Ultimate Bulb Ban Fix

Bulb Adapters - Y 2 way and "Socket" 3 way

Bulb Adapters - Y 2 way and "Socket" 3 way

I was pondering what to do when my bulb inventory ran out (probably a bit after my life runs out, if I’ve done things right) and after the 2018 rules make the Good Bulb Halogen illegal. Even along the way to 2018 as more than the 100 W bulb is banned (or for those folks without an inventory of 100 W bulbs).

Then it occurred to me that there was ‘another way’.

The “splitter”.

As pictured above, there is a “2 Way” Y splitter that lets you use 2 bulbs instead of one. You could use 2 of them together to get 3 outlets, or 3 of them together to get 4 outlets, but that first solution is asymmetrical and the second one is bulky. Was there a “3 Way” solution that fit nicely, and symmetrically in my lamp while letting me get all the needed light from the “under 40 W” bulbs that are all that will be left after the 2018 prohibition hits?

So I bought a “2 outlet socket adapter” and 2 plug in outlet adapters (one in ivory and one in brown for contrast ;-) and voila! A nice “3 Way” adapter that would let me get 100 W of light from 3 x 34 Watt bulbs. It, too, fits well under the lamp shade on my desk side lamp. (This solution would not work in my bedroom nor in the bath where the shade and fixture are smaller, but that’s OK, we’ve already talked about my solutions for them using the 50-100-150 lamp bulbs after the “50” is burned out in normal use)

Each solution was tried and found quite satisfactory. With the “long life energy saver 52 W bulb” from GE, the Y adapter gave just about a perfect 100 W equivalent. I don’t know when the ban of 52 W bulbs will hit (yet) but I think the next stage is either 75 W or 60W. In any case, there’s “a while”. At that time I’ll need the “3 way” solution. With 40 W bulbs, that would be 120 W of incandescent light.

Also of note, this has the “feature” that when a bulb burns out you are not left in the dark. Bulb “failure” becomes more graceful.

But what about in 2018 when the 40W bulb is banned too?

First off, notice that the ‘middle bulb’ of the 3-way is not the same. That is a 60 Watt “appliance bulb”. If you need a smaller space / more compact fit, it will make for a smaller overall “rig”. Also note that “appliance bulbs” are exempt from the prohibition. (At least, for now…) So, for the foreseeable future, you could “get by” with appliance bulbs.

Also, I note in passing that the hardware store had 38 Watt incandescent bulbs on the shelf from GE… Someone, I suspect, is thinking ahead… This implies that looking at the GE stock chart and finding out who makes “Leviton” adapters would be “of interest”.

Subscribe to feed

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Economics - Trading - and Money, Political Current Events. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Ultimate Bulb Ban Fix

  1. Malaga View says:

    the 2018 rules make the Good Bulb Halogen illegal

    Guess I will be using candels for light and heat by 2018… and the worrying part is that I am not sure whether I am joking…

  2. Sam Hall says:

    You might be interested in these base adapters:

  3. Ian W says:

    @malaga I don’t know about candles but I would think that there will be people moving back to kerosene and propane gas lamps for some uses. This will be the case in UK where the energy ‘policies’ seem to be to rely entirely on windmills for power, so brownouts and rolling power cuts can be expected in UK in around 10 years.

    Another way of bypassing the ban on normal incandescents would be to move entirely to domestic 12V halogen lamps. These give a nice clear light for reading and in a cluster provide far more light than a single 150W 110v incandescent.

    I am not sure what the overall energy cost equivalence is though as the step down transformer these lights use will add inefficiency.

  4. Jeff Alberts says:

    Time to break out the Coleman lanterns, open all the windows, and crank up the heat. That will save energy! Yeah!

  5. pyromancer76 says:

    Enjoy the post and the comments. You are always ingenious in your thinking about “problems”.

    One additional thought, E.M. You seem to be assuming that the incandescet-bulb-deniers will remain in power. My guess is that they will be relegated to the dustbin of history. (Even Bill Gates is moving out of green-energy investing and into “fossil fuels”, I just read. And what’s up with gold?)

    The more reasonable (and American) process will triump: “advertising” the more efficient, better bulb; competetors knocking it all over the place; people (consumers are actually people) making up their own minds through all the persuasion, hype, false claims, and actual truths. It is something of a street fight, but these are not so bad, even in politics. “Civility”, humph. Reasonable debate based on facts will always be preferred, if permitted to exist.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ian W:

    There is an odd physical aspect of incandescent light efficiency. There is a decrese in efficiency with increased voltage.

    So 12 VDC or VAC lighting will be MORE efficient than 120 VAC lighting. Transformers are incredibly efficient so you are down in the 1s of percents range of losses ( don’t know if its 95% or 98% but it’s that kind of scale – though very cheap transformers can be more lossy… FWIW, inside that CFL there are transformers too, just very tiny ones as they are running at 20,000 Hz and transformer size is inversely proportional to frequency… which is why 400 Hz is used on airplanes to reduce weight… On the Cray we had a motor generator set to turn the 750 KVA line feed from 60 hz to 400 hz so the tranformers in the Cray powersupply could be made smaller – and the filtering and…)

    On my ‘someday if needed’ plan is to make a 12 VDC rig for some of the lighting.

    I also find it incredibly annoying that the same folks who are banning the incandescent for use in the home are mandating that cars must have THEIR incandecent headlights on all the time.

    Yesterday upon the stair
    I met a green who’s brain wasn’t there
    It wasn’t there again today
    I wish to God he’d go away…

    When I came home last night at three
    The green was waiting there for me
    But when I looked around the hall
    I couldn’t see him there at all
    Go away! go away! don’t you come back any more!
    Go away! go away! and please don’t slam the door!

    Last night I saw upon the stair
    A green politician who wasn’t all there
    He wasn’t all there again today
    Oh, how I wish he’d go away.

  7. KevinM says:

    Incandescent light is an accidental side effect of heating tungsten. The $50 dollar LED bulbs of today are the $2000 Leading Edge 386 ‘s (with math coprocessor) of 1991. In ten years they will cost less than minimum wage and last 10k hours. They are already capable of better light than incandescents.

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    I’ve got my first 120V LED light. Reasonably impressed with it. Still horridly expensive (so not suited for places like a yard light subject to vandals) and still ‘has issues’ with wet locations. Biggest problem, though, is that anything over a “40W” equivalent is available only in a directional bulb (from Lowes / H.D. out here, at least).

    So there is a long ways to go in power and flexibility.

    Oh, and they are heavy so any lamp that is held in position by springs “has issues” (Like the one over my dining table and the one over my desk and…)

    The only way that the light is “better” than an incandescent is in the choice of color temperature (you can get a whiter / bluer light). There are many things other than that which go into making a given light ‘right’.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I’m a supporter of LED and CFL bulbs and was one of the “early adopters” of CFLs (from before common availability – back when you had to order ‘kits’ of parts from places like Real Goods and roll your own lamp conversions. Magnetic ballast on an external cord, PL-13 adapter screwed into lamp base.

    But they simply do not work well in many places and many uses. So I’m ‘hard core for choice’ and against coersion.

    For example, I’ve found out that the “Dimmable LED” I bought that doesn’t work on my dimmers is because not all dimmers are created equal. (There was only one kind when I installed mine, as CFLs and LEDs were not really used then…) So I can either use a non-LED non-CFL bulb or I can replace my dimmers for about $40 – $50 each… and replace my switch faceplates that are wood and match all the trim in the home violating that particular esthetic… So all up about $75 for ONE light. The payback peroid on that can be way long… especially if not used often. Then there is that ‘violated esthetics’ problem.

    I’m also fond of photography and getting ‘white balance’ right for the (constantly variable) color temp and ‘spikey’ Color Rendering Index of CFLs / LEDs is just a pain in the arse and never quite right. Incandescents are 100 CRI. Easy.

    Haven’t tested the CRI of the LED bulb, but it looks like it has the same ‘phospor peaks’ issues of other CFL bulbs.

    The base also gets considerably hot (the electroncs in the powersupply to turn 120 VAC into small DC…) which means it’s not suited for some fixtures. That bulb needs ventilation. Enclosed hot fixtures are not going to cut it. (I had a CFL Flood just burn out at short hours in a metal can fixture with poor ventilation. I’m pretty sure the elctronics fried.)

    So please realize that I’m not AGAINST any of the alternative lights. I like them and have loads of them. I’m just FOR freedom of choice for those places where “close isn’t good enough” even now.

    And even in 10 years the LED bulbs are going to have heat, water, and weight issues and the cost is going to be WAY over that 19 CENTS a bulb I’ve just paid for my stock of saved incandescent bulbs. Besides, try running a chick hathery or a Susy Easy Bake oven off one of them… doesn’t work. ;-)

    So I’ve just identified the technologies and materials needed to eliminate the illegal coersion that’s about to be applied to me, that’s all. (And it IS illegal. The “commerce clause” is about preventing interstate tariffs, not about giving the Feds product mix decision authority.) If I never need to use them, that’s fine with me, but if I ever have a need, I can do what works best. That’s the whole point behind freedom and choice… free will.

    BTW, at present, having tried it in a half dozen different uses, the LED bulb is in the ‘bulb box’ unused. Someday it will find a home, just not yet. The directional nature of the light means it ‘goes up” from most lamps, so it’s a lousy solution for lamps where you intend to read. It’s too heavy for my spring loaded lamps. Too weak for most of the rest. Flickers like crazy on my dimmers, so those uses are out. In the one downward facing reaging lamp where it was a reasonable match, the bulb end pokes too far out of the fixture and spill light on my spouse’s side of the bed. I’ve put a miniature 15 W CFL bulb in that lamp instead. Nice soft light constrained to ‘my side’…

    Basically, the reality at “install time” is often quite a bit different from the expectation at point of sale.

    Oh, and there is nothing ‘accidental’ about the light in a light bulb. It’s the design goal. That it generates a lot of heat in the process is just an efficiency side effect. Rather like the very hot ballast on my LED bulb…

  9. Brian H says:

    Don’t know the current status of the ploy, but a German company began importing 100W incandescents after their ban and marketing them as “heat balls”, with some waste light given off. Sold out fast, I hear!

  10. PhilJourdan says:

    There is going to be a lot of sniffing around GE now that the Republicans have taken the house. And from every look and feel, it is long overdue and needed.

  11. a jones says:

    Well electric light is one thing.

    But if I might borrow your good offices for a moment.

    I am not familiar with US domestic electric provision beyond that it is about 110V at 60 Hz: as opposed to the European standard of 230V 50 HZ. The 230V is a compromise between 220 and 240 so that everything runs perfectly well on one or the other and will eventually settle at the golden mean.

    Now I know a great deal about electric cars not least because I helped develop one. And wrote about it here for Jeff Id who is going off line for a while I think.

    Link http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/electric-cars/

    So the current obsession with them makes me laugh not least because they are discovering all the drawbacks we identified nearly forty years ago.

    But some things do baffle me.

    As the above article makes clear we took great care about charging and recharging and what was practical.

    Yet it seems no thought has been given to this.

    And I am amazed to read that the Nissan Leaf with a a 23 Kwhr powerpack would take over 20 hours to recharge from a domestic US socket.

    Surely your domestic circuits cannot be as wimpish as that? just 1KW?

    Please tell me it is not so.

    Note too how we settled on a 20 Kwhr Nickel Zinc powerpack whose performance was quite as good as these Lithium ones and has the advantage of being much more robust both electrically and mechanically. Much cheaper too. But that is fashion for you.

    So please tell me, I can get no sense out of Wikipedia, what is the usual US domestic electric capacity?

    Sorry to raise this but it is bugging me.

    Kindest Regards

  12. P.G. Sharrow says:

    a jones
    Surely your domestic circuits cannot be as wimpish as that? just 1KW?

    US standard 120 vac receptical is 12 to 15 amps. A special 120 vac outlet could up to 30 amps. 230 vac outlets are used only for stoves and clothes dryers and are for heavy use.
    Thank Edisens’ dc system for this lameness. He was a telegrapher not an electrical engineer. Tesla could not correct everything. pg

  13. a jones says:

    attn P.G. Sharrow

    Blimey! Knock me down with a fevver. I am flabbergasted.

    Thank you for that. I had no idea.

    Nor it seems do US politicians or even car companies.

    Here in the UK after WW2 domestic internal distribution was standardised on the ring main, a loop on which both ends of which are connected to supply which is fused and power is tapped off wherever it is wanted.

    Thus at 230 V we typically have a lighting ring rated at 5A, 1.25 Kw roughly, which normally has no outlet sockets, special small ones are however permitted and can be wall switched.

    The standard ring is 30A, 6kw, with outlet sockets, usually switched, rated at 13A, 3Kw. using a fused plug to a max of 13 A. In theory you are supposed to use a suitable fuse in the plug for the appliance, from 2A upwards, in practice a short is a short and a fuse is a fuse so nobody bothers. !3A plug 13A fuse.

    A separate 30A circuit is provided for the cooker circuit.

    Usually in smaller houses a four way distribution board is commonly used with one lighting ring rated at 5A, two general purpose rings at 30A, usually includes an immersion heater for water if required, and a 30A spur for the cooker.

    Which is why standard supply here is rated at 25Kw single phase per dwelling, if you want to go above that the company may require you to take 3 phase, it depends on location and local demand.

    Which is also why, nearly forty years ago we set the overnight charge rate for our electric car at 3KW and boost at 6Kw because this what the CEGB supplied, and overnight you got 8 hours at off peak rate, about half price.

    Kindest Regards.

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    @a jones:

    Typical household service can vary widely, often “age dependent”. When I was a kid, our old home (built before electricity was around…) had 110 V 30 Amp mains feed. You can even find some 110 V 20 A around.

    That will be an antique provisioning.

    About 50 years ago, I helped my Dad upgrade that service to “220V” and 100 Amp.

    Since then, the USA seems to have slowly drifted to higher voltage, as everything now is placarded “240 Vac” near as I can tell and nobody anymore ever heard of 220… (or 110 for that matter).

    So most homes now (and just about anything built in the last 40 years) have a 240 VAC 100 A or a 200 A feed. This is “split down the middle” into two 120 VAC runs for the home. (It’s 2 phase power so “Hot, Hot, Neutral” with 120 from each hot to neutral and 240 from Hot to Hot).

    The 240 can be sent directly to major appliance locations and there is often a 50 A outlet for stove and another for a dryer in the laundry.

    Very large homes will have a 300A or larger, as the homeowner / designer specified.

    Businesses were commonly 480 Vac but largely are now 208 Vac 3 phase. Amperage as you like it. Largest one I had installed at a site was a 750 KVA service…

    Everything is 60 Hz unless you turn it into something else (done more often than folks might realize…) and you can get motorgenerator sets and / or other gizmos as desired.

    If you have a home with 240 V 100 A and want an electric car charger, you can simply call the power company and by applying enough money get a 240 V 200-400 A feed (along with changing your main breaker panel and / or adding a second feed / panel depending on local requirements).

    Personally, I’d install a 24 KW Diesel Generator and charge it myself… but that’s just me… And I live in Kalifornia where if you do more than light a lightbulb you go into the “penalty pricing” and it’s well out of line. IIRC our “basic” rate is about 14 cents / kWhr and it rises from there. At one time I figured I could make electricity more cheaply myself from natural gas…

    The local Whole Foods has done just that with a large natural gas fuel cell installed. The local high school instlled a natural gas microturbine (30 kW) for combined swiming pool heat and power running on natural gas. But I don’t expect very many e-car folks would appreciate that adivice ;-)

    Oh, and the typical breaker box spits out runs for sockets, lighting, heater, kitchen, garage / laundry, livingroom, etc.

    Most of the time it’s about 6 outlets (boxes of 2) per outlet run and about the same number of lighting switched outlets per breaker. Common breaker size is 20 Amp, but sometimes 30. Code specifies breaker size per number of sockets / lamps. IIRC, most of mine are 20 Amp breakers. The 240 outlets are typically 30 Amp or 50 Amp per with each leg fused in a ganged breaker. NO fuses in the plugs required. Sometimes you get 100 Amp 240 V feeds / breakers. Runs start at the box and end at the last outlet (i.e. not a ring… last guy on the “circuit” gets the leftover voltage ;-)

    Under my stove (cooker?) there is a 50 Amp connection for each of the oven and cooktop. I think the combined is a 50 Amp breaker, but it could be a something else… haven’t looked in a long time.

    You want power? We got power… It’s just not PC to actually use it…

    Though I do get a personal chuckle when I’m standing under my mandated Fluorescent kitchen lamp of something like 20 W and clicking on the oven and 4 burners on the stove and sucking down somewhere around 240 x 50 Watts… but hey, that’s for cooking and that’s OK…

    Hope that helps…

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh, and if I were making the system I’d have it 208 3 phase everywhere and 600 hz. (No, not a typo… 6 hundred Hz). A whole lot of electrical parts would be a whole lot smaller…

  16. globaltemps says:

    I’m a halogen fan, not so much because the color temperature, but because of the color quality (CRI). Halogens put out a continuous black-body spectrum, while CFLs and LEDs emit a discontinuous spectrum full of discrete emission lines and bands that is a bad match to the spectra of pigments.

    Out of curiousity I took home a LED lamp (MyVision from Philips). On the box it said that it was a 7W replacement for a 35W GU5.3 lamp, claiming 80% energy saving and 25,000h lifetime. We have had some cooling problems with an industrial LED based lighting system, so I was curious how 7W would be dealt with in such a small lamp.

    First disappointment: they put in a ventilator ! No mention of this on the box. While reasonably quiet – now that it’s still new – it’s not completely silent and unsuitable for a bedroom or even a calm living room. I wonder whether the ventilator is going to last 25,000 hours. I bet it will be shrieking by then.

    Second disappointment: hooked up to a laboratory power supply at 12V, I measured 7.9W, not 7W.

    Third disappointment: compared to a 35W no-brand halogen, it puts out 50% less lumens. The centers of the spots are nearly the same brightness, but the halogen spot was much wider and hence produced more total light output.

    Fourth disappointment (not really, I expected as much): color quality is not great. Compared to halogen light, colorful objects look much duller (mismatched spectra, remember). The 3000K color temperature is ok on white paper, though.

    Conclusion: for 8W it produces as much light of lower quality as a 24W halogen, so savings are 66%, not 80%. Still, IF it lasts 25,000 hours it will have consumed 400kWh less than that halogen, recouping its cost more than twice and saving 10 onerous replacements.

    I have to admit that it’s a nice design and technical achievement. If only they would have been more honest. It probably has its place, but I still have to find one for it.

  17. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks for the report!

    That was my experience, too (minus the vibrator / ventilator)

    Nice Color Temp. Effeciency ACTUALLY about the same as a CFL (but for far more money and with bigger cooling issues) and not as placarded on the box, CRI issues about the same as CFL (no real surprise, both use UV to visible phospors) and lifetime vs cost curve is about the same as CFL (so same total $$$ / century but more replacement CFL cycles… this will change as LED prices drop).

    But as I DESPISE little whirring vibrating buzzzing things flapping air about, it is very very nice to know ahead of time to watch out for that little mis-feature.

    Somebody needs to let these folks know that:

    1) Metal is cheap, especially aluminium.
    2) Metal conducts heat really well.
    3) Metal is silent.
    4) Metal is sturdy.
    5) Metal does not need power to function.
    6) Metal does not have heat or motion related failure used as a heat sink in typical household temperature ranges.

    or, more directly: Use A PASSIVE metal heat sink!

    IMHO: “Fans are an admission of engineering failure. -E.M.SMith”

    At least in electrical / electronic equipment and perhaps in motors as well…

    I’m still trying to figure out where my LED bulb actually is worth using. I’ve got it in a ‘side light’ for my office now. It’s a ‘metal cone’ fixture, but with ventilation holes near the base and a very shallow dish that, when pointed sideways, has no ‘heat trapping near the base’ where the LED bulb electronics are all making heat… (It overheated in a narrow conical fixture with no base vents pointed down… the same one that fried a PAR CFL flood via electronics overheating…)

    For now:

    My “use anywhere any time” bulbs are incandescent and SOME Halogens. Grab and go, be done.

    My “use anywhere not on dimmers” are halogens of the long life kind (already at the lower bound of hot for tungsten reforming, so dimming shortens life), ‘dimmable’ halogens, and incandescents (in roughly that order of perference.)

    My “use anywhere not on dimmers IFF conditions allow” list has CFLs added to the halogens and incandescents. So issues like heat build up, cold start, CRI, Color Temp, vibrational life, mercury contamination risks, etc. all have to be weighed. And I’ve got a couple of 3-way CFLs that I can use in some 3-Way lamps if desired (i.e. CRI, color temp…)


    LEDs are in the “Well, it has promise. What’s it good for?” group. I love the one I’ve got. Nice clean color temperature with acceptable CRI for most things. But every place I’ve tried it “has issues”… so far. And not worth the $20+ paid for it compared to a CFL (unless that mercury thing about the CFL is a worry to you…)

    Oh, but all my Maglight flashlights of AA or larger are either already LED or on their way to LED Real Soon Now. For battery driven use they are perfect.

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    Nice to know that there is some hope we can actually choose how to spend our own money….

  19. John says:

    I’m looking at two alternatives.

    1 120 volt LED bulbs are s-l-o-w-l-y coming down in price. I bought a couple of “40 watt equivalent” LED bulbs for $10US each on sale at Lowes (regular $20). They use 7.5 watts of electricity. My wife didn’t notice when I replaced the center bulb in the fixture over the bathroom vanity (a “40 watt equivalent” CFL) with the LED bulb so the light level and color are close to advertised (the other two bulbs in the fixture are 40 watt incandescents – originally to “warm” the light from the CFL). The light pattern of these LED bulbs is a half-globe, so these work well in an up-light (the wall sconce in the stairway) or a down-light (i.e., simple ceiling-mounted fixtures on landings and in closets). Not what you want for a table lamp that you read by or a ceiling fixture that has the bulb horizontal (unless there is more than one bulb in the fixture). They would work in many multi-light fixtures as well (5 bulb chandelier over the kitchen table). There are a few LED bulbs with a candelabra base (often with a standard Edison base adapter) for fixtures that use them, but the prices are out of my range.

    2. 12 volt LEDs and CFLs. A 45 watt solar panel is about $150 (sale price) and a deep-cycle battery is under $100. Note that i’m considering this for limited illumination only. It’s an alternative to kerosene lamps and Coleman lanterns (have both, plus candles and a wind-up flashlight). Powering appliances or large electronics requires a MUCH larger solar panel and some serious batteries (NiFe are expensive but last a LONG time) – think $10K-$20K and up for a solar-powered house.


  20. Pingback: Happy (clean) Shower « Musings from the Chiefio

Comments are closed.