEDs and groups of LEDs are dark after less than a year due to the solder failing.

  8. 8



    Technological progress is GOOD.

    I agree. And I’m all for being able to purchase a set of bulbs for my home that I might not need to replace for a decade or so. However, I am completely against having anything mandated to me, or to the industry. I am completely against corporate type welfare going to some companies to help develop the technology further. Let it stand on it’s own, if it’s good enough. If it isn’t, the company will either refocus their efforts, or go away. Either way, the consumer is the winner because what we get, when the competition is pure, is quality, and ofttimes for a decent price.

  9. 9

    John Evan Miller

    This is so very true. If you plan on renovating your home to be green-friendly, then prices are going to be high for everything from light bulbs to appliances. This is even true for recycled products (e.g. notebooks) are all much more expensive. Unfortunately, it is costing consumers more to do their part to help the environment.

  10. 10


    I don’t think the government should mandate it, but I plan on buying these LED bulbs.

    average cost of a kilowatt where I live is 10.96

    Lets say we only look at 10,000 hours, or only 1/5 of the lifespan of the LED bulb, to satisfy Johns comment over them not all lasting the 50,000 hours. (saving over 50,000 hours really make LED’s look even better)
    60w bulb – 600,000 watt hours – $65.76 in electricity – 10 bulbs 4.20 – Total cost for 10,000 hours $69.96
    7w LED – 70,000 watt hours – $7.67 in electricity – 1 bulb 39.89 – Total cost for 10,000 hours$47.56

    I used a higher priced LED bulb, and I have seen many for cheaper, but figured I would use a high ball price to see if it still make sense. It does. If the bulb lasts, the savings grow even faster, and if the price of the LED bulb drops (which is inevitable) the savings is higher.

  11. 12


    @johngalt, #8:

    I get your point. On the other hand, an enormous part of modern-day advanced consumer technology that we all take for granted and use daily wouldn’t even exist without government-funded research programs that were pointed toward the attainment of non-commercial national goals. Eventually controlled fusion may power the planet. If it does, it won’t be because profit-oriented entities are pushing the cutting-edge research that will make that leap possible.

    On the home front, the quest for higher profits and lower prices has lately brought us stuff like blue jeans that self-destruct long before they wear out, and the prices are catching up with what a highly durable pair of Levis once cost. With a lot of products it seems like the consumer is no longer in the driver seat, because the better options are no longer there. You can’t cast your vote with your wallet when nothing but inferior grade merchandize is in the competiton.

  12. 13


    Who has ‘tested’ these new fangled light bulbs that are suppose to last so long? ‘How do I know’ that they will “last as long” as our standard bulbs? And if they have mercury in them do we throw them away or what? Are we suppose to recycle them? Just asking…

    I want to make sure as a consumer “forced to purchase” overly expensive light bulbs that I am getting “my money’s worth”.

    I have to put my used dead (AA & AAA D’s C’s etc..) batteries in a plastic baggie, and put them out side of my “plastic” recycle bucket so they will be picked up ‘correctly’ on recycle pick up day…. The rules changed last year and we had the “recycle” Nazi’s out writing you up if you “‘didn’t do your recycling” correctly….not kidding either…lol (I am going to have to call public works dept to find out about the mercury light bulbs)

  13. 15

    Nan G

    Obama’s plan to make energy more expensive is apace.
    But ………

    LEDs replacing the incandescent is a long way off.
    Unless you don’t READ.
    LEDs are NOT WHITE light, they haven’t figured out how to make them a with white light yet.
    And any other color of light is hard on the eyes of readers.
    LEDs do not emit wide light.
    LEDs are too directional to sit and enjoy reading under.
    They won’t light up a book comfortably and they won’t light up a room unless you have a gillion of them.

    But if we care about is “saving the planet,” I guess reading or putting on make up can go the way of the dinosaur.

    I won’t buy any LEDs until a 100-watt equivalent is priced around $12-15 each.
    Those curly bulbs are in use in our condo’s courtyard and on the porches….above the center of each door.
    Pathetic little lights.
    You literally have to find your key right under them ….then try to keep that key aimed just right as you move into the dark to meet it up with the doorknob.

  14. 16



    On the home front, the quest for higher profits and lower prices has lately brought us stuff like blue jeans that self-destruct long before they wear out, and the prices are catching up with what a highly durable pair of Levis once cost. With a lot of products it seems like the consumer is no longer in the driver seat, because the better options are no longer there. You can’t cast your vote with your wallet when nothing but inferior grade merchandize is in the competiton.

    There is a major problem with that statement, Greg. Overtaxation and excessive regulation have led many companies on paths that lead away from providing quality, low-cost products, all in an effort to survive economically. We are miles and miles away from having a truly free-market, yet, when failures in companies are noted, free-market practices are accused of those failures, and the pols suggest more government mandated regulations to ‘correct’ the markets. Inevitably, those lead to more problems than they solve.

    As for government funded research providing tech advances, I beg to differ on that. While there are some examples present within our lives, I believe that private companies provide the bulk of those tech advances, and if government was truly limited, as they were meant to be, the consumer would be the recipient of even greater advances.

  15. 17


    @johngalt, #16:

    I have difficulty imagining what would have motivated private industry to undertake the enormously costly and varied lines of research that eventually made possible geostationary communication satellites. Private industry tends not to invest much in things that won’t show a profit for 20 or 30 years.

  16. 18



    As I said, there are some examples to that effect. To expound further, I agree that some tech advances, that government funding has provided for, private industry wouldn’t, or couldn’t, accomplish. However, the bulk of the advances are spurred by private industry, and in my opinion, we would have even greater ones to hang our hats on, if not for government over-regulation.

  17. 19

    Alfonso Bedoya

    >>> How about those clean energy electric cars that cost twice as much as a similar gas fueled model

    I went down to the Thai-Yodeler dealer to look at one of them PRY-us’s.

    Not only does it not come in four wheel drive, there’s no pickup truck version. I pointed this out to Mister Slick, the Salesman, and he thought I was being Funny.

    When Thai-Yodeler makes a PRY-us El Camino and San Angelo sells an “Easy Rider Rifle Rack” that fits the back window of it, I might buy me one…