How to defy the Light Bulb ban.

240V GLS bulbs in clear and pearl with E27 and B22 bases as used in Australia have now become a prohibited import. Aren't they just a gorgeous and graceful work of art? Yet, the ill informed are convinced they will destroy the planet.

Of concern to many people; particularly those who haven't been brainwashed by the trendy eco nazis, is that incandescent lamps which have been such an important part of our civilisation are being banned by various governments. Because many people prefer incandescent lamps to other light sources, they have continued to be popular, even though CFL's are a huge proportion of the lighting market.  Here, we see the population deciding what kind of light bulbs are best for their use. But because what the population wants is not what the government, pressured by lobby groups, wants, incandescent lamps are now a restricted import in Australia. Paradoxically, we are made to feel guilty about using incandescent bulbs, but not about plasma displays, air conditioners, or four wheel drive vehicles..
In this article I describe methods to continue the use of incandescent lamps with what is currently available.

1. Problems with CFL's (Compact Fluorescent Lamps).

2. What is banned
GLS light bulbs are the main item affected. These are the standard 240V household light bulbs that come in 25,40,75, and 100W. Interestingly, the ban applies to lamps of this type only with a voltage of 220 or more. GLS bulbs of 150W and above are still permitted, as are pilot lamp, fancy round, and candle shapes of 25W or less. Coloured GLS bulbs are also exempt.
The importation was stopped in February 2009, and a retail ban came into force in November 2009.  In 2010, a greater range of bulbs was banned, and year by year this continues until the government has eradicated any form of filament lighting. The zeal and determination to eliminate incandescent lamps is unseen in any other government projects that would actually be useful.
On the customs website is a pictorial list of banned bulbs. Note that incandescent lamps are grouped alongside things like knives, daggers, hazardous waste, etc. I got no proper answer when I enquired to the associated email address with some detailed questions. I also could not get an answer as to what if someone from overseas brings in a couple of light bulbs in their luggage. Would they get the $110,000 fine?
This list shows the timetable of banning. One of the complying factors must be the acceptable lamps must have a 2000 hour life. Why? A cynical person would think that this is a way to ban GLS light bulbs even if they were more efficient. As we know, typical GLS bulbs have a life of 1000 hours, so even if we made them more efficient, the government is intent on banning them, no matter what, just because they are incandescent. Show a light bulb to a greenie and they'll act like they've just met the Devil. Then you'll get a speech about how you don't care about the Earth, etc. In fact there seems to be some kind of religious zealotry about this, like one would expect from one of those religious fanatics with deep set eyes and who froths at the mouth in a convulsing rage as they insist their view is the correct one.

One way to make incandescent bulbs acceptable would have been to put politically correct icons on the packaging.

3. Hoarding Bulbs.
Most important, and it seems many people have missed the boat, so to speak. In a place like Australia you wouldn't really think they would take away light bulbs for sale would you? Unfortunately, it did happen, the import ban did come into force in February 2009, and people were being met with empty shelves in the shops. I saw this coming well before and hoarded enough bulbs for my own use, but for others who later become aware of the situation there is some hope and ways to deal with the situation.
The new law (note that like most new laws, this one is yet another freedom taken away) stated that retailers had until November 2009 to sell off remaining stock. Some supermarkets (particularly smaller independent ones) still had bulbs which were being sold off at a reduced price at this time. Mostly these were E27 (Edison Screw) base, as these are less used in Australia.

Blown light bulbs are worth keeping for their bases to make adaptors or to convert bulbs from one base to another. In their own right they are a beautiful object that those with an artistic talent could use to make decorations. Why not hang them from your Christmas tree? Burnt out coloured ones would be ideal for this.

Even though most light sockets in Australia are B22 (Bayonet Cap), it is important to still collect E27 bulbs as will be explained later. Whilst the bulbs might not always be of your favourite wattage, you still need to hoard them. There are ways to get the brightness you prefer, which again will be explained.
Not yet banned, as of 2014, are Candle, Fancy Round, and Appliance Lamps of 40W or less. While these are more expensive than GLS bulbs, they are are still one option. So, if you've missed out on GLS bulbs, you have a second chance to hoard these.
Oven lamps are available up to 25W but are only available in E27 base. These and other appliance lamps will be available for somewhat longer. Having said that, there is still this insatiable drive to eliminate any kind of incandescent bulb no matter what, and you can be sure they will be eradicated.
However, where the shape and size of bulb is important (there were some old table lamps where the shade actually clipped onto the bulb) you still need GLS.

4. Changing the base.
So, you've got a carton of E27 bulbs because they were cheap (and that's all that was left), or you've decided to use screw base oven bulbs to light your house because they haven't been banned yet. Not a problem! There's several ways to deal with this:

The difference between the U.S.  Medium Screw (E26) base (left), and the Australian/European E27 (right). They are interchangeable but the U.S bulb may not always make contact in an E27 socket. Incidentally, the bulb shown here is 12V 50W,  as used on my solar/wind home lighting plant.

This bayonet plug and E27 socket allow you to make adaptors to use screw base bulbs in bayonet sockets.

5. Getting the right brightness.
Your hoardings may not have have left you with your preferred wattage lamps. It seems that 60W BC is probably the most popular GLS lamp in Australia, probably followed by 100W. So, these are the hardest to come by. Not to worry; we can use others to obtain the required light output.

6. Low voltage bulbs.
It's obvious what the agenda of government control is when one looks as the prohibition list and sees that the banned bulbs are those which are rated for 220V and above. We can clearly see the motive is to prevent sales of bulbs that will just plug straight into Australian 240V light sockets and are thus of most convenience for Australians who prefer to choose the light source in their private homes. Although 220V bulbs are not the norm here, they will work but just with a reduced life (a rough rule is a 5% increase in voltage halves the life). Obviously, the clowns who came up with the law are clever enough to have worked that one out.
What has not been banned from sale or importation is lower voltage bulbs. And here we actually see there's a lot of flexibility. 7. Extending lamp life.
Having secured your precious bulbs, you'll want them to last as long as possible. Typically, the lamp life of a 240V light bulb is quoted at 1000 hours. It's also a known characteristic that a slight reduction in voltage gives an exponential increase in life.  Also, reducing the switch on surge will extend lamp life.

These adaptors from Ring Grip all have a soft start feature and are worth using for that purpose alone. Because they are not suitable for CFL's these were on sale very cheap. 8. Repairing light bulbs.
Providing the fuses haven't blown or the filament hasn't broken in more than one place, it is usually possible to get several more months out of a bulb. With lower voltage bulbs the repair is even more effective; the number plate light bulb for my modern car failed in 1997. It is still working to this day after being "repaired".
What has to be done is to weld the two ends of the filament together. With low voltage bulbs this is as simple as applying normal voltage and tapping on the bulb in the right direction so the filament touches together. When the ends connect, the surge current will weld them together in a crude sort of way.
With 240V bulbs because the filament is long and thin, it's liable to burn out with the surge current. So, the key to success here is to use a lower voltage; enough to weld but not enough to blow. I've had good success with around 100-150V. Hold the bulb at the right angle so that then filament ends can be brought together. Sometimes if the filament has sagged during the bulb's life there isn't quite enough length. In this case, you need to free the longer portion of filament from its nearest filament support. This can be done by tapping the bulb at the right angle. This will give you a useful extra length of filament and can sometimes help if a small portion of filament has broken off altogether. Of course, with a shortened filament, it really should be run at a lesser voltage.
Make sure the bulb is away from any vibration as the filament is weakened not only by the join, but overall by metal fatigue and the fact some of the filament has evaporated over its life.
As an example of results that can be obtained; I had a 60W no name bulb that lasted a year in a table lamp. When it failed, I rejoined the filament and got another four months out of it. By the time it failed again the filament had broken in more than one place, and could not be repaired. The glass was so black it was giving out about the same light as a 25W bulb.

9. Antique reproduction bulbs.

These are not in the banned list, so are available in Australia from Bunnings and various lighting shops. They are really intended to be a decorative item. Here you will pay about $20 each for them, although the price is dropping. To avoid paying the "Australia Tax",  it's cheaper to buy direct from the U.S at about half the price, if you can get a good deal on the postage. However, make sure of the voltage. While some U.S sellers can supply 240V bulbs, not all do. If you buy 120V bulbs you will need a transformer, or run two of the same wattage in series. Most are made under the "Ferrowatt" brand. I bought some 240V B22 ones from a U.S. ebay seller and found them to be well made. The exhaust tip on the bulb is just for appearance; the bulb construction is otherwise modern. The ones I bought have a squirrel cage filament as per the illustration above, but are available with other vintage styles. Interestingly, unlike the original squirrel cage bulbs, the reproductions actually have a coiled filament. This is visible upon looking closely. The bulbs certainly work, but are not really practical in many situations. For a 60W bulb, the light given out is about the same as a modern 25W bulb, and the colour temperature is much lower. So, from an efficiency point of view they are quite poor. On the plus side they are claimed to last 2000hrs.

10. Halogen GLS bulbs - Incandescent bulbs are still available.

These resemble and perform the same as a standard incandescent bulb.

These reappeared in 2009 as a permitted substitute for the standard incandescent bulb. I say "reappeared", because these bulbs have been around since 2002, made by Osram under the "Halolux" name. Externally, they are identical to the standard bulb, but contain a halogen filled capsule with the filament inside that.

Bought in 2002, this bulb is merely claimed to have long life, with minimal reference to improved efficiency.

What I find surprising is these bulbs are readily available at every supermarket, yet many people think you can't buy incandescent bulbs any more. These are incandescent!
The performance is virtually indistinguishable from the normal argon filled incandescent bulb.
The difference is that the halogen atmosphere allows the filament to run hotter (and thus more efficiently). The tungsten particles are reabsorbed in the filament instead of on the glass walls. This is why halogen bulbs do not darken as they age. The UV problem is reduced by virtue of the outer glass bulb.
This can in fact be broken and the bulb will still work, but the UV output will increase.
It is now possible to buy the halogen GLS bulbs for about $2 each. This equates to much the same price as the standard bulb when one takes into account the 2000hr life.
For those who didn't hoard first time around, I strongly recommend you start hoarding these. While they currently meet MEPS specifications, remember there is an underlying drive to eliminate filament lamps and you can be sure these will eventually be targeted. It doesn't take long to build up a collection if you just buy a couple each time you go shopping.

All the well known brands are now selling halogen GLS bulbs. This one is from Sylvania.

The obvious choice is to use these halogen GLS bulbs where all the characteristics of the argon filled filament bulbs are required. Externally, they are identical with the same light quality, and fitted with a tungsten filament, have the same resistive loading characteristics. Of course, as such they are fully dimmer compatible and do not care about waveform or frequency. For those who didn't hoard the first time round, you have a second chance with these.

11. Ebay.
Ordinary 240V GLS incandescent bulbs are obtainable on ebay from Hong Kong and UK suppliers. I would be interested to know the results of someone in Australia buying them and if there were any problems with customs. Likewise, purchasing from New Zealand is an option, where the government did implement the ban but then overturned it.

12. LED bulbs.
Since about 2012, there has been a huge increase in the availability of LED bulbs, which are available in all the styles of domestic bulbs; everything from candle to PAR38 floodlights.
Prices vary considerably from around $10 to $25. One type I have tried, a Click GLS shaped bulb is actually very good.

The colour temperature was very close to that of an incandescent lamp. In fact, it was not actually obvious that it was a LED bulb. It was far superior to any CFL.
However, there is a lot of variation in what's available. One limitation of many LED bulbs is the light appears only at the end of the bulb and not the sides. Also, where the LED is powered via a switchmode supply, some RFI might be evident. On ebay, LED bulbs are also available with B22 and E26/E27 bases in low voltage.
Unfortunately, although LED lighting has its place, it will be the final nail in the coffin for incandescent lighting. Already, it is becoming standard for automotive lighting. Portable lighting, like torches and camping lights is now virtually all LED based. How often do you see a torch for sale with an incandescent bulb now? Flood lamps are rapidly moving away from halogen to LED bulbs.

13. LED filament bulbs.

For non incandescent lamps, these are the perfect substitute. The light quality is for all practical purposes the same as an incandescent bulb both in appearance and colour. Power consumption is roughly one tenth of the incandescent counterpart for the same amount of light. Cosmetically, the bulbs are identical in terms of having a glass bulb and "filaments" inside, and when illuminated, it is very hard to tell they're LED. Various bulb styles are available such as candle and 1920's squirrel cage bulbs, as well as the normal GLS. The better designed bulbs have a fully glass envelope (as shown above), while others are part plastic (to get the extra room for their control gear). Like other LED bulbs, warm white or cool white types are available. Obviously, one chooses warm white to get the same colour as an incandescent lamp.
The filaments are comprised of lots of individual LED's and thus have a relatively high voltage drop; something like 60V. The power supply is built into the base and is either a switchmode converter or a capacitive dropper. However, this is where problems can arise. The switchmode converters are not bothered by supply waveform or frequency, as the mains is rectified and filtered to DC. So, there should be no problems with operating this type off an inverter. Capacitive dropper types are obviously frequency dependent because of the reactance of the series capacitor. Thus, operating such a lamp off a frequency higher than 50c/s (as from some vibrator inverters) would cause excess current in the LED filaments. DC operation is not possible with a capacitive dropper. There is also the question of waveform. Tests have yet to be done to determine if a square wave fed into a capacitive dropper causes more current to flow than if the supply is sinusoidal, but initial experiments seem to indicate that it does. There is also the issue of power factor; due to the largely capacitive load this will be low and problematic for some inverters.
For oridinary domestic use supplied from the public mains supply, these things are not an issue, but need to be considered if inverter operation is required. Note that the solid state parts in the power supply will be vulnerable to spikes on the mains.
These bulbs are now widely available, and I bought some to test. I quickly discovered the ones I bought use a capacitive dropper (they do not work on DC and the current waveform was indicative of a capacitive load). Unfortunately, the DC from the bridge rectifier is not filtered and thus a flicker is visible out of the corner of one's eye. In fact this was bad enough to prevent me using them as part of my normal domestic lighting. Apart from that, the light was as good as that from an incandescent bulb. It should be pointed out that what I bought were eBay cheapies, so the lack of filtering is perhaps not surprising.

14. Fluorescent tubes.
Finally, whilst on the subject of lighting sources to be banned, let's not forget fluorescent tubes. Of particular concern is the T12 style tubes, often called "fat tubes". These are the original 1.5" diameter 20W (2'), 40W (4'), and 65W (5') tubes. Already, warm white types have been banned. 65W types are increasingly difficult to obtain. Supermarkets; the ones that do sell flourescent tubes, no longer stock T12 types.
What have been passed off as "replacements" are 18, 36, and 58W types in T8 style (1" diameter). The T8 tubes originally came in 10W, 15W, and 30W. There's two problems here. First is the physical one of different tube diameters.
In some vintage flourescent fittings, that have spring clips and end caps, the tube will hang loose in the clips, and the end caps won't really hold onto anything.
Secondly, using the newer tubes in old fittings will cause shorter tube life simply because a 36W tube run with a 40W choke will be overloaded.
T8 tubes of 18W and above appear not to start on mains voltage alone, and this is a problem in fittings where a resistor or incandescent lamp is used instead of a choke. As such, they are also problematic with rapid start fittings.

Small flourescent tubes once commonly used in torches or caravan type lights will soon be very difficult to get. These are the T5 tubes in 4W, 6W, 8W, and 13W sizes. If you look at what's for sale now, you'll see these small fluorescent lamp fittings have been virtually overtaken with LED's. So, again, hoard the tubes while you can.
Note that the modern T5 tubes, now being promoted as "high efficiency" are not the same in wattage or length. It appears the "modern T5" trend was short lived as LED tubes have reached the same quality.

What are now replacing mains operated fluorescent tubes are LED replacements. The light quality is actually very good and has the advantage of no UV radiation. However, there are none in the T12 diameter. These LED replacements have an internal switchmode power supply, so have the usual vulnerability to spikes on the mains that proper fluorescent tubes do not have. There are several configurations used by the manufacturers in terms of the connections to the tubes. The better designed types are simply a drop in replacement in the common switch start fitting - provided the starter is removed! It's important to remove the starter because the tube will be subjected to a nasty inductive spike when the tube tries to "start". These tubes have both pins at each end connected together so the starter socket becomes connected in parallel to the tube. Leaving the choke in situ is satisfactory because the voltage drop across it with the lower current is unimportant, and the switchmode regulator takes care of this.
The other kind of tube has the mains fed in at only one end of the tube; the pins at the other end are connected together but not to the internal circuit of the tube. To get this to work, a substitute "starter" is required which is simply a shorting link, to complete the circuit.
While these LED substitutes can be connected directly to the mains, it's wise to leave the choke in place should a conventional tube be fitted by someone unknowing.