GE: We're Totally About To Invent A Better Incandescent Light Bulb In, Like, Several Years

Just days after Australia announced legislation restricting the sale of energy-wasting incandescent light bulbs, GE has issued a press release announcing an “Advancement in Incandescent Technology” that will lead to “New High-Efficiency Lamps.” Oh, really. The bulbs, which GE says will be on the market by 2010, will be twice as efficient as current incandescent lamps, and no where near as efficient as current compact fluorescent bulbs. Gee-whiz. From their press release:

Ultimately the high efficiency lamp (HEI) technology is expected to be about four times as efficient as current incandescent bulbs and comparable to CFL bulbs.

Like, by when? The apocalypse? —MEGHANN MARCO

GE Announces Advancement in Incandescent Technology; New High-Efficiency Lamps Targeted for Market by 2010 (Press Release) [Business Wire]
(Photo: General Wesc)


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  1. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Hopefully they will have a filament in them–the current CFLs are less aesthetically pleasing in fixtures where the bulb is exposed. The CFL candelabras, especially, look awful.

  2. Falconfire says:


    why doesnt GE just dumb Incandescent completely and work to make CFL and LED bulbs cheaper?

  3. branded says:

    Cut GE some slack. Most of their corporate profits throughout the past decade went into R&D of nuclear technologies by their power division; like say, for example, uranium detonation triggers.

    …which they promptly sold to Iran.

  4. katana. says:

    Ultimately the high efficiency lamp (HEI) technology is expected to be about four times as efficient as current incandescent bulbs and comparable to CFL bulbs.

    Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it. The three variables that they did not address here are 1) Cost, 2) Lifespan, 3) Brightness. If these HEIs actually hit the market… oh who am I kidding, they have no intention to sell these.

  5. Smoking Pope says:

    LED lights all the way. Cheaper, longer lasting, and you can get multiple colors out of them. Plus, did anyone see the demo where a guy took a freaking shotgun to an LED light strip? The part that wasn’t blasted to smithereens still worked. Now that’s handy (especially if you’re Dick Cheney).

  6. katana. says:


    I agree. Then again, I’m not sure why incandescents are even allowed on the market. Dropping from 60W per bulb to 13W would solve a lot of energy problems in this country. The last house I owned had around 30 bulbs.

  7. rbb says:

    Fluorescent bulbs still have two major problems that have not been solved/addressed.

    First, they contain trace amounts of mercury, thus complicating any disposal plan. If you plan to replace all incandescents with fluorescents, then you are going to need a BIG recycling program.

    Second, have you EVER seen a dimmable fluorescent bulb at your local Home Depot or Lowes? I haven’t. Every package I’ve ever seen has the words “Not Dimmable” on it. If they do exist, I’m sure they are quite expensive.

    Other minor points include the fluorescents not being able to fit into certain types of fixtures and the color of the light is a bit harsh.

    But, I still like them and use them where I can in the house.

  8. nweaver says:

    It is IMPOSSIBLE to make an incandescent bulb as efficient as a flouescent bulb…

    An Incandecent bulb radiates in the IR (invisible), aka Heat. Aka Wasted Power.

    While a flourescent is radiating monocromatically in the UV and then being downconverted through flourescent pigments, which is far more efficient fundimentally.

    The only thing more efficient are LEDs, which directyl convert electricity into monochromatic visible light, combine enough different LEDs and you get “white”, or use a blue LED with a flourescent coating.

  9. ElizabethD says:

    Those fluorescent bulbs are the fug. Seriously. Even the light they emit is gross… sort of pinkish, like a restroom in a shabby gas station.

    On a lighter note: I can always tell when it’s going to be a Meghann post because of the nifty photos she chooses. :-)

  10. @rbb: Yeah there are dimmable ones,… sort of. There are 3-way bulbs. I just bought one on Amazon… but it makes a humming noise :(

  11. BillyShears says:

    After two nigh-unreachable lights burned out in my apartment, I took the time to just go through every light fixture and replace the traditional bulbs with CFLs. Some are designed to give off a more yellow-ish light, while others are (an admittedly stark, CFL newbie mistake) white. But I get a sense of smug satisfaction knowing that between four rooms, I’m sucking down a whopping 112 watts. This is in stark contrast to when I first moved in, when it was pushing 500.

  12. @ElizabethD: Look for the lumen rating. Some CFLs are like daylight.. some are rosey colored like you described. We have both in my house, the darker “soft white” type in the bedroom and the ultrabright ones in the kitchen…

  13. dwarf74 says:

    I don’t know why folks are so anxious to jump ahead to LED bulbs. For starters, LEDs are still wildly expensive. And if people complain about the spectrum on a CFC, they’ll spit at the spectrum on an LED bulb.

    I’d switch to LED bulbs if they were practical, but they just aren’t. CFCs, on the other hand, have dramatically improved my electrical bill.

  14. Falconfire says:


    1) Incandescents contain more mercury than CFLs.

    2) Yes there are both three way and dimmable, and they cost the same as the normal.

    3) You can find CFLs that are much closer to daylight that Incandescents, which happens to be better for your eyes and for people who have seasonal depression to boot.

  15. vanilla-fro says:

    This weekend I’m actually replacing half of my lights with the CFL’s. I would use LED’s but they are hard to find in my area.
    The LED’s seem to be paying for themselves in the first year if not the first couple of months.
    CFL’s seem to do close to the same and I think I can get used to the spectrum i don’t really have the lights on a lot anyway.

  16. orielbean says:

    LED’s are great. But expensive still, and also have major heat issues when the bulbs get bigger. Smaller arrays of them are fantastic. I think they represent the next step of light emission.

  17. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Again, I don’t understand why everyone wants to ban incandescent bulbs. CFLs take time to warm up to full brightness, usually aren’t dimmable, and often fail to put out as much light as their “equivalence” rating claims.

    Also, a 100w “equivalent” CFL has a larger profile than a 100w incandescent, so it won’t fit in some fixtures. You have to downgrade to a 60w “equivalent.”

    I use CFLs selectively. I have a dimmable candelabra fixture in my dining room, and there is no way I’d want those hideous CFL candelabra bulbs in it.

  18. John Stracke says:


    why doesnt GE just dumb Incandescent completely

    Because they’ve got a large investment in them. They’ve got plants geared up to making those filaments as cheaply as they can; that’s a lot of equipment and expertise to junk.

    I expect GE also has lots of patents on making incandescents, which means it’s a market where they’ve got control. Switching over to CFLs could put them on more of a level playing field with their competitors.

    Mind you, that’s not to say they won’t make the switch eventually; but they’re not ready yet, so they want to preserve their market while they can.

  19. John Stracke says:

    What really gets me interested in LEDs is the potential to have them spread across the ceiling instead of concentrated into bulbs.

  20. rbb says:


    1. Incandescent bulbs do not contain any mercury. If you include in the equation the source of the electricity used to power the bulb, then mercury may be a factor –

    But, if you get your electricity from nukes, wind, solar, hydro, or anything but coal, mercury is not a factor for incandescent lights.

    2. Three way CFLs will not work in sockets controlled by a dimmer (rheostat) switch. And I would sure like to know where you have actually found dimmable CFLs at a reasonable price that fit into small spot or flood housings. I’ve been looking for quite a while and would appreciate a source.

  21. Smoking Pope says:

    @John Stracke: Yep, screw LED bulbs. In the world of the future (where all will tremble before my terrible gaze), we’ll all be set up for LED strips instead.

    And LED’s are expensive now, but they do pay for themselves fairly quickly and the price will only go down from here.

  22. Dr. Eirik says:

    Frankly, the only light bulb that I’ve ever had catch fire on me was a CFL flood light I’d put into a kitchen fixture. Started hearing a strange noise from the kitchen, walked in just in time to hear a pop and a burst of fire from the base.

    Even still, I’ve tried them in two bathrooms in my new house, only to have my wife demand their removal after a year. The light was yellow and dim until they warmed up, which could take more than 10 minutes. I tried to salvage one of them in the garage door opener, but found that it lasted about a week before the vibration (I think) killed it.

    If they could lick the problem with LED’s with brightness (they don’t have anywhere close to the same lumens as a rule) and directionality (They seem to make better spots than floods) I’d be set.

  23. Sudonum says:

    @AngrySicilian: Its not the lumen output
    that you’re looking for it’s the CRI
    This will tell you what “color” the light is.

    Also. the dimming feature of a flouescent bulb is determined by the ballast (transformer). A dimmable ballast cost more to make. Also look for CFL’s where you can purchase replacement lamps for them without having to replace the ballast everytime the lamp goes out. They are also more expensive but will pay for themselves overtime and are more envirormentally friendly because you aren’t throwing away a perfect good ballast everytime you replace the lamp. I used to purchase lighting for a 1.5 million square foot hotel, trust me on this.

  24. Sudonum says:
    Dimmable CFL’s for a little over $10

  25. Tallanvor says:

    @rbb:… Dimmable CFL’s for under $7. If you find CFL’s too harsh, just look for ones with a lower color temperature.

    CFL’s still have problems (the dimmable ones don’t go all the way down), but they’re a lot better than they were even just a few years ago.

    As for the mercury, remember that even if you are buying power from a distributer that buys from clean sources, if you’re using incandescent bulbs, that’s less clean power available for others to use. Companies are also working to reduce the amount of mercury in their bulbs. According to Philips, they’ve reduced the amount of mercury in some of their bulbs to 1.4mg, almost 25% of the average the EPA reported.

  26. Keter says:

    I can’t deal with fluorescents because they flash on and off. I’m one of the people whose eyes are quick enough to detect this and try to react…this results is a massive eye headache after a few hours of exposure. At work, I have to have an incandescent lamp on my desk to even this out to avoid a daily migraine.

    I’m not sure if LED lights will have the same issue, but I’ll bet they do.

    I will burn candles at home if I can’t get incandescents; the pain is just not worth the money savings.

  27. branded says:


    What a bunch of squares! You guy’s are really talking about fucking ‘light bulbs’.

    I’m heading back over to Wonkette, where normal people can talk about ‘tits’ and ‘foreign policy’ in the same post.


  28. Mr. Gunn says:

    It’s true that the old generation of bulbs looked funky, took a while to warm up, and had evident flicker. That’s not true anymore. I have bulbs all over my house that come on to 80% brightness within half a second, attain full brightness over the next 10s, and have a better color rendition index than incandescent.

    Keter – The old lights gave me a headache too, but the new CFLs don’t do that. You won’t believe it until you see it, so go see for yourself.

    There are some places where they’re not appropriate, like antique fixtures that show the bulb, or in cramped spaces where only incandescents fit, but for a general purpose light-bulb, they’re just better.

  29. wonderskunk says:

    @ Dr Eirik – most CFLs don’t withstand extreme cold -the package I have says below 5F/ -15C. This may be why it failed in your garage. Also, they generally cannot be used in fully enclosed fixtures, which limits their usefulness for outdoor lighting.

  30. tinfoil says:

    CFL’s shouldn’t be used outside, especially in enclosed fixtures, unless they are specifically rated for being outside use.

    They should not be used inside in enclosed containers and many shouldn’t be used in recessed lighting unless they are made for that, as they seem to be rather sensitive to heat. Using them in bathrooms isn’t a great idea either, due to the longish warm-up time for them.

    Locations where the light is only going to be on for a few minutes at a time are better served by incandescent.

    The cheapie “dollar store” CFLs aren’t necessarily a stellar example of quality CFL bulbs and if you are basing your judgement on those alone, then you are missing out. CFL isn’t going to totally replace incandescent, of course, but I’ve managed to replace about 75% of the bulbs in my house with them.

    Not an EE, but I played one in college.