Protest and proactive efforts against blanket bulb bans
July 16, 2009 - 12:27pm

Did you hear about the Euro Condom? Lighting provocateur Ingo Maurer introduced the clever light bulb accessory at Milan’s Euroluce fair in May, and not since Philippe Starck’s Gun Collection for Flos four years ago has a lamp packed such a subtly effective political punch.

Maurer created the Condom in protest of European Union guidelines that will ban frosted incandescent bulbs starting in September, while clear models will still be allowed. Maurer’s heat-resistant cylinder in thin, opaque silicone can be pulled over a clear bulb to replicate a frosted effect, without breaking any laws. (There’s nothing on the books yet for bulb molestation, apparently.)

The thinking behind the legislation is that frosted bulbs emit less light than clear ones of equivalent wattage, and therefore are less energy-efficient. In truth, the difference in lumen output in most cases is negligible. Hmmm … a misguided government mandate for lighting products. Could it happen on our shores, too?

I’m being facetious, of course, since it already has happened — and really could have been much worse, much sooner if not for ALA and its coordinated Congressional push with the National Electrical Manufacturers Assn. (NEMA) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The organization ought to set up a dedicated hotline for thank-you calls, and that line should be ringing off the hook with supplications of gratitude from every portable lamp manufacturer, rep and retailer for giving incandescent illumination a stay of execution. In lieu of that, I encourage you to call (800) 60-LIGHT or visit www.americanlightingassoc.comto join, renew or get your dues up to date.

“Protect yourself from stupid rules,” commands Maurer’s Condom literature. That’s exactly what ALA has been attempting to do, too, although it’s a bit ironic that their proactive efforts are technically more prophylactic than the Condom’s not-so-silly silicone statement. We’re fortunate to have such an effective voice of reason in Washington to give us traction where rubber meets road.

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