Photo credit: Kenny Louie via Flickr
Incandescent light bulbs are officially “over.” Even if you’re OK with this, read on to see why incandescent light bulbs are still useful for preparedness purposes and how to have them for the rest of your life.
Incandescent light bulbs may no longer be government-approved, but they’re still people-approved. They’ll keep your well house from freezing up, and they’re ideal for decrystallizing honey. Plus, they’re superb for keeping an incubator warm. And we all like chickens, right?
You may say, “Nancy, this is BS. I’m a die-hard survivalist who lives off the grid in a cabin far, far away. I much prefer the energy efficiency of a modern bulb. After all, it draws down my power much less quickly.”
Yea, you’re right. They are more energy efficient.
To each his own. But to me, the thought of growing old under “modern” bulbs is not a happy one. I’ll take the inefficiency, thank you very much.
So if you’re with me, then now is the time to take care of business. In this post, I’ll help you store your incandescent light bulbs (there are some important things to consider), and figure out how many bulbs you’ll need to last the rest of your life (I wrote a calculator for this). Consider it a gift to your aging, grumpy future self. And in full disclosure, I may be partially responsible for the “out of stock” message on 6o-watt bulbs.
If You Like Your Light Bulbs, You Can Keep Them (As Long As You Have Them Currently)
There is no ban on having incandescent light bulbs. And there is no ban on buying incandescents, it’s just a matter of producing them.
The ban is on production of incandescents. The ban started in 2012 on 100 and 75 watt bulbs, and now extends to 45 and 60 watt bulbs starting January 1, 2014. You can still get a case of 100 watt bulbs online, for instance. Some will say it’s not an explicit ban on the production of these bulbs, but rather, a new efficiency standard that all bulbs must meet — and our old incandescents don’t do that right now. Either way, it’s effectively a ban.
3-way bulbs, appliance lamps, colored lamps, and service bulbs will remain legal to produce and purchase, however. So there’s a loophole for you to wiggle through.
Ahhhhh, freedom. Ain’t it awesome?
How to choose and test incandescent bulbs
Not all incandescents are made the same. Some last longer than others, and some are more reliable than others. I have found that US-made bulbs are more reliable than others. So check your bulbs when you get them – put them into a socket and turn it on – so you know that you have a good batch. Or if you’re like me and have just purchased hundreds of the little fellas, you might want to check each case with a random sample. It’s up to you, of course.
Storing incandescent bulbs for the long term
The weakest part of the light bulb for long term storage is the metal threading. It can oxidize or get corroded, thus rendering the bulb useless. So if you’re in a salty environment, consider storing your bulbs for the long term in air-tight packaging, just like food. I think mylar is overkill, but I’ve also heard of folks coating the base with a marine-wax to seal them. I just think it’s easier to keep the air out by keeping them in air-tight bags.
If you live in an earthquake-prone area, it’s of course important to keep them in a rigid container – like a plastic storage box. Main thing is to keep them protected from other items falling on them in the case of a quake. I keep mine in these ActionPacker trunks:
How many incandescents will you need?
This is a tough one. It depends. Bulbs are rated by number of hours of production. I like to discount any of those stated numbers by a healthy 20%, however. That contingency figure allows for some breakage and the random dud. So if a bulb is rated for 1000 hours, I calculate that it’s worth 800 hours.
Sounds like a lot, right?
Sort of. If a bulb lasts 800 hours, that means that in one year, you can have that bulb on for 2.19 hours a day before it dies. That may be reasonable given your latitude, but it may not as well. You’ll have to make that judgement yourself. I’ve written a calculator that should help, however:
Here’s where I stocked up on 60 watt incandescent light bulbs, and 100 watt incandescent light bulbs. If you find the price of the 100 watts to be too high, try this search – the market for these bulbs is always changing.
This is the listing of best-selling incandescent light bulbs – check out the prices now and grab ’em while they are still low.
Something Fun for the Conspiracy Theorists
I’m not sure who you are or what brings you here, but you might like this short YouTube video on the subject.
Don’t let the mask scare you.
Are you “hoarding” incandescent lightbulbs too? Drop me a line and let me know if I’m the only crazy one out there. 🙂