Having Trouble Finding Bulbs? This Is Why

Have you tried dong any project that requires 100W incandescent bulbs lately? Light a set maybe? or build a huge ring light perhaps?

Light Bulb No. 1

If you went to home depot lately and looked for some 100W or even 75W bulbs you are probably out of luck. Those light were a huge hit as a cheap and very available light source. They had a pretty constant light temperature (incandescent, duh:) and they were cheap and available. Cheap enough that you never needed to carry them from place to place and could have just bought some on location.

What’s The Sitch?

But today, the US is in the middle of a lighting paradigm shift aimed at reducing its power consumption, and light bulbs are among the first to take the hit (no pun intended).

First to go were the 100W at 2012 but now the second part of the legislation matures and 75W bulbs were taken off the shelves on January.

Next to go, BTW, are 40-watt and 60-watt at January 2014.

Here, the end of a 125 years era that started with “Edison’s light-bulb” (not that I am a big Edison fan).

Your Options

Basically, you have 4 options for lights now:

Use more 60W incandescent bulbs – I am not even gonna talk about this one, because A – it is not really comfortable and B – they will be gone in 8 months or so.

Use CFL lights – CFL lights are a big hit now. They are not as cheap as the good old incandescent bulbs but they will fit whatever E27 sockets the old bulbs did and can deliver way more wattage with way less heat than their older brothers. (1 CFL Watt is equivalent to about 5 incandescent Watts in terms of light and only 1/5 the heat).

If you go the CFL route make sure to get a full spectrum bulb, otherwise you will experience weird color shifts.

Use LED Lights – LED lights are kinda new in the market but are gaining more and more grounds as they get more powerful on one hand and as the demand for continuous lights increases, specifically for video.

They have very low power consumption and are even cooler than the CFLs. The down side of LEDs is they thy usually use a lens at the tip of the (really small) bulb so unlike CFLs or incandescent bulbs all the light goes in one direction (think hot shoe strobe vs. bare bulb). The industry solution for this is to make panels of LEDs which can serve as a big light source (still directional though).

Another thing to note is that most LED light have a green color spike. So if color accuracy is critical, either get a very good LED panel or compensate with gels.

Use Florescent – If you need a bigger light source, a florescent bulb may be the solution. They are cheap and used correctly can provide beautiful light. Same rules as CFL apply.

They you have it. I would love to hear if you can still buy incandescent bulbs where you live and if not what are you using instead.

[Incandescent light bulb phaseout begins Jan. 1 | USA Today – yes, this article is a year old]

[light bulb photo by Chuck Coker]

  • metai

    You’re just a few months behind European legislature, we already have a ban on, effectively, all conventional incandescent bulbs. However, you forgot about halogen lamps which, in my own experience, are currently the best alternative.

    • Arman

      That’s exactly what I thought.

  • http://allenmowery.com/ Allen Mowery

    Personally, I think this is all BS. If I want to run up my electric bill with a 100w incandescent light bulb, I should have every right to do so…just the same as if I wanted to leave my hot water running 24/7. Legislating what type of bulb I screw into my light socket is not the responsibility of any government.

    That being said, as a photographer, I’d say that we’ll just need to innovate (and spend more on the costlier bulbs). 😀

    • spsphotos

      Welcome to the word of 1984, just 20yrs late. Radical leftest with no brains but big mouths rule.

    • Greg Easton

      You’re not just running up your electric bill. You’re wasting energy and creating pollutants in MY world too.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anders-Hoveland/1251405175 Anders Hoveland

        Incandescent bulbs do not “waste” energy like certain liberal greenies think. The additional energy goes towards creating a good quality of light. Liberals want to force consumers to make sacrifices and deal with an inferior quality of light.
        Besides, incandescent bulbs are 100% efficient in colder climates. The additional heat is very useful in the cold dark evenings.

        • AluKed

          Additional heat? Dude, incandescent bulbs use more of the energy generating heat than light. Light is, actually, the side-effect. They’re very poorly efficient. And while you’re right that you can use the waste heat in colder climates, there are other, much more efficient and less expensive ways to do that.

          I mean, you’re turning coal/gas into electricity (in a very lossy way), just to turn it back into heat (again, in a lossy way) using a bulb. Heating directly from gas is about 10x more efficient.

    • Rick

      It’s nice to know this is all about you and has nothing to do with having sufficient electrical power generation capacity to supply an increasingly power hungry population.

      • Doug

        The thing is, in the US politics, personal independence tends to supersede the greater good. Still, I love statements like this because they are such a political
        contradiction. While claiming fiscal responsibility as a core value, Conservatives also claim it is their right to waste their
        money by running up the water and electrical bill. Ironic, eh?

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anders-Hoveland/1251405175 Anders Hoveland

          Just another lie. In many situations CFLs actually WASTE money. Usually the claims about how much money is “saved” rely on unrealistic calculations that assume the most optimistic situations. Some people have to leave their “energy efficient” bulbs on all the time because it takes them so long to warm up and give out enough light to see.

          • David O’Sullivan

            Again, Led’s do not and have never had this issue. CFL’s used to but they are so much better than they were once.

            The big lie is all those thousands of 50w low voltage halogens that people use in there ceilings. they use 66w each by the time you factor in the transformer but you need at least 6-8 to light an average size room. that is 396 – 528w a single 9w Led or 20w CFL hanging in the middle can put of as much light. that is a real saving.

            How about we just get on with looking after the world for a change for crying out loud?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anders-Hoveland/1251405175 Anders Hoveland

        You mean the huge number of immigrants that have flooded into the country? We all have to use crappy lighting in our homes because of illegal aliens and all their babies they have been having? Is this why MORE money is needed for education too?!? Liberals are absolutely unbelievable!

        • Felipe_Paredes

          What a fucking twat! unless you are a native american you have no right to say anything about immigrants, your are obviously not a native of the continent.

  • david d

    The energy costs in producing the LEDs and CFLs are greater than for the plain old incandescents. Add to that the environmental impact of all the mercury that’s in every single CFL, I don’t see how any environmentalist worth their salt could or would approve.

    It’s a monumental crock.

    • David O’Sullivan

      That is an urban myth that was debunked years ago. there is a tiny amount of mercury in CFL’s but there is way more produced by the power station over the life of a incandescent compared to a CFL.
      See this 2007 article and educate yourself.


      They are now even better than before.

      In australia incandecents were banned a few years ago which is great however you can still get halogen replacements that use almost as much power.

      Personally I am all for LED’s…

    • PeterG

      yep that´s a myth.. i work for philips (we made bulbs) and i can tell you it´s wrong

  • Daven

    Here in the Netherlands there is an other option. use the light bulb used in an inspection lamp. those are ‘specials’ and are still available.
    Even 200 watt lamps are available.

  • aquem

    I purchased a 100w halogen bulb at Home Depot last week. Looks like the old fashioned incandescent and works great.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anders-Hoveland/1251405175 Anders Hoveland

      No, you didn’t. You bought a 72 watt halogen that puts out as much light as a 90 watt incandescent bulb. These bulbs say “100 watt equivalent” on the packaging, but actually the claim is a little deceptive.

  • idoresearch

    spsphotos : So Bush was a leftist!!

    From Wikipedia:
    The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Pub.L. 110-140[1] originally named the Clean Energy Act of 2007) is an Act of Congress concerning the energy policy of the United States. As part of the Democratic Party’s 100-Hour Plan during the 110th Congress,[2] it was introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Representative Nick Rahall of West Virginia, along with 198 cosponsors. Despite Rahall becoming 1 of only 4 Democrats to oppose the final bill,[3] it passed in the House without amendment in January 2007. When the Act was introduced in the Senate in June 2007, it was combined with Senate Bill S. 1419: Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007.[4] This amended version passed the Senate on June 21, 2007.[5][6] After further amendments and negotiation between the House and Senate, a revised bill passed both houses on December 18, 2007[7] and President Bush, a Republican, signed it into law on December 19, 2007, in response to his “Twenty in Ten” challenge to reduce gasoline consumption by 20% in 10 years.[8]

    The stated purpose of the act is “to move the United States toward greater energy independence and security, to increase the production of clean renewable fuels, to protect consumers, to increase the efficiency of products, buildings, and vehicles, to promote research on and deploy greenhouse gas capture and storage options, and to improve the energy performance of the Federal Government, and for other purposes.”.[9] House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promoted the Act as a way of lowering energy costs to consumers.[10] The bill followed another major piece of energy legislation, the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

  • Django

    America – Land of the Free
    What a crock of shit that is.

  • Mike

    Whale oil lamps! That’s what I want. How DARE anyone take away my right to my whale oil lamplight.

  • bobgammon

    Wow… we’re arguing about the “politics” of light bulbs? Jeez. Yes, incandescent bulbs are horribly inefficient. They also make beautiful, consistently colored light – every time. CFLs? I dare you to find 2 bulbs that are exactly the same color. And, if by some miracle you do, check them again in a month or two. Don’t misunderstand… I have 52 CFL bulbs in my house. Not because I’m a greenie – but because I’m a cheapskate. But there’s a catch – the 10,000 hour (or whatever) rating they put on the CFL bulbs? BS. Heaping, steaming BS. We probably lose 1-2 a month. They just quit for no apparent reason, other than crappy build quality. I’ve tried most of the major brands and some generics. No real difference. LED bulbs? Yes, please let me pay $30 for one bulb…x52. I think not.

  • ChrisAdams

    Two things here: first, why is home depot (aka ‘agent orange’) the default place to buy light bulbs? Try one of your locally-owned hardware stores that hire people that actually know something. Second, you can still buy 100w light bulbs, but the silly regulations offer them only in “specialty styles”, such as tough bulbs for trouble lights, or for hanging lamp fixtures. Just look around, they are still out there….just maybe not at home depot…

  • http://www.picturesbymom.com/ Dawn Danko

    Seriously, lightbulbs are a left – right issue? Do you think anyone besides photographers notice or care what the exact color of a lightbulb is? Or how directional the light is? I gotta say for someone who doesn’t live in the US – this is probably one of the most bizarre commentaries I’ve ever read. http://www.PicturesByMom.com/

    • ChrisAdams

      Oh my, you have not noticed that the US has gone nuts? EVERY thing is political. It’s either all Obama’s fault, or the leftist, liberal, commie pinko, gun haters fault. I live here and all I can do is shake my head in dismay. Of course, I blame Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and Glenn Beck for fanning the flames of hateful debate. But wait, we were talking about light bulbs, right?

      • jim kay

        it’s funny that you place all the blame on conservatives. Do you think that liberals might share a tiny bit of the blame–a teensy, tiny bit?

  • jim kay

    okay libs, how dare you waste electricity of any way, shape, or form on photography! whether it be 10 watts or 100 watts, you’re wasting electricity and contributing to global warming! Shame! Shame! Shame!