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Authorities reject 'Heatballs' attempt to skirt EU light bulb ban

The Local · 10 Dec 2010, 15:33

Published: 10 Dec 2010 15:33 GMT+01:00

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In what was meant to be a humorous protest of the European Union’s phaseout of conventional bulbs, DTG Trading owner Siegfried Rotthäuser ordered 40,000 in November from China. He intended to skirt regulations by selling the 75- and 100-watt strength bulbs as a source of heat for what his website calls a “resistance art project.”

“Heatballs are opposition to regulations being passed that bluntly ignore the most basic democratic principles and bypassing parliamentary procedures, effectively muzzling the common man,” the site reads, adding that it is also a protest of “unreasonable measures supposedly protecting our natural environment.”

Turning the conventional understanding of light bulbs on its head, in Rotthäuser's estimation, Heatballs have a 95 percent efficiency as a heating device, since only five percent of the energy they use are converted to light.

But officials in Cologne disagreed. A report on the matter by the Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (VDE), Heatballs fall under EU light bulb regulations and cannot be imported, a spokesperson said.

The delivery will remain held by Cologne-Bonn airport customs officials, he said.

Story continues below…

In September 2009, the EU began phasing out incandescent light bulbs in a bid to save energy and protect the environment. Consumers have been urged to replace the old bulbs with new energy-saving versions such as compact fluorescent and LED lights. The complete phase-out of old light bulbs is to occur by 2012.

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Your comments about this article

16:42 December 10, 2010 by loveencounterflow
the ban on light bulbs is one of the egregious european decisions that manages to drive people away from the european union, and this latest decision against heatballs adds to it. so now i am allowed to heat my home with electricity, but not if the heat production involves the emission of photons in the visible spectrum?
18:24 December 10, 2010 by couchtripper
All these small-minded, inconsiderate, whingers need to get a grip, stop being selfish and move into the future. I imagine they would probably have complained about getting rid of candles too.
05:56 December 11, 2010 by rfwilson
Banning light bulbs has to me one of the stupidest and shortsighted laws ever passed. We have the same idiotic law in Canada too. There is something seriously stupid with promoting a "save the planet" light bulb (CFLs) that requires hazardous disposal techniques.

The manufacturing materials and processes use to make CFLs and *especially*, LEDs, are anything BUT environmentally friendly. Oh, well, that isn't our problem... they are all made in China!

CFLs generally do not have anything close to their claimed 10,000 hour life because the electronic ballasts generally fail early from the heat they generate. Most types do not even allow installation in closed light fixtures, necessitating throwing the old fixture in the trash.

LEDS are even worse. The color rendition of a white LED is just awful; much of the spectrum is missing. And LEDs are not even as efficient as a CFL.

A classic case of the EU (and Canada) shooting itself in the foot in an attempt to be politically correct!
10:45 December 11, 2010 by Kayak
Ya gotta luv the satire, or?

Arguing that incandescent light-bulbs are efficient heaters because they lose only 5% of their energy-use to wasted light.

- The man's a genius! He should be given an award for *his* brilliance.
12:50 December 11, 2010 by maxbrando
Hey, bring them in from Norway (for you in the north) or Switzerland (for you in the South). But that is probably more serious than smuggling crack.
13:42 December 11, 2010 by hanskarl
Another example of government biting off their nose to spite their face.
16:35 December 11, 2010 by SockRayBlue
Next year the new US Congress will repeal the reqiurement that the US change to CFL's. Obvious;y someone in government made a fortune `getting that law passed which would unleash mercury into the environment. Who in the German government profited by that decision?
21:55 December 11, 2010 by Ron Gitschier
While the movement is admirable, I feel it doesn't adequately address having hazardous material in our homes. Am I supposed to hire out a "haz-mat" team to pick up after I drop a bulb on my living room floor? How many times will this mercury be released over time.

Couple this with the number of folks who will improperly dispose of CFL bulbs when they burn out (well before their advertised lifetime)?
05:12 December 12, 2010 by notrelevant
I feel badly for his denial of permission, since it happens that I actually DO use "Heatballs" as a heat source in a home-built dehydrator box.
11:34 December 12, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
I have read reports that these mercury laden bulbs are also fire hazards... Is it due to being made with cheap labor and materials?
18:05 December 12, 2010 by tangentialusa
Ignoring the net energy and hazardous wastes questions of their manufacture and disposal and the fire dangers of operation, I am curious just how well the CFLs work in ovens, microwaves, refrigerators and freezers. I am also curious how well they work as outdoor floodlights in the winter when the temperatures drop into the -20s.
21:38 December 12, 2010 by yogiman
This light bulb stupidity is just like the seat belt laws in the US. Our Congress has passed this unconstitutional law so someone can make a little bit of money off of it. Apparently our safety doesn't matter. I can't find it anywhere in our Constitution that gives Congress the legal authority to tell us what we must use.

Only the profiteers are thankful for these issues. Does insurance companies and China sound familiar?

If you are ever in a wreck wearing a seat belt, it will lock and you better have a knife to get released.
04:54 December 13, 2010 by Aasvogel
This nonsensical ban on a brilliant invention (the incandescent bulb) is the epitome of a Stalinist, Nanny State on steroids. The EU needs banning, not light bulbs. The preposterous notion that light causes carbon dioxide which, in turn, heats the planet, and that that is a BAD thing for mankind is bad enough. But for pontificating Eurocrats to have the temerity to tell us what we can and cannot use to light our own houses in a so-called free democracy is a ghastly, Orwellian nightmare. Just who the hell do these despots think they are? What gives anyone the right to make rules up for us without our consent and against our wishes? If I want a 100 Watt bulb, I'll get one by hook or by crook and I salute the gentleman in the picture for showing these Eco-nazis up for what they are. Well done Sir!
17:07 December 13, 2010 by Beachrider
Oh my goodness the libertarians are out in force...

Lots of fact-issues here:

1) 10,000 hours of on-time can be reduced by excessive on/off cycles. If you are turning a CFL on/off more than 10 times a day, expect to lose durability.

2) Bush did sign the Incandescent phase-out law in late 2007. It starts acting in 2012, but doesn't mandate no-sales of incandescents until 2014. It would be surprising if the Republican Congress got together with the Democratic Senate to repeal this process.

3) Seat belts issues? Seat belts help people survive 10+ MPH crashes in nearly-all cases. What is causing someone to want to abolish seat belts?

4) I agree that CFLs don't seem well suited to cold-environment situations. There are other technologies that are proposed for that.

5) The comparisons to Stalin are just indulgent.
07:31 December 14, 2010 by Aasvogel
Herr Rotthäuser gets my vote:

Heating a house by using electricity is legal. If the resistors emit photons, however, the Euro Nanny bans them. Even if one believes in the flawed hypothesis of man-made, CO2-induced, global warming, photons do not cause CO2. So why the ban?

Sounds more like a politically-driven embargo than anything to do with science or the environment. The unelected eco-nazis are in charge; scientific proof, personal freedom and consumer choice are unimportant to them.

But I'm just another a libertarian having a rant, I suppose. Doesn't anyone one else dislike being taxed with inconvenient, superfluous non-solutions to non-problems by pompous, arrogant Euro Nannies?

It is environmental tyranny - quite plainly. The only difference is that the jackboots these control freaks wear are green.
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